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December 19, 2012

WATSONTOWN – Working smoke detectors save a Northumberland County home from more serious fire damage this morning.  Warrior Run Area Fire Chief Mark Burrows says fire crews were called to 110 East 10th Street in Watsontown just after 8:30 this morning after a passerby called 9-1-1 after hearing smoke detectors sounding inside the home.  The home’s occupants were not home.  Burrows  says the fire was contained to the area of a wood burner. He says the working smoke detectors averted a more serious fire situation.  The home did suffer moderate smoke damage.
John Callahan (WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE – Two men with prior drug arrests are taken into custody for selling drugs in Centre County.  The Centre County Drug Task Force investigated a report of drug activity at the Imperial 400 Motel on South Atherton Street in State College.  Taken into custody yesterday were 28-year old Nathan Banks of Williamsport and 31-year old Daniel Dade of Duryea.  Found inside the room where the two were staying were 75 bags of heroin worth around $2,000, synthetic marijuana, cell phones and $915 in cash. Banks and Dade both have prior Federal arrests for drug distribution.  The two are locked up on $50,000 straight cash bail each.  A Federal Parole detainer has also has been placed on Banks.
John Callahan (WGRC)   

UNDATED – A multi-county task force receives a much needed specialized vehicle.  The East Central Pennsylvania Regional Task Force recently purchased a Bearcat armored rescue response vehicle.  The vehicle is equipped with thermal imaging capabilities, and radiation and explosive gas detection systems.  Bloomsburg Police Chief Leo Sokoloski says the Bearcat will afford area law enforcement officers a heightened response capability to provide the highest possible level of security for people in the region during critical times.  The vehicle was purchased entirely with funds from the Department of Homeland Security.  The task force covers Berks, Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming Counties.  The vehicle will be housed in Bloomsburg.
John Callahan (WGRC)

PORT TREVORTON – A two vehicle crash on Routes 11 and 15 last night near the Snyder/Juniata County line injures two. The crash happened just after eight p.m. in Snyder County’s Chapman Township. Police say 18-year-old Jeremiah Skidmore of Liverpool failed to stop for a vehicle turning off the highway. Police say Skidmore hit the rear of that vehicle driven by 28-year-old Clinton Kantz of Port Trevorton. Kantz was taken to Geisinger with injuries. His passenger 27-year-old Brandi Kantz suffered minor injuries. Skidmore and a girl in Kantz vehicle were not hurt.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - The judge in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial has granted the defense’s request for an evidentiary hearing on post-trial motions filed in the case. Sandusky’s defense team is seeking the hearing to support claims they did not have enough time to prepare for trial. Trial Judge John Cleland granted that request Tuesday, setting an evidentiary hearing for 9:30 a.m. January 10th in the Centre County Courthouse. The 68-year-old Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually abusing 10 young boys, is serving 30 to 60 years in state prison. Sandusky maintains his innocence.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A Lycoming County jury acquitted 41-year-old Aaron Meixel, on charges of unlawful contact, corruption of minors and indecent assault after almost five hours of deliberation late Monday. The jury also found Meixel guilty on one count of disseminating obscene materials to a minor, a third-degree felony. During testimony Meixel admitted to the wrong doing. He was arrest in September 2011 after showing explicit images of he and his wife to three girls ages 9, 10 and 12. Meixel was sent back to Lycoming County Prison. He likely will be sentenced in February.
(WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN - A 42-year-old Mifflintown man charged with morals offenses against a 13-year-old girl sent his charges on to Juniata County Court Tuesday. Police say they received information that Erik Guiser, of Mifflintown was possibly abusing the girl. State Police and Juniata County Children and Youth Services interviewed the girl where she alleged said she was assaulted on numerous occasions between January and mid-August of 2012. Guiser has allegedly admitted to the wrong-doing. Guiser remains free on $25,000 bail. A trial date has not yet been set.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A Lewisburg man is being charged with a rash of thefts and burglaries from August through September in Union County. Police say 21-year-old Tristan Swigart has been charged with a vehicle break-in and th3eft of a wallet in August, three laptop computers and a television, and two i-phones, all in September from vehicles and residences in Lewisburg. Police say Swigart took the items to support a heroin addiction.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILBURTON - The couple accused of stealing an SUV and eluding police for nearly nine hours last week in Northumberland County with an unrestrained 9-month-old child with them face additional charges surrounding the incident. 22-year-old David Pavloski II, and 20-year-old Courtney Klemick, are now facing a list of charges related to the chase endangering the welfare of a child. The two were initially charged with vehicle theft and related charges.
(WGRC)

SAINT CLAIR - A Shenandoah man was jailed late Tuesday charged with pulling a knife on a security guard outside a store at the Schuylkill Mall near Frackville. 42-year-old Jerry Adery was arrested just before four p.m. when Adery and two others were seen trying to break into a candy machine inside the mall. Security confronted the three, at which time Adery and one other person fled with the third person taken immediately into custody. He was eventually caught in the mall’s parking lot but not after he pulled a knife on a security guard, and then drove off. No one was injured. He was caught later by Mahanoy City Police. Adery is jailed in the Schuylkill County prison. His accomplices were caught but have not been identified.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - A 40-year-old Penn State graduate student who had her throat slashed last week on a popular bike trail in State College filed for a protection from abuse order just days after the attack. Officials in the Centre County Courthouse confirmed that the woman filed for an emergency protection from abuse order Friday against her ex-husband and then filed for a temporary protection order Monday. Both orders were granted. The woman was attacked in broad daylight December 12th however she says she did not know her attacker and was able to fend off her attacker by biting his hand. She said the attack came hours after a custody dispute didn’t go her ex-husband’s way, leaving her concerned for her safety and the safety of her child. Police have not identified the woman’s ex-husband as a suspect in the trail attack and have not indicated that her decision to file for a protection from abuse order implicates the man in any way. An investigation into the assault and a search for the suspect continues.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG - About one in three female students at Bucknell University indicate being the victim of an attempted rape or sexual assault, according to the school’s recent grant application filed with the U.S. Department of Justice and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. In the application, Bucknell cited statistics that indicate its 3,500 students “are victims of sexual assault at a higher rate as compared to peer institutions and the national average.” The daily Item reports, Bucknell’s 31.7 percent rate is high compared to the National Sexual Experience Survey average of 20 to 25 percent. Another survey, conducted by the American College Health Association in 2011, found that 17 percent of Bucknell women reported being assaulted within the past 12 months, compared with a rate of 12 percent among peer institutions. Bucknell University President John Bravman has been an outspoken advocate and leader in recognizing and taking a stand against sexual violence and says the university is committed to reducing sexual violence on campus.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG — Most Bloomsburg University students received an email Tuesday saying they were no longer enrolled at the college. The school quickly corrected the mistake, but not before its technology help desk had received about 100 anxious calls. The message, sent around 5 a.m. Tuesday, was meant to go to a “handful” of students who actually are no longer enrolled. But an incorrectly loaded file sent the message to everyone but that handful — nearly 10,000 email addresses. Once technology employees realized what had happened, they were able to get into the email system and retract the message from everyone who hadn’t read it yet. An email was sent out explaining and apologizing for the error. Those who received the errant message don’t have to take any action to keep their IDs active.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State board of trustees Chairwoman Karen Peetz said Tuesday she will not seek re-election to that position when the board reorganizes in January. Bank of New York Mellon last week announced that Peetz had been named company president effective January 1st. She pointed to her duties with the bank as the reason she will not stay on as chairwoman of the Penn State trustees. Peetz’s decision was announced last night. She has been on the board since 2010 and chairwoman since January. She does plan to remain on the board at least through the end of her term, which expires in 2013.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Work will start today at the flooded Danville Middle School so it can be used again next year. The school board approved Zartman Construction of Northumberland as the general contractor last night. The federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for most of the $9.3 million project, but taxpayers will fund some work as well, up to $869,000.  The district may also spend $284,000 to move administration offices in the middle school for better monitoring of visitors in light of last Friday’s school shootings in Connecticut.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - The town of Bloomsburg has spent $710,000 over the past week to purchase another seven houses in the 900 block of West Main Street. It has three properties left to buy on the flood-prone block, and it hopes to have that process completed and demolition under way by late January. The town will be reimbursed by the federal and state governments for about $690,000 of the $710,000 spent on the seven sites.
(WGRC)

SELINSGROVE - Plans for a 100-unit low-income housing complex in Monroe Township Snyder County were abruptly dropped Monday as residents geared up to oppose the project. The decision by Home Leasing II, of Rochester, New York, to withdraw its request for a special exception to develop the Mill Road Garden Apartments, a multi-family unit development proposed on the 22-acre property between Susquehanna Valley Mall and Mill Road, was announced at the township Planning Board Monday night. The developer called an engineer working on the project Monday and asked that the project be dropped. Numerous community members turned out at a public meeting at the Monroe Township Zoning Board, December tenth to oppose the project.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Mayor Gabriel Campana said Tuesday he won't sign a $21.1 million budget for 2013 that City Council adopted Thursday, along with a 1-mill tax hike on real estate. The Mayor tells the Sun Gazette, "My budget proposal was sufficient as I addressed the issue of personnel legacy costs by not filling five city positions and by minimizing a tax increase as much as possible." "I respect City Council," Campana said. "However philosophically I do not agree with City Council's 2013 budget position and will not sign the 1-mill tax increase." The 1-mill hike raises taxes by $100 more per year on a household with an assessed value of $100,000. The adopted budget ordinance reduces the police force by three officers, eliminates one employee from the Streets and Parks Department and provides funding for a full-time information technology position. The budget can sit without the mayor's signature until Sunday, the end of a 10-day waiting period, and then it automatically will become effective January 1st. Campana said council's decision to add a Department of Streets and Parks employee and budgeting a full-time information technologist added more than $90,000 to the budget.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE – Some concession are believed to have been made between the City of Pottsville and it’s police union regard the loss of police positions and 2013 budget crunching. Following a 50-minute, closed-door meeting with city officials Tuesday, the president of Pottsville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44 said he believes one police officer's job may be saved. A total of three officers jobs are on the line. Later this week, city officials will be giving the Fraternal Order of Police proposals for discussion. The FOP will meet Friday at City Hall to discuss them.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - An agreement between Lycoming County and the SEDA-Council of Government's Joint Rail Authority will ensure that nearly $5 million of local money will be put into a new rail bridge used by the Lycoming Valley Railroad. Commissioners are expected to approve the agreement at their Thursday meeting, which requires the Lewisburg-based authority to match a $2.43 million Federal Railroad Administration grant. The $14 million project will replace a 1927 rail bridge that was destroyed during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Other funding for the project is expected from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state Department of Transportation's rail freight capital budget, low-interest loans, authority grants and federal earmarks.
(WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN - The Juniata County Commissioners approved the adoption of the final budget for fiscal year 2013 and set the real estate millage rate Tuesday.  The commissioners approved a final budget in the amount of $9.3 million. The millage rate will remain at 22.75 mills.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE – This Saturday a group of roving riders will make some children at Geisinger Medical Center Janet Weis Children’s Hospital very happy. Members of the Penitent Souls Motorcycle Club, comprised of riders who are prison guards by day, will make donations to patients of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and Children’s Hospital in Danville. A specific wish list was collected for each child admitted to those floors and club members will shop for $50 worth of gifts for each patient, which they’ll deliver on Saturday. The delivery will be held from one to two p.m.
(WGRC)

MILTON - ConAgra Foods Community Partners recently completed a very successful fundraiser and presented a check for $5,600 to support the work of Evangelical Hospice in Lewisburg. The funds donated were raised through a benefit hosted by ConAgra Foods Community Partners at St. Joseph Parish Center, in Milton on Sunday, December 2nd. Evangelical Hospice is a program of specially trained individuals who dedicate themselves to easing the pain and suffering of the terminally ill and their families through supportive care. Volunteers visit with patients and families, provide bereavement services, and assist in the Hospice office.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE – Over 2300 kids will have Christmas Presents in Centre County thanks to the Marine Corps, “Toys for Tots,” program. Retired Major Gene Weller says, they have about 15,000 toys and they’ve wrapped about 11,000 of them. Volunteers spend months collecting the presents, sorting them out, and then doing something pretty unique--wrapping them. Out of the 750 plus toys for tots nationwide, only a handful actually wraps the gifts like the Centre County chapter does.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Susquehanna Health’s mission “To extend God’s healing love. . .” is a driving force in the compassionate care provided to patients and the community. During the Christmas season, that mission radiates even more warmly through the health system’s annual Adopt-A-Family program. For more than two decades, service partners throughout Susquehanna Health have shown a genuine generosity to those in the family who find themselves in challenging financial positions at this time of year. Through the Adopt-A-Family program, organized by the health center’s Pastoral Care department, service partners who may need a helping hand apply for assistance or are nominated by others and are “adopted” by willing Susquehanna Health departments. Applications are accepted in the month of November and matches are made between the adopters and adoptees in early December. The adoptive department then typically reaches out to the family in need to gather details on how to help. This holiday season, many children and their families will find help, hope and encouragement through the efforts of generous givers at Susquehanna Health.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE – Gun sales across the nation have increased since Friday’s school shooting. In Centre County the Hunters Warehouse in Bellefonte, there owner Tom Engle says they've quadrupled since Friday. He thinks the threat of a gun ban, is enough to spark sales. Engle says, "I think it's important to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, and I'm afraid that they're slowly slipping away." Engle adds that he wasn't surprised at his soaring sales numbers since Fridays' shooting. He says the same thing happened in 2007 after the massacre at Virginia Tech which killed 32 people. Plain and simple, Engle says when deadly shootings happen, his gun sales go through the roof.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The two pension funds serving Pennsylvania state employees had a combined $10 million invested in a company that manufactured one of the weapons used to kill elementary school children in Connecticut. The Public School Employees Retirement System in Pennsylvania had expressed concern to Cerberus Capital Management about its stake in Freedom Group International, the company that makes Bushmaster rifles. The Daily Item reports, as of Tuesday, approximately $8.2 million of Public School Employees Retirement System funds were invested by Cerberus in the Freedom Group. A spokesperson with the Public School Employees Retirement System said it has no control over where their money is invested but urged Cerberus to make other arraignments to reallocate funds to something other than Freedom Group. Cerberus Capital Management said Tuesday it will sell its controlling stake in Freedom. Investors also continued to bail out of other gunmakers while the retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods said it would stop selling military-style rifles.
(WGRC)

DOVER – Governor Tom Corbett yesterday ceremonially signed legislation that will help to connect unemployed Pennsylvanians with employers who are looking for new hires. House Bill 1539, also known as the Keystone Works legislation, provides an opportunity for unemployed workers to receive training with an employer while continuing to receive unemployment compensation benefits. The Keystone Works program also gives employers the incentive to hire trainees once their training is complete. The program allows unemployment compensation claimants to receive training directly from an employer looking for people to fill openings in high priority occupations. High priority occupations are those which are in demand by employers, usually require higher level skills.

HARRISBURG –The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission yesterday released the results of its annual Cold Weather Survey, which showed that about 16,000 households will enter the winter season without heat-related utility service compared to just over 17,000 this time last year. Commission Chairman Robert Powelson says, “We are pleased to see the number of those entering the winter months without heat-related utility service has decreased this year.” Powelson says, “With the coldest months of the year are still ahead, it remains critically important for consumers without heat-related utility service to learn about their options for reconnecting service.” The PUC encourages consumers without utility service to know their rights and responsibilities. Consumers should obtain information about programs available to help them restore and maintain utility service. Consumers with a seriously ill resident in the household or a protection from abuse order may have additional options for service restoration. Consumers should call their utility first to make arrangements to pay their bill. If they are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, the PUC may be able to provide assistance. The PUC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG –The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission yesterday released its annual cold weather survey. Every December, the PUC releases those cold weather survey results. In its report the PUC reports homes using potentially unsafe heating sources is down compared to 2011. According to the National Fire Protection Association, potentially unsafe sources of heat include kerosene heaters, kitchen stoves or ovens, electric space heaters, fireplaces and connecting extension cords to neighbors’ homes. This year just over 18,000 homes across the state are using potentially unsafe heating sources. The total number was 20,000 in 2011.
(WGRC)