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.


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