Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today's News-Saturday, January 31. 2009

Firefighters from Cressona and surrounding communities battled the cold fighting a fire in the borough overnight. Crews were called to the home at Third and Maple street, where a home was fully engulfed in flames. Early reports indicate the call came in around 2am.



A Kunkletown man will go to trial on charges that he was driving drunk when his pickup hit a car operated by Senator Jim Rhoades in Monroe County. District Judge Debby York bound the charges over during a 45 minute hearing Friday in Brodheadsville, Monroe County. DA David Christine and Assistant District Attorney Colleen Mancuso called state police trooper Jason Beers, first on the scene of the crash, and Lehigh County Chief Deputy Coroner to the stand to lay out their case that Thomas Senavitis was drunk when the accident happened on Route 209 in October, 2008. Christine says they are ready to go to trial:


Senavitis was represented by Public Defender Wes Niemoczynski, who questioned the validity of the crash reconstruction report compiled by state police Corporal Douglas Shook and the blood alcohol analysis conducted at St Luke's Hospital, where Senavitis was flown after the crash. Rhoades died from multiple blunt force injuries and his wife was seriously injured. Senator Rhoades son James Jr. and son in law, Attorney Christopher Hobbs were among those in attendance. Senavitis remains free on bail.


One Schuylkill County legislator offered praise to the state Department of Environmental Protection's denial of a permit revision application for a dumping site in Branch and Reilly Townships. 123rd District Rep. Neal Goodman has been adamant in his opposition to dumping biosolids by Blackwood Incorporated. The company wanted approval to dump those biosolids on the site of a mine reclamation project. The permit was denied last month.


One Pennsylvania dairy has announced a recall of a number of ice cream products following the FDA's investigation into salmonella problems with Peanut Corporation of America. Turkey Hill Dairy of Lancaster County is recalling 6 ice cream and frozen yogurt items that used peanut pieces from PCA. The federal govenment probe was expanded this week to include all peanut products processed by tthe company, which are linked to a salmonella outbreak. Turkey Hill products made with peanut butter or paste are not included in the recall. The products affected were distributed in Pennsylvania and other states in the Mid Atlantic region. The complete list is posted below or you can call 1-800-MY-DAIRY (1-800-693-2479).

Turkey Hill Tin Roof Sundae Premium Ice CreamContainer Size: 1.5 QuartsUPC Code: 0-20735-11013-3From Sell By Code: 08/09/2009 to 01/20/2010

Turkey Hill Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks® Stuff’dContainer Size: PintUPC Code: 0-20735-42080-5From Sell By Code: 10/09/2009 to 01/19/2010

Turkey Hill Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks® Light Recipe Ice CreamContainer Size: 1.5 QuartsUPC Code: 0-20735-12122-1From Sell By Code: 08/05/2009 to 01/06/2010

Turkey Hill Nutty Caramel Caribou® Frozen YogurtContainer Size: 1.5 QuartsUPC Code: 0-20735-12505-2From Sell By Code: 11/25/2009 to 12/19/2009

Turkey Hill Peanut Brittle No Sugar Added Recipe Ice CreamContainer Size: 1.5 QuartsUPC Code: 0-20735-13506-8From Sell By Code: 01/01/2008 to 12/12/2009

Turkey Hill Peanut Butter Mania Light Recipe® Ice CreamContainer Size: 1.5 QuartsUPC Code: 0-20735-12116-0From Sell By Code: 01/01/2008 to 01/06/2010


The week ahead will be an important one in Harrisburg, as Governor Rendell announces the state budget plan in these tough economic times. Chuck Nichols has this week's Republican digest:


Rendell says he wants dime-a-pack cigarette tax increase

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Cigarette smokers in Pennsylvania could soon be paying $1.45 a pack in taxes. Gov. Ed Rendell's plan to balance the state budget includes the cigarette tax increase, which is 10 cents a pack more than the current tax. Rendell says he also favors $50 million in taxes on smokeless tobacco and cigars, which are not currently taxed. Rendell revealed the idea and other details of his coming budget proposal during a conference call with about a dozen reporters at medium-sized newspapers around the state. Also, Rendell plans to seek $150 million a year in new taxes on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale rock

Pa. appeals court says owners can shoot dogs, cats

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The lawyer for a northeastern Pennsylvania woman who told her boyfriend to shoot her own dog says not everybody can afford to have pets euthanized at an animal clinic. Paul Levy got the Superior Court to overturn Wendy Colleen Kneller's conviction for conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals. The court says Pennsylvania law on cruelty to animals is so ambiguous that a reasonable person can't tell whether it prohibits shooting one's own pets. The court says the Carbon County woman told a state trooper that the dog had bitten her child. Prosecutors say Kneller gave her boyfriend a .40-caliber handgun and told him to shoot the dog.

No death penalty for triple killing in Pa.

TOWANDA, Pa. (AP) - A man convicted of killing his parents and brother in northeastern Pennsylvania is being spared the death penalty. A Bradford County jury couldn't reach a unanimous agreement Friday on whether 32-year-old Steven Colegrove, of Deposit, N.Y.,
deserves capital punishment. That means he automatically gets life without parole. The bodies of 60-year-old Joseph Colegrove, 56-year-old Marlene Colegrove and 36-year-old Michael Colegrove were found in their home near Towanda on Aug. 8, 2007. Prosecutors say Steven Colegrove killed his family to collect an inheritance.

2 men charged in Pa. Molotov cocktail attack

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Police say a Molotov cocktail attack in north-central Pennsylvania began with a dispute over a gold chain. No one was injured in the Jan. 21 attack in Williamsport because someone in the apartment picked up the gasoline-filled bottle and threw it outside.
Police say 40-year-old Christopher Gordon Crissman and 31-year-old Harry Damian Lykens tried to sell a gold chain to Greg Amos for $100. He wouldn't buy it and they got into an altercation, but Crissman and Lykens left. Police say they have surveillance video of Crissman and Lykens filling a bottle with gasoline minutes before the attack. Crissman and Lykens, who both live in State College, were arrested Friday. It wasn't immediately clear if they had lawyers.

Pa. panel says Philly fire dept. discriminated

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says city officials haven't decided whether to appeal a ruling saying the Fire Department illegally discriminated by age. Seven job applicants were removed from consideration because they were over age 40.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission says job qualifications aren't strictly tied to a person's age, "even when they include physical agility." The panel says that after the applicants were rejected, all took and passed the physical skills test required of firefighters. The department has been ordered to reinstate the candidates and stop treating applicants over 40 differently.

Pa. judge tosses state mercury pollution rule

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge has thrown out Pennsylvania's rule that requires coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions. Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini says the rule is unlawful, invalid and unenforceable. The two-year-old rule was challenged by Allentown-based PPL Corp., which has several coal-fired power plants in the state. PPL argued that Pennsylvania cannot enforce its mercury rule because it is based on a federal mercury rule that a judge struck down last year. Under Pennsylvania's rule, the state's three dozen coal-fired
plants had until 2015 to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent over 1999's emission levels. Federal officials say children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the toxic metal.

5 Pa. lawmakers to attend Obama's Super Bowl party

WASHINGTON (AP) - Five members of Congress from Pennsylvania plan to attend President Barack Obama's Super Bowl party. Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter plan to attend along with
three members of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania: Charlie Dent, Mike Doyle and Patrick Murphy. The only other state with more than one elected official attending is Super Bowl rival Arizona. Reps. Trent Franks and Raul Grijalva plan to be there Sunday. Overall, 11 Democratic and four Republican members of Congress plan to be in the White House to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Arizona Cardinals.

Pa. bar panel rates more Democratic candidates for appellate courts

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania bar panel is issuing ratings for a half-dozen Democratic candidates for the statewide appellate courts on the eve of the party's endorsements. The Judicial Evaulation Commission gave its top "highly recommended" rating Friday to Philadelphia Judge Teresa Sarmina in her bid for a single opening on the state Supreme Court. The only other Democratic candidate is Superior Court Judge Jack Panella of
Northampton County, who also was highly recommended. The panel also rated other Democratic candidates for Superior and Commonwealth courts. The state Democratic State Committee meets in Harrisburg tomorrow to endorse its favorites for the May primary.

Pa. dairies recall ice cream due to peanut risk

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Two Pennsylvania dairies are voluntarily recalling some ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors because of a possible link to salmonella-tainted peanuts. The recalls announced Friday by Galliker Dairy in Johnstown and Turkey Hill in Lancaster County are because the Peanut Corporation of America expanded its recall. Turkey Hill is recalling six flavors: Tin Roof Sundae Premium, Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks Stuff'd, Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks Light Recipe, Nutty Caramel Caribou Frozen Yogurt, Peanut Brittle No Sugar Added Recipe and Peanut Butter Mania Light Recipe. Galliker is recalling Rocky Road Ice Cream and Sundae Nut Cones. NutriSystem Inc., a provider of weight management products and services, announced a voluntary recall of its NutriSystem-branded Peanut Butter Granola Bar as a result of the expanded recall.

Pa. court says state must prove it owns prison log

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania judge says a dispute over who owns a rare state prison log book must go to trial. Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini on Thursday rejected requests for an immediate ruling from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Philadelphia antiques dealer Edward Marshall. State police seized the book from Marshall in September after he tried to sell it on eBay. The book lists the 744 convicts
incarcerated from 1839 to 1850 in the Eastern State Penitentiary Prison, which is now a museum. The state claims the book was stolen. Marshall's lawyer says it was purchased legally at auction in 1999.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's News-Friday, January 30, 2009


Democratic state senate candidate Steve Lukach opened his campaign headquarters last night in Pottsville. WPPA/T102 News Reporter Kerry Dowd was there and has this report:


Lukach will face Republican Dave Argall in the special election for the late Senator Jim Rhoades seat on March 3rd.


An educator and Pottsville civic leader has passed away. William J. Zimmerman, Pottsville
school board member and president died Wednesday at Geisinger Medical Center. Zimmerman served in various administrative and academci roles at Penn State Schuylkill Campus during his career, which spanned more than 30 years. He also served several terms as a school director, and was a fixture at school activities for many years. He is survived by his wife Cathy, and daughter Kate. Services will be held on Sunday afternoon. Zimmerman was 63.


BROADHEADSVILLE - The preliminary hearing for the man accused of driving drunk in the October 17th car crash that killed state Senator James Rhoades will be held at 10 a.m. today in the Chestnuthill Municipal Building, Brodheadsville, before District Judge Debby York. 45-year-old Thomas Senavitis, of Kunkletown, faces charges of homicide by vehicle/DUI after the accident in which he allegedly crossed into the senator's lane and caused the near head-on crash while driving with a blood-alcohol content more than four times the legal limit. The crash happened on Route 209 near Broadheadsville in Monroe County. WPPA News will be there to cover that hearing.


The tough economic times that face many people have led to a significant increase in Pennsylvanians without health insurance. Those findings were disclosed in a new study according to state Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario:


Some highlights of the 2008 study are that more and more people are waiting to get on the state's AdultBasic subsidized health insurance. In fact, more than 180-thousand people have applied for coverage. Children are not as affected, since they can qualify for the state sponsored CHIP program. State officials are working on ways to help those who don't have insurance or who are waiting to get on the state's program, in addition to other health insurance welfare programs.


A Shenandoah woman was slightly injured when her car flipped yesterday morning in East Union Township. 37 year old Diane Grutza was driving north on Route 924 when she lost control on a left curve. The car hit an embankment and ended up on it roof. Grutza was treated at the scene.

Group asks for expanded review of Pa. youth cases

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A youth advocacy group is expanding its motion asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to intervene in Luzerne County juvenile cases. The Juvenile Law Center is now asking the court to intervene in the cases of all juveniles placed in detention in Luzerne County from 2003 until May 23, 2008. That's when President Judge Mark
Ciavarella stopped presiding over juvenile cases. This week, federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella of taking kickbacks for placing juveniles in privately owned detention facilities.
The Juvenile Law Center says the expanded motion will be filed in court Friday. The state Supreme Court didn't explain its reasoning when it rejected an earlier motion only seeking relief
for juveniles who didn't have lawyers.

Pa. officer killed in highway accident

LANGHORNE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a police officer was struck by his own police car and killed after making a traffic stop in suburban Philadelphia. Authorities say Middletown Township police Officer Chris Jones died of head injuries at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Police say Jones was working a traffic detail on northbound Route 1 in Middletown when he stopped a sedan, parking his cruiser behind the vehicle. He appeared to be walking back to his cruiser
when he was hit, causing three cars to collide and pinning Jones beneath his vehicle. Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry says passersby stopped to help Jones, lifting up the police car to free him. He died at a hospital. Jones was 37 and a father of three. He had been on the force for 10 years.

Pa. teacher accused of sexual contact with student

HAVERFORD, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia teacher is accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old student. Court papers say 38-year-old Curtis Key of Wayne told Haverford
Township police that he had sexual contact with the boy twice. The Haverford High School teacher's lawyer, Joseph Chupein Jr., says Key has cooperated in the investigation and looks forward to resolving the charges. Key was arraigned Thursday on a corruption of minors charge and faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 5.

Judge orders 2 Amish families to stop construction

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge has ordered two Amish families in western Pennsylvania to stop additional construction on their homes until they comply with municipal building and sewage requirements. A Cambria County judge gave John and Susan Miller, and Joely and
Mary Swartzentruber, 60 days to comply or risk being thrown out of their homes near Ebensburg. The injunctions were issued late Wednesday. County sewage officials say the families have objected to installing permitted sewage systems because of their religious
beliefs. The couples are Swartzentruber Amish, a conservative Amish sect. Another member of the local sect is disputing whether school outhouses must comply with municipal guidelines.
An attorney for the families could not immediately be reached.

Pa. House GOP says Rendell sitting on millions

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are charging that Gov. Ed Rendell is sitting on millions in unspent funds that could be used to balance the state budget. GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said Thursday there is $268 million
in prior year balances that could be applied to the current financial crisis. He says Rendell has only offered to use $101 million of that amount to close the budget gap. Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo says those figures are intentionally misleading. He says they include money that may be spent in the current year as well as funds spent at the Legislature's discretion that the administration does not control.

Ex-Fumo aide breaks down on witness stand

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The longtime senate counsel for former state Sen. Vincent Fumo says he sidestepped questions from a potential competitor of Peco Energy. Christopher Craig testified at Fumo's corruption trial that Enron asked him about any side agreements made between Fumo and Peco during deregulation talks in the late 1990s. Craig says he didn't tell Enron about Peco's $17 million donation to a charity linked to Fumo, called Citizens Alliance for
Better Neighborhoods. He says he didn't consider the oral agreement between Peco and Fumo to be "legally enforceable," and therefore didn't feel compelled to disclose it. Craig grew red-faced and fought back tears as he said he still thinks he did nothing wrong. The judge recessed for lunch to give Craig a chance to compose himself.

Pa. AG settles drug discount card consumer case

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania consumers who bought discount prescription cards from a suburban Philadelphia company are eligible for restitution. State Attorney General Tom Corbett said Thursday his office's health care section reached a $230,000 settlement with Peoples Benefit Services Inc. The state sued more than three years ago, saying the company
misled older people by claiming their products were endorsed by the government and could result in significant savings on medication and treatment. Consumers have until March 24 to seek restitution. The phone number is 877-888-4877. The settlement also includes fines and payment of the state's court costs.

Pennsylvania SPCA closes shelter in Poconos

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - An animal shelter in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has shut down abruptly. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it closed the shelter near Stroudsburg for lack of money, leadership and community support. Volunteers there say they found out that the shelter was closing only hours before it shut down for good Thursday. Other animal shelters in the area are taking in some animals from the SPCA shelter. The society says if all else fails, remaining animals will be taken to Pennsylvania SPCA headquarters in Philadelphia.

Obama rooting for Steelers in Super Bowl

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Bob Casey says he plans to bring Terrible Towels and Eat'n Park cookies to the White House for President Barack Obama's Super Bowl party. Obama says he wishes the Arizona Cardinals the best, but he's pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers in football's biggest game. Steelers owner Dan Rooney, a longtime Republican, endorsed Obama's presidential bid and campaigned for him. During Oval Office remarks, Obama noted that one of the Steelers most beloved former players, Franco Harris, had campaigned for him in Pittsburgh, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009









Today's News-Thursday, January 29, 2009


Many area schools have opted for a late start today in the aftermath of the storm that dumped nearly a half foot of snow and ice. The big travel issue today is black ice, since temperatures dipped into the low 20's overnight, freezing any slush and standing water. The good news is that we'll have partly cloudy skies today, and forecasters are predicting a warm up this coming weekend. A little extra time is the order of the day this Thursday.


A direct mail company is shuttering one facility in northern Schuylkill County. The Republican and Herald indicates that Transcontinental Direct USA is closing their Frackville site, located on the Morea Road. Reports say that 18 layoffs will be permanent, with the remaining employees being offered positions at their Hamburg plant. The company cites reduced demand for direct mail from the financial industry.


Wednesday's storm kept state and local police busy with crashes on area roadways. 43 year old Dotsy Melvin of New Ringgold was injured when she lost control of her car on snow and ice covered Route 895 in East Brunswick Township. The car went down an embankment. Melvin's head hit the steering wheel. She was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center-South for treatment. In a two vehicle accident on Route 61 in West Brunswick Township, David Moon of Hamburg and Kenneth Moser of Reading collided head on after Moon lost control on the snow covered road Wednesday morning. Moser was taken to the hospital for treatment of moderate injuries. Two crashes took place within hours of each other on Route 901, the Gordon Nagle Trail as well, but details of those accidents are not yet available.


A homeless shelter in Pottsville has shut its doors. Ark House, which used city churches to provide a temporary place for people in need to go, has closed. The Republican and Herald reports that the loss of tax exempt status and lack of volunteers forced the closing. Most recently, the United Presbyterian Church in Pottsville offered shelter to the needy. Other agencies are offering some help, but funds are in short supply to continue serving the need.


Officials of Boscov's have gone back to Butler County to pitch the loan program to help bring the company from bankruptcy. Butler is one of two counties that said no to participating in the complex financing package totaling $35 million dollars. The counties, including Schuylkill, have been asked to act as a pass-through with CDBG monies to aid Albert Boscov and his brother, Edwin Lakin, buy the company and bring it back from bankruptcy. Five counties have already agreed to the plan, and would be made whole if Boscov's defaults. Schuylkill's share stands at $5.8 million dollars right now.


GRATZ - A masked man robs two businesses minutes apart Tuesday night. The man armed with a handgun robbed Lisi's Shell Convenience store on Market Street in Gratz just after eight p.m. He then robbed the Subway restaurant on North Market Street in Elizabethville about 15 minutes later. In both robberies the bandit got away with cash. He's described as a white man in his late teens or early twenties, standing about five foot eight inches tall, wearing a black and white polka-dot bandanna over his face. He drove away in a dark colored Jeep Grand Cherokee. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call state police, Lykens.


Calling all current and former cub and boy scouts! The Boy Scouts of America are celebrating a big birthday, and are working on a project to commemorate the anniversary. Sally Trump, Director of Camping for Hawk Mountain Council explains:


Trump says that anyone who has items to share for the book should come to the Mahanoy City
Public Library today from 4pm till 8pm. She tells us what they are looking for:


The library is located on West Mahanoy Street in Mahanoy City. For information, call the scout service center in Berks County at 610-926-3406.

Philadelphia counts its homeless

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Volunteers and outreach workers are searching the streets of Philadelphia for homeless people. The census of the homeless began at midnight and is to last into Thursday's pre-dawn hours. The city counts the number of people staying in shelters, but the outreach program of a nonprofit group called Project HOME coordinates the count of those living on the street. Outreach worker Sam Santiago says counts of the homeless are always done in the last week of the month. Santiago says homelessness is highest then because many who can afford cheap rooms at the beginning of the month run out of money at the end. He
says that's often the case with people getting government benefits such as disability checks.
The count is part of a federally mandated national count of the homeless.

NY man convicted in rural Pa. triple killing

TOWANDA, Pa. (AP) - A jury has convicted an upstate New York man of three counts of first-degree murder for killing his parents and a brother in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The Bradford County jury convicted 32-year-old Steven Colegrove of Deposit, N.Y., on Wednesday night. District Attorney Daniel Barrett is seeking the death penalty. The same jury must make that decision after hearing witnesses in a penalty phase. Colegrove automatically gets life without parole if the jury does not agree he deserves death. The victims of the Aug. 8, 2007, shotgun slaying are Colegrove's father, Joseph; his mother, Marlene, and his brother Michael.
Earlier Wednesday, the defense lawyer argued that his client's surviving brother and that man's wife might have killed the victims.

NRC: Pa. nuclear plant workers fear retaliation

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The Susquehanna nuclear plant in northeastern Pennnsylvania is the nation's leader in anonymous allegations made by employees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agency says it believes some workers at the plant near Berwick are afraid to raise safety issues with their bosses because they fear retaliation. Regulators have issued a warning letter to Allentown-based PPL saying the company must take steps to preclude a "chilled" work environment at the power plant. The plant's community relations manager says workers are encouraged to speak up about safety concerns. He says they company also has its own system in place to submit concerns anonymously.

Pa. Supreme Court removes implicated county judges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has removed from the bench two Luzerne County judges charged in a $2.6 million kickback scheme. The high court took action Wednesday against Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. The judges were charged in federal court Monday with taking kickbacks in return for guaranteeing the placement of juvenile offenders into two privately owned detention facilities. The Supreme Court suspended Ciavarella with pay. The justices stripped Conahan of his senior judge certification and said he will no longer receive payment. Conahan retired as a full-time judge
more than a year ago but continued to hear cases as a senior judge. Both judges have agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges. The plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years in federal prison.

Deadly winter storm disrupts power, travel

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Delays and cancellations are plaguing air travelers throughout the Northeast, after a snow and ice storm that's knocked out power to more than a million people. The storm is also blamed for at least 23 deaths. It's brought a glaze of ice and snow from the Southern Plains to New England. Hundreds of thousands are in the dark in Arkansas, and nearly a half million homes and businesses in Kentucky are without power. It could be a week before some communities have electricity again. Warming temperatures turned the snow and ice to rain in the mid-Atlantic region, but the storm is bringing a lot of snow further north. Some parts of Vermont could get 16 inches.

Rendell notifies Pa. unions of intent to furlough

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The leader of a union that represents 45,000 state workers says Gov. Ed Rendell's budget demands are unacceptable. David Fillman says the state shouldn't be threatening layoffs until it's exhausted other sources of revenue. He's the head of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Among other things, Rendell's negotiators have told union leaders that the state may institute "rolling furloughs." If that happens, large parts of state government would be shuttered on certain days, while the workers would go without pay. A spokesman for Rendell says the 30-day furlough notice was
issued as a legal requirement but doesn't mean furloughs are more imminent or inevitable.

Pa. auditor general: Welfare Dept. overpaid Medicaid $3M for ineligible recipients

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A new report says Pennsylvania's public welfare agency overpaid Medicaid by more than $3 million over a hree-year period because it didn't properly determine recipients' eligibility. Auditor General Jack Wagner said Wednesday auditors found errors
in more than 1,600 of nearly 12,000 selected cases between January 2005 and March 2008.
The cases represent a random sample of more than half a million cases handled by 79 county assistance offices. Wagner says the department's errors included failure to promptly review recipients' financial eligibility. Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Stacey Witalec
says Wagner is overestimating the problem and isn't considering other factors that determine Medicaid eligibility, such as whether a recipient is caring for disabled children.

Penn State prez: Vacant jobs likely to be left open

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - The head of Penn State University is preparing his faculty for potentially more bad budget news. President Graham Spanier told a Faculty Senate gathering Tuesday that vacant jobs would likely be left open, and raised the possibility of layoffs. Spanier stressed the school is looking first at other ways to save money. The school had its state appropriations slashed in the middle of this academic year. Spanier says he expects similar bad news when Gov. Ed Rendell offers his latest state budget proposal next week. Separately, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey has announced it will cut 260 jobs by September. The cuts would be achieved through attrition.

Pa. joins mortgage-aid settlement with Countrywide

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A spokesman for Countrywide Financial's parent company says Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett is taking credit for a mortgage-aid program that already existed. Bank of America spokesman Rick Simon says more than $8 billion in mortgage aid is available to qualified borrowers in all 50 states. He says that's true regardless of whether the states join the settlement. Pennsylvania and 30 other states have signed the settlement with Countrywide over allegedly deceptive mortgage practices before Bank of America acquired it. Corbett's spokesman says until the settlement with Pennsylvania prosecutors announced Wednesday, there was no legally binding agreement for mortgage aid.

Multistate prostitution ring leader gets 25 years

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The lawyer for a man sentenced to 25 years in prison for helping run a multistate prostitution ring says his client will appeal the sentence. A federal judge in Harrisburg sentenced 39-year-old Franklin Robinson of Toledo, Ohio. Defense lawyer Stephen Becker says sentencing guidelines call for less than three and a half years. Becker says both Robinson and the women who worked with him were raised in areas where prostitution and selling drugs were the norm. Becker acknowledges there was some violence between his client
and the women who worked for him. But he says there was never any credible evidence that any woman suffered serious injuries. Prosecutors say at least nine of the ring's prostitutes were
underage girls when they were brought into the world of prostitution. One was 12 years old.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The latest weekly report on first-time jobless claims is expected to be down from the previous week but still near a 26-year-high. Economists forecast that about 575,000 initial claims were filed. That's just under the mark set last November. Many corporations are still announcing layoffs.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the $819 billion economic recovery package passed by the House will "save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years." All House Republicans were joined by 11 mostly conservative Democrats
in voting no.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Labor and women's groups get some of their due from President Barack Obama today. He'll sign an equal-pay bill hat is expected to make it easier for workers to sue for
decades-old discrimination.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed disaster declarations for Kentucky and Arkansas in the wake of a major winter snow and ice storm. It left 23 dead from the southern plains to the Northeast and more than a million people stranded in the dark.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) - No damage or injuries are reported after a small earthquake off the California coast. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-4.2 earthquake was centered
about 40 miles south of Catalina island and about 60 miles off the coast of San Diego.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009




Shenandoah: No parking on Centre St. and Main St. No parking in alleys.

Middleport: Parking restrictions through Thursday. Garbage pickup tomorrow.

Minersville: No parking on snow routes until further notice.


No evening classes at...

Alvernia University

Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences

McCann Pottsville... make-up date for evening classes is Friday, February 6th.


Redner's Pharmacy, Schuylkill Haven: closing at 5PM

Waymart, both stores: closing at 7PM

Holy Cross Kitchen, New Philadelphia: closed Thursday


No evening programs at Schuylkill YMCA & YWCA.

Today's News-Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Forecasters pegged the latest winter weather just right. Snow began last evening, blanketing the region. That precipitation will change over to sleet, freezing rain and possibly plain rain as the day wears on. Road crews have been out all night, but that doesn't mean that travel will be easy. The Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 8pm tonight. Allow for extra time today when traveling. A Weather Watch is in effect.


Police say a Pine Grove woman stockpiled cat food donated to her purported animal sanctuary and resold some of it to finance a drug habit. Police say 50-year-old Virginia Kresge Justiniano let dozens of animals go hungry. Mary Ellen Smith of the Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA says storage sheds on Justiniano's Pine Grove property were filled with donated cat food. Smith says the food has been sitting unused for months and possibly years. Pine Grove police Officer Mark Resue says the fenced-in facility called Cats With No Name once operated as a shelter for unwanted animals. But he says it degenerated when Justiniano and her boyfriend became hooked and began selling large quantities of cat food at auctions to buy heroin and other drugs.


An Auburn area business will not reopen their fire damaged plant. Precisionaire, which made air filters, was heavily damaged by an arson fire in September, and now the company has decided to close the plant, leaving more than 100 employees without jobs. In a company statement, Precisionaire parent, Flanders Corporation says the current economic climate determined it wasn't feasible to reopen. A former employee, 31 year old John Yerusavage of Auburn, admitted to setting the fire.


A retired Pottsville police chief has announced his candidacy for the office of Schuylkill County Sheriff. 57 year old Dale Repp of North Manheim Township used the county courthouse steps to announce his bid for the Republican nomination Tuesday afternoon. Repp cites his experience for the job:


Repp has been on the faculty of McCann School of Business and Technology since his retirement in 2003. He is a graduate of Penn State University and has completed several law enforcement management programs.


A boil-water advisory is in effect for Pine Grove water customers starting at the intersection of Route 125 and Shultz Road to Jecks Service Center in Ravine. This will affect approximately 50 homes. A water main break was repaired yesterday.


State police are investigating the theft of several tons of coal from a New Castle Township breaker. Sometime between Monday and Tuesday, unknown thieves took more than 4 tons of coal from the St Nicholas Breaker, owned by Reading Anthracite. Anyone with information should call Frackville state police at 874-5300.

Rendell administration plans to cut 1,000 to 2,000 jobs

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell's administration expects to cut 1,000 to 2,000 jobs from the state work force. The job cuts would represent 1.3 percent to 2.6 percent of the
state's 78,000 full-time, salaried employees. Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo declined to identify which departments will be cut. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dwight Evans says he figures the state will need to plug a $5.6 billion hole as it develops a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. The Philadelphia Democrat says the state faces a $4.3 billion
income shortfall, plus nearly $1.3 billion in "increased bills." The figures combine the current year's deficit with what's needed to balance the budget in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Pa. city struck by arsons orders porch items gone

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Another suspicious fire has broken out in Coatesville, but an official says it did no damage. The city about 30 miles west of Philadelphia had a blaze that ripped through 15 row homes over the weekend. A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the latest fire broke out at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a trash can outside a residence. It was extinguished by the owner of the property, and the fire department also responded. City officials warned residents Tuesday to remove items such as
upholstered furniture, trash and debris from their porches within 24 hours or face fines. Many of the nearly 30 suspected arsons reported in the city of 11,000 since January 2008 have begun among such items.

Pa. judge denies taking kickbacks for sentencing juveniles

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A judge is denying allegations that he took millions of dollars in exchange for placing juvenile offenders into privately owned detention facilities. Two Luzerne County judges, including President Judge Mark Ciavarella, have agreed to plead guilty to
honest services fraud and tax fraud. But Ciavarella's lawyer says that could fall apart because his client doesn't concede all the accusations in the government's criminal complaint. He says Ciavarella won't go through with his guilty plea if the allegations remain at the time of sentencing. Specifically, he's denying that he had any child locked up because of money he was paid. Also charged in the alleged scheme is Senior Judge Michael Conahan.

Man shot by gun owned by Colts' Harrison on trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The former lawyer for a 32-year-old Philadelphia man shot with Marvin Harrison's gun says police had him kicked out of the hospital -- then questioned his client. Dwight Dixon is headed to trial Wednesday, accused of lying to police. Joseph Santiguida says he went to the hospital immediately after Dixon called and said he'd been shot. He says Dixon told him the Colts receiver shot him, but he didn't want to tell police that for fear of retaliation. Santiguida says when detectives entered the room to interview Dixon, he told police that Dixon didn't want to talk. Santiguida says he and the officers got into an argument, that police had hospital personnel order him to leave and then questioned Dixon.

2 survivors of double-fatal Pa. crash discharged

DANVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Two Drexel University students who survived a double-fatal crash in north-central Pennsylvania have been discharged from a hospital. Tuesday's discharges of 19-year-old driver Andrew Cardamone and 18-year-old Kevin MacDonald means only two remain hospitalized with injuries from Sunday's crash. A nursing supervisor at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville says 18-year-old Eric Rayburn was in fair condition Tuesday night. Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre reported Adam Marsh also in fair condition. Sunday's pre-dawn one-vehicle crash killed 21-year-old John Williamson Jr. and 22-year-old Ian Alexander. All involved were
from Philadelphia and its suburbs. It remained unclear Tuesday what caused Cardamone to lose control of the vehicle.

Phila. police report vehicular assault on officer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia police officer is hospitalized from what police say was a deliberate car crash. Police say it happened during a Tuesday night traffic stop in the city's Grays Ferry neighborhood. Police say the driver who was pulled over put the car into reverse and slammed into the police car, pinning the officer in between. The officer has a hip injury but is expected to recover.

Human error suspected in Philly train accident

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A transit agency spokesman says human error is suspected as the cause of an accident that delayed Philadelphia commuter rail but caused no major injuries.
A work train ran into the back of a commuter train at about 4:40 a.m. Tuesday near the Fern Rock station in North Philadelphia. At the time of the crash, two Southeastern Pennsylvania
Transportation Authority employees and 16 passengers were on the commuter train and five crew members were on the work train. Nine people were treated and released at a hospital.
SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney says initial inspections of the signal, communications and mechanical systems showed all were working properly.

Pa. man gets life for high school athlete's death

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of a high school football and basketball player. Beaver County Judge Richard Mancini sentenced 19-year-old Dennis Hauser Jr. on Monday for the shooting death of 19-year-old Tyler Wade-Epps, a Rochester Area High School student. Mancini also added
three to seven years for illegal gun possession. A jury convicted Hauser in September. Authorities say Hauser shot Wade-Epps several times in a parking lot of Aliquippa's Linmar Terrace housing complex on April 7, 2007. Wade-Epps' mother, Brenda Epps, asked Hauser in court why he shot her son, but Hauser didn't answer.

Pa. Sen. Specter explains Geithner vote

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter says he ultimately voted against President Barack Obama's nominee for treasury secretary over a tax issue. Timothy Geithner was confirmed by a 60-34 Senate vote Monday, after paying back more than $42,000 in unpaid taxes and interest that he owed before he was nominated. Specter told reporters Tuesday that when Geithner was audited, he only paid the taxes that were within the statute of limitations.
Specter says Geithner knew how much he owed for 2001 and 2002 and should have paid that even though he couldn't be prosecuted for it. Specter joined most other Republicans in voting against Geithner, though he said earlier Monday that he was inclined to vote yes.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An $825 billion economic stimulus plan of tax cuts and new spending is likely to pass the Democrat-controlled House today. President Barack Obama has promised to consider Republican ideas, but they likely won't be incorporated before the House vote.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama heads to the Pentagon today to talk about Iraq with the four U.S. military service chiefs. Obama has promised to withdraw combat troops and the service chiefs are among those who have expressed concerns about long, repeated deployments.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The main voting isn't until Saturday but Iraqis who are needed to work that day can cast ballots today in provincial elections. Authorities hope the election will open the
political process to more groups and further erode support for extremists.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A report from top engineers suggests much of America's infrastructure is essentially on life-support. The American Society of Civil Engineers says the cost to fix it all is
roughly three times the amount of the president's stimulus package.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - An MP3 player containing U.S. military files is now in American hands. A New Zealand man discovered the files, including names and telephone numbers of American soldiers. He says he bought the player at a thrift shop in Oklahoma last year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WEATHERWATCH- Tuesday, January 27, 2009



A boil-water advisory is in effect for Pine Grove water customers starting at the intersection of Route 125 and Shultz Road to Jecks Service Center in Ravine. This will affect approximately 50 homes. A water main is being repaired. The repair is expected to be completed today; however the boil-water advisory will be in effect for several days



Snow Emergency declared in the borough of Ashland, Wednesday from 2am till 6am. Parking will be prohibited on Hoffman Boulevard from Brock Street to Centre Street and also on Centre Street from Front Street to 23rd Street. Residents are ordered to move their cars from these locations between 2am and 6am. Any vehicles not moved from these locations will be fined $50 and towed away at owner’s expense.


Tonight’s North Schuylkill at Jim Thorpe Boys Basketball game will be Varsity Only, and will begin at 6 pm.


West End Fire and Rescue, Mahanoy City-Novelty Games cancelled

Today's News-Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A Pottsville man is facing charges of theft of funds from a city business. Thomas Wiley Jr. currently jailed in Schuylkill County Prison for running an investment scheme, is now charged with taking money from Seltzer Meat Products, where he was running the day to day operations. Between February and May of last year, Wiley allegedly took more than $24-thousand-dollars from the company, and a $5-thousand-dollar payment from Paul Lazarchick. Lazarchick was making a down payment to buy Seltzer, but Wiley put the money in his own account. Wiley is charged with theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and other counts. A preliminary hearing on the new charges is set for Friday.


A 17 year old Blue Mountain student is having his case transferred to juvenile court. In December, the teen allegedly plotted to do harm to students at the school, and was originally charged as an adult with attempted homicide. Now, if found guilty, the boy would face possible confinement in a juvenile facility until he is 21 years old. Several weapons and military paraphernalia were found at the boy's home after the plot was uncovered in mid-December. The Republican and Herald reports that the boy's attorney contends that the allegations against his client were without facts to back up the charges, and that the weapons confiscated were locked up and not accessible to him.


Snow and ice is expected to pass through Schuylkill County by tomorrow morning. The snow portion of the storm will move in later today into early this evening, then continue and mix with sleet into Wednesday. Possible accumulations of 3 to 6 inches are predicted and a Winter Storm Watch posted by the National Weather Service for tonight through Wednesday evening.


A Sunday evening fire in Sheppton was apparently caused by a heat lamp. A state police investigation determined that yesterday. The blaze at 21 West Market Street in Sheppton started around 6:30pm Sunday. Four people lived there. The heat lamp was located in the basement. Damages to the property are estimated in excess of $50-thousand-dollars.

Luzerne County DA promises to review juvenile cases

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll says her office will review cases in which offenders may have been improperly placed into juvenile detention.
This comes after federal prosecutors say two judges got $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for placing juvenile offenders into certain detention facilities. Court papers say that in some cases, Mark Ciavarella ordered children into detention even when juvenile probation officers didn't recommend it. He's charged along with Judge Michael Conahan. They have agreed to plead guilty to honest services fraud and tax fraud. The district attorney hasn't said exactly how many cases her office will review.

Judge to consider dismissing counts in Fumo trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge says he will consider a defense motion to dismiss some of the charges in the corruption trial of former state Sen. Vincent Fumo. U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter says he will rule Tuesday on dismissing five fraud counts involving the Independence Seaport Museum. The 65-year-old Philadelphia Democrat is charged in a 139-count indictment with defrauding the state Senate, the museum and a South Philadelphia charity run by a co-defendant of more than $3.5 million. He is also charged with obstruction related to the destruction of e-mail evidence. Fumo returned to court Monday after spending two nights in the cardiac unit of a hospital where he was taken after he fell ill in court Thursday afternoon.

Pa. Sen. Specter reverses course on Geithner vote

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter voted against President Barack Obama's nominee for treasury secretary. Specter said earlier in the day that he was leaning toward supporting Timothy Geithner, who was confirmed by a 60-34 Senate vote. Geithner was confirmed after paying back more than $42,000 in unpaid taxes and interest that he owed before he was nominated. Specter joined most other Republicans in voting against Geithner.
Specter said at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon before the vote that he was inclined to overlook Geithner's unpaid taxes because he doesn't want a long delay in the selection of a new
treasury secretary. Geithner has described his failure to pay the taxes a matter of careless mistakes.

Eastern Pa. student, 12, hit, killed by school bus

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. (AP) - The Lehigh County coroner says the death of a 12-year-old boy killed by a school bus is a homicide. Dakota Galusha was hit Monday morning outside the Northampton Area Middle School in Northampton. Northampton School District Superintendent Linda Firestone says some students told school officials that Galusha had been pushed, causing the accident. She said investigators hoped surveillance footage from a camera near the site would help clarify what happened. Firestone says the boy had just been dropped off at the school by a parent and was climbing the hill to the school's entrance at the time.

Arson-plagued city addresses issue at City Council meeting

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - More than 170 people crammed into a Coatesville City Council meeting following a spate of arson there. At Monday night's meeting, council members formalized the state of emergency called Sunday by the city manager. They added $5,000
to a reward fund and authorized the purchase of 1,000 motion sensor lights for residents to buy at cost. Police Chief William Matthews asked for the authority to impose a citywide curfew as needed. Council members said they would consider that but took no action. Coatesville is a distressed steel town of about 11,000 people that's about 35 miles west of Philadelphia.

Pa. judge keeps 9-18 year sentence for baby killer

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A judge has reaffirmed the nine-to-18-year prison sentence he gave to a former Erie college student who killed her newborn. Erie County Judge William Cunningham said Monday that 20-year-old Teri Rhodes displayed cunning in hiding her pregnancy
and concealing the crime. He says she had other options. Rhodes' attorney, Philip Friedman, had appealed the sentence, calling it too harsh. But Cunningham says Friedman wanted to focus
only on the stress Rhodes was under while pregnant. The former Mercyhurst College student pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing her newborn in August 2007 after hiding her pregnancy and researching ways to kill a fetus on the Internet. Cunningham has scheduled a Feb. 4 hearing on whether to release Rhodes on bail pending further appeal.

Plea solves 2006 Pa. police shooting

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A guilty plea by a Philadelphia man solves a 2006 case in which someone fired shots at suburban police officers. Federal prosecutors say 59-year-old Willie Brooks pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The plea comes from Brooks leading Newtown Township police on a high-speed chase into Tyler State Park in the summer of 2007. Police found a loaded handgun and burglary tools in his van. State police later determined that Brooks' gun was the same one used to fire shots at several Radnor Township police officers on Dec. 6, 2006. Brooks could get anywhere from 15 years in prison to life when sentenced April 27.

W.Pa. school rape suspect sentenced to supervision

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania teenager accused of raping girls on and off a suburban Pittsburgh school campus has been sentenced, but the judge isn't giving details.
Allegheny County Judge Jack McVay only says the boy will under juvenile court supervision, but he isn't saying for how long. The boy pleaded guilty to some charges last month, but the judge isn't saying to what. The Upper St. Clair High School student was charged with rape,
terroristic threats and assault. Three teenage girls say he raped them and a fourth says he
sexually assaulted her. The boy left court Monday with his family and his attorneys, all of whom declined comment. The victims and their families also declined comment. One of the victims has sued the school.

Rendell praises Obama's step on vehicle emissions

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell is praising a decision by President Barack Obama that could result in Pennsylvania dealers selling cars and trucks that are more earth friendly.
Obama on Monday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider allowing California, Pennsylvania and 15 other states to control the amount of greenhouse gases in truck and car exhaust. In 2006, the Rendell administration approved a new rule following California's lead. It would have required that 2009 model year cars and light-duty trucks bought by Pennsylvania residents emit less carbon and other gases thought to contribute to global
warming. But the Bush administration rejected those efforts, and instead ordered improvements to fuel economy in cars and trucks as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Injured US soldier says he was shocked in shower

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Army military police officer from Hamburg, Pa., says he was knocked unconscious and severely burned by an electric shock in a shower trailer in Iraq. The trailer was installed by the same contractor an Army criminal investigation has pegged in an electrocution death of a soldier from Pittsburgh. Pfc. Justin Shults says he suffered his injuries last October in a shower trailer that KBR Inc. had delivered to his unit. Shults is recovering in an outpatient unit at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He said in a telephone interview he has burns on his limbs and groin. The circumstances of Shults' injuries are similar to those that led to the death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a Green Beret from Pittsburgh. Maseth was electrocuted in January 2008 while showering in his barracks in Baghdad.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans will get a chance to vent their concerns about the economic stimulus package to President Barack Obama today. An Obama spokesman says the president expects to hear some good ideas. Some GOP lawmakers say the tax provisions are flawed and the price tag too high.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The executives in charge as banks started failing are generally the ones being asked to save them. An Associated Press analysis of banks receiving federal bailout money
finds nearly nine out of every 10 of the most senior executives from 2006 are still on the job.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate panel will question federal regulators about the multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme allegedly spawned by disgraced money manager Bernard Madoff. The Securities and Exchange Commission has faced heavy criticism over its failure to discover the multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Violence is flaring up again in Gaza. Palestinian militants have detonated a bomb targeting an Israeli army patrol along the border. Palestinian security officials also say Israeli troops shot and killed a 27-year-old man and wounded two others.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An ice storm is making roads treacherous in several states. Ice is blamed for at least five traffic deaths. Dozens of accidents have been reported in Oklahoma and Texas, and officials as far east as Kentucky are bracing for more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Today's News-Monday, January 26, 2009


Three Auburn residents were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash Sunday afternoon in Deer Lake. 22 year old Timothy Hostetter was driving southbound on Route 61 and 68 year old Barry Deeds was headed north. After passing the intersection with Route 895, Hostetter's car left the roadway and hit the guiderail and careened across Route 61, hitting Deed's SUV head on. Hostetter and 66 year old Abby Deeds, a passenger in the second car, were flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital. Barry Deeds was taken to Reading Hospital via ambulance. State police say the crash happened around 2:30pm Sunday.


An apparent family argument led to the stabbing of a Pottsville man Saturday night. Pottsville police say that 41 year old Todd Richter of Cressona pulled a switchblade on 25 year old Travis Kromer and stabbed him in the stomach. Richter reportedly waited at the 20th Street home in Pottsville until police arrived. Kromer is in the hospital in critical condition. Richter was arraigned on charges of aggravated and simple assault and other counts. He is lodged in Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $25-thousand-dollars bail.


A Sunday afternoon blaze heavily damaged a Wayne Township home. The fire broke out after lunchtime at 5 June Avenue, owned by Steven Michael. The Republican and Herald reports that someone was using a blowtorch in the basement, causing the fire. Michael's wife and two children escaped without injury. Fire crews from Friedensburg, Schuylkill Haven and surrounding communities battled the smoky blaze.


A McAdoo man is charged with fleeing from police on an ATV. State troopers from the Frackville barracks say that 49 year old Brian Kolbush was driving an ATV on Sherman Street and Route 309, without a helmet and without a license plate. He was also going the wrong way on a one way street. When troopers tried to stop Kolbush, he fled. He was stopped a short time later, and was charged with several vehicle code violations. The incident happened Saturday afternoon in McAdoo.

Fire strikes 15 row homes in southeastern Pa.; city declares state of emergency amid arson string

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - The suburban Philadelphia city of Coatesville has declared a state of emergency after the latest in a string of suspicious fires heavily damaging 15 row homes,
displacing dozens of people. City Manager Harry Walker says authorities believe the 11:30
p.m. Saturday blaze was deliberately set. He says damage is estimated at $1.2 million, bringing the total fire damage since last summer to $3 million. The American Red Cross of southeastern Pennsylvania says it is helping 50 people in 14 families - 32 adults and 18 children. At least 30 arsons have been reported since the beginning of last year, about half of them in the last three weeks and following three arrests in December. The latest fire came despite stepped-up
police patrols and investigative help from county, state and federal agencies. Several rewards have been offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the string of arsons.

2 Drexel students dead, 4 injured in Pa. crash

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Drexel University officials say two students were killed and four other students were seriously injured in a one-car crash in north-central Pennsylvania. Drexel spokesman Noah Cohen has confirmed to The Associated Press that the six-men, ages 18 to 22, in the car that crashed early Sunday on southbound Route 15 in Lycoming County were
students at the Philadelphia school. Pennsylvania state police say no information about the accident near Liberty, about 30 miles northwest of Williamsport, is being released pending an investigation. State police identified those killed as 21-year-old John P. Williamson Jr., of Havertown, and 22-year-old Ian Alexander, of Royersford. Police say it was not known whether they were wearing seat belts. Trooper Travis Doebler says in a report that the other four men
were wearing seat belts and are hospitalized in serious condition. They are identified as Andrew F. Cardamone, 19, of Philadelphia, the driver, and Eric S. Rayburn, 18, of Quakertown; Kevin A.
Macdonald, 18, of Philadelphia, and Adam D. Marsh, 20, of Collegeville.

Delaware State Police say aggressive driving a factor in I-95 crash that killed 3

CLAYMONT, Del. (AP) - Delaware state police say aggressive driving was a factor in a crash that killed three people on Interstate 95. Police say witnesses reported that shortly before the crash the driver of a sports utility vehicle was speeding and aggressively passing other vehicles.
Three people were killed and a fourth was critically injured after the SUV crossed the median on Interstate 95 into oncoming traffic. The accident happened around 1:30 p.m. Saturday on I-95
north of Marsh Road. Police say a 50-year-old Wilmington man and 47-year-old Wilmington woman in the Explorer and the 72-year-old driver of the sedan died. The 78-year-old Philadelphia woman who was a passenger in the sedan was taken to Christiana Hospital in critical condition.

Pa. slots revenue, race purses yield breeding boom; studs include 1998 Derby winner Real Quiet

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania is the rare state enjoying an upswing in horse breeding with the help of millions of dollars in new funding from slots revenues. In fact, Penn Ridge Farms in Swatara Township, near Harrisburg, is the home of 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet. Breeder Mike Jester is the majority owner of both the farm and
the prized horse, which commands a $7,500 stud fee. Jester says it's not easy to get a Kentucky Derby winner out of that state. The Jockey Club says the number of mares bred in Pennsylvania
last year climbed more than 30 percent last year, although there was a drop in the number in the nation as a whole. The state Gaming Control Board says purses in Pennsylvania soared from $55 million in 2006 to $144.3 million in 2007.

Pa. charter school has ice rink, needs skaters; critics say money is being wasted

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - Critics are questioning whether the figure skating program at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts is worth the cost. Students in the classroom-on-ice spend two hours a day working on their turns, jumps and spins. But only 17 of the school's 420 students are enrolled in the figure skating program five years after its inception. Their home districts pay about $135,000 combined for their education. The school's mission is to offer a comprehensive education program "for students with proven, exceptional talents." But Superintendent Tom Lubben and skating director Bill Fitzpatrick acknowledge that they have allowed students with minimal skating ability to enroll. Some were steered to the program after failing auditions for the school's dance, theater, music and visual arts programs.
They defend the policy, saying there's more to skating than the ability to perform a camel spin.

Lawyer: Ex-Pa. Sen. Fumo's trial to resume Monday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former state Sen. Vincent Fumo is scheduled to be back in court Monday for the resumption of his corruption trial despite medical problems that sent him to the cardiac unit of a hospital for two nights. Sixty-five-year-old Fumo was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital from the courthouse Thursday with chest pain, dizziness and other symptoms. His condition was upgraded from fair to good on Saturday morning, and a hospital spokesman said Saturday night he had been discharged. Defense attorney Dennis Cogan would not disclose whether Fumo will testify and also declined to detail Fumo's medical condition.
Prosecutors are nearly finished with their three-month parade of witnesses, and the defense could start putting on its case by Tuesday. Fumo's health problems in recent months have included a heart attack in March and an apparent dizzy spell in June that caused him to collapse on the Senate floor.

Prosecutors withdraw attempted murder charge in stabbing of elderly housemate near Philly

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia have dropped an attempted murder charge against a 75-year-old woman with apparent dementia in the stabbing of a sleeping housemate. But Christine Peters of Audubon is still charged with aggravated assault and a weapons count. She remains in a Montgomery County emergency facility after an involuntary commitment. Prosecutors allege that she stabbed the 81-year-old housemate in
the torso and knee on Jan. 3. He has been released from a hospital. Assistant District Attorney Tracey Potere says police were frequently called to the home last year. The prosecutor says it's a sad case all around.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats are warning against lofty expectations of a quick fix despite efforts to pump billions of dollars into the economy. Leaders made the rounds of the Sunday
talk shows. President Barack Obama meets with Republican lawmakers this week in hopes of drumming up support.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Critics are asking a serious question about pumping billions into education as part of a plan to help jump-start the staggering economy. Republicans say schools will get too used to all that money and the funding may become impossible to roll back.

NEW YORK (AP) - There could be a big drug deal announced this morning. Drugmakers Pfizer and Wyeth are closing in on a deal worth $68 billion. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal report Pfizer, the maker of Lipitor and Viagra, is working on final financing.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The impeachment trial that could remove Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office starts today -- without the defendant. He's refusing to take part, claiming the deck is stacked against him. Instead, Blagojevich will be on a national media blitz.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Meryl Streep and Sean Penn are the lead actor winners at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Streep won for the Roman Catholic drama "Doubt." Penn wins for the Harvey Milk film biography "Milk." Overall cast goes to "Slumdog Millionaire."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today's News-Saturday, January 24, 2009


No one was injured in a fire that tore through a home in Mahanoy Township last night. Crews were called to 108 Park Place Road around 8pm, which is owned by Paul Kalinock. He discovered the blaze when he arrived home. The fire was brought under control within two and a half hours. Crews from Mahanoy City and surrounding communities fought the fire. The cause is under investigation.


The battle in the Schuylkill County Courthouse between the Commissioners and the Controller continues, following a lawsuit initiated by Melinda Kantner. On December 24th, the county Salary Board voted to eliminate an auditor's position and shift that job to a new financial analyst spot in the commissioner's wing. According to the Republican and Herald, Kantner said the action violated the Sunshine Act, and the loss of the position will affect the work of the Controller's office. Kantner's suit is asking that the auditor's position be reinstated and the financial analyst slot be eliminated. It further requests that the matter be brought up for discussion again. The Controller and the Commissioners have been at odds over a number of issues over the past year.


Volunteers are the backbone of our country. Last night, those volunteers were honored for their contributions to the Make A Difference Day program in Schuylkill County. Several dozen people attended the special awards commendation ceremony at Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street. The wide range of programs honored volunteers who helped to feed the elderly, provide comfort items, cleaning up the community and other endeavors. Kelin Geary, a very shy little boy and a member of a local church Sunday School, was honored as being the youngest volunteer in the 2008 Make A Difference campaign in Schuylkill County. Carol Bowen of the Office of Senior Services was awarded the Above and Beyond honor for her work.


A Mahanoy City couple are charged with various drug offenses after a raid Friday. Borough police and county drug agents arrested 30 year old John Shala and 34 year old Jessica Shala at their East Market Street home. A three month investigation led to the arrests for selling illegal narcotics from the home. The Shala's were arraigned on various felony drug counts, and endangering the welfare of children.


If soldiers can drive truck in the military, they should be able to drive truck when they get back to Pennsylvania, too. Roseann Cadau has more from Harrisburg.


Dow Chemical looks to close $15.4 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas after FTC blessing

NEW YORK (AP) - Dow Chemical is in talks with Rohm & Haas to close its proposed $15.4 billion buyout of the specialty chemicals maker after federal regulators approved the deal.
Approval by the Federal Trade Commission was the last regulatory hurdle after the European Commission signed off earlier this month. The FTC says Dow must sell facilities in six states in order to assuage antitrust concerns. Philadelphia-based Rohm & Haas Co. has said the acquisition, first announced last summer, must close within two business days of final regulatory approval. That would be next Tuesday. But Jefferies & Co. analyst Andy Baker says the fact that the companies are "discussing" the closing rather than completing it may indicate that the deal will not close by then. Dow said in July that the acquisition of Rohm & Haas and its
specialty chemicals portfolio would give it a buffer against volatile commodities prices in the chemical market. But the collapse of commodity prices and the financial crisis on Wall Street raise questions about the true value of Rohm & Haas and whether Dow paid too much.

Auditor general says Pa. should improve state vehicle oversight; agency says changes in place

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state auditor general's office says Pennsylvania needs to improve the management of its government vehicle fleet. But the Department of General Services, which oversees the vehicles, says many of the recommended changes have already been made.
Auditor General Jack Wagner says records about how the state's 16,000-plus vehicles are used were incomplete. He also says 51 state agencies, boards and commissions have had too much leeway in deciding who gets the cars and how they are used and monitored. But General Services Secretary James P. Creedon outlined a number of improvements that have been made in vehicle management, including new management software implemented earlier this month.
Gov. Ed Rendell in early 2007 issued an executive order that led to reorganization of General Services' Bureau of Motor Vehicles. He also froze the purchase of new vehicles last year.

1 dead, 1 critical after 6-vehicle crash on I-76 in suburban Philadelphia

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (AP) - State police are investigating a six-vehicle crash on the Schuylkill Expressway in eastern Pennsylvania that left one man dead and another in critical condition.
The wreck occurred at about 9:25 a.m. Friday in the eastbound lanes of the expressway, Interstate 76, west of Philadelphia in an area known as the Conshohocken curve. Police say a car was pinned under a tractor-trailer and an SUV, and three other vehicles were struck after that.
Police say one of the two occupants of the car died at the scene. He was identified as 49-year-old David Schreffler, of Fort Washington. The other person, 53-year-old Joseph John Maylish, of
Media, was flown to Temple University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Friday night. The accident shut down three of the highway's four lanes and caused gridlock on the expressway and other local roads for much of the day.

Former Pa. state senator stricken during corruption trial to spend 2nd night in hospital

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Former state Sen. Vincent Fumo is spending a second night in the cardiac unit of a hospital where he was taken from federal court after reporting dizziness and shortness of breath during his corruption trial. Fumo was listed in fair condition Friday and described as "resting comfortably" at Hahnemann University Hospital. Spokeswoman Coleen Cannon said he would remain there Friday night for continued observation. Cannon declined further comment on his condition, but said Thursday night he was admitted to the cardiac unit to monitor heart rhythm irregularities. The hospital said no invasive procedures were done and he was to have more cardiac tests. According to the hospital, Fumo "experienced chest pain, racing heart beat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea" while in court Thursday afternoon.

Judge issues gag order in criminal case of woman accused of killing W. Pennsylvani FBI agent

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal judge has issued a gag order in the case of a suburban Pittsburgh woman charged with killing an FBI agent raiding her home. Forty-year-old Christine Korbe is accused of shooting FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks when he entered her and her husband's Glenshaw home on Nov. 19. Her husband, Robert Korbe, was wanted on drug charges. Korbe's attorney has acknowledged shooting Hicks but says she didn't know police were raiding her home and feared for her children. Prosecutors maintain that police loudly announced who they were and that the shooting was malicious. Prosecutors sought the gag order, saying her current and former attorney made comments to news organizations that were likely to prejudice judicial proceedings.

Attorney for W.Pa. defense contractors raided by feds says companies unaware of discrepancies

WINDBER, Pa. (AP) - An attorney for two western Pennsylvania defense contractors raided by federal agents says the companies' books are in order and that the companies are fulfilling their
contractual obligations. Attorney Dennis McGlynn declined to say Friday why authorities
raided Windber-based Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems. He says authorities took numerous books and records, but that the companies are unaware of any discrepancies and are cooperating. Authorities aren't saying why Thursday's raids were carried out by Defense Criminal Investigative Services, the IRS and the FBI. The homes of the companies' principals, brothers Bill and Ronald Kuchera, were also searched. Windber is about 60 miles east-southeast of Pittsburgh.

Couple faces murder charges in upstate NY slaying

WINDSOR, N.Y. (AP) - State police in New York say the husband of a 20-year-old suspect in a fatal robbery attempt at a home outside inghamton has also been charged in the slaying.
Troopers say 21-year-old Anthony Carnevale of Kirkwood was arraigned on second-degree murder and attempted murder charges at a hospital. Investigators allege that Carnevale shot and killed 39-year-old Jean Clark of Parsons, Pa., and wounded 39-year-old Ethan Button
while trying to steal drugs from Button's home on Tuesday. Trooper say Button was able to get the gun away from Carnevale and shot him in the torso. Carnevale's wife, Ashley, has been charged with second-degree murder. It couldn't be immediately determined if the Carnevales have lawyers.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is revealing more pieces of his economic plan. In his radio and Internet address, Obama says the proposal would add 3,000 miles of electrical lines, increase security at 90 ports and double the America's renewable energy capacity within three years.

BEIJING (AP) - State media reports a Chinese banking official is dismissing Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner's comment that President Barack Obama believes Beijing is "manipulating" its currency. The official Xinhua News Agency reports a deputy
governor of China's central bank said the remarks were "not in line with the facts."

CHICAGO (AP) - A trip to a bar on Chicago's South Side capped off Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's day of media interviews and public appearances. The governor, whose state Senate impeachment trial begins Monday, shook hands and hugged supporters last night. One bar patron says it was like having a celebrity come in.

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. David Paterson's pick to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton's old Senate seat is stirring up a political hornets nest. Some state Democrats are unhappy with Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand's pro-gun tendencies. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she doesn't believe someone with a "100 percent NRA rating should be the next senator from New York."

MIAMI (AP) - The search is on in Miami for whoever is responsible for a shooting that left two dead and seven more wounded in Liberty City. Officials describe a chaotic scene. When
paramedics arrived, many of those who had been shot were lying in the street.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today's News-Friday, January 23, 2009


A 28 year long drought for Philadelphia Phillies fans ended last fall when the Fightins' won the World Series. The fruits of the team's labors will be here in Pottsville tonight. The World Series Trophy is coming to Maroons Sports Bar and Grill tonight from 6 to 7:30pm. WPPA has been a Phillies affiliate for more than 50 years, and we are proud as can be about the trophy appearance here in Pottsville. The event is free and open to the public so get there early!!!!!!!!


A Forrestville man has a million reasons to be happy today, after scratching off a million dollar winning lottery ticket Thursday at BG's Value Markets in Minersville. 48-year-old Denise Brennan purchased a $20 dollar Silver and Gold ticket, and discovered she was a million dollar winner. Brennan walks us through the events:


The wife and mother is a bus driver for Schuylkill IU 29, will pay off their mortgage and upgrade their transportation with the winnings and invest the rest.


A Tower City man was hurt when his car hit a utility pole in Pine Grove Township. 19 year old Peter Hubert was southbound on Pine Hill Road and missed a left curve in the road, striking the driver's side with the pole. He was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center East for treatment of a head injury.


A man had to be flown from the scene of a crash in West Mahanoy Township yesterday. Police report that 28 year old John Locke was eastbound on the Morea Road, attempting to turn into the Laurel Ridge development when his car collided with a motorcycle operated by 46 year old Francis Ritzle of Frackville. Locke was uninjured. Ritzle was flown to Geisinger Medical Center.


Two former Penn State Schuylkill students and a Danville man are headed to court on assault charges relating to an incident in November. A preliminary hearing was held for Alvin and James Foster of Philadelphia, former college students, and 18 year old Medhat Ammar of Danville, on charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment and other counts. The trio allegedly assaulted Jonathan Drebitko at the Nittany Apartments November 17th. According to the Republican and Herald, Ammar started the fight when he made a sexual remark to Drebitko and his companion, Emily Boyle of St. Clair. Drebitko was punched several times in the face, suffering a broken nose and a concussion. The Fosters are in jail, Ammar is free on bail. The Fosters were arrested in December on drug and weapons charges. A charge of aggravated assault against the men was dropped.

Ex-Pa. state senator admitted to hospital after falling ill in court

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A former Pennsylvania state senator who's being tried on corruption charges is in fair condidtion at a Philadelphia hospital. The federal judge presiding over Vincent Fumo's trial has adjourned it until Monday after Fumo became ill in court. Hahnemann University Hospital says Fumo had chest pain, a racing heart beat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea. At first, he said he was feeling better and didn't want to go to a hospital, but he eventually agreed to go. Hospital spokeswoman Coleen Cannon says Fumo is listed in fair condition and is resting comfortably. Fumo has battled health problems in recent months, including a March heart attack and an apparent dizzy spell in June that caused him to collapse on the Senate floor.

Pa. court says autopsies subject to public release

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's highest court says autopsy records should be generally available to the public and county coroners have to release them. The state Supreme Court's 5-1 ruling issued Thursday concerned efforts by two newspapers to obtain the autopsy report for an Easton police officer shot and killed inside headquarters during a training exercise nearly four years ago. The decision clears the way for The Morning Call of Allentown and The Express-Times of Easton to get the autopsy of Officer Jesse Sollman. They sued after Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim wouldn't release it. The Supreme Court's majority opinion says judges still have discretion to protect autopsies from being disclosed.

Rendell promises job cuts as state finances worsen

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says the federal stimulus money shouldn't be used as a short-term fix for the state's growing budget gap. Rendell says that would just be leaving a big mess for his successor. Rendell says the state's estimated budget gap worsened by about $300 million just since last week. He says there will be layoffs of state workers and "universal pain." He says unpaid furloughs are "on the table" with unionized state workers. Rendell wants the Legislature to draw down its reserve fund by $175 million to help plug the hole. Legislative leaders have defended their surplus as a financial bulwark to prevent the Democratic governor from squeezing them during a budget showdown. A spokesman for House Republican Leader Sam Smith says the reserve fund should be enough to last four to six months.

Pa. loses 27,000 jobs in Dec., unemployment climbs

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State officials say Pennsylvania's job losses reached an 18-year high last year while the statewide unemployment rate soared to its highest level since March 1994. In 2008, Pennsylvania lost 76,000 jobs -- more than 1 percent of the state's work force at the beginning of the year. The proportion of people looking for work rose to 6.7 percent in December from 4.4 percent a year earlier. December's job loss of more than 27,000 was the fifth straight monthly drop in Pennsylvania, while the state now has fewer jobs than it did in February 2006. It might be cold comfort, but Pennsylvania thus far has fared better than the rest of the country. The nation shed nearly 2 percent of its jobs in 2008 and recorded a jobless rate of 7.2 percent in December.

Army: Negligence caused soldier's electrocution

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Army investigation calls the electrocution death of a soldier from Pittsburgh in Iraq a "negligent homicide." A document obtained by The Associated Press shows the Army found the death of 24-year-old Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth was caused by a contractor. The Army blames military contractor KBR Inc. and two of its supervisors. The report by an Army criminal investigator says the contractor failed to ensure that "qualified electricians and plumbers" worked on the barracks where Maseth died. Houston-based KBR says the company maintains that its activities in Iraq didn't play a role in Maseth's death. The Green Beret died of cardiac arrest on Jan. 2, 2008. He was electrocuted while taking a shower in his barracks in Baghdad.

Feds raid W.Pa. defense contractor office, homes

WINDBER, Pa. (AP) - Federal agents have raided the offices and homes of two brothers who are prominent western Pennsylvania businessmen. Ron Kuchera is the chief financial officer of Windber-based Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems. He told the The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown that he didn't know the reason for Thursday morning's raids. Agents also raided his home and that of the companies' chief executive, Bill Kuchera. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan released a written statement saying the raids were carried out by Defense Criminal Investigative Services, the IRS and the FBI. She didn't explain the reason for the raids either. Windber is about 60 miles east-southeast of Pittsburgh.

Pa. warden resigns after jailbreak

HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) - The warden of a county prison in northeastern Pennsylvania has resigned less than two weeks after two inmates escaped. Wayne County commissioners accepted Warden Craig Chalmers' resignation unanimously Thursday. They aren't saying if it's related to the jailbreak. The two inmates were caught about an hour after walking away
from the Wayne County Correctional Facility on Jan. 9. Chalmers wrote in a report to the county prison board that the men escaped through a door that a maintenance worker had failed to lock. He said a guard then failed to check the door before moving inmates into a recreation area.

Pa. governor nominates new economic secretary

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell's nominee to run Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development says he has a lot of work to do. George Cornelius says the state should be preparing now for the time when credit markets get back to normal.
The 54-year-old lawyer until recently ran Philadelphia-based Arkema Inc., a chemical manufacturer with 1,900 workers and 14 production facilities. Cornelius holds a bachelor's degree from Penn State University and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law. He was born in Mechanicsburg and grew up in Fulton and Huntingdon counties. He and his wife Susan have two grown sons. The Department of Community and Economic Development is a 350-person agency that works to improve Pennsylvania's business climate.

Liz Claiborne to idle 350 at Pa. center

MOUNT POCONO, Pa. (AP) - Liz Claiborne says it will close its Mount Pocono distribution center sometime in March, idling 350 employees. The company made the announcement to its employees Thursday morning. The New York-based women's apparel manufacturer has suffered as shoppers pare back discretionary spending. The company reduced its fourth-quarter earnings forecast last week. Liz Claiborne says the work now flowing through the Mount Pocono center will be handled by other company facilities. Displaced workers will be offered employment opportunities with the company if they exist.

Judge holds Amish farmer in contempt

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania judge held an Amish farmer in contempt of court for failing to upgrade outhouses at an Amish school. Andy Swartzentruber says bringing the outhouses on his Barr Township property into compliance with municipal sewage laws would go against his religious beliefs. But Cambria County Judge Norman Krumanacker says the Amish must come into compliance within 30 days and pay a $500 fine or risk being sent to jail. The dispute dates back a couple years. Swartzentruber is a member of an ultraconservative Amish sect known for its more severe restrictions on technology and interaction with the outside world.

2 charged with marketing pierced 'gothic kittens'

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania dog groomer thought she had come up with the perfect sideline for her business: Piercing kittens' ears and necks and marketing them as "gothic" over the Internet. Holly Crawford runs Pawside Parlor in rural Ross Township
outside Wilkes-Barre. The 34-year-old woman says she didn't think she was doing anything wrong. Humane officers disagreed, charging her with cruelty and conspiracy in a case that has sparked outrage among animal lovers. A man who's accused of helping her market the kittens is also charged. Crawford says she didn't see any difference between piercing a cat and piercing a human. She says she used sterile needles and surgical soap and that she checked the kittens several times a day to make sure they were healing properly.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Democratic congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand is the New York governor's pick to fill Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vacant Senate seat. An aide to Gov. David Paterson tells The Associated Press the announcement will be made later today.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and top Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate will meet today to talk about the economic stimulus package. Republicans are pushing for deeper tax cuts in the package, and say there's no reliable estimate of the bill's impact on employment.

BAGHDAD (AP) - The outgoing U.S. ambassador in Iraq says a hasty departure of American troops from there comes with severe risks. He says among the possible consequences is a revival of al-Qaida, which is "much weakened."

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich could ask the state Supreme Court to step in and block an impeachment proceeding he considers "a sham." His lawyer tells The Associated Press a lawsuit challenging what he called "completely unfair" Senate trial rules is being prepared and could be filed within days.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama gets to keep his BlackBerry. He's set to become the first sitting president to use e-mail, and his Blackberry will be limited to keeping in touch with senior staff and personal friends, once it's up and running.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


WPPA News has confirmed that a winning Pennsylvania Lottery rub off ticket-the Silver and Gold game, has produced a million dollar winner. The ticket was purchased from a lottery vending machine at BG’S Value Markets at King’s Plaza in Minersville. We confirmed that with store representatives this morning. Denise Brennan of Forrestville was still in shock when we spoke to her this afternoon.

We'll have more from Denise on WPPA/T102 News Friday morning.

Today's News- Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rear end accident on Gordon Nagle Trail

Two people escaped injury in a crash on the Gordon Nagle Trail Wednesday night. 73 year old Patrick Gibbons was traveling north on Route 901, trailing several other vehicles. State police say he sneezed and took his eyes off the road. The vehicle ahead of him, driven by 48 year old William Hoy had stopped, and Gibbons was unable to stop in time, rear ending him. The crash happened before 7pm.

Shift in positions at courthouse

A staff member in Schuylkill County's human resource department is being shifted to a new position. At Wednesday's meeting, Martina Chawastiak was appointed to the newly created job of risk manager. The position is being created to cut down on worker's compensation claims. The work she did in the HR department will be assumed by others in that department, according to the Republican and Herald. Last year, the county had to shift $70-thousand dollars to cover worker's comp claims. The move was passed by a 3 to 1 vote, with County Controller Melinda Kantner voting no.

Argall opens campaign office

State Representative Dave Argall, the Republican candidate for the 29th Senatorial District seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades, opened his campaign office Wednesday night.
WPPA/T102 News Reporter Kerry Dowd has more from Tamaqua:


Argall will be a guest on Step Up to The Mic on Thursday, January 29th.

Building collapses in Shamokin

SHAMOKIN - Three workers escaped injury when a building collapsed in Northumberland County, Wednesday. Emergency crews were called to the corner of Independence and Rock Streets in Shamokin just after 11 Wednesday morning for the structural collapse. The new Knights of Columbus building, which was under construction, collapsed as workers were putting the trusses on the new building. Workers at the pharmacy across the street saw the building collapse and called 9-1-1. Construction on the project will continue despite yesterday's mishap.

Tuesday morning break in at Ashland restaurant investigated

Police in Ashland are looking for the burglars who broke into a borough restaurant. Sometime early Tuesday, Devito's Restaurant on Centre Street was entered and the thieves took money from the cash register. They gained access through a back door. The investigation as to who did it is continuing.

Pa. man considered bank error 'a gift from God'

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man says when a bank error put more than $177,000 in his and his wife's account he considered it divine providence. Fifty-year-old Randy Pratt and 36-year-old Melissa Pratt waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday. They face trial in Columbia County Court on felony theft and conspiracy charges. The trouble started when a $1,772.50 deposit in the Pratts' FNB Bank account showed up as $177,250 last summer. Police say they withdrew the money and fled to Florida. Randy Pratt told the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise he considered the money "a gift from God." He says the couple gave away thousands of dollars, including $25,000 to a church shelter for the homeless. Melissa Pratt is free on unsecured bail, and Randy Pratt is in county prison. District Judge Donna Coombe denied a request to lower his $100,000 bail.

Murtha: OK to send Gitmo prisoners to Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON (AP) - A western Pennsylvania congressman says he would have no qualms about transferring Guantanamo detainees to a prison in his district. Rep. John Murtha said so in an interview with Fox News. He is a Democrat who heads the House subcommittee that funds the military. An estimated 245 men are held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. They are believed to be al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to the United States. The Associated Press has learned that President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order Thursday to close the Guantanamo prison within a year. The order would halt military trials of those held there. Murtha says he's encouraged by the president's proposal.

Pa. hospitals report fewer infected patients

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The number of Pennsylvania patients who contracted infections during their hospital stays declined by nearly 8 percent in 2007. That's according to a new state report that provides the first complete year-to-year comparison of infection rates. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council says the number of infected patients in 2007 accounted for 2 percent of the roughly 1.6 million patients whose cases were examined. It reflected an infection rate of 17.7 infections per 1,000 patients, down from 19.2 infections per 1,000 in 2006. Urinary tract infections were the most common in both years at Pennsylvania's 165 general hospitals. They are followed by gastrointestinal infections and cases involving more than one kind of infection.

2 Pa. health insurers end merger effort

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario says he was planning to reject a proposed merger of the state's two largest health insurers. He says the decision by Highmark and Independence Blue Cross to withdraw the application makes things easier. Ario said that in a written statement released after the companies said they were scrapping the plan to merge because it was clear the state wouldn't approve it. He didn't elaborate on his reasons for stopping the consolidation, but said he planned to discuss them at a news conference Thursday.

Ailing Pa. casino gets more of barred owner's cash

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A member of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says he doesn't like allowing Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples to put $15 million into the business. Gary Sojka says he voted to do so because denying permission could put 900 people out of work at the Pocono Mountains resort and dry up a revenue stream for the state. DeNaples is charged with perjury, accused of lying about his alleged ties to organized crime figures to get a casino license. He's banned from the casino in the meantime. The trustee appointed to run the casino in his absence says the $15 million comes from other businesses DeNaples owns. Sojka says he's worried because the gaming board's investigators haven't confirmed that.

Memorial to President's Home in Pa. gets new funds

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter says he's asked President Barack Obama to visit the Philadelphia site where George Washington and his slaves lived.
A memorial is now set to open late next year on the spot near Independence Hall. Nutter's predecessor, John Street, says the memorial has even greater significance now that the nation has a black president. Street and Nutter are also black. They spoke along with Gov. Ed Rendell, who says he's asked the Delaware River Port Authority to kick in $3.5 million in economic development funds for the $8.4 million project. Rendell is chaIrman of the bistate agency and says he considers the grant a wise use of agency funds. A decision by the DRPA is expected Friday.

Pa. reform backer Stilp pays $500 ethics fine

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Political activist Gene Stilp says he wanted to avoid a lengthy and expensive legal battle over a State thics Commission complaint against him. He says he paid a $500 fine to settle it. The law bans disclosure of any information about matters that "are before the commission." Stilp says he told reporters about his complaint -- but he didn't break the law because the complaint hadn't been filed yet. He says his complaint asked the commission to investigate then-House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese or someone from DeWeese's office over publicly funded opinion polling. There's no word on who filed the complaint against Stilp. DeWeese spokesman Tom Andrews offered no immediate comment.

Tyco Electronics cutting 2,500 from North America

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Tyco Electronics Ltd. is slashing 2,500 jobs in North America and closing two plants in southcentral Pennsylvania. The company announced the cuts Wednesday, saying it is seeing reduced demand for its electrical components and telecommunications equipment. Jobs will be eliminated from many Tyco plants across the country, although a Tyco spokesman says the company is not disclosing specific job cuts by plant or region. The two Pennsylvania plants to be closed are in Carlisle and Emigsville. Both make electronic connectors. That work will transfer to Tyco plants in Greensboro, N.C., and Rock Hill, S.C. Tyco also is closing a small plant near Ottawa, Canada.

Bar panel recommends 4 more judicial candidates

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania bar panel has given passing grades to four more prospective candidates for Pennsylvania's statewide appellate courts. The Judicial Evaluation Commission gave its top "highly recommended" rating to two judges who are eying seats on the state Supreme Court. They are Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin and Philadelphia Judge Paul Panepinto. Another Philadelphia judge, Paula Patrick, received a second-tier "recommended" rating for Superior Court. Allegheny County lawyer Michael Sherman received a recommended rating for Commonwealth Court.

W.Pa. man charged with killing sister-in-law's child

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Police say a western Pennsylvania man who mistakenly believed he impregnated his sister-in-law is charged with killing the newborn by throwing the baby into a creek more than eight years ago. Wednesday's arrest of 33-year-old Warren Bircher, of Adah, comes nearly two months after police charged his sister-in-law in the child's death. State police in Uniontown say Bircher was overheard saying that someone was pregnant and he was going to put the child in a bag and drown it like he does with animals because he couldn't afford another child. Authorities say after 25-year-old Sarah Hawk gave birth in the summer of 2000, Bircher put the newborn girl in a plastic bag and tossed it into a creek. Bircher and Hawk are charged with homicide and concealing the death of a child.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama starts Day Two with a private meeting on the nation's battered economy. Obama's plan to award a $500 tax credit to most workers is expected to advance through a key House panel as Democrats prepare his $825 billion
economic recovery plan for a floor vote next week.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is expected to fulfill some of his campaign promises today. A senior Obama administration official says the president plans to sign an executive order to shut down Guantanamo within a year. It's one of three orders expected on how to interrogate and prosecute terror suspects.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Caroline Kennedy has ended her quest for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York. Kennedy's decision has boosted the chances of several other candidates, including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who surpassed Kennedy in statewide polls last week.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani security officials say U.S. intelligence agents looked on as Pakistani police arrested an al-Qaida suspect believed to be linked to the 2005 London transit bombings. The officials say an unmanned spy plane and three helicopters hovered over the area during the raid on a house on the outskirts of Peshawar.

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Authorities are charging a graduate student from China in the fatal stabbing of a woman on Virginia Tech's campus. An electronic alert system, which was updated after the campus' massacre, warned students to stay put while police investigated the killing.