Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today's News - Saturday, December 17, 2011


As their service to the County Board Commissioners comes to a close, the Schuylkill County Commissioners chose to close another chapter in dropping a lawsuit filed against outgoing County Controller Melinda Kantner. A document filed Friday in Schuylkill County Court by county solicitor CAL Shields, the commissioners said they would withdraw the lawsuit they filed against Kantner in which they sought to force her to complete two state-mandated financial reports. That lawsuit was another piece to the continuing battle between the commissioners and Kantner to do two things within 30 days: complete financial reports for the state Department of Community and Economic Development and the Court of Common Pleas, and supply the county's external auditor, Pottsville certified public accountant Sam Deegan, with whatever he needs to audit county books. Friday's action marked the second time since the Nov. 8 election that the commissioners had dropped a lawsuit against Kantner.

Ryan Township Supervisor Champ Holman was sworn in Friday as the new deputy secretary for community affairs and development with the state Department of Community and Economic Development. According to the Republican-Herald, Gov. Tom Corbett appointed the 59-year-old Mahanoy City native to the post Nov. 14. Holman took the oath of office Friday at Magisterial District Judge Stephen J. Bayer's office in Tamaqua. He has served in various capacities in local government, including as chief of staff for the late Sen. James J. Rhoades from January 1981 until Rhoades' death Oct. 18, 2008, from injuries suffered in a car accident the day before. Holman served as a senior adviser in the office of state Sen. David Argall, R-29, from March 2009 until Nov. 11, when he was named acting deputy secretary by Corbett. The Department of Community and Economic Development fosters opportunities for businesses to grow and for communities to succeed, according to its website at DCED helps organizations fund their projects or start or expand their businesses.

County officials announced yesterday that they received a $500,000 state grant to fund 50 percent of the costs of renovating the government services building at 410 N. Centre St., Pottsville. The renovations will allow Schuylkill County Children & Youth Services to occupy the building's entire first floor in revamped, improved and secure facilities, enabling the agency to hire more workers and provide more and better services to abused and neglected children. State Rep. Neal P. Goodman, D-123, who helped secure the grant, said the project also will benefit the children and families who need the agency's help. As a result, the state allocated $500,000 from the Office of the Budget's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant Program to help fund the project.

The Minersville man charged with trying to kill another man by stabbing him in July in Pine Grove returned to prison on Friday, as a Schuylkill County judge revoked his bail. As reported by the Republican and Herald, Todd R. Gibson violated conditions of his bail by engaging in criminal activity and failing a drug test, Judge John E. Domalakes ruled. Gibson had been free after posting $1,000, or 10 percent of the $10,000 bail amount Domalakes had set on Aug. 5. However, Gibson recently has been charged with terroristic threats and harassment in another case. On Dec. 7, prosecutors dropped an indirect criminal contempt charge that also had arisen from that case due to possible double jeopardy problems.


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Former Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have been ordered to trial following yesterday's preliminary hearing on charges of lying to a grand jury in the university's child sex-abuse scandal. Lawyers for the administrators say their clients will be exonerated at trial.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The sister of Republican state Senator Jane Orie and Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has surrendered to face additional charges in a campaign probe. Authorities say 57-year-old Janine Orie illegally directed the judge's former Superior Court staff to do campaign work for Melvin in 2003 and

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A northeast Pennsylvania developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history has agreed to pay more than $17 million to settle a lawsuit filed by juveniles who were locked up in youth detention facilities built by his company. The settlement with Robert Mericle (MEHR'-ih-kuhl) and
Mericle Construction was announced affects as many as 2,400 plaintiffs. Federal prosecutors said a pair of Luzerne County judges took illegal payments from Mericle.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Pennsylvania-born cardinal who was the country's voice of the Vatican's midnight Christmas Mass for 25 years has been laid to rest at a Philadelphia cathedral. Cardinal John Foley was remembered yesterday for his humility, intelligence and humor in a homily delivered by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Foley died December 11th after a battle with leukemia. He was 76.


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's foreign minister says Tehran wanted to test U.S. reaction by deliberately delaying its announcement of the capture of an American surveillance drone. Ali Akbar Salehi is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Iran's armed forces intercepted and brought down the pilotless aircraft without
any foreign assistance. Iran has rejected U.S. demands to return the drone.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Compromise legislation to extend Social Security payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for two months is expected to pass the Senate today and move to the House. Democrat and Republican leaders couldn't agree on enough spending cuts for a one-year extension. The Senate is also expected to send President Barack Obama a spending bill that keeps the government running.

BERLIN (AP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is stressing the importance of adherence to new rules most of Europe has agreed on to stabilize the euro. In her weekly podcast, Merkel also says it's time to pay attention to generating economic growth.

CAIRO (AP) - Hundreds of protesters threw stones at Egyptian soldiers in a second day of clashes in central Cairo. The violence threatened to ignite a new round of clashes after two peaceful days of voting in an election considered the freest and fairest vote in the country's' modern history.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Nearly 200 people are dead and scores are missing after tropical storm-triggered flash floods in the southern Philippines. Officials say the search for victims and survivors continues.


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