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October 3, 2012

BELLEFONTE – An accused arsonist will stand trial on his charges in Centre County court.  Jeffrey Karg of Bellefonte is charged with intentionally setting fire to a storage facility and delivery truck behind Mattress World and Dollar General in Bellefonte on September 24th that caused about $10,000 in damage.  Karg was found a few blocks from the fire and admitted to setting it.  The charges against Karg were sent to trial after a preliminary hearing today.
John Callahan (WGRC)

BENTON - A hot soldering iron slipped off a windowsill and wedged against a mattress as Joshua Rees nodded off in his trailer along Warner Avenue in Benton Tuesday afternoon. The Press Enterprise reports, the mattress and bedding caught fire. But some neighbors were just arriving home and saw smoke seeping from Rees trailer window. Two neighbors doused the flames with buckets of water and a fire extinguisher while another pulled Rees from the smoke filled trailer. Firefighters with the help of the neighbors were able to keep the blaze inside one room limiting the fire damage. The blaze left Rees and four others temporarily homeless. Rees was taken to an area hospital for smoke inhalation.
(WGRC)

NEW RINGGOLD – A crash last night in Schuylkill County sends two to the hospital. The crash happened just before eleven p.m. on Pine Valley Road in East Brunswick Township. Police say 20-year-old Tyler McNulty of Schuylkill Haven lost control of his vehicle on a curve and went off the road slamming head-on into a tree. Both he and his passenger 21-year-old Brandon Kershner also of Schuylkill Haven were taken to the Lehigh Valley Medical Center.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A major state police undercover drug investigation that began in the summer of 2011 has resulted in arrest warrants being filed for more than a dozen people, in Lycoming County and the surrounding area. Seven of those who either allegedly sold or purchased the drugs were behind bars on various felony and misdemeanor offenses. The investigation involved about 30 "controlled buys" of cocaine or crack cocaine to confidential informants. One of those arrested, 48-year-old Eric Coates, of Williamsport, was taken into custody at his place of employment in Williamsport and faces 58 charges for more than a dozen drug sales between July 23 and early last month. He is jailed on $225,000 bail. During the investigation, police obtained from a State Superior Court judge approval to wiretap a telephone so that investigators could listen to the planning of alleged drug sales. Besides Coates, others arrested include: 39-year-old Damon Jackson; 24-year-old Jayson Johnson; 31-year-old Brucilla Lowe; 26-year-old Ryan Cohick; 39-year-old Christopher Williams; and 24-year-old Danielle Cohick. The investigation was ongoing, and police continued to search for other fugitives.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A former city church deacon was sentenced Friday to serve 10 to 20 years in state prison for the rape of an 11-year-old boy to whom he was supposed to be a mentor. The Sun Gazette reports, 56-year-old Warren Locke was found guilty by a jury on April 25th of four counts of child rape and numerous related charges. Locke served as a deacon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 527 Park Avenue, where prosecutors said he took the boy under his wing. Police say the incidents took place at Locke's Academy Street apartment between late December 2010 and mid-January 2011. Because of the crimes, Locke must register as a sexual offender on the Megan's Law list. In addition to the state prison sentence, Lycoming County Judge Marc Lovecchio ordered Locke to serve seven years of state-supervised probation.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – A 54-year-old Williamsport man has been sentenced for his role in taking money and other items from a relative’s estate as he was appointed power of attorney over the estate. David Montis was sentenced by Lycoming Judge Nancy Butts to seven years’ probation and to pay back more than $117,000 in restitution for taking money that didn't belong to him. Montis, who was appointed as power of attorney for his 93-year-old uncle-in-law who resided in a local nursing home, used the elderly man's savings last September to buy a home for himself, wife and three children on Grampian Boulevard. Montis also took a diamond ring and $2,500 that the victim kept in his house as a "rainy day" fund.
(WGRC)

TREMONT – Police in Schuylkill County are looking for the bandits that took some pieces of equipment for heavy machinery from a coal company. That happened Saturday sometime between two Saturday afternoon and 5:15 Monday morning from Michael’s Coal Company in Tremont. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call state police.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The trial for the driver of the vehicle in New Mexico that hit and killed 19-year-old bicyclist John Anczarski of Ringtown two years ago is set to begin October 23rd. Anczarski was cycling cross-country with friends to raise money for breast cancer research when he was struck by the vehicle driven by Gilbert Waconda on June 21, 2010, along State Road 124 in New Laguna on the Laguna Pueblo, an Indian reservation about 45 miles west of Albuquerque. Waconda was charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving by the Laguna Pueblo police in January, three months after the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced there was not enough evidence to pursue charges. Waconda has pleaded not guilty to both charges and is free on bail. Tribal governments can only prosecute crimes as misdemeanors, meaning the maximum sentence Waconda could face is up to one year in prison for each charge, for a total of two years.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Thea Tafner has filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy, and the Mount Carmel woman, charged with embezzlement from a local ambulance service and serving a federal prison term, doesn't want to pay restitution. Filing for bankruptcy, however, will likely not clear Tafner of the $1 million-plus she owes in restitution alone. Tafner, former ambulance committee chairwoman of Mount Carmel's American Hose and Chemical Fire Company, was sentenced May 16th, 2011, to 30 months in federal prison for opening a fraudulent bank account where she allegedly directed $3.7 million dollars in Medicare payments between October 2000, and November 2009. She was charged with using $1.8 million for personal gain. The filing of Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows Tafner to develop a plan to pay down debt over time. While Tafner appealed a $125,000 lump sum payment, a federal appeals court in May ordered her to pay it. It is unclear whether the money has reached American Hose, but a representative at the state Clerk of Courts office said Tafner has started paying the $250 monthly payment allowed by the court.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - Shikellamy Superintendent Pat Kelley said Tuesday that four Shikellamy football players have been suspended by a PIAA District 4 committee reviewing the actions of players during a brawl near the end of the game versus cross-river rival Selinsgrove last month. No Selinsgrove players were suspended by the committee, but two Selinsgrove players served a one game suspension for being ejected. Three players will have to sit out Friday night's homecoming game against Warrior Run. One player is no longer with the team, but will have to sit out two events during the next sport he participates in. Kelly tells the Daily Item, "The committee had the perception that Shikellamy had a larger part and that Shikellamy had to suffer more consequences." The school will not appeal the suspensions.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - There will be 85 seats at the sentencing of Jerry Sandusky that are reserved for the public, Centre County court officials made that announcement Tuesday. The sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday October 9th at nine a.m. in courtroom No. 1 of the Centre County Courthouse. Public seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open starting at 7:45 a.m. The 68-year-old Sandusky is facing what is likely to be a life sentence in a state prison given the number of counts against him and the prosecution is looking to have the judge brand him as a sexually violent predator upon recommendation of the state’s Sexual Offender Assessment Board.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Mike McQueary, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was a star witness in the Jerry Sandusky trial, wants millions of dollars in damages from Penn State for allegedly ruining his reputation and branding him as part of a cover-up, according to the whistleblower lawsuit he filed against the university Tuesday. In the suit, McQueary alleges the university’s treatment of him since November 5th, when the charges against Sandusky were made public, has ruined his reputation by branding him as part of a cover-up and making him a scapegoat. He also said he’s been ruined financially and cannot earn a living doing what he wants — coaching football. In particular, the lawsuit points the finger at former president Graham Spanier and former university administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. He also alleges the university terminated him because of his cooperation with investigators and prosecutors in the Sandusky case. Penn State spokesman David La Torre declined to comment on the allegations. The suit said McQueary was the only assistant coach not invited for an interview for a possible coaching position under new head coach Bill O’Brien. A few assistant coaches stayed on under O’Brien, and others were given severance packages that started July 31. McQueary said the university refused to pay him a severance.  McQueary also said the university has not offered to have his legal fees reimbursed by the university. McQueary is expected to be a witness at the trial of Curley and Schultz, who were indicted by the grand jury investigating Sandusky on charges they lied under oath about their knowledge of the allegations. Both men have maintained their innocence and are scheduled for trial in January in Harrisburg.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Today and tomorrow, work crews will repair the surface of a bridge in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80, approximately a half mile east of the Route 642 overpass and 6 miles west of the Buckhorn exit in Montour County. The work, which may continue into Friday, will require traffic to be reduced to one lane.
(WGRC)

MILTON - A collective bargaining agreement between ACF and the United Steelworkers union that could put 65 to 70 union members on the plant’s seniority list back to work has been reached. Bob English, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers says the agreement is “the first step in starting to build some tank cars at the facility in Milton.” English did not know how many of the workers with recall rights were available for work, if the plant re-opened, or how many workers the plant operators would want to hire. The Daily Item reports, James Bowles, president and CEO of ACF, confirmed that an agreement had been reached between the company and the steelworkers. Ohio-based investor Dan Slane, CEO of Johnstown Management, said in September that he has been in negotiations to purchase the complex, which is owned by New York-based Icahn Enterprises. If purchased, the company would focus on manufacturing industrial propane tanks for the natural gas industry and hire about 100 workers.
(WGRC)

GIRARDVILLE - A landmark building that has stood for 139 years as a place of Christian worship in Girardville, Schuylkill County is being demolished due to safety concerns. The former Girardville Primitive Methodist Church has stood at the northeast corner of Main and Richard streets after being constructed in 1873 and was the home of the oldest congregation in the borough. Vacant for about a year, deterioration due to age and water infiltration prompted officials of the Schuylkill District of the Primitive Methodist Church in the United States of America to decide to tear down the historic structure. Employees of Northeast Industrial Service Corporation of Shamokin, began working on the demolition last week. The site of the church will be turned into a parking lot for a pizza shop.
(WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN - On Tuesday, the Juniata County Commissioners approved and adopted a resolution to abolish the Juniata County Office of Jury Commissioners. The resolution is the result of a meeting held March 22 with the president judge and court administrator of the 41st Judicial District of Pennsylvania to review county procedures for selecting jurors. After reviewing procedures presently used for the selection of jurors in Juniata County, the Commissioners determined to get rid of Jury Commissioners whose job is to secure a list of potential jurors for upcoming trials in the Juniata County Court of Common Pleas.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - There were more than 50 people at the Northumberland County commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, as the commissioners once again entertained audience members by prompting them to laugh, boo and cheer. It started when two commissioners brought a prop, an empty chair, to the public meeting to illustrate their tiff with county Judge Charles Saylor. Saylor, who was not in attendance, was asked by Commissioners Steve Bridy and Vinny Clausi to attend the meeting to watch them “adjust” his ruling that residents are allowed to be on county-owned land known as the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area. Bridy and Clausi voted to have county solicitors draft an ordinance that will permit only authorized individuals to use the land. Commissioner Rick Shoch voted against the motion. The proposal will be voted on at a special meeting October 15th, but Shoch said he thinks the county needs more time to review the issue and speak with residents before he can make a decision. Clausi and Bridy said the county has had plenty of time because for the last five years, the adventure area project has been under way and a policy is needed because of a board with nails in it was found on the land. Saylor ruled last week that Clausi and Bridy skirted the Sunshine Law by meeting individually with planning director Pat Mack and instructing him to write a letter to a Shamokin man banning him from entering the land rather than convening a public meeting to discuss who could have access to the publicly owned ATV park.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG - The Union County Board of Commissioners, at their regular business meeting Tuesday, resolved to finally end a long running debate and public controversy in Union County. The Union County Commissioners designated the evening of Wednesday, October 23, 2013 as a date to once and for all resolve a long lingering controversy: Did the fabled buffalo (aka bison) actually roam our Union County valleys? The Commissioners formally adopted Resolution 19 of 2012 calling for a formal debate to be held at The Campus Theater in downtown Lewisburg on that date next year to bring all warring parties together to lay to rest this paramount issue. The Commissioners also want Union County citizens to prepare to engage in meaningful and constructive debate on the issue. At the October 2013 meeting Commissioners shall call for the question and a vote of those assembled deciding for all time and forevermore the very existence of the fabled buffalo in Union County. The debate has been scheduled to commence at 7:00 p.m. that evening. Commissioner John Showers acting in his role as Union County Bicentennial Co-Chair said, “As the 2013 Union County Bicentennial celebration unfolds, there appears no better time than the present to explore our county’s communities, historic sites, mountains, valleys, and streams to meet the people, learn of the places, hear the stories, and decide whether a place of honor is reserved for bison here in Union County.”
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – In Lycoming County, State Representative Democrat Rick Mirabito, of Williamsport leads Republican opponent Harry Rogers by a margin of 55 percent to 30 percent, according to a Lycoming College poll released this week. Lycoming students under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Williamson, chair of the college's Department of Political Science, surveyed 325 likely voters in the 83rd state District during the week of September 23rd. The results revealed that 14.4 percent of those polled were undecided. Williamson tells the sun Gazette, "Voters are just beginning to focus attention on these races, so there is still room for movement." "However, these results indicate that Mirabito holds a substantial lead that Rogers would need to overcome with the election just more than a month away."
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Geisinger Medical Center’s Breast Clinic Team was recently presented with just over $14,000 raised by the Ta Ta Trot Committee to benefit the Marie Lamey Endowment. The endowment, created in memory of beloved breast clinic nurse Marie Lamey, supports breast care patients and nursing education in the Geisinger Health System. The Ta Ta Trot, a 5K fundraiser supporting this cause, was held on Saturday, July 14th, at the David L. Persing Recreational Park in Sunbury.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - In recognition of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Geisinger Health System is teaming up with 17 area high schools to sponsor football “Pink Games” throughout the month. This is the second year that Geisinger has brought a breast cancer awareness campaign to central Pennsylvania through high school football. Participating schools will receive a “Pink Game” banner for the stadium and pink apparel and accessories for players and cheerleaders to wear during the game. Also featured are “pink” giveaways, including miniature footballs and American Cancer Society breast cancer awareness bookmarks. Participating school districts are Bloomsburg, Central Columbia, Danville, Hughesville, Jersey Shore, Lewisburg, Loyalsock, Mifflinburg, Milton, Montoursville, Mount Carmel, Selinsgrove, Shamokin, Shikellamy, Southern Columbia, Warrior Run and Williamsport. The month-long awareness campaign will culminate on Friday, October 26th, with five area Pink Games.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that schools and communities across Pennsylvania will highlight walking and bicycle safety by participating in Walk or Roll to School Day today. As part of the celebration, schools will host educational events and will take part in group walks with school and community officials, crossing guards and police. Among schools taking part in the initiative is the Montandon and White Deer Elementary schools in the Milton School District and Corl Street Elementary and Park Forest Middle schools in the State College Area School District. Pennsylvania's event is part of International Walk to School Day, which celebrates walking and bicycling while building community awareness of the advantages of walkable communities. The day is in its 16th year in the United States. October is also recognized as International Walk to School Month. For more information on Walk or Roll to School Day or the Safe Routes to School program, visit SafeRoutesPA.org.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Both sides of the voter ID case are holding their fire as far as an appeal would go in response to Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s ruling to uphold the law but not enforce it during the November election. Challengers of the law are similarly leaving themselves some wiggle room on the appeal question. Their only argument is that the commonwealth should promise to pull ads which now say Pennsylvanians need ID to vote on Election Day. In a written statement, Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele said her department will “let Pennsylvanians know the voter ID law is still on track to be fully implemented for future elections.”
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The state House has approved a bill to set new standards for the euthanasia of dogs, cats and other pets. The legislation has cleared the House by a vote of 189-6. The measure builds on a Senate bill passed earlier this year to ban the use of carbon monoxide to put down a pet. The bill requires shelters to use only drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for euthanasia. It specifies that the drugs be administered as directed by veterinarians or others under a veterinarian's supervision. It preserves existing law allowing people to put down their pets with guns.
(WGRC)