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March 27, 2012

SHENANDOAH – A woman and three children are dead after a fire ripped through several row homes in Schuylkill County this morning.  Authorities confirmed to the Republican Herald late this morning that 29-year old Tiffany Matejick-Sanchez, her 10-year old son Christian, and her nephews 10-year old Damian Lopez,  and a seven month old died in the fire.  The victims were all in a home at 117 East Coal Street in Shenandoah.  Sanchez’ 8-year old son Diego, escaped from the burning building and was taken to a hospital where he is being treated for smoke related injuries and burns. At about 6:15 this morning firefighters were called to the 100 block of East Coal Street for a report of a structure fire with entrapment. Arriving on scene flames were shooting from the front and back of a home at 119 East Coal Street and were already spreading to adjoining homes.  Flames quickly spread out of the back of the building to homes at 121 and 117 East Coal Street and continued west into homes at 115 and 113 East Coal Street.  More than a dozen people are now homeless.  A fire marshal is investigating.
(WGRC)

MAINVILLE — A farmer and longtime janitor at Beaver-Main Elementary School in Columbia County was killed Monday when a skid-steer tire exploded as he and his son attempted to mount the tire using highly flammable ether. The Press Enterprise reports, the tire exploded off its metal rim, launching the rim into the face of 61-year-old Jim Shuman, killing him instantly. Shuman's son, Josh Shuman, was also knocked unconscious and injured. He was taken to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where he was listed in serious condition. The incident happened just after four p.m. at his farm along West Maple Lane, about a mile off Mainville Drive between Mainville and Bloomsburg.
(WGRC)

ASHLAND – Fire crews were called out early this morning to battle a two-alarm blaze at a double home in Schuylkill County. The fire was initially reported around 3:15 a.m. at the home located in the 1400 block of Market Street in Ashland. When crews arrived on the scene flames and smoke could be seen pouring from the home. Schuylkill County 9-1-1 tells us all those inside the home are believed to have gotten out. One person was taken to an area hospital for smoke inhalation. Ashland fire officials say possibly four people are homeless. The fire is being investigated by a state police fire marshal and we are told one person has been taken into custody for questioning in regards to the blaze.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

PACKER ISLAND - Windy conditions fanned the flames that destroyed a home Monday in Northumberland County. No one was home when the fire started about 4:30 p.m. at a home of Richard Good at the corner of Park Drive and Mungo Avenue near Northumberland. Fire officials say an ember from an outdoor wood burner hit the house and sparked the fire. The fire burned right through the roof of the house. The wind made it more difficult for volunteers to fight the fire. The American Red Cross is helping the family following the loss.
(WNEP)

LEWISBURG – An old railroad bridge crossing the Susquehanna River between Union and Northumberland Counties continues to burn this morning. The old railroad bridge crossing the Susquehanna River between Lewisburg and East Lewisburg was reported burning around five yesterday afternoon. Fire crews attempted to put the fire out but could not reach the blaze and decided to let the fire burn itself out, but the fire continues. Union County 9-1-1 officials say they know about the fire and ask residents and motorists not to call.
Jim Diehl/John Callahan (WGRC)

MILTON — State Police say two men were arrested Monday in connection with a string of arsons near Pottsgrove, along the Montour-Northumberland county line. Police say 19-year-old Zane Snyder of Milton, and 35-year-old Charles Jacobs of Lewisburg, are both facing multiple felony counts of arson, along with conspiracy counts. The Press Enterprise reports both were brought before District Judge Marvin Shrawder last night and sent to Montour County Prison on $250,000 bail. Since January, four suspected arson fires have been reported in a 3-mile radius in Liberty Township. The complaints against Snyder and Jacobs list January 12th as the date of the alleged offenses. That's the same day a vacant house on Kelly's Dam Road went up in flames.
(WGRC)

SELINSGROVE – Selinsgrove Borough Police are looking for the person who placed a suspicious package at a service station downtown causing for some tense moments last evening. Around six p.m. workers at the A-Plus Sunoco station on Market Street found a package heavily wrapped in newspaper and masking tape near the front door of the station. Employees were evacuated and Market Street was closed down and detoured as borough police then called in a State Police bomb squad from Hershey. The bomb squad arrived just after eight p.m. and determined the package not to be harmful, and the scene was cleared just after nine p.m.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MILLMONT – A Millmont man is jailed in the Union County prison after assaulting a woman at a home Monday afternoon. Police have charged 46-year-old Joseph Keister with the assault at the home along B.R. Lane in Hartley Township.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SUNBURY - A 26-year-old Sunbury woman charged with holding a 2-year-old boy upside down by his ankle and throwing him onto a couch in January, has been ordered to appear for a pre-trial conference June 1 before Northumberland County Judge William Wiest. April Baker, who was scheduled to enter a plea Monday afternoon, may take her case to trial. Baker and her former boyfriend, 26-year-old Jason Philhower, are charged by Sunbury Police with felonies of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and similar charges relating to the January 12th incidents at their Susquehanna Avenue apartment. Philhower pleaded guilty Thursday morning and was sentenced by Sacavage to 6 to 23 1/2 months in Northumberland County Prison. Another man who did nothing to help the child, 39-year-old Jonathan Chalkin, of Sunbury, was charged by police with misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person. He is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial conference April 13th.
(WGRC)

MAHANOY CITY - A Peckville woman was injured in a crash on Interstate 81 south, just south of the Mahanoy City exit, just after ten Monday morning. Police say 62-year-old Diane Poindexter, of Peckville, fell asleep at the wheel, hit an embankment causing her car to flip onto its roof. A back-seat passenger, 41-year-old Melissa Carrasquillo, of Peckville, was not wearing a seat belt and was trapped inside the car. Carrasquillo had to be cut free from the vehicle and was flown to Geisinger Medical Center where she remains in serious condition. Poindexter and another passenger were not hurt.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE – Thirty-three-year-old Michael Garvey, who admitted robbing the Rite-Aid pharmacy in Shenandoah in February 2011, must pay for his crime with more than three years of his freedom, a Schuylkill County judge decided Monday. Garvey, of Shenandoah, did not react as Judge John Domalakes sentenced him to spend 40 to 100 months in a state prison. Garvey pleaded guilty February 2nd to three counts of robbery, and related counts. Shenandoah police had charged him with entering the pharmacy, pointing a handgun at the pharmacist and two other employees and demanding the medication Xanax. The pharmacist recognized Garvey by his voice which led police to his arrest.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE - A 57 year-old Auburn man has been sentenced to spend three to six years in a state prison with mental health treatment by Judge Charles Miller on Monday. Michael Lucas was stopped by State Police on March 30, 2011 while driving his truck in Pine Grove Township. He got out of his vehicle and confronted Troopers. The officers discovered that Lucas had two firearms in plain sight in the vehicle, and attempted to get him away from the truck, but Lucas resisted and had to be subdued with a stun gun. Because of his criminal history, it was illegal for Lucas to own or possess firearms. Lucas pleaded guilty but mentally ill to two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm and related counts.
(WPPA)

LEWISTOWN - The Lewistown Police Department is investigating an incident involving an 8-year-old boy who was left on a school bus all day on March 22 as the temperature climbed to 80 degrees. The young boy was eventually found passed out overheated and dehydrated on the bus. Lewistown Police Department Chief Bill Herkert confirmed Monday there is an ongoing investigation into the incident and nobody as of yet has been charged with any crime. Lewistown Police are working closely with the Mifflin County School District and the bus company to determine the events that transpired that day which led to the boy being left on the bus. Superintendent James Estep said the driver of the school bus did not check the bus after dropping the children off at school. Meanwhile officials with the bus company E.R. Rhodes and Sons says the driver is no longer employed with the company.
(WGRC)

NEW RINGGOLD - State Police from the Frackville barracks responded to a one vehicle accident in the 100 block of South Reeser Street in New Ringgold on Monday. Police discovered that the car belonged to J.W. Zaprazny’s, Incorporated, a company in New Ringgold that buys scrap metal and scrap automobiles. The operator of the vehicle, Leann Baddick, from Brockton, was driving the car without permission. Police say she was also driving drunk. She was arrested for operating a stolen vehicle and driving while intoxicated and was released on $25,000 bail.
(WPPA)

WILLIAMSPORT – Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana filed a civil suit Monday afternoon in County Court against the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority, seeking the right to interview candidates and make appointments to the authority. The suit names four members of the board. Following tradition, they were appointed to the board by City Council. However, according to Campana, a state Supreme Court decision in 2010 gives that power to the mayor. Campana claims he has the legal right to make such appointments. Campana tells the Sun Gazette he estimates the legal cost to the city as less than $8,000 to bring the matter to court. The city has a legal fund of $50,000. The authority responded by saying the suit is both "wasteful of public funds," and "unfortunate" because Campana considered these men good public servants. The case has been scheduled for a hearing before an as-of-yet undetermined judge.
(WGRC)

FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - The state Department of Health has ordered Saint Catherine Medical Center Fountain Springs not to accept new patients, placing the hospital in an even tougher financial situation. The no-admissions order, however, allows the hospital to keep operating. The order from the Department of Health came Friday. On March 23, the Department of Health completed a complaint investigation at Saint Catherine Medical Center to determine compliance with state licensure and federal Medicare and Medicaid regulations for hospitals. As a result of this investigation, the department discovered serious deficiencies and violations of applicable regulations that it felt posed a significant threat to the health and safety of the patients at the facility. Therefore, a ban on new admissions was imposed on the facility. Problems at the hospital came to light last week, when anonymous callers to The Republican-Herald and The News-Item complained about employees receiving their paychecks late. Some employees spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that basic supplies at the hospital were sometimes in short supply. The hospital's board of directors held a special meeting Monday night at the hospital but no one spoke about what the meeting was about. On Monday, PPL Electric Utilities, Allentown, filed a lawsuit against Saint Catherine and its local affiliates in county court and called for a jury trial.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - Facing a deficit of about $875,000, the Jersey Shore Area School Board was informed of a recommendation to cut seven district positions at Monday's meeting. Richard Emery, superintendent, informed the board he was exploring the possibility of cutting seven positions at a previous meeting but wouldn't disclose specifics on the positions at that time. Monday night he announced after talking with the staff that his recommendation included cutting an elementary art teacher and music teacher, along with a math, social studies and English teacher at the high school level. The other two cut positions would be a custodian and librarian. The seven cuts would save the district about $425,000. Emery also asked the board to consider cutting both the athletics and technology budgets by $50,000. The district also would raise property taxes.
(WGRC)

MONTOURSVILLE - Under an expedited replacement schedule, work is beginning this week on the $3 million Slabtown Bridge replacement project about four miles north of Montoursville in Lycoming County. Tomorrow a contractor will be making minor lane-pattern changes and setting temporary concrete barrier on Route 87.  This is needed to begin work on the eastern side of the new bridge. The previous Route 973 Slabtown Bridge was destroyed during Tropical Storm Lee flooding last September. The new, three-span bridge will be built on the same alignment as its predecessor. An aggressive schedule has been established to complete construction and open the new bridge to traffic by Thanksgiving.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG — A new federal lawsuit says a state House resolution that declared 2012 the "Year of the Bible" in Pennsylvania violates the constitution. The Freedom from Religion Foundation on Monday sued the measure's main sponsor, the House clerk and the House parliamentarian over the resolution, which passed unanimously in January. The Associated Press reports, the foundation is asking a federal judge to order the defendants to stop publishing and distributing the resolution, and to rule that state government is not Judeo-Christian. Supporters of the resolution note the Bible’s “formative influence” of state and national history, and say there's a "national need to study and apply" scripture.
(WGRC)