Saturday, August 06, 2011



Firefighters from the Borough of Shenandoah and surrounding communities were summoned to the 100 block of North Jardin Street in the borough for a working structure fire shortly after 4 a.m. this morning. Upon arrival firefighters found a massive volume of flames consuming the middle of the row of houses. Shortly after five this morning WPPA News was on scene to find multiple homes involved with flames shooting from the rooftops. Firecrews from throughout Northern Schuylkill County and the City of Pottsville responded to the blaze. Tune into WPPA News on Monday morning for full details.


State police have concluded that a Barnesville man found dead inside his vehicle at the Mahanoy City Little League field last year committed suicide, and have charged a Mahanoy City woman with taking the gun from the scene that troopers say he used to kill himself. According to the Republican and Herald, Tammy Casserly was charged Friday by state police Cpl. James Cuttitta with misdemeanor counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and false reports to law enforcement authorities. Mark Ketusky was found inside his 2002 Jeep Liberty about 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 2010, with a single gunshot wound to the head. On July 21st Casserly was interviewed for a fourth time during the investigation and admitted to being the person who removed the revolver from the man's vehicle after his death saying she removed the weapon sometime before midnight Feb. 22, 2010. Casserly will appear for a preliminary hearing before Kilker in his Shenandoah courtroom.


State police at Schuylkill Haven are searching for the person who removed a keyless garage door entry pad from a property on Cherry Street either Thursday or Friday. The victim was Thomas P. Gregonis, police said. Also some time Thursday or Friday a thief entered an unlocked 1995 Ford Taurus parked on Front Street and stole a wallet containing $10, according to state police at Schuylkill Haven. The wallet is owned by a 17-year-old female juvenile, police said. Anyone with information about either crime is asked to call state police at 593-2000.


Two people were arrested by Schuylkill Haven police on drug charges, one Thursday night and the other Friday morning. As reported by the Republican and Herald, Police said Christopher J. Fox of Schuylkill Haven, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker, Shenandoah, on charges of manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Fox was committed to Schuylkill County Prison unable to post $5,000 straight cash bail. Police said officers executed a search warrant about 9 p.m. Thursday at Hess' home and found a quantity of green vegetable matter, suspected to be marijuana, in a second-floor bedroom. The second incident involved Ashley R. Geesaman of Tremont, and occurred at Bubeck Park about 10:30 a.m. Friday. Police said Geesaman was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge James R. Ferrier, Orwigsburg, on charges of manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Geesaman was committed to the county prison unable to post $5,000 straight cash bail set by Ferrier. Police said they were assisting Schuylkill County Drug Task Force detectives and met Geesaman, who was inside her vehicle by the basketball court. An undercover officer handed the woman $235 for the purchase of 37 morphine sulfate pills at a cost of $6 each, and also provided her with $10 for gasoline. The arrangements were previously set up by undercover agents, police said. After the transaction was completed, other officers took the woman into custody and recovered the cash she accepted for the pills.


The Middleport man charged with striking three people with his pickup truck in June at a bush party could go free pending further court action after a Schuylkill County judge reduced his bail on Friday. As reported in the Republican and Herald, George L. Klipola will have to post $600 to leave prison after Judge John E. Domalakes cut his bail to $6,000 percentage from the $50,000 percentage amount that Magisterial District Judge David A. Plachko, Port Carbon, had set July 29. Domalakes also conditioned Klipola's bail on his staying employed, refraining from driving and remaining in Schuylkill County. Klipola has been held in prison since being arrested the day of the incident. His original bail set upon arraignment was $75,000 straight cash. On Friday, Klipola promised during the bail hearing that he would have no contact with the alleged victims - a condition that Plachko had imposed in setting bail and Domalakes reimposed - and that he would not try to flee.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police and Philadelphia International Airport officials say a plane that was the target of a threatening note has been cleared. Philadelphia airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica (loo-PEE'-kah) tells The Associated Press a meticulous search of US Airways Flight 968 by law enforcement and explosives experts Friday found nothing amiss and the plane is being taken back to its terminal. The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement the investigation was launched because of a threatening note, but it didn't provide details. Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Inc. says the plane's 157 passengers and six crew members were asked by TSA officials to deplane so it could be swept. The plane had arrived earlier from Glasgow, Scotland. Passengers will reboard for their scheduled flight to Anchorage,

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania judge has again heard arguments about whether a boy should be tried as an adult on charges he murdered his father's pregnant fiancée when he was 11. Lawrence County Judge Dominick Motto didn't immediately rule after Friday's hearing regarding 13-year-old Jordan Brown. The Superior Court ordered the judge to Reconsider last year's ruling that Brown should be tried as an adult. The appeals court agreed with defense attorneys that the judge wrongly based his decision on what he called the boy's "lack of remorse," saying that violates the boy's right against self-incrimination because he
denies the crime. The judge must now decide whether the boy is likely to be rehabilitated in the juvenile system, where he can't be punished beyond age 21. If not, the boy can be tried as an adult in the 2009 shooting.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A federal judge says prosecutors withheld key evidence in a 1977 double murder case in Pennsylvania and has ordered a new trial. David Joseph Munchinski was convicted in 1986 of the slayings of James Alford and Raymond Gierke in Fayette County. He's mounted numerous appeals over the years, saying prosecutors hid a police report that suggests a purported witness was in Oklahoma when the killings occurred. Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan said Friday that prosecutors withheld evidence that resulted in convictions "that are unworthy of
confidence." Lenihan suggested in the ruling that she was prepared to release the 59-year-old Munchinski from prison. Munchinski's attorney says the ruling gives prosecutors 120 days
to decide whether to proceed with a new trial. If they don't, Munchinski would be released from prison.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state police have charged Lackawanna County's deputy corner with arson, alleging he tried to pay $40,000 to an undercover trooper to burn a building he owned in a bid to collect insurance money. The Times-Tribune in Scranton reported on its website that Joseph A. Swoboda was charged Friday with one felony count each of arson, solicitation to commit arson and arson for insurance purposes. He's also facing a count of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. The paper reported that Swoboda was taken into custody earlier Friday and put in the county prison in lieu of $50,000 bond.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Three men accused of being involved in the shooting of a Philadelphia bus after one passenger complained about another are being held for trial. Prosecutors played surveillance video of the shooting in court Thursday. Cameras mounted in the city bus show men outside brandishing guns and passengers hitting the floor. Authorities say the June 18 violence was spurred by a passenger who chided a female rider for disciplining her son on the bus. The female then made a cellphone call. Three men were waiting for her when she got off in North Philadelphia. Two were armed. Authorities say one fired 13 bullets into the bus as it drove away. No one was hurt. A Municipal Court judge has ordered the men and the female
passenger to stand trial on charges including attempted murder and conspiracy.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A jury has convicted two men of murder charges that carry mandatory life sentences in the robbery and fatal shootings of three people at a birthday party at a Pittsburgh-area housing complex. The Allegheny County jury on Friday convicted 18-year-old Isaiah Hereford of three counts of first-degree murder while convicting 20-year-old Deanthony Kirk of three counts of second-degree murder in the June 2010 robbery at the Crawford Village housing complex in McKeesport. The gunmen pretended they wanted to buy cigarettes to gain
entrance before killing 30-year-old Jahard Poindexter and 17-year-old Tre Madden, of McKeesport, and 23-year-old Angela Sanders, of Wilkinsburg. Hereford and Kirk both claimed to have alibis, but one witness testified seeing Hereford and another witness said Kirk acknowledged his role in the shooting. The sentences on the murder counts and lesser charges will be imposed Nov. 1.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police in Philadelphia say two men robbed a catering office at a performing arts venue and made off with $120,000. Police say the suspects wielded a gun during Friday's theft at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. They remain at large. Mann Center president and CEO Catherine Cahill says in a statement that no one was hurt in the robbery of Wolfgang Puck Catering, which operates on the premises. The Mann Center is an outdoor music venue in Fairmount Park. It is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and features other performers as well. The venue was dark on Thursday but hosted a hip-hop dance group on Wednesday. Cahill says Friday night's concert by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie will go on as scheduled.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Kohl's Corp., expects to hire about 130 people when the retailer opens the first downtown department store in Williamsport in more than a half-century. A Kohl's spokeswoman told The Sun-Gazette of Williamsport that the chain will hold a five-day job fair in the central Pennsylvania city starting Thursday. The store is
scheduled to open on Sept. 25, with a formal grand opening planned three days later.
Wisconsin-based Kohl's has nearly 1,100 stores in 49 states.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Tasty Baking Co. says it's eliminating 32 jobs at its former corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, a move decided upon after it was acquired by Flower Foods this year. In a statement released Friday, Paul Ridder, who oversees the Philadelphia operation and was a former senior vice present and chief financial officer for Tasty, said the cuts are the results of overlap and redundancies in the company. The cuts will take place over the next several months. Bread maker Flowers Foods Inc. completed its $34.4 million acquisition of Tasty in May. Philadelphia-based Tasty, whose line of packaged sweets includes Kandy Kakes and Krimpets, became part of Flowers' direct-store-delivery business. Founded in 1914, Tasty Baking employs about 740 people in the Philadelphia region.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - One of the nation's most prominent bioethicists - who happens to be the brother of the Chicago mayor - is joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. The Ivy League institution in Philadelphia announced Friday that Ezekiel Emanuel will hold dual posts in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School for business. Emanuel is an oncologist who once led the clinical bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health. At Penn, he'll be the inaugural chairman of Perelman's new Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. Emanuel will also teach in Wharton's Department of Health Care Management. Emanuel is the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, the inspiration for the character Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage."

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers are going rogue. About a dozen Steelers are playing members of the Gotham Rogues, who take on the equally fictious Rapid City monuments in a new Batman movie that's filming in Pittsburgh. Thousands of extras playing fans also have been recruited for Saturday's shoot for "Dark Knight Rises" at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that players getting their star turn include Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and Casey Hampton. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he was a big Batman fan growing up and he's really excited to be part of the film.
Christopher Nolan is directing the third in his Batman trilogy. The movie stars Christian Bale as Batman and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai says 31 U.S. special forces and seven Afghan soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Wardak province. It's the highest number of casualties recorded in a single incident in Afghanistan. Karzai said in a statement on Saturday that he has sent condolences to President Barack Obama for the victims of the overnight crash. The Taliban have claimed responsibility, saying their fighters downed the helicopter in a battle with NATO troops.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the first downgrade ever in the nation's credit rating. Standard & Poor's, one of the world's three major credit rating agencies, knocked the U.S. rating down a notch from AAA to AA+, citing Washington's inability to work together to address its debt. S&P says the new deficit reduction plan passed by Congress does not go far enough to stabilize the country's debt situation. All three main credit agencies, which also include Moody's Investor Service and Fitch, had warned during the budget fight that if Congress did not cut spending far enough, the country faced a
downgrade. Moody's says it's keeping its AAA rating on the nation's debt, but that it might still lower it. One fear in the market has been that a downgrade would scare buyers away from U.S. debt. If that were to happen, the interest raid paid would have to rise to attract buyers. However, even without its AAA rating, U.S. debt is seen as one of the safest investments in the world. Administration sources familiar with the discussions contend the S&P analysis is fundamentally flawed. S&P had sent the administration a draft document in the early afternoon Friday and the administration, after examining the numbers, challenged the analysis.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says Washington has an urgent mission: Create jobs and get the economy growing faster. He's using his weekly radio and Internet addresss to urge Congress to put politics aside and pass a series of initiatives he says will spur job growth.
In the Republican address, New York Rep. Michael Grimm says the GOP's jobs plan calls for a simpler and fairer tax code, a reduction in regulations and an expansion of U.S. energy production.

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - A Texas jury will continue hearing testimony in the sentencing phase for a polygamist sect leader convicted of child sexual assault, but the defendant may not be in court. The sentencing phase of Warren Jeffs' trial resumes Saturday. He walked out of the courtroom Friday after delivering what he called a statement from God that promised a "whirlwind of judgment" if he wasn't set free. The judge has allowed Jeffs to return to court whenever he chooses. His attorney says he doesn't know if Jeffs will attend Saturday. Jeffs faces up to 119 years in prison after being convicted this week on two counts of sexually assaulting underage followers he had taken as his brides. Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints.

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) - Glacier National Park says a grizzly bear mauled a 50-year-old hiker but the man was able to walk for help. Spokeswoman Denise Germann says the St. Paul, Minn., man was hiking alone from Many Glacier to Piegan Pass around noon Friday when he encountered a mother grizzly with an older cub. She says in a release that the animal attacked and bit the hiker on an arm, leg and foot and then shook him before leaving. The man had bear spray but couldn't use it in time. Despite the wounds, the man walked until he met up with a ranger who called for help. The hiker was hospitalized in Browning, but his condition was not immediately available. He name was not released. Germann says the trail from Piegan Pass to Feather Plum Falls has been closed as rangers investigate. Park officials say cases of grizzly or black bears injuring people at Glacier occur less than once a year.

ZINTAN, Libya (AP) - Backed by tanks and rocket fire, Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces in the west say they have launched a major push toward a key town along the Mediterranean coast near Tripoli. Hundreds of fighters are on the move along the road in Yafran toward the front lines, where heavy fighting seems to be under way on Saturday. The ground is reverberating with loud booms and rocket fire is echoing from the distance. Two Libyan rebel fighters, Jumma Hussein and Youssef Bilin, say their forces are trying to "first liberate Bir Ghanam" and then capture a key coastal town, Zawiyah, before heading on to Tripoli. The rebels said earlier this week they hope to reach the Libyan capital before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

BEIRUT (AP) - Activists say at least 24 Syrian civilians have been killed as security forces fired on anti-government protesters as part of a nationwide crackdown. Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso says most of the deaths occurred in Damascus suburbs during daytime Friday protests and late night demonstrations following evening Ramadan prayers. He says five civilians were killed in the besieged city of Hama and its surrounding countryside. The toll was confirmed Saturday by the Local Coordination Committees, a key activist groups tracking the Syrian uprising. The state TV has broadcast images of burned buildings and empty rubble-strewn streets in Hama, the epicenter of the protests, claiming the military was putting an end to the rebellion in the city.

BEIJING (AP) - A typhoon is bearing down on China after battering the Philippines. More than 200,000 people have evacuated the eastern China coast and thousands of ships have been called back to shore. The storm has winds over 100 mph and is expected to intensify as it gets
closer to the coast. China's commercial hub of Shanghai, which has a population of 23 million, is in the storm's expected path. It's unclear whether the city will take a direct hit from the storm, but the Shanghai Daily newspaper says torrential rain is expected to begin today. Typhoon Muifa is expected to be the worst storm to hit the city since Typhoon Matsa in 2005. Matsa killed 19 people in China, including five in Shanghai, and caused massive damage.

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) - The Japanese city of Hiroshima is commemorating the 66th anniversary of the bombing, as the nation fights a different kind of disaster from atomic technology - a nuclear plant in a meltdown crisis after being hit by a tsunami. The site of the world's first A-bomb attack observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. Saturday (2315 GMT Friday) - the time the bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945, by the United States in the last
stages of World War II. The bomb destroyed most of the city and killed as many as 140,000 people. A second atomic bombing Aug. 9 in Nagasaki killed tens of thousands more and prompted the Japanese to surrender. Japan has vowed never to make or possess nuclear weapons, but has long embraced nuclear power.

HOUSTON (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry's prayer rally in Houston puts the Republican presidential prospect in the national spotlight and with an influential conservative constituency watching. Perry, who's weighing a run for the GOP presidential nomination, will address Saturday's daylong religious revival meeting that he has spearheaded. Perry is expected to announce whether he will run for president sometime after the event at Reliant Stadium. Perry says the revival is not political but rather aimed at rallying the nation to Christian unity during difficult times. More than 8,000 evangelical Christians, most from Texas, have registered to attend the event. Perry also will be reaching thousands of religious conservatives in other states who will watch it on the Internet in more than 1,000 churches.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The sudden appearance of an orange goo on their harbor is mystifying residents of the remote northwest Alaska village of Kivalina (KIV'-uh-LEE'-nuh).
Last Wednesday, the orange colored material appeared on the town's harbor and started to wash ashore. Then, the next day, it rained, and the goo formed on top of rain buckets used to collect drinking water and on at least one roof in town. Since then, the material has either dissipated or washed out to sea. What was left on the ground has dried to a powdery substance.
The Coast Guard has ruled out that it's a man-made substance. Samples have been collected and sent to labs in Anchorage, Fairbanks and South Carolina to find out just what the material is.


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