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December 18, 2012

STATE COLLEGE - Police in State College are investigating an armed robbery that happened last night. Police say around 7:30 p.m. they received a report of a robbery that happened at 820 West College Avenue in State College. Police say four men who resided at the residence reported that two black men had entered their apartment and robbed them at gunpoint. The black man then tied the four roommates up and fled the apartment. Property taken from the scene of the robbery was discarded in the area of Westerly Parkway and South Sparks Street and additional property was found in the 1200 block of South Atherton Street. The bandits wore dark clothing and masks and both displayed handguns. One of the men was described as approximately 6 feet tall with a stocky build and the other was described as approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall. A possible third suspect was waiting outside the apartment in a car. The State College Police are requesting anyone with information about the incident to call them. 
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - Two men were injured when the garbage truck they were in crashed Monday morning in North Manheim Township, Schuylkill County. State police at Schuylkill Haven said the crash happened around 9:30 p.m. on Weaver Road. Police say 54-year-old Robert Tombs, of Spring Glen, lost the brakes on the truck while traveling down a hill. The truck went off the road and struck an embankment, causing it to overturn and come to a stop on its passenger's side. Tombs and his passenger, 24-year-old Chris Zweizig, of Cumbola, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries and were taken to hospitals in Pottsville and Reading. No trash had been thrown from the truck.
(WGRC)

MILLVILLE - A man found dead Friday between parked school buses here may have succumbed to an accidental overdose of prescribed medication. Columbia County Chief Deputy Coroner Linda Kessler says 57-year-old Julian Bixler, of Millville, had several prescriptions for health problems. Toxicology tests have been ordered because authorities want to see if high levels of any medication may have led to cardiac arrest or if Bixler’s death was due to hypothermia. It’s unclear how long Bixler may have been lying on the ground between two school buses.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – State Police are still looking for the man who robbed a convenience store Saturday night in Lycoming County. State police are remaining tight-lipped regarding a robbery that took place at the Kwick Mart on Northway Road in Loyalsock Township. Reports say a black male in his early 20s entered the Kwick Mart just before 8 p.m. and pulled out a handgun. He walked to the counter and demanded cash from the store clerk, who emptied the register. The man then fled the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is described as a black man in his early 20s who weighs between 109 and 140 pounds. At the time of the burglary, he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and ski mask. Anyone with information regarding the incident has been asked to contact state police, Montoursville.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG - State police say they jailed a woman last Friday on charges of aggravated and simple assault as well as drug counts stemming from an incident in Lewisburg. Police say 31- year-old Jayme Clark was found passed out in a restroom at the Hampton Inn in Kelly Township, Friday night. Police say they found heroin and drug items with Clark. After she was taken to Evangelical Hospital, Clark assaulted two hospital personnel. She was sent to Union County prison after failing to post bail.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A pair of sisters have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from their grandparent’s home. Jessica Rolley of Williamsport and Stephanie Rolley of Cogan Station are charged with a number of counts stemming from numerous thefts from the home of Glenn Paulhamus in Hepburn Township.  The two have apparently been stealing from the home for some time, and back on November 5th, allegedly took close to $50,000 dollars in cash and uncirculated quarters from two safes. The two reportedly stole to support their drug habits.  They have been arraigned and released after posting $75,000 dollars bail apiece.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE – In Centre County Bellefonte police are investigating a series of fires that damaged a house, garage and several vehicles and put a neighborhood on edge. Police said they believe an arsonist set fire to a garage and two cars on the 300 block of East Cherry Lane early Sunday morning. The flames damaged two other nearby cars and the back of a house. Bellefonte firefighters responded just after four a.m. to the scene to find the garage fully engulfed. No one was injured in the fire. Investigations by Bellefonte police and fire departments as well as the state police fire marshal revealed the fires were intentionally set. The scene was just a couple of blocks from where two other arsons occurred this fall, including a storage garage behind the Mattress World on South Spring Street and the Hotel Do De and Garman Theatre. A suspect has been arrested for the fire behind Mattress World.  Police have made no arrests in the Do De fire.
(WGRC)

BERWICK -The fire that ruined the home of a mother and her three children Friday in Berwick was started by a malfunctioning space heater. Fire officials say 32-year-old Amanda James, left an electric-powered heater running in her bedroom at 1132 Fifth Avenue. Something went wrong with the device and it exploded. The blaze that followed ruined the house the family was renting and destroyed almost all their belongings inside.
(WGRC)

SHAMOKIN – “We can’t imagine the pain and suffering of those families in Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.” Those words are posted on the front page of the Shamokin Area School District webpage in the wake of the horrible events Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The website says that Shamokin principals are working with the school counselors and teachers to develop an age-appropriate response for the students. “We would like to think that these stories always happen someplace else, but the events that unfolded last week taught us differently. Tragedy can happen anywhere, so school security must always be our concern,” the site says. A similar message posted on the Bloomsburg area webpage, “We are all so very saddened, standing together in our collective grief,” the message read there. Also in Columbia County the Millville area school District posted, “There are no words to clearly express all the emotions which are present as we continue to hear of the horrific events which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is a heartbreaking situation which causes each of us to value each life and recognize the importance of our roles to care for each other.” In Snyder County the Selinsgrove School District’s website says, “The Selinsgrove Area School District joins with the rest of the nation in expressing our sadness and shock at the events which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by this tragic event.” The webpage for the Milton Area School District in Northumberland County says the same, “I can't think that it gets any more tragic than what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. We are so very saddened, standing together in our collective grief.” And the Keystone Central School District in Lock Haven has this, “The Keystone Central Family extends our love and support to our friends and colleagues of the Sandy Hook Elementary School and all those in the Newtown, Connecticut community at this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.” All schools in our region now faced with picking up the pieces and looking to make their schools safer for their students while remembering those at Sandy Hook.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - Two 16-year-olds apologized Monday in Columbia County Court for a vandalism spree that caused up to $18,000 in damage at Berwick’s Crispin Field and three nearby businesses. The Press Enterprise reports, the two interrupted juvenile proceedings to apologize for their actions. The two boys said alcohol fueled their actions on October 13th and 14th.  The boys and their 12-year-old accomplice will be responsible for paying for damages. Those costs are still being calculated, but are estimated to be $5,000 to $6,000 each. President Judge Thomas James told the boys they could be sentenced to detention or probation.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - A Centre County Prison inmate who escaped from outside work duty in October will serve up to three years in state prison for the stunt. Forty-year-old Larry Thomas pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of escape and theft by unlawful taking for walking away from jail and later stealing a pickup truck in Walker Township to make his getaway. State police said Thomas ditched his orange jumpsuit while trimming weeds outside the CentrePeace building on Benner Pike on October 25th. The next day, he was found driving a stolen pickup truck on Interstate 80 in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County. Thomas was serving an 11 to 23 month sentence in the Centre County Jail for illegally possessing a firearm.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - A rape case in Northumberland County drags on and the alleged rapist has been released from jail after posting $1 dollar bail. A hearing was held in Northumberland County court in which Ben Scheller of Sunbury was granted nominal bail since prosecutors have failed to bring him to trial despite being arrested six months ago for rape and for firing a gun inside of a home. There have a number of delays after the arresting officer was found to have started a romantic relationship with Scheller’s alleged victim and two judges have already recused themselves from the case.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN – Property owners in Lock Haven will pay more real estate taxes next year. On Monday, City Council enacted a tax increase of about 10 percent for 2013 that will bring in an extra $200,000. The general fund budget of nearly $4 million needed $121,000 to meet expenses. With the tax increase, the city expects to end 2013 with a carry-over of just $79,000.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - Bloomsburg Town Council meets Thursday afternoon in special session. The reason, to adopt the Town's proposed 2013 budget crafted by Council and Mayor Dan Knorr. The spending plan totals an estimated $4.4 million and includes a $99,000 deficit. But property taxes remain the same. Not included in the budget is a new police officer and the town's public works director will only be able to hire one new person instead of two, and the town will have to dip into its reserves to the tune of $164,000 for one-time expenses. That special council meeting gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - Erin Wagner, a supervisor at the Sunbury post office on North Third Street, and her late-afternoon crew were well prepared Monday for the onslaught of customers on what the United State Postal Service claimed was their busiest mailing day for holiday cards and packages. The Daily Item reports, at times lines of people stretched out the front door. Sunbury’s post office is a hub for all zip codes beginning with 178 and with the increase in business the Sunbury office was busy. The same could be said for most post offices around the country, where an estimated 658 million pieces of mail will be processed, a 25 percent increase about the average daily volume. That coupled with yesterday being National Free Shipping Day, a day set aside by some 1600 national retailers, and advertised through national media outlets, to offer free shipping on products this Christmas shopping season. For the United Postal Service, the busiest days for the delivery of holiday mail and packages are coming up soon — Wednesday for mail and Thursday for holiday packages — when millions of mail and packages will be delivered in time for the holidays. For last-minute shoppers, the Postal Service recommends Saturday as the last day to mail express mail packages. For more information visit usps.com to expedite the mailing of holiday packages.
(WGRC)

COAL TOWNSHIP - A newly established scholarship to offset tuition to Catholic schools in the Harrisburg Diocese could open the doors of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Northumberland County to scores of area children. The Neumann Scholarship Foundation was gifted $246,213 during a school assembly Monday - funding that is specifically earmarked for Lourdes. The funding was made possible through a homegrown effort to recruit businesses to participate in a state tax credit program - Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program - that directly benefits a school of choice. Based on the combined average tuition paid for elementary and high school students, the money could offset full cost of tuition for nearly 85 students in 2013-14.
(WGRC)

TURBOTVILLE - About 100 people — many of them students — filled the Warrior Run High School auditorium Monday night to call for an end to contentious teacher contract negotiations. The tense meeting culminated in a walkout by teachers. Many students expressed support for the teachers during negotiations, saying the teachers are dedicated to their students and their education. Many community members asked why teachers were under a pay freeze, while administrators — under a separate contract — have not voluntarily taken a pay freeze. The district and the Warrior Run Education Association have been negotiating since their contract expired in June 2011. According to a statement read by school board President Todd Moser, the board filed for a fact-finding session on November 20th to try to mediate the dispute, but the education association responded by filing a notice of intent to strike September 3rd, 2013.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - State College area board members continue their plans to renovate State College Area High School. They're still in the process phase. Monday night the board heard from the architectural firm that's handling the project as well as the woman who's handling the educational planning aspect of it. They also developed the "Community Engagement Action Team." Julie Miller is the Public Information Specialist for the State College Area School District, she says the team will allow the public to get involved, helping the district in two-way communication. Miller adds that October of 2013 would be the absolute earliest time the project could be taken to a voter referendum on the voting ballot.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County commissioners held their last work session Monday on the proposed budget for 2013 and expect to approve $33.6 million in expenses and a slight tax increase. The tax hike represents a $70-per-year jump on the average household property assessed at $100,000. Monday's discussion focused on several narrow aspects of the upcoming budget adoption, including the fact that the board remains about $50,000 short of its set goal with only days pending for final approval. Board members have said that, given the difficulties they expected in adopting a budget this year, they were going to take a hard look at any last-minute submissions and would ask nonprofits to submit justifications for the requests.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Lycoming County's transportation needs during the next 20 years will focus on repairing structurally deficient bridges, implementing strategic rail service to businesses and controlling increasing Marcellus Shale-related traffic. Those recommendations from the Williamsport Area Transportation Study's technical committee were endorsed Monday by its members. The list of projects, which range from highway, bridge, air, rail, bus transit and outdoor trails, fall under about $271 million in available funding. Mark Murawski, county transportation planner, says about 80 percent of the project funding comes from the federal government. By the end of 2013, Murawski said the multi-year plan should be complete. However, work to finish such projects will take much longer.
(WGRC)

MONTOURSVILLE - PennDOT Engineering District 3, serving nine north central Pennsylvania counties, is wrapping up a year that included a construction season full with road and bridge activities, including a number of recovery projects planned following the September 2011 flooding across the region. The contract construction season included some 105 contracts valued at approximately $102 million, along with two major carryovers from the previous year the I-80 Mifflinville bridges and the DuBoistown Bridge replacement. The work ranged from resurfacings, pavement repairs, safety improvements, slide stabilizations and guiderail installations, to bridge replacements and bridge rehabilitations.
(WGRC)

BERWICK - Wise Foods of Berwick, the second largest employer in Columbia County, has been sold to a Mexican bottling company. Palladium Equity Partners, a private investment firm, announced the sale to Arca Continental, which produces and sells non-alcoholic beverages under the Coca-Cola Company brand. The Press Enterprise reports, details of the sale have not yet been released. The deal is still awaiting regulatory approval, but Arca said it expects no problems getting the OK. Arca is the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America, serving more than 53 million consumers in Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina. Palladium says the current staff and leaders at Wise will remain in place. Wise employs about 850. The Berwick factory is the only one it still owns. Palladium bought Wise in 2000.
(WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN – A store wrecked by fire in Juniata County back in July is ready to reopen its doors. The new Bargain Barn building opens for business on Thursday at the original location at 1687 William Penn Highway in Mifflintown. The previous building burned down on July 26 after a rack of clothing caught on fire. The building was destroyed in that fire. After a few months working out of the Bargain Barn furniture outlet on Cedar Spring Road, co-owners Greg Allison and John Robinson have begun erecting shelves and moving merchandise into the new building this week.  The new Bargain Barn is a bit bigger, includes a second floor and is handicapped accessible.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The shooting deaths of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut are already spurring some Pennsylvania lawmakers to call for new gun safety legislation. All but the House Republicans have confirmed the shootings are likely to prompt discussion of Pennsylvania’s gun policies. This fall, the governor signed into law a measure to raise the mandatory minimum prison sentence for people convicted of selling guns illegally. Senate Republicans touted that effort, and said more review is “imperative.” “In addition to reviewing gun laws, legislators are expected to take an in-depth look at the statutes governing access to mental health treatment in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile some House Democrats says there’s more work to do on assault weapons including banning such guns.
(WGRC)