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December 28, 2012

STONINGTON - Quick thinking from a relative may have prevented serious injury and saved a home this afternoon in Northumberland County.  Fire crews were called to 1279 Old Reading Road in Shamokin Township, near the Indian Hills Golf and Tennis Club.  Elysburg Assistant Fire Chief Bob Dluge reported homeowner Lorraine Chicalo was making something to eat when grease caught fire in the kitchen, splashing up and hitting her in the face.  Chicalo’s visiting sister, Sister Marie Hirsch, of Immaculata, pulled Chicalo away from the area, and was able to knock the fire down with an extinguisher.  Both women were treated at the scene and were said to be fine after being checked out by paramedics.  Dluge tells the News Item, there was extensive damage in the kitchen in the immediate area where the fire happened, with smoke damage throughout the rest of the home.
John Callahan (WGRC)

LIVERPOOL - A deputy state police fire marshal says someone deliberately set a blaze that destroyed a Perry County home early this morning.  Police say the home near the intersection of Red Bridge and Sheaffer Roads in Liverpool Township was engulfed in flames and collapsing when firefighters arrived just before 1 this morning.  Police said the home was vacant at the time of the arson fire.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The city of Williamsport unveiled its first Natural gas powered bus today.  An event was held at the Trade and Transit Centre in Downtown Williamsport late this morning to unveil the bus which is part of River Valley Transit’s conversion to compressed natural gas vehicles. The bus is expected to be in circuit in early January. River Valley Transit will purchase three more of the Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles in 2013. Work also continues on a Fast-Fill Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Facility which will be stationed within the city using natural gas from the Marcellus Shale gas wells in Lycoming County.

(WGRC)

NORTHUMBERLAND – Police have filed additional charges against the man who made threats against the Priestly Elementary School in Northumberland last Thursday. Police have now charged 37-year-old Jeremy Church with misdemeanor drug charges. Police say when they went to arrest Church they found a small amount of marijuana, suspected drug money and other drug items in his car. Church remains jailed in the Northumberland County Prison.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

TREMONT – A Shamokin man is facing theft and drug charges in Schuylkill County. Police say 30-year-old Andrew Cerklewski stole a laptop computer worth around $5,000 form a business on East Main Street in Tremont. Police say Cerklewski was caught on video tape taking the laptop from Tukes Tearoffs, a women’s clothing shop. When police searched his home not only did they find the computer they also found Cerklewski had methadone for which he was not prescribed. He is free on $15,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MINERSVILLE – Minersville Borough police are investigating a clandestine methamphetamine lab recently discovered on Minersville Watershed property. Police say they were alerted to a remote wooded area, where they found the meth lab equipped with cooking ingredients, chemicals and equipment. Police said the equipment has been seized and officers are following up on leads in the investigation. Police said they have alerted the state Game Commission of the violations and requested additional patrols in the area, since the property is leased to the Game Commission. Officers will also be making regular patrols around the water dams and in the area of watershed property. Anyone hunting or hiking in the area of the watershed is urged to report any unusual or suspicious activity to Minersville police.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A crash Wednesday afternoon in Union County sends a Lewisburg woman to the hospital. The crash happened around two p.m. on Colnel John Kelly Road in Kelly Township. Police say a car driven by 20-year-old Jonathan Kroner of Watsontown went off the roadway and hit a utility pole. Kroner’s passenger, 26-year-old Jennifer Monaghan, was taken to Evangelical Community Hospital for treatment.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SALLADASBURG – We now know what happened when a Lycoming County Deputy Coroner crashed a coroner’s vehicle into a house earlier this week in Lycoming County. State Police say 49-year-old Jerold Ross of Salladasburg had a diabetic episode and blacked out going off Route 287 and slamming into a house. Ross was taken to Jersey Shore Hospital for treatment. No one in the home was hurt in that crash Sunday night near Jersey Shore.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LAVELLE – State Police are now releasing details on a crash in Schuylkill County Sunday that sent two people to the hospital. The crash happened around noon at the intersection of Route 901 and Deep Creek Road in Barry Township. Police say  a car driven by 85-year-old Irene Wesner of Ashland pulled into the path of another vehicle driven by 26-year-old Andrea Bucher of Mount Carmel. Both Wesner and her passenger 88-year-old Harold Wesner were taken to Shamokin Geisinger Hospital with what police called major to moderate injuries. Bucher was not hurt in the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LIVERPOOL – A State Police fire marshal has determined that a fire earlier this month at an auto business in Liverpool was an accident. The fire just before six p.m. on Saturday December 15th at Donald Joseph Tires along Routes 11 and 15 in Liverpool was accidental in nature. Police say the fire was the result of an electrical malfunction.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BERWICK - Unit 2 at the PPL Susquehanna nuclear power plant resumed generating electricity for the power grid this morning. The unit had been shut down since December 16 when an electrical connection problem caused an automatic shutdown during a routine, scheduled turbine valve test. PPL Susquehanna senior vice president and chief nuclear officer says plant operators have conducted a detailed review to understand the causes of the events and learn from them by completing repairs, updating procedures and training plant workers. Unit 1 at PPL Susquehanna continues operating safely at full power.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT — State and federal lawmakers gathered in Williamsport on Thursday to welcome Matthew Brann of Canton, who was recently confirmed as a United States District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Brann will be based at the Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building in Williamsport, which has been without an active judge for two years. President Barack Obama nominated Brann in May upon the bipartisan recommendation of Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey. The Senate voted unanimously to confirm him Friday night.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The city of Williamsport will host the first Federal Hockey League All Star Game played outdoors January 2nd at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field. Mayor Gabriel Campana says he will drop the puck on center ice at 7:05 p.m., as a team with 19 players, one representing the Williamsport Outlaws face off against 19 players from five other teams in the league. Campana considers the game, pre-game events and a post-game after party to be a chance to firm up the city's tourism dollars. After cancellation of the National Hockey League's annual outdoor Winter Classic because of a dispute between labor and owners, it's a chance for hockey fans to see the best of the FHL. The outdoor rink will be disassembled after the conclusion of the regular season January 21. There's a good chance the Outlaws may be playing indoors starting next fall, as a developer looks to expand and improve the former YMCA Pickelner area for indoor hockey.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - Lewistown Borough Council adopted the 2013 budget at a Thursday meeting at the Municipal Building, in Lewistown. The council adopted the roughly $12 million budget with votes of approval from council members John Adams, Matt Moore, Lee Bollinger and Gregg O'Donnell and a vote against from Councilman Larry Searer. The council approved Ordinances which address sanitary sewer rents and services, refuse collection fees and real estate tax, respectively. As part of the budget, the sewage rate will increase by 15 percent in 2013. The refuse rate will rise 4 percent for the coming year. The real estate tax will remain the same as it was in 2012.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE - At a public meeting that lasted two minutes Thursday, Pottsville City Council approved a 2013 budget with no tax increase but with cuts that included the layoff of one police officer. The vote was unanimous and the officer with the least seniority will be let go. The millage rate for city properties will remain at 18.4 mills. The last time the city raised property taxes was in 2009.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County commissioners put to rest a couple of year-end matters at their meeting Thursday. They officially established the real estate tax millage for the new-year and approved a tax anticipation note to cover beginning year expenses while waiting for taxes to come in. After reviewing bids from several local financial institutions, the board voted to award the $3.8 million note to Jersey Shore State Bank at an interest rate of 1.12 percent. The board also set the 2013 millage rate at 5.4 mills, a figure expected to generate $10.7 million in real estate tax revenue for the county. The Clinton County commissioners approved a final budget December 20th, showing $33.6 million in expenses, and a .7-mill real estate tax increase for 2013.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - Centre County commissioners gave final approval Thursday to a 2013 county budget that does not raise property taxes. The commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the $87 million budget. Under the budget, the county tax rate will remain unchanged at 7.84 mills. The plan also calls for the county to place $118,000 back into its general fund, which is projected at $5.7 million. Officials said state funding cuts to the county’s human services will result in the elimination of three staff positions in the Office of Aging. The budget does include 2 percent cost of living pay increases to non-union employees. Also at the meeting Thursday, the county commissioners voted 2-1 against eliminating two jury commissioner positions. More than a dozen counties across the state moved to eliminate the posts in 2012 after legislation was passed allowing the move. The new state law, however, faces ongoing legal challenges.
(WGRC)

MIDDLEBURG – Snyder County residents can expect to pay more in taxes in the coming year. Under the adopted budget passed by the County Commissioners Thursday, residents can expect about a $20.00 increase in their tax bills in 2013. Meanwhile, commissioners made no drastic cuts in spending. The budget also includes a two percent wage increase for county employees.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - The Northumberland County 2013 budget was passed with no arguments Thursday afternoon, but Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Rick Shoch clashed later in the meeting. The $82.3 million final budget with a 2.5-mill increase was adopted, with Commissioners Clausi and Stephen Bridy voting in favor while Shoch voted against it. Schoch previously said he couldn't "in good conscience" vote for a budget that increases taxes and debt burden until Clausi reimburses the taxpayers or puts in escrow a combined $6.7 million for what he described as his "excessive and unnecessary costs associated with the secretive, belligerent and self-absorbed style of governance." The budget includes $10 million for a capital improvement project involving federal-mandated upgrades to the county 911 communications center that must be completed by December 31, 2013. The projected 11 percent property tax increase is expected to generate $1.85 million.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - Without comment, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday voted by a 2-1 margin to adopt the county's 2013 general fund budget that calls for a 1.63 mill tax increase. The $24.6 million dollar budget includes the first tax increase in six years. The tax increase equals an increase of about $81.00 on a home valued at $50,000. The Commissioners goal is to have no further increases for at least the next two budget years.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - State Senator Jake Corman announced Thursday he plans to introduce legislation in January that would keep the NCAA’s entire $60 million fine against Penn State in Pennsylvania. He said he also will file a lawsuit, seeking to prohibit the NCAA from releasing funds to any organization outside of Pennsylvania. The fine was part of the university’s punishment following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Penn State this month paid the first, $12 million, installment and has five years to pay the entire amount. Corman’s legislation generally would require that any governing body-issued fine above $10 million against a university receiving state money would remain in an in-state endowment. He said spreading out the $60 million Penn State fine to address child abuse issues nationally would not have a significant impact. Penn State did not offer any comment on Corman’s proposal. Corman expects support for his proposal, which he plans to introduce next month when the new legislative session begins and hopes to move quickly through the voting process. Local victim’s advocates and members of Congress previously have supported keeping the fine money in the state.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania State Police say car crashes killed seven people and injured 315 others over the long holiday weekend. From December 21 through Christmas, troopers investigated 1,336 crashes. Of those, 108 were alcohol-related. Two of the seven people who died were not wearing seat belts. One fatality stemmed from an alcohol-related accident. Crash and casualty numbers are up from 2011, but the holiday weekend was longer this year. The Associated Press reports, in 2011, authorities reported five people died and 169 others were hurt in 509 crashes.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - A Pennsylvania state senator is seeking Senate support to create a gun violence prevention task force in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. A memorandum issued Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf said his proposed resolution would allow the task force experts to examine issues surrounding gun violence. Those include proposals to strengthen firearms regulations, mental health laws and efforts to fight bullying. Greenleaf says appointing a task force makes sense because gun violence prevention is a multipronged issue. The December 14th shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 students and six school professionals dead. Greenleaf says the task force will be asked to report recommendations to the Legislature in a matter of months so they can be considered in 2013.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - While it may be winter, now is the time for landowners to begin making plans to help wildlife by planting tree and shrub seedlings offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery. The sales of those plants will begin January 7th through April 19th. New this year is an improved order form to help guide landowners seeking to create habitat for specific wildlife species, as well as a new “bundle” offering.  Bundle offerings include 100 seedlings in a specified mix to benefit deer, game birds and songbirds, as well as riparian and winter-thermal habitats. Also landowners interested in developing “backyard habitats” beneficial to wildlife are encouraged to check out the “Landscaping for Wildlife in Pennsylvania,” available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The order form for plants and information are available on the agency’s website pgc.state.pa.us by putting your cursor on “General Store” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then clicking on “Howard Nursery” in the drop-down menu.
(WGRC)