Friday, April 24, 2009

Today's News-Friday, April 24, 2009

It took just about 90 minutes for Judge William Baldwin and attorneys involved to finish jury selection Thursday for the trial of two Shenandoah teens. Two men and two women round out the complement of alternate jurors to hear the case of Commonwealth vs Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, who are charged in connection with the death of Luis Ramirez last July. Eight men and eight women make up the panel. Piekarsky is charged with third degree murder, ethnic intimidation and other offenses. Donchak is charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other counts. A third teen, Colin Walsh, had charges dropped against him by Schuylkill County DA Jim Goodman after he pleaded guilty to a federal charge pertaining to the case. Those federal records are sealed. The trial begins at 9am on Monday in Courtroom Number 1 at the county courthouse. WPPA/T102 News will be providing updates throughout the trial on our news website.

Governor Ed Rendell and Congressman Tim Holden will be in Schuylkill County this afternoon to make a major announcement about transportation. Trish Reilly of Holden's Washington office told WPPA/T102 News Thursday about the visit, which will take place on Centre Street in the city at 1pm. Its anticipated that funding about the long awaited trade and transit center will be discussed.

Two men from New York City are jailed following a drug arrest in Mahanoy City within the last week. Details are just coming to light about the arrest of 21 year old Patrick Celifie and 22 year old Fernando Ramirez Jr., who were picked up during a late night traffic stop. Mahanoy City officers found an odor of pot in the car, which they admitted to smoking. A bag of the stuff was also found, plus some other drugs. Both men were arraigned on various drug related charges, and taken to the Schuylkill County Prison, being unable to post bail.

A Pottsville man is injured following an incident in the city early Thursday. Pottsville police say that they responded to an apartment at 2100 West Norwegian Street around 1:30am. Twenty three year old George Barnes set off an explosive while it was still in his hand, causing severe injuries to his left hand. Barnes had to be flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment.

State police are investigating vandalism at a coal plant in Norwegian Township recently. Unknown persons were on Reading Anthracite property and smashed windows on the company's bulldozers parked there, causing more than $1-thousand-dollars damage.

Several hundred dollars worth of equipment was taken from storage buildings in East Brunswick Township Thursday. Troopers from the Schuylkill Haven barracks say that someone cut bolts on several storage units and took a power washer. The investigation is continuing.

PennDOT encourages groups who participate in the Adopt a Highway program to pick it up. Those folks who are required to do 4 annual cleanups can participate in the Pick It Up PA Days, beginning Saturday and running through May 31st. Penn DOT's Erin Waters says that new volunteers are always welcome to help out:


Last year alone, more than 140-thousand volunteers in more than 41-hundred communities joined the cleanup and picked up more than 7.4 million pounds of trash and debris statewide.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Three tour guides who are challenging a Philadelphia ordinance to test and license guides are getting their day in court. A federal judge plans to hear arguments today on the ordinance. It was signed into law last April but stayed pending the guides' lawsuit.

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Three people are dead in western Pennsylvania from what appears to be carbon monoxide poisoning in a factory. A Westmoreland County emergency dispatcher confirmed the deaths of the three found yesterday in the Ferguson Glass building. The windshield factory in Loyalhanna Township, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police are looking for a man who ran over a Philadelphia police officer with a dirt bike. The 34-year-old policeman has a broken wrist last night. Police say a man aimed his dirt bike at two officers, then gunned the engine, running over one of the officers before fleeing the scene.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell says he supports changes in Pennsylvania's slot-machine gambling law that were proposed by the local prosecutor who handled the Louis DeNaples case. Perjury charges against northeastern Pennsylvania casino operator DeNaples
were dropped because of problems with the evidence.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The former controller of two western Pennsylvania nursing homes has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $628,000 from the businesses and not paying federal income taxes on the money. Forty-eight-year-old Gayle Phillips-Smith, of Canonsburg, faces up to 15 years in prison.


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