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Thank God for His provision of your hands, feet and voices willing to speak His truth throughout our region - what a blessing you continue to be.  (State College)

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December 13, 2012

STATE COLLEGE - A Penn State graduate student was reportedly attacked by a man with a knife on a recreational trail Wednesday afternoon in the Overlook Heights area off North Atherton Street in State College. Police say the victim, a 40-year-old woman, apparently suffered a cut to her neck. She was able to fend off her assailant by biting his hand. She was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where she was treated for her wounds and released. The trailhead is at the intersection of Curtin Street and Clinton Avenue, and the trail runs through the Penn State Arboretum land and the Central Bellefonte Trail. Officers from several local police departments, armed with shotguns and assault rifles, created a large perimeter around the area and dogs and helicopters were used to search for the suspect. The search was called off around 9:30 last night but police are not giving up. The alleged attacker is described as a white male in his 20s or 30s, about 5-foot, 8-inches tall, with facial hair that may come to a point on his chin with a slim to medium build. The suspect might have a noticeable bite mark on his hand. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Centre County 9-1-1.
(WGRC)

SHENANDOAH - A family is homeless after flames severely damaged their West Mahanoy Township home fewer than two weeks before Christmas. Firefighters were called to the home in the 1200 block of West Coal Street just before one Wednesday afternoon. Smoke was pouring from the home as the first units arrived on the scene. Everyone inside the home got out safely.  The family lost everything in the blaze. No injuries were reported.
(WGRC)

BRIAR CREEK – In Columbia County Police were searching yesterday for two burglars who pepper-sprayed a man who surprised them as they robbed his home Wednesday morning, and then took off in an SUV. The victim, Lou DiPippa, wasn’t seriously injured. Police in Briar Creek say DiPippa was the latest victim in a string of daytime burglaries in the area. The attack came at about 9 a.m. DiPippa arrived home at 51 Twin Church Road and saw two figures behind his garage. When he confronted them, they sprayed him, then ran to their gray SUV, and took off. The thieves escaped with cash, among other items. Anyone with information is asked to call police.
(WGRC)

BENTON – In Columbia County, two men in a pickup reportedly offered a young boy candy as he walked home from school, and now the school district has put parents on alert. The seven-year-old was walking near Main and North streets in Benton when the red truck pulled up near him Tuesday afternoon. The boy ran home and told his parents who phoned police. Benton Area School Superintendent Penny Lenig-Zerby, sent out a message to parents by phone warning them of the incident. On Wednesday, the school asked staff members to stay outside around the buildings and keep an eye on things as children were arriving. The school encouraged kids to walk in groups and not speak with any strangers. Police are investigating the incident.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE – Twenty-two-year-old Leanne Micklesavage finally revealed the name of the man who allegedly helped her rob the Tri-Valley Pharmacy in Valley View in May 2011, and her cooperation helped persuade a Schuylkill County judge on Wednesday to sentence her to county instead of state prison. Micklesavage, of Ashland, will serve nine to 23 months in prison for her role in the May 17, 2011, robbery of the pharmacy in which she originally was thought to be a victim. Micklesavage pleaded guilty to charges against her back in October. Co-conspirator 20-year-old Charles Frantz Jr., of Mount Carmel, is jailed at the State Prison at Houtzdale, and will be charged in connection with that robbery and Micklesavage will testify against him.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - Retired Penn State administrator Gary Schultz filed paperwork Wednesday in Centre County court indicating he intends to sue Cynthia Baldwin, the former university lawyer who he thought was representing him when he testified to the grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky. Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice and former Penn State trustee, has come under scrutiny over her being at the grand jury when Schultz and senior university administrator Tim Curley testified in January 2011. That was before the men were charged with perjury and failure to report abuse in November 2011. Later, Baldwin became a key grand jury witness whose testimony was used by prosecutors bringing additional charges against Schultz and Curley and indicting former Penn State president Graham Spanier. The criminal defense attorneys for Schultz and Curley want all the charges thrown out, saying Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege by testifying against the men. They also want to keep her from taking the stand when their clients head to court for the preliminary hearing. The hearing, originally scheduled for today, is on hold until the district judge overseeing the case sorts out some matters, such as whether Baldwin should be allowed to testify.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - A former substitute teacher at Shamokin Area School District pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to a felony of unlawful contact with a minor and a misdemeanor of corruption of minors, and will be sentenced within 90 days. Twenty-four-year-old Michael Zack, of Marion Heights, entered his plea before President Judge Robert Sacavage after being charged March 15 by Coal Township Police with sending around 4,300 text messages to two 17-year-old girls and two 16-year-old girls who attended Shamokin Area High School at the time.
(WGRC)

BEAVERTOWN – A manufacturer with companies in Snyder County is one of several companies nationwide that has filed a federal lawsuit against the Affordable Car Act’s Plan “B.” Conestoga Wood Specialities has field the federal lawsuit claiming Obama Care’s birth control mandate violates the Constitutional rights of the business owner. The Lancaster County based business with operations in Beavertown and Beaver Springs says the federal mandate to require available abortion drugs to its employees through their insurance package goes against the Company’s Mennonite religious beliefs and would “be sinful and immoral,” to participate in. Attorney with the Independence Law Center in Harrisburg who is filing the suit on behalf of the company, Charles Proctor the Third says Conestoga’s lawsuit is just one of many nationwide against Obama Care. Proctor says in court he feels Conestoga will win its case due to the nature of Constitutional freedom of religion and that the mandate discriminates against private corporations and individuals.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport Regional Medical Center was honored with an “A” Hospital Safety ScoreSM by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, for the second quarter in a row. Williamsport was the only hospital in the region to have this designation for two consecutive quarters. The Hospital Safety ScoreSM was calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors and infections. Other Hospitals in the WGRC Listening area with an “A” score include Geisinger Medical Center, Danville and Mount Nittany Medical Center. The Lehigh Valley Medical Center also received an “A”. Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Received a “B,” while Bloomsburg/Geisinger, Shamokin/Geisinger, Lewistown, Schuylkill Medical Center and Hershey Medical Center all received a “C” status.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - As the merger between the two entities moves forward, Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger officials addressed issues discussed by The Concerned Physicians and Practitioners of Mifflin and Juniata Counties, a group opposing the change. The opposition group had previously brought to light a number of arguments against the merger, including the topics of transparency, document disclosure, jobs, threat of monopoly, patient cost and past proxy voting. In response, Frank Trembulak, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Geisinger Health System, explained to the community and hospital employees that, though these questions can be answered in a general sense now, the merger is still in the very early stages and, as more specific details become available, information will be shared. Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., Geisinger president and CEO, told the group the merger is not something to be afraid of. Steele says the merger between Lewistown Hosptial and Geisinger is a tool to increase jobs, resources and programs offered by the hospital to its community. The Sentinel reports, within the next week, Lewistown Hospital will be activating an online link for the local community and hospital community to anonymously submit questions, which Lewistown Hospital CEO Kay Hamilton will personally answer. All questions and answers will then be posted to the website at www.lewistownhospital.org.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Plans for a new city YMCA took a big step forward Wednesday with the announcement that the present facility at 320 Elmira Street has been sold to a local developer and that the organization has come to terms with Susquehanna Health on a long-term lease on land where the new facility will be built. The Sun Gazette reports, Dave Fagerstrom, executive director and CEO of the River Valley Regional YMCA, said the organization's board of trustees approved the sale of the downtown property Wednesday to Loyalsock-based Liberty Group, owned by Dan Klingerman. Terms of the sale, which includes the Pickelner Arena, the original YMCA building and nearby parking lots, were not disclosed, however previous reports put the asking price at about $2.5 million. A new, $10 million YMCA is expected to be under construction by next spring on the campus of the Williamsport Regional Medical Center, just south of the hospital's new patient tower between High Street and Park Avenue. Klingerman says that his company plans to develop the site in conjunction with Mayor Gabriel Campana's "Destination 2014" project to turn the old YMCA space into apartments and expand and update the arena as a multi-use sports arena to include the Williamsport Outlaws, Federal Hockey League team.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The cost of permit fees in Williamsport may be going up. City Codes Department Administrator Joseph Gerardi Wednesday proposed raising fees the department collects such as those from contractors when building permits are required, or whenever apartments need to be inspected, or zoning hearings for variances, land developments and lot consolidations need to be scheduled. Gerardi says the reason for the increase is to continue the matter of public safety and keep commerce flowing. Gerardi said the increases would pay for the cost of living increases, insurance, pay raises, and general costs such as higher costs to pay for paperwork and computers. The City’s finance committee has not voted on the increase proposal yet. A vote by the finance committee if approved would then go before City Council for a full vote.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana turned over daily mayoral operations this week to city Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman after Campana's mother, Rose, suffered a heart attack Saturday. Campana issued a news release to inform citizens he would remain at her bedside for the next several days and asked for thoughts and prayers for her recovery. Campana said he will be informed daily by Foresman of the city's status and would continue to make significant decisions should they arise.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Commissioners in Lycoming County are set to approve a new budget for next year. The 2013 budget, set at 97.1 million dollars, includes an extra Two Hundred Thousand dollars for housing county inmates at neighboring prisons. The Commissioners plan to vote on that budget today.
(WGRC)

McELHATTAN -The Clinton County Solid Waste Authority is moving closer to the creation of a natural gas filling station at the Wayne Township Landfill, and is seeking partners for the conversion of fleets. A facility could become a reality as early as next summer. Landfill representative Marci Orndorf tells the Express the landfill administration has set January 2 as the date to open bids for the facility, and expects to award the contract on January 9th. She said she has already touched base with the Wayne Township Planning Commission, which has signed off on preliminary plans.  
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - Bloomsburg University will present 559 students with degrees at winter commencement ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. Commencement ceremonies will be held for 88 graduate students on Friday, December 14th. Ceremonies for 471 undergraduate students will be held on Saturday, December 15th for the colleges of Liberal Arts and Education and the colleges of Business and Science and Technology. All ceremonies will be held in the Haas Center for the Arts, Mitrani Hall.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Geisinger Health System's Life Flight program has been contracting with various organizations who supply them personnel since 1981. But now Life Flight has received its Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Carrier Certificate and they're bringing the program in – house. Program Manager Jerry Splitt says Geisinger will now hire the pilots, maintenance crews and aviation support personnel. The six helicopters based across Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania average around 2,600 flights a year.
(WGRC)

ALLENTOWN - Customers of PPL Electric Utilities will see monthly bills increase by about four percent next year. It's due to recent state Public Utility Commission action. The PUC is granting Allentown-based PPL a 10.4 % rate of return on income for shareholders. The approval will increase the average bill for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity monthly by nearly five dollars. The increase totals approximately $71 million for PPL.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - PPL Electric Utilities recently finished rebuilding a nearly 14-mile transmission line between the Sunbury and Dalmatia areas in Snyder and Northumberland counties. Construction on the $16 million project began in February. The work will improve electric service reliability in the region by providing sufficient capacity to support the growing power demand in the region north of Harrisburg. Reconstruction of the 69-kilovolt line started on the west side of the Susquehanna River in Snyder County, north of Selinsgrove, before crossing the waterway near Sunbury and heading south to the Dalmatia area. Installing the new line required access to an island in the river. A causeway and barge system was used to transport materials, equipment and workers to the island. The southern end of the rebuilt line will intersect with the planned Richfield-Dalmatia 69-kilovolt line when that line is built. The route for the 11-mile Richfield-Dalmatia line was selected in early 2010 and the utility is currently in the process of acquiring the remaining property easements to be able to build and maintain the line. The Richfield-Dalmatia project also will include construction of a new substation along the new power line south of Meiserville. The substation will create an additional source of power for communities that have been experiencing a high number of power outages.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - For decades, the Community Christmas Tree Project in Danville has aided the less fortunate during the holiday season. Donations are again being accepted this year at the Danville borough ballroom on Mill Street. Chairman Red Swank says they need food products along with toys and clothing in excellent condition. Items are needed by this Saturday so they can be distributed next Friday. Each year, the program provides about 375 families with food, clothing and toys and Swank says it's all made possible through the generosity of the Danville area community. The ballroom is open to accept donations each day through Friday from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9-5.
(WPGM)

MONTOURSVILLE - PennDOT employees and other volunteers will assemble dozens of bicycles beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 15th, at the Penn College Aviation Center, at the Williamsport Regional Airport, Montoursville, to be donated to the Marine Corps League's Toys for Tots campaign. After finishing assembling the bicycles, the Marine Corps League will pick up the bicycles in the afternoon. Employees in PennDOT's Montoursville-based office raised more than $6,000 this year in the second annual Bill Craver Bikes for Tykes project, allowing the volunteers to purchase roughly 124 bicycles for the Toys for Tots campaign.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Lawyers on opposite sides of Pennsylvania's voter-identification law are slated to meet with a Commonwealth Court judge to discuss how to handle arguments on the law's constitutionality. The status conference before Judge Robert Simpson is today in a Harrisburg. The law took effect in March and was the focus of a protracted legal fight that reached the state Supreme Court. It resulted in Simpson suspending a requirement that voters show photo identification for this year's election, but allowing the law to stand. Democrats say the law disenfranchises voters, particularly minorities, young people and senior citizens. Republicans backers say it's a safeguard against fraud. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued more than 16,000 photo IDs for voters who lacked the types of IDs that the law requires.
(WGRC)