Saturday, February 28, 2009

Today's News- Saturday, February 28, 2009


Schuylkill Haven state police are investigating a fraud attempt against an elderly Cressona woman. Friday afternoon, a man came to the home of 90 year old Evelyn Brobst at 70 River Street, claiming to work for the "water company". He checked her kitchen faucet while talking on a cell phone, and told Mrs. Brobst that due to the water main break, she overpaid her water bill and presented her with a $100 bill, and asked for change. Brobst's husband and grandson were due back shortly. The man took the money back and said he'd return with a certified check. Calls to the water company found that there was no water main break. The man is reported to be a young, foreign male with a light complexion, black hair in his late 20's. Residents are URGED by state police to confirm the indentity of any workmen by calling their service company BEFORE letting them into your home.


Tuesday is an important day for voters in the 29th Senatorial District, as they will choose a new state Senator to replace the late Jim Rhoades. This last weekend before the election will be a flurry of activity as both Dave Argall and Steve Lukach will criss cross the multi-county district stumping for votes. Lukach is embarking on a bus tour, with rallies in Pine Grove, Tamaqua, Slatington and Hamburg today. Schuylkill County Election Bureau Director Frannie Brennan tells WPPA News that the polling site in Mechanicsville has been moved from the old Mechanicsville Fire Company on Pottsville Street to the new fire company located directly behind the Hut. You can follow the special election all day Tuesday on WPPA.


A Pottsville teenager suffered minor injuries in a crash on Second Mountain Road Thursday. 19 year old Carissa Mager was eastbound when she lost control on the icy road and the vehicle she was operating struck an embankment then a utility pole and rolled over on its roof. Mager was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center South by ambulance.


Investigators are continuing to look into the cause of a fire at Marian High School Thursday. Flames were discovered in a chem lab around 4pm, and a school employee was quickly able to extinguish it, according to police. Reports indicate that the state police fire marshal has been called in.

Biden, panel discuss green jobs in forum at Penn

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says Philadelphia has 400,000 row homes that can be weatherized and made more efficient. Biden says doing so will lower utility costs 20 percent to 40 percent. Biden chaired the first meeting of the White House's middle-class task force Friday, hearing testimony at the University of Pennsylvania about "green jobs." Speakers say such jobs will put idle workers into well-paying positions while also improving energy efficiency and reducing dependence on oil. Biden, environmental advocates and other government leaders say tens of thousands of jobs would be created by investing in energy
projects. In addition to weatherizing buildings, other projects funded by the $787 billion stimulus include laying down thousands of miles of new energy lines and installing solar panels.

$25 boost in jobless pay takes effect this week

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A $25-a-week boost for Pennsylvania residents receiving unemployment compensation starts this week. The money is arriving as officials said that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate hit 7 percent in January, up from 6.4 percent in December.
In addition, the state government's revenue collections look to be on track to make February the 10th straight month of shortfalls. State Department of Labor and Industry officials say the extra $25 may not show up in this week's checks, but it will be paid soon. The extra cash is part of the approximately $245 million coming to Pennsylvania from the federal stimulus bill to help the swelling ranks of the unemployed. The extra $25 a week will remain in effect for the rest of this calendar year.

Pa. paper IDs source of info about 'fixed' case

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania newspaper fighting a $3.5 million defamation award has identified a potential witness who claims a corrupt judge met twice monthly with a reputed mobster to discuss upcoming court cases. The Citizens' Voice newspaper wants the state Supreme Court to overturn the defamation award granted by Luzerne County Judge Mark
Ciavarella in 2006. In court papers filed Friday by the Voice's parent company, Robert Kulick claims he and reputed mobster William D'Elia met with former Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan. Kulick claims Conahan assured D'Elia of a "positive outcome" in the defamation lawsuit filed by D'Elia's friend, Thomas Joseph. Conahan steered the case to Ciavarella, who ruled in Joseph's favor. The paper claims the case was fixed. Joseph's attorney has said it was decided fairly. Both judges pleaded guilty earlier this month to accepting more
than $2 million in kickbacks in an unrelated case.

AG rejects sexual assault claim against Pa. DA

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - The lawyer for a woman who had sex with a western Pennsylvania prosecutor in his office at night says he got her drunk first. Thomas Crawford says his client was too drunk to consent to sex with Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins. But Higgins says the woman was sober enough to drive to the courthouse and drive home afterward. Higgins says he paid the bar tab, and it was about $50 for a party of eight. Higgins and the woman are both married. He says the woman is lying to justify her behavior to her family. The woman filed a private criminal complaint, which state prosecutors declined to pursue. A spokesman for the attorney general's office says there's "significant" evidence that contradicts her claim. Crawford says he will ask a judge to reinstate his client's complaint.

Alleged Coatesville arsonist held until trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A teenager accused of setting a fire in an arson-plagued community in southeastern Pennsylvania will remain in federal custody until his trial. A federal judge ruled Friday there is enough evidence for the case against 19-year-old Mark Gilliam to continue.
Gilliam, of West Chester, is accused of setting a fire at the Happy Days Family Bistro in Thorndale in January. That fire occurred shortly after one of Gilliam's friends, Roger Barlow, allegedly set a fire that leveled 15 homes in Coatesville. Coatesville and the surrounding area has been devastated by more than sixty arsons in the last year, including one fatal fire. Authorities are investigating any connection between the two men and the other fires. Barlow is facing nine counts of arson. He remains in custody.

Pa. county may move 11-year-old accused of murder

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An 11-year-old western Pennsylvania boy accused of killing his father's pregnant fiancee may be moved to a different juvenile facility to save money. Jordan Brown is charged with killing 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk and her unborn son. Brown was moved to Allencrest Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday after a judge ruled the facility could better meet his needs. He had been held at an adult jail. A Beaver County solicitor says it will cost about $4,500 a week to keep Brown in the juvenile center, and suggests sending him to a
different adult jail that can house juveniles. But Brown's attorney says the boy isn't going back to adult lockup. He might instead be moved to a different juvenile facility in northwestern Pennsylvania where it would be cheaper to house him.

W.Pa. father charged in son's death free on bond

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A suburban Pittsburgh man charged with involuntary manslaughter after his 9-year-old son accidentally shot and killed his twin brother has been released from jail on bond. Sixty-seven-year-old Michael Lanese, of Upper St. Clair, posted $2,500 bond Thursday. He'd been in jail for about two weeks on charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children. Allegheny County police say he allowed his sons Stephan and Christian, access to guns, ammunition and other weapons. Police say Stephen Lanese was playing with a gun when he accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting Christian in the head on Oct. 18 while Michael Lanese was downstairs reading a book. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 6.

Md. man gets prison for killing classmate in Pa.

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) - A Maryland man has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in a Pennsylvania prison for shooting a fellow student outside an apartment near the technical school both attended. Twenty-four-year-old Robert Beatty III, of Silver Spring, Md., was convicted of third-degree murder in December and sentenced Friday by an Indiana County Common Pleas judge. Indiana Borough police say Beatty fired a shot at a pickup truck on Nov. 17, 2007 killing 20-year-old Todd Hampson, of Canandaigua, N.Y. Beatty testified he was suspicious of the
truck because of recent burglaries in the area. Hampson and Beatty were both students at Wyoming Technical Institute in Indiana, Pa. That's about 45 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Wounded Philadelphia detective out of hospital

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia police detective has been released from a hospital a day after being shot in the leg while serving a warrant. Police Capt. Mike Costello said Friday that Detective Albert Ford Jr. was tired and sore but grateful for the public's outpouring of support following Thursday's shooting. The man who police say shot Ford, 25-year-old Kevin Robinson,
was shot and killed by police. Ford is the latest Philadelphia police officer to be involved in
a shooting with a suspect. Five officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last year.

Ex-teacher at Pa. school faces child sex charges

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - A gym teacher is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at a school in north-central Pennsylvania. Court papers say 34-year-old James Jamison did so at St. Boniface Elementary in Williamsport, where he worked until this school year. Court papers say the boy was threatened with a knife. Authorities say there might be more victims who haven't come forward yet. Jamison started a new job with the York City School District in
south-central Pennsylvania on Aug. 26. York schools spokesman Jonathan Heintzman said Friday that Jamison "is currently still an employee of the district" but declined to elaborate on his employment status. Jamison is locked up in Lycoming County on $500,000 bail. There's no word on whether he has a lawyer.

Singer Buffet wants W.Pa. bar to quit using name

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Singer Jimmy Buffet wants a Pittsburgh bar named Margaritaville to quit using the name. Buffett's lawyers sent the bar's owner a letter recently demanding that it cease operating, saying the singer owns dozens of restaurants called Margaritaville. Buffett released the song "Wasting Away Again In Margaritaville" in 1977. Bar owner Rich Rizzo has hired a lawyer and hopes to work things out, but he acknowledges Buffett's copyright could force a name change. Rizzo says he feels Buffett is bullying him. He says he bought the bar last year, but it's been in existence since 1985.

Peanut fears lead Turkey Hill to recall ice cream

CONESTOGA, Pa. (AP) - Turkey Hill Dairy is voluntarily recalling one of its ice cream flavors because it contains peanut from a Texas facility that health officials have linked to salmonella
contamination. The central Pennsylvania-based company said Friday it was pulling back Dynamic Duos Movie Night, a new flavor that was distributed on a limited basis in 14 states.
The flavor uses peanut ingredients from a Peanut Corp. of America facility in Plainview, Texas.
Dynamic Duos was sent to groceries and convenience stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Turkey Hill says it has not received any reports of consumers being sickened by that flavor of its ice cream.

WASHINGTON (AP) - After years of bitter debate, President Barack Obama's Iraq withdrawal timeline has achieved some consensus in Congress. Not everyone is happy but lawmakers from both parties are finding something to like. Iraq's prime minister says his forces are ready to take over.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration wants a challenge to indefinite detention of enemy combatants out of the country's most powerful court. It has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss Ali Al-Marri's challenge to being held without charges for the past five years because he will now face a civilian trial. The government would prefer not to defend or abandon the Bush
administration policy.

AMSTERDAM (AP) - Investigators say turbulence from another plane is a possible factor in the Netherlands crash of a Turkish Airlines jet. A Turkish pilots group says wake turbulence is a likely cause. Turkish Airlines held a funeral today for three pilots and a flight attendant who died.

NEW YORK (AP) - The number of failed banks this year is up to 16 with the closing of Heritage Community Bank in Illinois, and Security Savings Bank in Nevada. The FDIC was appointed receiver. Rising unemployment and falling home prices could make things worse.

LONDON (AP) - A British reality TV star who may only have weeks to live has entered a hospice after suffering from hallucinations. A spokesman for Jade Goody says it's to correct the balance of her cancer drugs. She sold TV rights to her marriage to raise money for her sons' education.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Today's News-Friday, February 27, 2009


A former small time drug dealer has pleaded guilty in the 1985 death of a 13 year old Schuylkill Haven boy he suspected of stealing his marijuana plants. Forty three year old Joseph Geiger, Pottsville, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in county court yesterday. He will serve 1 to 2 years in prison, with credit for time served. In exchange for the plea, a third degree murder charge was dropped. Geiger was arrested last August, 23 years to the day that David Reed went missing. Reed's decomposed remains were found near Geiger's home months later. Schuylkill County Assistant DA AJ Serina says Joseph Geiger, showed remorse over the years, stating that after he punched Reed in the face, the boy fell back and hit his head. Serina says Geiger visited Reed's grave and even worked at the cemetery where he was buried. Officials believe that Geiger didn't intend to kill Reed, and medical experts believe if help was sought immediately, Reed may have survived.


State police are looking for the burglars who broke into a South Manheim Township Day Care. Between Wednesday and Thursday, someone pried open a window at St Paul's Daycare on Summer Hill Road. They took a computer, other office equipment and supplies and food from the center,then fled. If you can help state police with the investigation, call the Schuylkill Haven barracks at 593-2000.


A Schuylkill Haven woman avoided injury when her car crashed Thursday morning in Berks County. Hamburg troopers say 50 year old Linda Koenig was traveling east on Schaefferstown Road and lost control on the icy road, striking a utility pole and tree with her vehicle. Electric wires were left hanging over the road. The crash happened around 7am yesterday.

Pa. state legislator critically ill with pneumonia

MOUNT CARMEL, Pa. (AP) - A state legislator from northeastern Pennsylvania is critically ill with pneumonia. State Rep. Robert Belfanti's wife, Cecilia, released a statement Thursday thanking the community for messages of support and good will. Belfanti was airlifted to Hershey Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon. Belfanti, a Democrat, serves all of Montour County and parts of Northumberland and Columbia counties. The 60-year-old man has been a member of the state House since 1981. He is currently chairman of the Labor Relations Committee and a member of the Rules Committee.

Pa. man says wife's shotgun death was accident

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man accused of killing his estranged wife with a shotgun outside the McDonald's restaurant where she worked says it was an accident. Bedford County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 38-year-old John Lewis Gerholt. The Mount Union man is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 9 death of 24-year-old Karen Marie Gerhold. The shooting happened near Everett, which is about 90 miles east-southeast of Pittsburgh. Defense lawyer Thomas Dickey said after Thursday's arraignment that the defense can show the shooting was an accident, but he would not offer specifics.

Fumo lawyer calls corruption case 'overblown'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A defense lawyer for former state Sen. Vincent Fumo says the corruption charges against his client are the result of "an overblown, overreaching prosecution." Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs told jurors in his closing argument that Fumo got relatively little from a nonprofit he started, despite charges he defrauded it. Jacobs says the Philadelphia Democrat could have pocketed a large commission for steering a $17 million gift from an electric company to the Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods. During the four-month trial, prosecutors said Fumo defrauded the Citizens' Alliance out of $1.1 million by improperly taking its vehicles, power tools, staff time and other assets. The defense is expected to finish its closing argument early next week. Then the judge will give the case to the jury.

Review panel OKs Pa. lobbyist-disclosure rules

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett says there's a good chance that someone will challenge lobbyist disclosure rules in court. But he says it's important to get the rules on the books now and worry about legal challenges later, when and if they happen. Proposed lobbyist disclosure rules got a key panel's approval Thursday. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 3-1 to approve the new rules. The vote culminated a two-hour discussion that revolved largely around a provision that dictates when someone must register with the state as a lobbyist. The vote moves the proposal back to the Legislature, where House and Senate committees will conduct a final review before the regulations are put into effect.

Philadelphia detective shot; suspect killed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia police detective was shot in the upper thigh while serving a warrant on a fugitive who was killed in the ensuing shootout. Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross says Detective Albert Ford Jr. is expected to recover. Ford was listed in stable condition at a hospital hours after the shooting. Ross says Ford and another officer were serving a warrant Thursday on 25-year-old Kevin Robinson, who was wanted for a shooting that happened in October. Officials say the suspect ran from the officers then turned and fired, striking Ford in the thigh. The officers returned fire, killing Robinson. Ford is the latest Philadelphia police officer to be involved in a shooting with a suspect. Five officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last year.

Pa. judge says FBI shooting belongs in fed court

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A county judge says a Pittsburgh-area woman should be prosecuted in federal court on charges she killed an FBI agent. Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams' told the brother-in-law of the shooting suspect, 40-year-old Christine Korbe, on Thursday that his motion to move charges from federal court to state court would be decided in federal court. George Waksmunski, who has no legal training, claimed that the federal government unjustly took jurisdiction from the state. Williams says the federal court has the right to assume jurisdiction because a federal agent was involved. Federal prosecutors want a federal judge to dismiss the motion as "nonsensical." Korbe is accused of shooting FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks when he came to arrest her husband on drug charges at their Glenshaw home Nov. 19. Korbe says she shot Hicks thinking he was an intruder.

Officer's gun found in public restroom

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania State Police are investigating whether any laws were violated when a city police officer's gun was found in a public restroom. Montoursville Police Chief Dan Strailey said Thursday that the gun was found Feb. 10 in the women's room of a department store in his borough. He says a customer alerted store management, who in turn called police. Strailey says the gun belonged to a patrolman in the Williamsport police, who reportedly lent it to a female acquaintance who had a permit to carry a gun. Since the Williamsport officer has a brother who works for the borough of Montoursville, the investigation was turned over to state police. The state trooper assigned to the case says the investigation is continuing.

Sick Pa. workers to be compensated

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former nuclear workers at a western Pennsylvania plant who are sick could receive $150,000 in compensation plus medical help under a government program. The Department of Labor announced Thursday that Atomic Weapons Employer employees who worked at Vitro Manufacturing in Canonsburg, Pa., during a set period in the 1940s and '50s are eligible. Under the program, former workers diagnosed with one of 22 specific cancers are presumed to have received it from working at the plant and will receive compensation. A worker's survivors are also sometimes eligible.

Pa. woman gets jail for swindling NYC man, 93

NEW YORK (AP) - A Pittsburgh woman who admitted stealing $800,000 from a 93-year-old New York City man with Alzheimer's disease has been sentenced to two to six years in prison. Alexandra Gilmore of Pittsburgh was sentenced Thursday in Queens. The 37-year-old pleaded guilty earlier this month to grand larceny as a hate crime. Her scheme was considered a hate crime because of the victim's age. Prosecutors say that between 2004 and 2006, Gilmore took advantage of the man's confusion and fraudulently refinanced a Queens property he owned to steal its equity. Authorities say she and an acquaintance later contrived to steal ownership of his home elsewhere in Queens. A case against the acquaintance continues.

Pa. judges face 3rd suit over alleged kickbacks

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A third lawsuit has been filed against two disgraced Pennsylvania judges charged with taking kickbacks to send youth offenders to private detention centers. The latest suit was filed on behalf of Luzerne County juvenile offenders sentenced between 2003 and 2008. It claims Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan perpetrated "what ranks as one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system." It was filed Thursday in federal court by the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. Prosecutors say Ciavarella and Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs. The judges pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this month and face more than seven years in prison. Federal authorities also have arrested a court administrator and a top probation official, and the investigation prompted the county prothonotary to resign.

Pa. jail makes plan to prevent repeat of jailbreak

HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) - An engineer says there's a design flaw in a northeastern Pennsylvania jail that allowed two inmates to escape in January. The two inmates who escaped from the Wayne County Correctional Facility were caught about an hour later. County Engineer Stephen Knash says the inmates got out through doors that had been installed in the recreation yard to remove snow. Those doors had been left unsecured. Knash proposed adding special cage-like fencing and an additional gate around all three recreation area doors. Wayne County commissioners are seeking bids from contractors to install the security features Knash proposed. The county expects to spend about $60,000.

HONG KONG (AP) - A lot of investors are staying on the sidelines amid continuing worries about deteriorating economic conditions. Asian stock markets were narrowly mixed today with indexes in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea gaining. Other exchanges declined and U.S. futures are little changed.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Revised numbers due out today suggest the economy's downhill slide at the end of last year was much steeper than thought. A Commerce Department report is expected to show the economy contracted at a pace of 5.4 percent, not 3.8 percent as
originally reported.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's prime minister says it's time for new economic plans that reduce dependence on oil and gas revenues. Nouri al-Maliki tells a conference that Saddam Hussein's regime and the insurgency that followed destroyed Iraq's agriculture and much of the oil infrastructure.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - The Bangladeshi government says security forces have been busy rounding up fleeing border guards following a bloody, two-day mutiny. At least 40 people died when the border guards rose up against their commanders. About 300 are in custody.

ATLANTA (AP) - Court appearances are scheduled for four people accused of being part of an assisted suicide ring that aided in the death of a Georgia man. Two were arrested in Maryland and face extradition proceedings. The other two were arrested in Georgia.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today's News-Thursday, February 26, 2009









WASHINGTON (AP) - Green jobs, where are they and how to get one, will be the focus when President Barack Obama's task force on middle-class families begins its work Friday in Philadelphia. The panel, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, will hear from experts on the potential to create those jobs and help middle-class workers find them.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - If something good isn't coming out of the Pennsylvania Legislature it isn't for lack of Bibles. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that despite financial shortfalls,
the General Assembly bought 220 Bibles and other holy books including Torahs and Qurans for legislators taking the oath of office last month. The bill: $13,700.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The defense continues arguing its case to jurors in the sweeping corruption trial of former Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Fumo. Fumo's co-defendant was described by witnesses on both sides of the trial as a hard worker. Prosecutors say she also helped fulfill the senator's long wish lists and a few of her own at taxpayer expense

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Members of the Pittsburgh-based River City Brass Band are taking a 15-percent pay cut and dipping into emergency funds because of falling attendance last year and slower ticket sales for the 2009 season. The band agreed to the cuts a condition of getting the band's endowment board to release $250,000 to fund the operation.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An invasive beetle that destroys ash trees has been found in central Pennsylvania. State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff says emerald ash borers have been identified in Granville, Mifflin County. Mifflin County will now be included in an ash tree quarantine already imposed on five counties in western Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he's sending Congress a budget that presents some "hard choices." It tops $3 trillion and would boost taxes on the wealthy while cutting Medicare payments to insurance companies and hospitals. That would allow for a more than $600 billion down payment on universal health care.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is promising to slash federal spending by $2 trillion. While his new budget blueprint projects a $1.75 deficit for the current budget year, Obama says his administration has "already identified" areas where it can find the cuts. But he says the nation must add to its debt in the short run to restore its economic vitality.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Commerce Department says new home sales fell 10.2 percent last month -- the worst showing since records were first kept in 1963. The median sales price also fell to just over $201,000, a nearly 10 percent drop. Meanwhile, first time jobless claims rose more than expected last week.

LONDON (AP) - The British government is acknowledging that two terror suspects its forces captured in Iraq were later transferred by the U.S. to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary John Hutton told the House of Commons that his department had previously given "inaccurate information" on the issue.

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City is turning two heavily used stretches of Broadway into pedestrian plazas this spring. It's an experiment aimed at cutting down on traffic and pollution. Broadway will be closed to vehicles at Times Square, from 42nd to 47th streets, and for a couple of blocks farther downtown at Herald Square.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's News- Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A Tamaqua woman died Tuesday as the result of a crash on Tumbling Run Road in North Manheim Township. State police report that 53 year old Maureen Kalymun was headed west near the Tumbling Run Dam when, for unknown reasons, her car crossed lanes and struck two rocks on a steep embankment. Her car apparently tumbled end over end, and she was ejected from the car. County Deputy Coroner Paul Kennedy pronounced her dead at the scene. State police believe Kalymun was not wearing her seatbelt. Tumbling Run Road was closed for two hours following the 10am accident.


A two decades old murder case is expected to come to a conclusion today in Schuylkill County Court. 43-year-old Joseph Geiger of Pottsville, accused in the 1985 death of David Reed of Schuylkill Haven, is expected to plead guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Geiger was arrested last fall, 23 years after Reed went missing, and charged with third degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and related counts. Geiger dragged Reed's body into the woods in Schuylkill Haven, and was found nearly 4 months later. Geiger has been in the Schuylkill County Prison since his arrest.


Nearly 70 people gathered at the Hamburg High School last night to witness a debate between the candidates vying for the 29th Senatorial District seat next Tuesday. The event, sponsored by the North Rgion of the Berks County GOP, covered a wide array of questions from moderator John D. Forrester Jr. of the Reading Eagle, including property taxes, the size of state government, education and healthcare. The candidates positions were similar on many topics. Kerry DeLong of Hamburg offered his assessment on reducing the size of state government:


Questions were developed by Forrester and also taken from the audience.

Hundreds pay respects to murdered pregnant woman

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - Hundreds of people stood for hours in freezing temperatures to pay their respects to a western Pennsylvania woman who was murdered weeks before she was to give birth. At the funeral in New Castle, the body of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk was dressed in a red sweater. Near her feet were two blue baby booties for the baby she was to deliver. Beside her was a red pillow with the words "Special Mom" embroidered in white. Meanwhile, a judge says the 11-year-old boy accused of killing Houk should await trial in juvenile detention, not the county jail. Jordan Brown is charged as an adult, but his lawyer is trying to get the case moved to juvenile court.

Rulings keep secret Pa. lawmaker-lobbyist contacts

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Associated Press isn't appealing a ruling from the state Legislature denying a request to see correspondence between lawmakers and lobbyists.
Appeals officers for both chambers of the Legislature say such correspondence doesn't qualify as a public record under the law. The Associated Press had requested communications last year between registered lobbyists and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber. The caucuses denied the requests last month. The AP then appealed to the designated appeals officers, who rejected the requests Tuesday. Pennsylvania Newspaper Association lawyer Teri Henning says she generally agrees with their analysis.

Pa. open-records office: birth dates are public

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The head of the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records says some of the first rulings about what is a public record show her office is fair. The office says the names of government contractors' employees and public employees' dates of birth are public. Office director Terry Mutchler says her only client is the law. The latest decisions involve the Quakertown Community School District and the Port Authority of Allegheny County. In Quakertown, the school district granted a request to release certified payroll forms for a subcontractor working on a school renovation project, but blacked out the employees' names. A school district official says the district doesn't plan to appeal the ruling. The Port Authority provided payroll records, but wouldn't provide employees' dates of birth.

Prothonotary helping feds in Pa. corruption probe

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Court papers show that a Luzerne County court official had to resign from her job as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors. Prothonotary Jill Moran said in her letter of resignation that her presence in the courthouse was a distraction. The agreement Moran signed with prosecutors says she approached federal authorities with information that others had tried to use her to commit fraud. Moran denies criminal wrongdoing. She isn't charged with a crime but the agreement says she might be if she violates her agreement to cooperate. Moran's law partner, Robert Powell, allegedly paid kickbacks to two Luzerne County judges who pleaded guilty to corruption this month. Powell hasn't been charged. The prothonotary is the custodian of civil court records.

Pa. court has prosecutor probe DeNaples case leaks

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says his office will fully cooperate with a special prosecutor. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the appointment of such a prosecutor to look into alleged violations of grand jury secrecy. The case involves leaks from a grand jury that ultimately indicted northeastern Pennsylvania casino owner Louis DeNaples and a co-defendant on perjury charges. DeNaples is accused of lying under oath to get a casino license. DeNaples has maintained his innocence. His spokesman Kevin Feeley applauded the Supreme Court's decision to investigate further. He says leaks from the grand jury damaged DeNaples' ability to be treated fairly.

71-year-old man fatally beaten in Phila. home

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia man is accused of beating his 71-year-old neighbor with a trash can and a shovel, killing him. Police say 44-year-old Michael Bocchinfuso was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of murder and related offenses in the death of Dallas Custalow. Police say Bocchinfuso pummeled Custalow on Monday evening, but he ran to his home and barricaded himself inside. He held police at bay for hours before his arrest.

Pa. man pleads guilty to gun trafficking in NJ

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to illegally selling guns in New Jersey that he had purchased in Pennsylvania. Under the plea agreement announced Tuesday, New Jersey prosecutors will recommend that 26-year-old David Murray of Equinunk, Pa., be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including five years without possibility of parole. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17 in New Jersey Superior Court in Morristown. The charges resulted from an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police and agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Prosecutors say Murray sold undercover officers handguns, sawed-off shotguns, an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an auto repair shop where he worked in Chatham. Murray formerly lived in Chatham. He was arrested in October and pleaded guilty on Monday.

Co-defendant blamed in Pa. pornographer's death

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A lawyer for a man accused of killing a rival in the gay-porn industry in his northeastern Pennsylvania home is pinning the blame on his client's ex-lover.
Harlow Cuadra of Virginia Beach, Va., is charged in the death of 44-year-old Bryan Kocis in rural Luzerne County on Jan. 24, 2007. A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that he has a recording of the 27-year-old defendant telling a friend, "It was quick; he never saw it coming." In the first public airing of Cuadra's side of the story, defense lawyer Joseph D'Andrea blamed 35-year-old Joseph Kerekes, also of Virginia Beach. The two co-owned a pornography and prostitution business, but D'Andrea says Kerekes was the dominant partner. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder.

W.Pa. trooper seeks dismissal of brutality case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pennsylvania state trooper who shot an unarmed 12-year-old boy, triggering a $12.5 million legal settlement, wants an unrelated civil suit claiming brutality
dismissed. Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Strothers, of Pittsburgh, claims Trooper Samuel Nassan assaulted him outside a Pittsburgh bar in July. Strothers claims city police were breaking up a fight involving Strothers' friends when Nassan intervened, handcuffed him and threw him to the ground. Strothers' ankle was broken. The state attorney general's office, which is representing Nassan, says he acted within his duties as a law enforcement officer and is protected from being sued. Nassan and his former partner were sued for shooting a Uniontown boy on Christmas Eve 2002. The case settled for $12.5 million in October.

Pa. man sentenced for attack on hospital patient

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania man is getting two to four years in prison for what authorities call a random attack on a hospital patient. Neither 32-year-old Tyree Seneca Burgess of Scranton nor his lawyer has explained the Nov. 3 crime. Burgess pleaded guilty to indecent assault and simple assault in January and was sentenced Tuesday. Police say Burgess bypassed hospital security before walking into a patient's room, holding her down, ripping open her nightgown and fondling her breasts.

Man to stand trial in principal punching case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh man charged with punching a principal and her assistant after he tried to take his son from class will stand trial. Police say 40-year-old Taru Davis hit Morrow Elementary School Principal Annette Scott Piper in the face, then hit Betty Huguley
when she intervened on Feb. 16. Piper testified Tuesday that Davis punched her so hard that he knocked her to the ground. She says he continued punching her as she was on the ground. Davis' wife, Tracy Davis, has said their son gets migraines and his father wanted to take him home because he wasn't feeling well. School officials say he didn't follow protocol. Davis was held for trial on charges of aggravated assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

NE Pa. city closes apartments deemed nuisances

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania city has a new law that lets city employees shut down rental properties that are deemed nuisances. Wilkes-Barre's new law lets city employees kick out tenants if there are three or more police reports at a property within six months. Landlords must pay any outstanding fines and get buildings inspected before anyone can move back in. Mayor Tom Leighton says neighbors were grateful after the first apartment house was shut down under the new law Monday. But displaced tenant Mark Reichenwallner says he's lived in the building for two years and he's done nothing wrong. His neighbor is accused of selling heroin and other drugs. Reichenwallner says he has no place to go.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is reminding the nation: "We are not quitters." Obama offered a message of reality and hope in his first prime-time speech to a nation reeling from recession and facing long-festering problems.

HONG KONG (AP) - It wasn't the broad rally seen on Wall Street but Asian stocks rose modestly today on word there are no plans to nationalize major U.S. banks. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also says the recession might end this year.

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's try, try again for President Barack Obama as he prepares to name another candidate to head the Commerce Department after the first two didn't work out. Obama is set to name former Washington Gov. Gary Locke today.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq says its forces will be ready when the time comes to take on the full responsibility for its own security. The Iraqi government today welcomed reports that President Barack Obama will order U.S. combat troops out by August 2010.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The cleanup crews have taken over in New Orleans after the official end of Mardi Gras revelry. Many participants turned the tables on the recession, dressing in
costumes poking fun at bailouts, the stimulus package and busted budgets.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tamaqua woman dies in crash

A Tamaqua woman is dead following a crash in North Manheim Township earlier today. 53 year old Maureen Kalymun was traveling westbound on Tumbling Run Road and left the roadway. Her car hit two rocks and tumbled end over end and ended up in the middle of the road. Kalymun was ejected from the vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene by County Deputy Coroner Paul Kennedy. State police say she was not wearing her seatbelt.

Today's News-Tuesday, February 24, 2009


A number of customers served by the Blythe Township Water Authority are under a boil advisory today due to a main break yesterday. Customers in Primrose, Black Heath, Pine Hill, Schaeffers Hill and Hecksherville are reminded to boil their water for at least one minute before using it. The advisory remains in effect for 48 hours.


As we prepare for the Lenten season that begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, this Tuesday, Fastnacht Day, will afford people a last minute opportunity to scarf up donuts and other treats. Church groups and donut makers across the region have been hard at work over the past week, mixing the gooey concoction, with and without mashed potatoes, to meet the demand. The Fastnacht is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that people look forward to every year, so enjoy. The Pottsville Salvation Army, through the generosity of a local business, is offering free coffee and donuts to anyone who'd like to stop by their Sanderson Street location today from 9am till 1pm.


The candidates for the 29th Senatorial District race will meet for a debate tonight at Hamburg High School. The Berks County GOP has put together the free public event, scheduled for 7pm in the LGI room at the high school. Doors open at 6:30pm. Representative Dave Argall and Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steve Lukach are seeking the seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades. John D. Forrester, News Editor of the Reading Eagle, will moderate the debate. Members from the audience can submit questions for the candidates prior to the start of the debate. The special election is next Tuesday, March 3rd.


Two Schuylkill Haven men were injured in a two vehicle crash early Sunday in Washington Township. 20 year old Travis Arbegast was driving west on Route 895 near the village of Rock when he went through a stop sign at the intersection with Hilltop Road. He failed to see 48 year old Edward Neidlinger, and the two vehicles collided. Arbegast's truck went over a stone culvert, hit a utility pole guide wire and ended up in the yard of a home. Neidlinger's SUV hit a Penn DOT marker and ended up in a yard along Route 895. Both men were taken to Schuylkill Medical South for treatment. Neidlinger was suspected of driving under the influence.


Registration for homestead or farmstead exemptions for property owners are due this Friday. State lawmaker Tim Seip is reminding everyone who has not applied for the exemption, used to provide a state-funded reduction in school property tax bills on primary homes and farms, to contact their school districts for an application. If you have already been approved for an exemption, you need not apply again unless the property deed or address has changed. If you are unsure about whether the home or farm is currently approved, call the Schuylkill County Assessment office at 628-1024. Only properties registered as homesteads or farmsteads are eligible for the reduction through the homestead exclusion.

To receive an application, people can call their school district’s business office:
· Blue Mountain, 570-366-0515
· Hamburg Area, 610-562-2241
· North Schuylkill, 570-874-0466
· Pine Grove Area, 570-345-2731
· Pottsville Area, 570-621-2900
· Schuylkill Haven Area, 570-385-6736
· Schuylkill Valley, 610-916-0957
· Tri-Valley, 570-682-9013
· Williams Valley, 717-647-2167

Feds: Ex-Pa. senator spent big, always wanted more

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal prosecutor says a once-powerful Pennsylvania senator lived in his own world where rules that apply to others didn't apply to him. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer says Vincent Fumo vastly overpaid his Senate staff for their extra work and blind loyalty. He says state employees may have been in it for the money or possibly, in Zauzmer's words, "for proximity to the throne." Many former staffers testified during Fumo's four-month trial, admitting they kept track of income from their boss's rental properties. They also oversaw mansion renovations and drove a state vehicle to Martha's Vineyard to meet Fumo's borrowed yacht. The defense is expected to give its closing argument Tuesday.

Official connected to corrupt Pa. judges to resign

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania row officer who had been in business with two corrupt judges plans to resign next month amid an unfolding corruption scandal. Luzerne County prothonotary Jill Moran says in a letter of resignation to Gov. Ed Rendell that she will leave office March 13. Moran told the governor that "circumstances in the Luzerne County Courthouse" had made her presence in the office "a distraction." Two Luzerne County judges who pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this month were involved in a failed township development project with Moran. A bank has filed suit against Moran and the judges, saying they defaulted on $4 million in loans. The prothonotary is the custodian of civil court records. Moran is in the last year of her second term. She has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing.

Casey: No tolls on interstates without benefit for nearby towns

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he opposes tolls on interstate highways unless there are clear economic benefits to communities along the road. The Pennsylvania Legislature has voted for a plan to put tolls on Interstate 80 to help finance an expansion of state highway and bridge repairs. But federal regulators rejected the plan last fall. Casey told The Associated Press that he won't rule out supporting a bill banning tolls on interstates. The Pennsylvania Democrat says that might be the only way to prevent damage to communities along the highways.

Sen. Casey says he won't run for Pa. governor in 2010

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Sen. Bob Casey says he won't run for governor next year -- but he might in a later election. Casey ran for governor in 2002 but lost the Democratic primary
to now-Gov. Ed Rendell. He then ousted conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006. Casey told The Associated Press that he's "had enough elections for a while," but he didn't rule out running for governor again at some point down the road. Casey's father, Robert Casey Sr., was a popular two-term governor.

GOP scolds Pa. governor's budget, spending

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Senate Republicans had tough words for Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell's top budget makers during an Appropriations Committee hearing. Monday's hearing was on the first day of four weeks of scrutiny by the Senate Appropriations Committee as the state seeks to fill budget gaps this year and next. Venango County Sen. Mary Jo White told Budget Secretary Mary Soderberg that the state should allow more gas drilling on 2 million acres of state forest land. York County Sen. Mike Waugh questioned whether it's wise to drain most of the state's contingency reserve fund. That's what Rendell is proposing. And Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman of Centre County says Rendell's proposed budget could create a disaster unless the economy stages a dramatic turnaround.

DA says had no option in charging slay suspect, 11

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania prosecutor says he'd consider pursuing the death penalty against someone accused of killing his father's pregnant girlfriend -- if only he were 18 years old. Eleven-year-old Jordan Brown is in the Lawrence County Jail, separated from adult inmates. District Attorney John Bongivengo says state law prohibits him from filing criminal homicide charges against Jordan Brown in juvenile court. To get the case moved to juvenile court, defense attorney Dennis Elisco must convince a judge the boy can be rehabilitated in that setting. Bongivengo says the juvenile system can only hold Brown until he's 21 and he fears releasing a 21-year-old who's willing to kill someone.

Pa. 'music church' dispute settled out of court

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man who organized concerts in rural southwestern Pennsylvania has settled his dispute with Fayette County officials. William Pritts argued that the concerts were part of religious expression, so he didn't need a permit. The county had said his Church of Universal Love and Music was a sham he created because his 2001 application for a zoning exemption was rejected. Pritts' lawyer, Gregory Koerner, says terms of the settlement reached Monday are confidential. But he describes the accord as "mutually satisfactory" and says Pritts will be able to continue with his venture. County lawyer Marie Milie Jones confirmed that an agreement was reached Monday but said the details were still being worked out.

Phila. man accused of rural Pa. jailbreak attempt

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) - A 23-year-old Philadelphia man charged in the rape of Lock Haven University students is now accused of trying to break out of jail. Domenique Thomas Wilson has denied involvement in the Feb. 1 attack in which three female students were attacked in their off-campus apartment and two of them were raped. Clinton County Correctional Facility Warden Tom Duran says Wilson made a "serious attempt" at escape on Friday, but it was "very preliminary." Police say he tried to remove caulking from around a window in his cell and then tried to kick out the window. A message left Monday for Wilson's lawyer, Public Defender David Lindsay, was not immediately returned. Wilson's preliminary hearing on rape and other charges is scheduled Tuesday.

NE Pa. police bemoan lack of animal shelter

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Police say last month's closing of a northeastern Pennsylvania animal shelter has been compounded by a rescue group being told it can't take in strays.
Stroud Area Regional Police Lt. Brian Kimmins says he can no longer pick up stray animals because he has no place to take them. The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals closed its shelter near Stroudsburg on Jan. 29. That led to Camp Papillion Animal Rescue taking in strays. But the group says it got word from state officials on Monday that it may not take in strays without a public facility where people can come in and see the animals. Camp Papillion says it's tried to get in touch with the Pennsylvania SPCA about renting its closed shelter building, but hasn't heard back.

Pa. court OKs beer sales at cafes run by Wegmans

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A trade group for Pennsylvania's beer distributors plans to appeal a court ruling that says a supermarket chain can sell six-packs. The Commonwealth Court ruling says Wegmans Food Markets can sell beer in the restaurants attached to its grocery stores. Attorney Robert Hoffman says the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. He says the distributors could face considerable losses if regulations are changed by the courts. Wegmans lawyer R.J. O'Hara says a limit of two six-packs on take-out purchases will ensure that grocery-linked restaurants won't devastate business at beer distributors.

Thompson invites defeated Democratic foe to DC

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Rep. Glenn Thompson has invited the Democrat he defeated in last fall's election to be his guest Tuesday when President Barack Obama makes his first address to Congress. Thompson succeeded retiring Rep. John Peterson, keeping the sprawling north-central Pennsylvania district in Republican hands. Democratic Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken lost the general election race to Thompson, a Centre County health care executive. Thompson says McCracken will join him for Obama's State-of-the-Union-style speech to Congress. He says he looks forward to working with McCracken and other officials regardless of party affiliation to help bring and preserve jobs in the district.

Phila. newspaper company due in bankruptcy court

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the company that owns Philadelphia's two largest newspapers. Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday, citing debts of $390 million. The company said it will continue normal operations without interruption during the debt-restructuring process.
On Monday, the largest union at the company, the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, advised its members that senior management said the union contract would be honored. The contract was reached in 2006 and lasts through Aug. 31 of this year. The union says it
expects to begin negotiations for a new contract soon.

Philly piloting program to protect drinking water

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The city of Philadelphia has received a $2 million federal grant to develop a contamination warning system for drinking water. Environmental Protection Agency officials said Monday that they chose Philadelphia because of its existing water quality protection programs and its commitment to increase water security. The contamination warning system will focus on detecting and, in some cases, preventing tainting of the drinking water distribution system. The scope of the project may expand to include sampling analysis, customer complaint review, enhanced security monitoring and public health surveillance. New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Cincinnati are also participating in the pilot program, which aims to develop models that can be replicated in other cities.

Philly archdiocese starts $200M capital campaign

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia's Roman Catholic archbishop says it won't be easy to raise $200 million over five years in this economy, but it needs to be done. Cardinal Justin Rigali says the archdiocese can't pretend that its needs don't exist. Of the $200 million, $70 million would go directly to parishes for improvements such as repairing leaky roofs and fixing crumbling masonry. The plan includes $30 million in seed money for two new suburban high schools and an $18 million tuition assistance program for elementary school students. A 12-parish pilot program exceeded expectations, giving the archdiocese hope that fundraising momentum can be maintained despite the current economic uncertainty. Rigali announced the fundraising campaign on Monday.

Pa. Catholic church becomes Seventh-day Adventist

HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) - A former Roman Catholic church in northeastern Pennsylvania is becoming a house of worship for Seventh-day Adventists. A 16-member congregation is fixing up the Hazleton building and plans the first service there March 7. The group had been renting space at another church in Hazleton one day a week. Unlike most other Christian denominations, Seventh-day Adventists hold services on Saturdays. Real estate agent Robert Nilles says he was surprised to find a buyer planning to use the building for a house of worship. He says there had been other prospective buyers who were thinking of a secular use for the real estate.

WASHINGTON (AP) - He's going to be straight with the American people. That preview of President Barack Obama's speech tonight comes from his press secretary, Robert Gibbs. He tells MSNBC that Obama wants to be "honest about where we are" with the challenges facing the nation. As for how Obama plans to cut deficits in half by the end of his first term, Gibbs says much of that will come from reduced spending in Iraq.

LONDON (AP) - The hopes of a quick fix for the U.S. banking sector are fading, and that's bringing stocks lower around the world. Wall Street finished yesterday at its lowest levels in 12
years. One analyst says investors still want to see more details about the administration's plans to save financial firms.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The nation's biggest sheriff's department is warning that hundreds of jobs could be cut -- and thousands of inmates could be cut loose. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca
tells The Associated Press that budget cuts could force him to close two jails and eliminate the staff positions there. He says nearly 4,000 inmates could be released early.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - With help from crews from out of state, utility workers in Maine are making progress in getting the power back on. More than 140,000 people were without power yesterday because of a windy storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in some areas. About half of them have had their power restored.

LONDON (AP) - For the first time, Agatha Christie fans can see the English holiday home where the writer spent her summers, and where she entertained guests by reading from her thrillers. After two years of restoration work, the house called Greenway in southwest England is opening to the public this weekend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today's News-Monday, February 23, 2009


A Pottsville man has announced his candidacy for Schuylkill County Sheriff. 53 year old Joseph Devine, a Democrat, will face current incumbent Joseph Groody, who's also a Democrat in the May primary. Devine, a retired postal service employee and military veteran, is also pursuing a degree in administration of justice from Penn State. He cites his military experience as one of the reasons why he is seeking the sheriff's position.


State police at Schuylkill Haven have released the details of Friday's crash at Cressona Mall where several people were injured. 44 year old David Friedman of Breinigsville was making a left turn into the Cressona Mall from Route 61. His SUV was struck by a pickup truck driven by 51 year old Joseph Sayetta of Frackville, which rolled Friedman's vehicle on its side. The impact forced Friedman's vehicle into a car driven by 80 year old Violet Kubilus of Mahanoy City who was attempting to exit the mall. Sayetta's truck also hit a car driven by Tammy Sukeena of Schuylkill Haven. Friedman and a passenger were flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment. Several others were taken to area hospitals, treated and released. State police will cite Friedman for turning in front of another vehicle.


A Minersville woman flipped her vehicle Saturday night, and may have been driving drunk. The crash happened on the Pottsville/Minersville highway. State police say that 37 year old Tina Hoy was apparently driving at a high rate of speed, dropped a lit cigarette and lost control of the vehicle, going up an embankment and flipping onto its roof. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken to the hospital for a blood alcohol test. A passenger, 45 year old Robert Fitzpatrick of Schuylkill Haven, had minor facial injuries.


Two adults were arrested for driving under the influence during regional DUI checkpoints Friday night. According to North Central Regional Sobriety Checkpoint officials, 76 vehicles were checked, and 40 traffic arrests were made as well. Six police departments were involved in the enforcement effort.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News has filed for bankruptcy. Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection Sunday. PNI is owned by Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC. It is the second newspaper company in two days, and fourth in recent months, to seek bankruptcy protection.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania jail warden says he'll ask a judge to move an 11-year-old boy accused of killing his father's pregnant girlfriend to a juvenile detention center.
Lawrence County Warden Charles Adamo says his 300-inmate jail cannot offer proper long-term care for the suspect, Jordan Brown, of Wampum, who was charged Friday.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal jury is scheduled to be picked Monday to hear a $1 million religious freedom lawsuit against southwestern Pennsylvania officials. William Pritts heads the
Church of Universal Love and Music in Bullskin Township, about 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Pritts contends the "jam band" concerts he holds on his 147-acre spread are church services. The events have been banned by a county judge.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Three decades ago, environmentalists and public officials rang the alarm when the price of fossil fuels shot up and drilling companies descended on western Pennsylvania's oil and gas fields. The state Legislature responded with the 1984 Oil and Gas Act. But it also allowed them to keep secret most information about their below-ground discoveries for five years. State legislators are considering peeling back that cloak of secrecy.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a man drowned and his stepfather died of an apparent heart attack while rescuing a child from a frozen pond in northeastern Pennsylvania. Divers recovered the body of 36-year-old Willard Roy Van Fleet Jr. after a three-hour search in North Abington Township on Saturday. Officials say 55-year-old Mark Keene died after collapsing on the ice.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama brings advisers and adversaries together at the White House today. They'll discuss how to curb a federal deficit that's ballooned to more than a trillion dollars. Some participants already are cautioning against overinflated expectations.

HONG KONG (AP) - Investors in Asia seem relieved upon hearing reports the U.S. government might raise its stake in the teetering lender Citigroup. Asian stocks were mostly higher today.

MUMBAI, India (AP) - The "Slumdog" celebration has filled Mumbai's crowded slums, where people gathered to watch the film win eight Oscars, including best picture. Two of the child actors were flown to the glitzy ceremony.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sean Penn has won his second Oscar for best actor, this one for playing slain gay-rights pioneer Harvey Milk in "Milk," while Kate Winslet took best actress for "The Reader," in which she plays a former concentration camp guard.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of the dozens of suspected teenage prostitutes rescued in a weekend sweep across the U.S. were as young as 13. The FBI says the operation is part of a larger federal program to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children. More than 50 alleged pimps were rounded up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today's News-Saturday, February 21, 2009


Several people had to be life flighted from the scene of a multi-vehicle crash at the entrance to Cressona Mall Friday afternoon. While state police have not yet released the exact details of the crash as yet, WPPA News was on the scene of the accident where two vans collided, one ending up on its side on the concrete culvert. Crews from Schuylkill Haven and Cressona worked to extricate the passengers. Several passengers were flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital, and others taken by ambulance for treatment. A full report is expected from Schuylkill Haven state police today.


Citing declining enrollment and financial issues, another area parochial school is set to close at the end of the school year. The Diocese of Allentown has announced that Good Shepherd School in Minersville is closing its doors. The number of students enrolled there has declined by more than half over the past decade. Good Shepherd offers a Catholic education to children in pre K through 8th grade.


Pottsville police have closed the investigation into an incident in the parking lot at Martz Hall following the Schuylkill League championships last Friday. Initial reports indicated that David Plachko, a referee and District Judge, and another individual after the North Schuylkill/ Williams Valley game. According to today's Republican and Herald, the other person asked city police to drop the investigation. A letter to the editor from Plachko in the paper addressed the "minor" matter, and called for tougher laws pertaining to harrassment of sports officials.


A Pottsville woman is jailed on charges of aggravated assault and related counts following an incident between a brother and sister at a city home Thursday. Pottsville PD reports that 20 year old India Miller and her teenaged brother were arguing about the use of a bathroom. Miller stabbed her brother with a knife in the arm and hand. Police found a bloody knife at the Race Street home, and Miller was taken into custody without incident. She was unable to post bail after arraignment and was jailed.


A city businessman's effort to help those less fortunate led to a SOUPER outcome. Patrick J. Murphy, owner of Murphy's Jewelers, collected canned goods during a store promotion prior to the Super Bowl, with great results. Friday, he took to the streets of Pottsville to collect more items for the Pottsville Soup Kitchen. Murphy was a guest on WPPA's Step Up To The Mic Friday and said that helping others, especially during these economic times, is the right thing to do. Four cart loads were delivered on foot to the soup kitchen Friday afternoon.

Feds: Pa. arson suspect wanted to be firefighter

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal prosecutors say an arson suspect from West Chester had quite an interest in fire. Prosecutors say police found accelerants, firefighting equipment and a newspaper article about the arsons plaguing Coatesville in 19-year-old Mark Gilliam's home.
Gilliam applied this month to join the West Bradford Fire Co., in Chester County, but was rejected. Prosecutors say Gilliam nonetheless bought firefighting gear and drove a car illegally
equipped with strobe lights to make it appear he was a firefighter. Defense lawyer Richard Meanix said only that Gilliam is presumed innocent. Another teen, Roger Barlow Jr., was charged with setting nine fires in Coatesville in a five-week period this year. Gilliam and
Barlow were classmates in vocational school.

Pa. will seek loan to tide over joblessness fund

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A state official says Pennsylvania will seek a short-term loan from the federal government to cover the cost of unemployment benefits. Department of Labor and Industry spokesman Troy Thompson said Friday this will be the third time in the last six years that Pennsylvania has had to seek such a loan. The problem is that more people are seeking benefits after being laid off, while shrinking payrolls mean less is being paid into Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation trust fund. Thompson says Pennsylvania is not alone in having the troubles or in needing to borrow. He says it is not clear yet how much the state will borrow. But Pennsylvania expects to pay it back shortly after money from employers and workers pours into the fund when the first quarter ends.

4th charged in corruption probe at Pa. courthouse

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A Luzerne County probation official is suspended without pay now that she's accused of tampering with juvenile court records. Sandra Brulo is charged with obstruction of justice. She had no comment as she left the federal courthouse in Scranton. Brulo is the fourth person to be charged in a widening corruption scandal in the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
Brulo's lawyer, Joseph Sklarosky Sr., says prosecutors believe she tampered with court records to evade liability in a civil suit. That suit was filed on behalf of hundreds of children who passed
through the Luzerne County juvenile court system. Her co-defendants are judges accused of taking kickbacks to send juvenile offenders to private detention centers. Another court employee is accused of embezzlement.

Pa. man guilty of killing step-grandfather

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A suburban Pittsburgh man faces life in prison for killing his step-grandfather. An Allegheny County jury found 31-year-old Timothy Large Jr., of Forward Township, guilty Friday of first-degree murder and related offenses in the Dec. 2007 beating and shooting death of 71-year-old Vernon Hayden Sr. Police found Hayden's body more than a month later in woods near the Somerset-Bedford county line. Large's attorney asked for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, saying he acted in a fit of passion. Large testified Hayden sexually abused him as a child and that Hayden made a sexual advance toward him the night he killed him. Prosecutors say Large never told police he'd been abused and say Large planned to steal Hayden's truck and killed him when Hayden caught him.

Body of missing Pittsburgh teen found in W.Va.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The body of a 17-year-old Pittsburgh boy missing since November has been found in the Ohio River in Hancock County, W.Va. Pittsburgh police say the body of Joseph Harris was identified Friday using dental records. The body was found Feb. 13 by workers on a barge. The medical examiner's office couldn't obtain fingerprints at the time of the
autopsy, so the Hancock County sheriff's office sought the public's help. A friend of the Harris family saw information on the news and informed the sheriff's office that the body might be that of Harris. No ruling was immediately made on how Harris died. Police say there were no obvious signs of trauma and investigators are awaiting a toxicology report.

Police: W.Pa. pregnant woman shot to death

WAMPUM, Pa. (AP) - State police say a pregnant woman was found shot to death in her western Pennsylvania farmhouse. State Police Lt. Steve Ignatz is telling KDKA-TV that a
26-year-old woman was found shot to death Friday morning in a bedroom of her Wampum home by her 5-year-old daughter. Trooper Ronald Kesten says the child alerted tree cutters
working nearby. The woman's name was not immediately released. Officials say the
investigation into the shooting is continuing. Wampum is in Lawrence County, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

State agency says Philadelphia has 45 days to close budget gap

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has warned the city of Philadelphia that it must fix its $47 million deficit. The state agency has told the city that it must come up with a solution within 45 days. The agency created in 1991 has only sent such a notice to the city once before. Mayor Michael Nutter's finance director, Rob DuBow, says the mayor will explain the plan March 19. That's when he presents his budget to the City Council.

W.Pa. man charged in fatal shooting outside bar

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with killing one man and wounding two other people in a shooting outside a bar. Washington police charged 26-year-old Phillip Whitlock Jr., of Washington, with homicide and attempted homicide on Friday at
Canonsburg General Hospital. Police wouldn't say why he was being treated. Police say Whitlock shot and killed 23-year-old Troy Saunders, of Washington, and wounded 24-year-old Marquis Taylor and 23-year-old Lindsay Jolly about 2:10 a.m. Monday in a parking lot next to Cabaret West. Police gave no motive for the shootings, but say Whitlock and Saunders had previous disagreements. Whitlock's attorney, Dan Chunko, called police and arranged the surrender.

Philly officer remembered as thrilled father-to-be

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - As mourners filed silently by the casket of slain Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski, they saw in his hand the promise of a new beginning: a sonogram of
his unborn son. It was one of many mementos from the 25-year-old newlywed's life that was tucked into his coffin: a ticket to a rock concert, a deck of cards, a favorite cap. Surrounding him were photo collages, pictures from his honeymoon, and sprays of blue and orange flowers that matched the University of Florida apparel also placed in the casket. Though Pawlowski's life was unique, the rite for his funeral was painfully familiar in Philadelphia. He is the fifth Philadelphia officer killed in the line of duty in less than a year. In all, seven have died in less than three years. Pawlowski was fatally shot last week while responding to a fight in the city's Logan section.

Hershey Co. closing Peppermint Patty plant in Pa.

READING, Pa. (AP) - Production of York Peppermint Patties and other candy brands is coming to an end at The Hershey Co. plant in Reading. After 23 years in Reading, the chocolate maker is moving production to a new factory it has built in Monterey, Mexico. Hershey says it will mean the loss of about 260 jobs. The plant also makes 5th Avenue and Zagnut candy bars and Jolly Rancher hard candies. The nation's largest candy manufacturer announced two years ago
that the plant would close as part of a wider move by Hershey to eliminate 1,500 jobs and one-third of its existing production lines, shifting more manufacturing to contractors in the United
States. Some workers will stay on for a few more weeks to close the plant.

Flight 93 memorial planners: 2011 deadline makable

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - Sen. Arlen Specter says he and other members of Congress may well owe their lives to those who brought down a plane in a rural Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001. Those who hijacked United Flight 93 that day may have been planning to crash the plane into the Capitol or the White House. Government officials and representatives of the passengers and crew killed that day have pledged to dedicate a memorial there by the attacks' 10th anniversary. In nearby Somerset, they signed a "letter of commitment" that they said reaffirms their goal of having the first phase of a memorial built by Sept. 11, 2011. Specter called the site as important to 21st century America as memorials to Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor are to the nation's history in previous centuries.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Governors from across the country will meet this morning in Washington to discuss the fiscal crisis. Many are debating whether the billions of dollars offered by the economic stimulus package can help salvage their economies.

CHICAGO (AP) - Sen. Roland Burris has been laying low as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined in with Democrats calling for his resignation. Burris ducked the press, but his office repeated pleas to "stop the rush to judgment." The White House is urging him to consider his future over the weekend.

DALLAS (AP) - Texas officials say the company at the center of the national salmonella outbreak hasn't carried out a recall of its products manufactured in the state. The state is asking
manufacturers, distributors and retailers to keep products from the Peanut Corp. of America's Plainview plant away from the public.

BEIJING (AP) - A human rights group says some Chinese dissidents have been confined to their homes during Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit. China Human Rights Defenders says one constitutional scholar was told he would not be able to leave or meet visitors for several days. Clinton is in China on the final stop of her Asian tour.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Ten Hours of negotiations with a man suspected of shooting two Indiana police officers proved futile. The man fatally shot himself in a Louisville, Ky. home. Both
officers are listed in stable condition at a hospital.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today's News-Friday, February 20, 2009


A woman who operated a purported animal sanctuary near Pine Grove is accused of letting animals go hungry faces more than 100 counts of animal cruelty. Pine Grove police say 49-year-old Virginia Justiniano stockpiled donated cat food and resold some of it to buy heroin and other drugs. Since 1996, she ran the Cats With No Name sanctuary. Also charged is her boyfriend, 37-year-old Andrew Oxenrider. Both face hundreds of charges of animal cruelty along with numerous drug charges. The couple were arraigned yesterday. As she appeared for arraignment in Tremont, Justiniano told a reporter, "I believe the media has been misleading and I have no other comment."


A Bethlehem truck driver escaped injury when his rig went down an embankment in Rush Township Thursday morning. Rush Township police indicate that 46 year old Ovidio Crespo lost control on an icy patch of Route 54 near the Hometown Farmers Market around 3am. Crespo's rig when across the road and plunged down a 150 foot embankment. Crespo was taken to the hospital for treatment and released. The crash closed portions of Route 54 for hours for cleanup.


A man about town...that best describes Mike McGeever, Pottsville's Elm Street manager who died of a heart attack at his home Thursday. McGeever spearheaded improvements in the city while working for Schuylkill Community Action. McGeever was passionate about everything he did, whether working in the community or on the radio as a music afficianado. McGeever worked with us at the Pottsville Broadcasting Company, both as an announcer and in the news department for several years. McGeever is survived by his wife, Diana, mother Helen and a brother and sisters. Services will be held on Tuesday.


Property and per capita tax collections for Schuylkill County in 2008 were about the same as the prior year. That's according to County Treasurer Jacqueline McGovern who issued the report this week. Real estate taxes collected in 2008 total $25.4 million dollars, or about 88 percent of total billings. That compares with an 89 percent tax collection rate in 2007. Per capita taxes collected ran a bit behind 2007, at 68 percent of total billed, compared to 71 percent for the prior year.


County officials are looking at another site to house Children and Youth Services, this time in the western end of Pottsville. An appraisal is being done at 1935 West Market Street, the home of European Motors. County officials toured the site Thursday. The agency needs more room for its growing operation. Last fall, the county had looked at a site at 500 North Centre Street as a possible home for Children and Youth, but declined to purchase it. A half million dollar grant from the state is earmarked to purchase a site, when one is found.

2nd suspect arrested in southeastern Pa. arsons

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Federal, state and local officials continue to look into arson in Chester County despite the arrests of two men within 24 hours. The latest suspect is 20-year-old Mark Gilliam of West Chester. Also charged is 19-year-old Roger Leon Barlow Jr. of Downingtown.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says Gilliam is facing a federal charge for the Jan. 25 attempted arson of a restaurant in Thorndale. Barlow is accused of setting
nine fires in Coatesville from Jan. 2 to Feb. 3. ATF spokesman John Hageman isn't saying if Gilliam and Barlow worked together or even knew each other.

Stimulus cash will begin flowing to Pa. in spring

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Most benefits of the federal stimulus package, such as tax breaks, cash payments and major transportation and water projects, won't be felt in Pennsylvania before spring. While many details about the massive spending bill are still unclear, some are taking shape. The Social Security Administration says it will issue one-time payments of $250 by late May by check or direct deposit to about 3 million elderly and disabled residents in Pennsylvania. Also, Pennsylvanians who have lost jobs may already qualify for special help paying for health coverage under the federal COBRA law. Plus, many projects already through the engineering and design phases but awaiting the money to start construction could see new
life this spring. That means contractors involved in water, sewer and transportation work could get very busy.

Prosecutor on Pa. Legislature probe: 'You'll probably be stunned again'

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett isn't saying when his investigation into the Pennsylvania Legislature will result in more charges. But he told reporters that when he has something to announce, "you'll probably be stunned again."
So far, the Legislature has burned through $5.8 million in taxpayer money on legal fees and other expenses stemming from the investigation. The probe involves staff bonuses and potential
misuse of public resources. Corbett declined to comment on the amount spent by the Legislature. He said the investigation has resulted in a small amount of additional cost for his office - including overtime for investigators. He wouldn't say exactly how much, but said his
office's costs are "not outlandish" and are contained within the budget.

Pa. teacher accused of sex contact with boy, 14

HAWLEY, Pa. (AP) - A seventh-grade teacher at a middle school in the Lehigh Valley is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy. Gregory Gene Ritter is suspended from his job at East Hills Middle School in the Bethlehem Area School District. The 44-year-old man was arrested Thursday at his home in Greentown in Pike County and held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Police say Ritter was working as a first aid supervisor at a Boy Scout camp in Kunkletown when he met the boy. He faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday before District Judge Jay Rose.

Paper: $3.5M defamation award fixed by Pa. judge

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The fallout from a Luzerne County judge's guilty plea to corruption charges is widening. A Wilkes-Barre newspaper, The Citizens' Voice, is trying to get the state Supreme Court to overturn a defamation award against it. The newspaper says in court papers that the $3.5 million judgment "very likely was a product of a corrupt judicial system."
The award was granted by Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella in 2006. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, pleaded guilty last week to fraud charges after prosecutors accused them of taking kickbacks. The paper says it has identified a potential witness who can
testify about direct connections between a reputed mobster and at least one of those judges.
The original lawsuit was over newspaper stories alleging a link between a businessman and the reputed mobster.

W.Pa. county councilman arrested on theft charges

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania county councilman is accused of taking money from a dementia patient's trust fund and giving it to election campaigns and a charity run by his wife. A grand jury says Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough gave $40,000 from 92-year-old Shirley Jordan's $14.5 million trust fund to four Republican campaigns. Jordan has been declared incapacitated by the court. She told investigators she didn't give permission for McCullough to make the donations. McCullough's lawyer, Clifford Levine, says a court required
McCullough and a bank to provide a thorough accounting, and they did so in 2007. Levine says the court approved it in August 2008. Levine says his client had no chance to give his side of the story to the grand jury.

Home break-in suspect shot dead near Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Police say an officer who responded to a break-in at a house near Pittsburgh shot the man believed to be the intruder, killing him. Allegheny County police say the man was not immediately killed by the shot fired into his chest by a Duquense officer Thursday morning. Police say the man continued to struggle with the officer, and the officer fired another shot into his forearm. County police Assistant Superintendent James Morton says the intruder was "mad about something," and did not pick the house at random. The dead man's name was not immediately released because his family had not been notified.

Forest Service mum on new mining, drilling regulations

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service isn't saying whether it plans to regulate drilling and mining on national forest land. There is a legal dispute about whether the Forest Service can
regulate the use of privately owned mineral rights on its publicly owned land. In Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest, 93 percent of mineral rights are privately owned. In December, the Forest Service announced in the Federal Register that it was proposing rules dealing with such mining and drilling -- which historically it hasn't regulated. Forest Service spokeswoman Allison Stewart says the notice only means the agency is asking for public comment. She isn't saying
what the agency's plans are because the right to regulate the use of those mineral rights is tied up in court.

STOCKHOLM (AP) - GM-owned automaker Saab has filed for bankruptcy protection with the idea of turning itself into an independent company. The move comes after the Swedish government rejected a request from GM to inject money into Saab. GM has been looking for buyers for Saab.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider changing the way transportation money is raised. Lahood wants to look at taxes based on how many miles driven. He says gasoline taxes can't be counted on to raise enough money.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says belligerance from North Korea isn't helpful in terms of better relations with the U.S. Amid reports of a pending missile test in the North, Clinton says Pyongyang should rejoin stalled disarmament talks.

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A funeral procession turned violent today in northwestern Pakistan where a bomb killed at least 25 people. The funeral was for a slain Shiite Muslim. Sectarian attacks are rising in Pakistan.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Hard-line candidate for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be named today to the task of forming Israel's next government. He and Likud leader Tzipi Livni meet with President Shimon Peres today. He'll likely designate Netanyahu after a narrow

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today's News-Thursday, February 19, 2009


An Auburn man has admitted to setting several fires, but contends he is mentally ill. That action took place in Schuylkill County Court Wednesday, where John Yerusavage appeared before Judge D. Michael Stine. The former firefighter set four buildings ablaze in an arson spree last fall. The plea arrangement on 16 counts of arson is not finished yet, as Yerusavage must now undergo a psychiatric evaluation before sentencing. Yerusavage torched the Precisionaire factory, leaving more than 130 people out of work, along with a hunting club and garage in Wayne Township, and a cabin in South Manheim Township. Precisionaire's parent company, Flanders Corporation, said they will not rebuild the plant.


The proposed pre-release center for Schuylkill County work release inmates is moving forward, but several issues have come to light that will cost the county money. During Wednesday's Prison Board meeting, President Judge William Baldwin noted that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will require Schuylkill County to pay for the 4.5 acre tract of land near SCI/Frackville. Baldwin explains the state's reasons for the change of heart:


The money will come from prisoner's fines and fees. Funding of more than $1.5 million dollars has already been set aside to pay for the building. Total cost of the project is estimated at between 3 and 5 million dollars, and will be supplemented by a USDA loan. In another development, Commissioner Frank McAndrew told the board that a deal to get steam heat from the proposed coal-to-gas plant planned by WMPI is off because the plant has yet to be built. There is a possibility that a steam heat source from the Frackville prison may be an alternative.


Schuylkill County's financial team, Paul Straka and Paul Buber, outlined the highlights of President Obama's stimulus package and proposed benefits for taxpayers at Wednesday's Commissioner's work session. The $787 billion dollar package, subject to modifications, will adjust federal withholding for workers, giving them a $13 dollar per week increase in take home pay. Other highlights include tax credits for education, extension of unemployment benefits, tax credits of $8-thousand-dollars for first time home buyers and a reduction of taxes paid when purchasing a new vehicle. Here is an audio link to yesterday's comments:



Three peopler were injured in a crash near the Big Lots Distribution Center near Tremont last night. Schuylkill Haven state police say that 25 year old Nicole Derfler of Pottsville was southbound on Route 209 when her car began to fishtail and crossed into oncoming traffic. Steven Schisler of Tremont tried to stop, but struck Derfler's car. Derfler and Schisler were taken to Schuylkill Medical Center East for treatment. A 5 year old in Derfler's car suffered head injuries and was taken to Hershey Medical Center. Another child in Derfler's car, and two children in Schisler's car weren't hurt. The crash happened before 6pm.


A ratification pay raise vote for certain Schuylkill County Government non-union employees brought up the issue of working hours for courthouse employees again yesterday. During the Salary Board meeting, members were asked to vote on the pay adjustments of 3 percent, effective January 1st. Controller Melinda Kantner questioned who the increases cover, which was clarified by Commissioners Mantura Gallagher and Frank McAndrew:


Kantner voted no, and asked the vote be rescinded:


Her motion died for lack of a second. Questions arose last month about employees in the controller's office only working 30 hours, a fact that Kantner disagreed with, stating that the employees worked under her control at least the required 35 hours or more. Gallagher said the working hours in the courthouse are 8:30am to 4:30pm. Michael Mehalko was the only employee in the office who didn't sign the 35 hour requirement document, and was docked pay. The work hour requirement was changed in 1998. Controller Kantner raised questions about petty cash expenses earlier in the meeting, noting that coffee, pastries and other items purchased for the commissioners wing. Commissioner Gallagher said that the items were not purchased for staff use, but for meetings in the normal course of business with the commissioners and other officials.


The Schuylkill County Election Bureau has announced important dates for the upcoming special election. Absentee ballots for the March 3rd elections are due on Tuesday, February 24th, and marked with SPECIAL ELECTION on them. Final deadline for receipt by the county board of elections is Friday, February 27th at 5pm. The special election is being held to fill the 29th Senatorial District seat held by the late Senator Jim Rhoades. Primary day is May 19th, and petitions for office are now being accepted until March 10th. Petition packets are available online at or at the voter bureau at 420 North Centre Street, Pottsville.

Lawyer testifies against former Pa. lawmaker

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A lawyer testifying against former Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Fumo says he thought Fumo was setting him up. Robert Scandone says Fumo and his lawyers wanted him to sign an affidavit saying he'd advised Fumo that he could destroy e-mail
evidence because he hadn't gotten a subpoena yet. Scandone says he refused to sign - but did agree to sign a letter saying he'd previously told Fumo he could continue with normal "District
Office business" because Fumo hadn't yet received a subpoena. The letter, however, does not specifically refer to the deletion of e-mail messages or other evidence. Fumo's lawyer is scheduled to cross-examine Scandone on Thursday. Closing arguments in the case are expected early next week.

Pa.'s top judge suggests eliminating constables

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's top judge says the state should consider eliminating the office of constable. Constables serve warrants, transport prisoners and perform other
jobs for hundreds of magisterial district courts throughout the state. Chief Justice Ronald Castille says sheriffs do that sort of work for the county courts of common pleas, so maybe sheriffs should take over the constables' duties at the lower-level courts. A key state lawmaker says he wants to keep constables but change the laws governing them. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Tom Caltagirone says he wants a law that sets new training requirements for constables and clarifies their duties.

Senator proposes increasing college grants

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A key state senator is calling for an expansion of Pennsylvania's grants for college students. Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola also calls for strict limits on tuition increases at most colleges and universities that get state funding.
Piccola is seeking an injection of $145 million into the grant program, which he said would help an additional 25,000 students. His plan would offset the cost largely by eliminating tax breaks
for the film industry. The Dauphin County Republican also advocates requiring colleges
and universities that get the most state funding to limit their annual tuition increases to the inflation rate. Piccola cast his proposals as an alternative to Gov. Ed Rendell's more expansive plan to boost tuition aid by more than $500 million a year by legalizing and taxing video poker machines.

Phila. man charged in rapes in north-central Pa.

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) - A 23-year-old Philadelphia man is accused of attacking three Lock Haven University students in their apartment, raping two of them. Domenique Thomas Wilson denied involvment in the Feb. 1 attack when arraigned Wednesday. He's a former student at the
north-central Pennsylvania school. Police allege that Wilson entered the apartment and held them against their will for several hours. Police say he threatened them with a knife, sexually assaulted two of them, took ATM cards and later withdrew money from their bank accounts.
Wilson was arrested Friday on an unrelated warrant. A judge ruled at the arraignment that he should be held without bail. Public Defender Dave Lindsay is to handle his defense.

2nd teen charged in man's stabbing death in NE Pa.

MOUNTAINHOME, Pa. (AP) - Two teenagers are now charged in a man's stabbing death in a wooded area in northeastern Pennsylvania. Police say 17-year-old Ian Thomas Seagraves' fingerprints were found on duct tape found at the scene where 21-year-old Michael
Goucher was killed in Price Township, Monroe County. That's about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. The Cresco teen is charged as an adult with criminal homicide and other offenses. He was arraigned Wednesday and faces a preliminary hearing March 3. Defense lawyer Paul Kramer says all the evidence points to Seagraves' 19-year-old co-defendant, Shawn Nicholas Freemore. Police allege Goucher was killed Feb. 4, but his body wasn't found until Feb. 11.

Pittsburgh guilty of murder; body never found

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh man has been convicted of killing another man whose body has never been found. An Allegheny County jury convicted 37-year-old Bryan Sedlak of
third-degree murder on Wednesday in the death of 22-year-old Patrick Kenney. Kenney, of Jefferson Hills, was last seen in early February 2005. Sedlak testified that he shot Kenney in self-defense during a drug deal gone bad. He says Kenney tried to rob him and that a friend got rid of the body. Prosecutors say it was Sedlak who robbed Kenney. Sedlak faces up to 20 to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 11, but the judge suggested a lesser sentence may be possible if Sedlak says where the remains are. Sedlak's attorney says they'll appeal.

Couple missing from Phila. for 4 years as of Thursday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Thursday is the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of a couple last seen at a Philadelphia nightclub. Authorities are once again seeking the public's help in finding
out what happened to Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone Jr. Imbo and Petrone had known each other since high school and had recently started dating at the time of their Feb. 19, 2005,
disappearance. That Saturday night, they were at a club on Philadelphia's South Street when they told friends they planned to return to Imbo's home in Mount Laurel, N.J., in Petrone's pickup truck. Imbo, Petrone and his truck haven't been seen since. The FBI says Imbo and Petrone might be victims of a murder-for-hire scheme.

Judge dismisses Pa. couple's suit against Google

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Google Inc. says people who don't want their homes seen on the Google Maps "street view" feature can use some simple removal tools, rather than resorting to a lawsuit. The company was sued by a suburban Pittsburgh couple who contended that Google violated their right to privacy by posting photos of their house online. Aaron and Christine Boring of Franklin Park live on a long driveway labeled "Private Road" and alleged in the suit that Google would have had to access the road to take the pictures. A judge dismissed the lawsuit. A judge says the Borings didn't take reasonable steps to remove the pictures, didn't prove mental suffering and showed no evidence that their property value dropped because of Google's actions.

Pa. school allows 2 students to wear Arab scarves

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A suburban Pittsburgh school says Muslim students it banned from wearing traditional neck scarves because of tensions involving Jewish students will be allowed to wear them again. Gateway High School's principal had told seniors Mohammad Al-Abbasi and Ahmad Al-Sadr on Tuesday to remove the checkered kaffiyeh scarves or they couldn't go to class. The students kept the Arab attire and went home. The Monroeville school said the scarves would be allowed after a meeting Wednesday involving students, one of the Muslim students' mothers, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Civil Liberties Union. A school district spokeswoman says three students recently wore T-shirts saying "RIP Israel" and 35 Jewish students responded with a petition saying they felt threatened. She says Al-Abbasi, Al-Sadr and the Jewish students will sit with counselors and discuss their cultural differences.

Pa. self-taught cancer researcher John Kanzius dies

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - John Kanzius, who had no medical background but invented a device that kills cancer cells, has died at age 64. Kanzius died Wednesday at a hospital in Florida, where he had a
winter home. Jack Martin, of Dusckas Martin Funeral Home in Erie, confirmed the death but had no further details. Kanzius used to be a partner at Erie's Jet Broadcasting Co. He invented a device that uses heat from radio waves to kill cancer cells without harming other cells. He created the device while suffering from insomnia brought on by chemotherapy. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are experimenting with it. Kanzius' survivors include his wife, Marianne; two daughters, Sherry Kanzius and Toni Palmer; and two grandchildren.

JERUSALEM (AP) - The American consulate says U.S. lawmakers are visiting the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time in at least four years. Two House members and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry will meet with international officials, but not the Hamas rulers.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) - A key U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan is another step closer to closing. The country's parliament voted today to evict the Americans. If Kyrgyzstan's leader signs the
bill, it could hamper U.S. efforts to get more troops in Afghanistan.

KRAKOW, Poland (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates is talking up better relations with Russia on his first trip abroad for the Obama administration. He's meeting with his Polish counterpart in Krakow and trying to make a case for more NATO participation in Afghanistan.

MESA, Ariz. (AP) - President Barack Obama is trying to keep distressed homeowners' heads above water with a $75 billion home mortgage lifeline. Government support pledged to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is being doubled as well to encourage them to help.

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York Post cartoon is causing an uproar with protesters calling for the paper to be shut down. The cartoon attempts to parody the recent shooting of a chimpanzee with criticism of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. Critics say it recalls old racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.