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March 1, 2012

POTTS GROVE – A business in Northumberland County is damaged by fire early this afternoon. Fire crews were called to the scene of a fire shortly after Noon at the Heddings Ford World along Route 642 in Potts Grove. Reports say one worker was taken to a hospital with burns. The fire at the business owned by Jeff Heddings started in one of the service bays and then spread throughout the building. Potts Grove Fire Chief Brian Heckman says employees were working on a vehicle when its fuel tank fell, igniting the blaze. The fire left nothing but a charred block wall and metal frames of two vehicles inside the business. Heckman says several vehicles parked outside the garage were also damaged by the fire. Heckman says the business is a total loss.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A guilty plea was entered yesterday in the case of a Williamsport woman charged with taking more than $13,000 dollars from her employer.  Amy Hubbell had been charged with stealing money from the Puff’s Discount Tobacco Center on Dewey Avenue in Williamsport while working there between March and June of last year.  Sentencing for Hubbell is scheduled for May 30th and she will have to make full restitution.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A judge in Lycoming County found a woman guilty today of stealing from her employer's clients. Deborah McKissick of Williamsport was arrested in 2010 on theft charges. Prosecutors said she stole nearly $25,000 from clients while she worked as a paralegal in the law office of Elliott Weiss in Williamsport. McKissick faces at least four years in prison.
(WNEP)

SHENANDOAH – In Schuylkill County, Shenandoah police arrested Michael Sell and Damon Zeigler after they were found in an abandoned home at 221 west Centre Street in the process of removing water heaters and metal from the building. Police received a report of suspicious activity on Wednesday night and found a vehicle with two water heaters and metal taken from inside the building. Inside police found Sell and Zeigler removing parts from the furnace of the home. Both men are jailed in the Schuylkill County Prison. 
(WPPA)

BLOOMSBURG — The average student at Bloomsburg University will pay about $280 more to live and eat on campus during the 2012-13 school year. Students will also pay $30 more annually for the privilege of a campus shuttle bus. Even with the hikes, officials project BU will remain in the least expensive third of State System of Higher Education schools for residential students. In 2012-13, it will cost just over $7,200 to live in a double room on campus and get two meals a day.  Officials say the room-fee hikes are needed due to increasing salaries and borrowing to pay for renovations at the University.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A memorandum of understanding is in place between East Buffalo Township and Meridian Development Partners for the former Pennsylvania House property in Lewisburg. Details on pedestrian and vehicle traffic as well as bordering commercial properties are expected before work can begin. The site will be anchored by a Giant Supermarket and also provide other retail and residential housing space.
(WGRC)

ELYSBURG - Job seekers can apply for openings at Knoebels Amusement Resort at its annual job fair this Saturday. The job fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elysburg Fire Company. Knoebels expects to hire between 600 and 800 new and replacement seasonal workers for the 2012 season.
(WGRC)

ORANGEVILLE - There are a lot of volunteers expected to work along the banks of Fishing Creek near Orangeville in Columbia County on Saturday. It's all due to the floods of September. Registration begins at the lot at Char Mund Road and Route 487 in Orange Township Saturday morning at 7:30.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE —Eighty-six candidates are running for three seats on Penn State's Board of Trustees, which has been scrutinized by some alumni for decisions in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky. Typically about six to nine candidates run. The Associated Press reports, critics have called for more transparency on the 32-member board and see election as a way to enact change. The trustees' office Wednesday announced the names of candidates and drew for ballot positions. Any of the school's more than 557,000 alumni can vote. The ballots are due back in May.

LAPORTE — A federal court has lifted an order that briefly halted construction and tree clearing on a natural gas pipeline in Sullivan County. The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means that work on the 39-mile MARC 1 pipeline can resume. An individual appeals court judge had granted pipeline opponents a temporary stay in mid-February. Some landowners are fighting the company building the pipeline. They say Central New York Oil&Gas refused to negotiate in good faith on either monetary compensation or the pipeline's route. The company says it has reached agreement with the vast majority of landowners.
(WGRC)

MONTOURSVILLE - Today PennDOT opened bids for an emergency project to replace the Route 973 Slabtown Bridge that was destroyed during Tropical Storm Lee flooding last September in Lycoming County. The unofficial low bid of $3 million was submitted by Glenn O. Hawbaker, Incorporated of State College. PennDOT says construction for the new bridge over Loyalsock Creek at Loyalsockville, is expected to begin later this month. Work is expected to be done on the bridge by Thanksgiving. The detour implemented following the flood will remain in place until the new bridge opens.
(WGRC)

READING – UGI Corporation says natural gas prices for UGI customers continue to decline, due to the upsurge on natural gas coming from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. The company has announced that it plans on cutting residential gas prices by about 4.3 percent. UGI serves around 340,000 customers in the state. 
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – In Lycoming County, Old Lycoming Township Police are investigating a report of someone trying to lure a child into a vehicle Tuesday afternoon. Police say around four p.m. a 12-year-old boy was walking in the area of the 1400 block of Dewey Avenue when a white van with tinted windows pulled up near him. The man behind the wheel rolled down the window and asked the boy if he wanted a ride. When the boy said “no” police say the man then threatened the boy, telling him to get into the vehicle. The boy ran off quickly to his home. The suspect is described as a white man, around 30-years-old, with dirty blonde, shoulder length hair. The suspect is said to have a beard and mustache and described as dirty/scruffy. Police have notified the Williamsport Area School District about the incident. And police encourage parents to speak to their children about the dangers of strangers offering rides.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

STRODES MILLS – A loaded trailer stolen in Mifflin County.  State Police say someone made off with a trailer loaded with six large pieces of industrial steel molds belonging to Standard Steel.  The trailer was parked at M-C-S Transportation along Route 522 in Strodes Mills, Oliver Township.  Police say the trailer was taken Tuesday morning around 2:15.  Anyone with information about this heist should call State Police at Lewistown.
John Callahan (WGRC)

SUNBURY - A Northumberland County man will spend time in prison for an assault.  27-year-old Troy Bennick of Sunbury will spend 1 to 3 years in state prison for felony aggravated assault and must write a letter of apology to the man he stabbed in the head and abdomen in November. The Daily Item reports, Bennick pleaded guilty to stabbing 27-year old Daniel Feese of Sunbury, during an argument over a woman in an Arch Street apartment following an evening of drinking on November 5th.
(WGRC)

FRACKVILLE - Prosecutors yesterday withdrew the most serious charge against a Schuylkill County woman accused of pointing a loaded handgun at her then-live-in boyfriend earlier this year.  36-year old Kimberly Schappell of Frackville was charged with aggravated assault and misdemeanor offenses of recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and simple assault. Counsel agreed to drop the aggravated assault charge.  Schappell waived the remaining three offenses to Schuylkill County Court.  An Assistant Disrtrict Attorney tell the Republican Herald, Schappell's actions toward Stephen Barrett on January 18th do not rise to the level needed to prove an aggravated assault charge.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - A Dauphin County man who pleaded guilty 33 sexual assault-related charges in Mifflin and Dauphin Counties was sentenced to serve 10 to 20 years in a state correctional facility yesterday.  39-year old Dale Stoneroad of Elizabethville previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts pertaining to two separate victims in 2006 and 2007.  The assaults happened in the Milroy area and in Elizabethville.  The Sentinel reports, Stoneroad is required to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law, for the rest of his life and is considered a sexually violent predator.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - A Centre County dentist now faces trial on charges he submitted more than $52,000 in false insurance claims for dental procedures he never performed.  53-year old Dr. Jamshid Assadinia has waived his preliminary hearing on two felony charges stemming from a joint investigation involving the FBI and the state Attorney General’s Office.  The Centre Daily Times reports, authorities alleged Assadinia,  submitted insurance claims for around 100 procedures he didn’t perform, and billed insurance companies under the names of several patients.
(WGRC)

SALONA – A Clinton County man is seriously hurt in a crash yesterday morning.  Troopers say 24-year old Clyde Weaver of Mill Hall was driving along Route 220 in Lamar Township around 4 yesterday morning when his car slammed into a bridge rail.  Weaver suffered what police say was a major injury.  He was taken to Geisinger Medical Center.
John Callahan (WGRC)

SUNBURY -  In Northumberland County, Sunbury Mayor David Persing wants to take control of a low income public housing development and shut it down.  In his state of Sunbury address last night, Persing said he will actively persue taking control of the 102-unit Memorial Acres, and convert the property into a senior residence facility, assisted living center or mini-hotel conference center.  The Daily Item reports, there is one problem, Sunbury Housing Authority Executive Director, Sandra Ressler said she just signed a 20-year agreement for Memorial Acres with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Persing wants the government to keep its subsidized housing money and said he will go before Congress to see what can be done.  
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - Northumberland and Union county officials met yesterday to try to resolve a payment dispute over 911 service.  The issue arose in December, when the Union County commissioners complained that Northumberland County had short-changed them about $11,000 last year for providing 911 service in the northern end of Northumberland County, paying $60,000 instead of $71,000. But Northumberland County officials contend that a decrease in land lines in favor of cell phones has lowered the cost of the service.  The Daily Item reports, commissioners from both counties met yesterday afternoon in Sunbury to begin sorting it all out.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A Union County hospital ends a fundraiser well beyond its initial goal.  The "Evangelical and You" program, a four-year fundraising initiative that recently ended with $11.6 million, surpassing its original $7.5 million goal.  Hospital officials tell the Daily Item, strong community backing and support helped Evangelical Community Hospital's fundraising effort despite the fact that it began in January 2008 at the height of the recession.  About $8 million of the funds will go to the hospital's $32 million expansion of its surgical and cardiovascular areas.  The new unit is expected to open in July.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – In Lycoming County, a $2.4 million federal grant will provide a shot in the arm for local rail transportation needs.  The funding will be used to help replace the Lycoming Valley Railroad Bridge damaged in September flooding.  Among other purposes, the span over Loyalsock Creek at Montoursville connected railroad traffic to the Williamsport Regional Airport.  The Sun-Gazette reports, after devastating flood waters rendered the bridge unusable, the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority was forced to use other short line railroads.  The design work for the new bridge is under way.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - House lawmakers postponed a vote that was set for later this month on controversial legislation to require women seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound exam to determine the gestational age of the baby.  Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, confirmed the delay last night, citing concerns raised by the medical community. He said there is no timeline to take up the legislation.  The Pennsylvania Medical Society opposes the bill on grounds it could interfere with the physician-patient relationship. They say the bill would set a dangerous precedent by legislating specific diagnostic protocols.  Pro-life groups believe the bill is just good health care.  House Bill 1077 would guarantee that pregnant women have an opportunity to view an ultrasound and to observe the unborn baby's heartbeat before an abortion is performed.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Former state Representative Brett Feese has begun serving his 4- to 12-year prison term for his role in the Computergate scandal in which House Republican leaders were accused of using taxpayer-financed computer services to abet GOP election campaigns.   Feese, who formerly represented part of Lycoming County and at one time was head of the House Republican Campaign Committee, reported to the Dauphin County Prison on Tuesday as ordered.  A prison spokesman tells the Associated Press,  Feese will remain in general population until he is transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.  Feese is appealing the conviction.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The judge in Jerry Sandusky’s 52-count child sex abuse case is rejecting a defense attorney's request for a two-month delay in the start of the trial.  Judge John Cleland issued an order yesterday that said pushing back the trial will only be done as a last resort and will require concrete reasons to justify it.  Cleland is giving Sandusky’s lawyer Joe Amendola three extra weeks to file a catch-all pretrial motion that had been due today.  Sandusky, the 68-year old former Penn State assistant football coach, denies allegations he engaged in sexual misconduct involving 10 boys over 15 years. He's confined to his home while awaiting trial, which is expected to start in mid-May.
(WGRC)

PHILADELPHIA - A three-judge federal appeals court panel yesterday affirmed the convictions and prison sentences of two former Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, police officers convicted of hindering the FBI probe of the fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant.  In a 38-page opinion, the panel from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided sufficient evidence existed to show that former Chief Matthew Nestor falsified a police report and former Lt. William Moyer lied to the FBI.  After a 13-day trial in U.S. District Court in Wilkes-Barre, a jury on January 27th, 2011, convicted Nestor of falsifying the police report and Moyer of lying to the FBI. The Republican Herald reports, it acquitted Nestor of one other charge, Moyer of four others and former Shenandoah police Officer Jason Hayes of both charges filed against him.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - PennDOT is seeking volunteers for this year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, which begins today, March 1st and runs through May 31. Interested volunteers can find a listing of cleanup events, resources for organizing a cleanup group and other information at www.gacofpa.org. Last year, more than 159,000 volunteers collected 7 million pounds of trash from over 13,000 miles of roads, trails and shorelines during the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania. PennDOT provides gloves, trash bags and safety vests to cleanup volunteers.
(WGRC)