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January 15, 2013

RAVINE – A vehicle crash this morning in Schuylkill County sends two people to Geisinger Medical Center by helicopter. The crash happened around 2:30 this morning on Route 125 near Dave’s Raceway Truck-stop near Ravine. At least one of the people were trapped inside the wreckage, but their injuries were not thought to be life threatening.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

TROUT RUN – We now know the name of the man killed in a crash around 11:30 Saturday night in Lycoming County. State police say 26-year-old Joshua Smith was driving on Route 14 at Field’s Station Road in Lewis Township when he went off the road, struck a traffic sign, a rock cliff and then overturned. Smith died at the scene. Police do say they believe alcohol was a factor.
(WGRC)

BURNHAM – A 17-year-old boy using his cell phone while driving hit two parked vehicle and then crashed through a fence last night in Mifflin County. The crash happened around eight p.m. on North Logan Boulevard in Burnham. Police say the teen hit the two parked vehicle and then went through the fence at Kovalchik Corporation. Police say the boy was not wearing his seatbelt and was taken to Lewistown Hospital.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Two people were taken to Williamsport Hospital following a crash in Williamsport that shut down traffic for quite some time yesterday. The crash happened just before ten a.m. at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Shiffler Avenue in Loyalsock Township. Police say 88-year-old Eleanor Desaulniers of Williamsport turned into the path of a vehicle driven by 85-year-old Clyde Butcha also of Williamsport. Police say they are continuing their investigation of the crash. The intersection was shut down for close to three hours as crews cleared the scene.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SUNBURY - Sunbury police were shocked on Monday when the West Virginia man who allegedly slammed into two city police cars and a third vehicle while driving intoxicated arrived at the station after eight months on the run and simply said, “I surrender.” A warrant was issued in May for 31-year-old Derek Lavoie, of Sisterville, West Virginia after he failed to appear in court on several charges. Police say on May 9th Lavoie struck the vehicles near the entrance to the Sunbury police station. State police at Stonington, who investigated, alleged that Lavoie fell asleep while driving north on Market Street. The Daily Item reports, his van crossed into the southbound lane and veered into the police cars, which were shoved into an officer’s personal vehicle. Police say Lavoie’s blood-alcohol was twice the legal limit at the time of the crash. Police also say he did not have a valid driver’s license or vehicle insurance. The police vehicles incurred more than $20,000 in damage.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY – A 29-year-old Lewisburg woman got one to five years in state prison for the death of her baby girl in 2010. Heidi Yocum arrived at the Northumberland County Courthouse on Monday expecting to be placed on probation for her role in the death of her 1-year-old daughter, Aneela Loner. Yocum had previously entered a guilty plea to reckless endangerment for the tragic incident inside a Sunbury home on October 16, 2010, when she left her baby daughter unattended for 19 hours in a small room heated with a space heater. Investigators said the child’s body temperature increased to a point at which she suffered hyperthermia and died. Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor accepted Yocum’s guilty plea, and handed down the sentence yesterday in Northumberland County Court.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - A McAlisterville man says he intends to plead guilty to robbing two banks in Juniata County and one in Snyder County. A signed plea agreement was filed Monday in U.S. Middle District Court in which 38-year-old Richard Lockett admits robbing the First National Bank in Thompsontown and the Juniata Valley Bank in Port Royal both in October and the Swineford National Bank in Beaver Springs in November. Judge Yvette Kane has not set a date to accept the plea. Lockett is facing a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison and will have to make full restitution of nearly $22,000. State police say Lockett told them he robbed the banks to support a drug habit.
(WGRC)

TREMONT - A Mount Carmel man was brought before a judge Friday for his role in a May 17, 2011, armed robbery at Tri-Valley Pharmacy in Valley View, in Schuylkill County. Police charged 20-year-old Charles Frantz, with felony counts of robbery and related offenses. Frantz remains jailed in state prison on $50,000 straight cash bail. Police say Frantz entered the store just and held a knife to the throat of 22-year-old Leanne Micklesavage, of Ashland, who was working with Frantz to commit the robbery and allowed herself to be used as a prop victim. Police say Frantz demanded Oxycodone pills and walked out of the pharmacy with over 300 pills. Micklesavage pleaded guilty October 31st to robbery, and is expected to testify against Frantz.  
(WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN – In Juniata County a 59-year-old volunteer bookkeeper for Saint Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Mifflintown was arrested on theft charges for stealing more than $248,000 from the church over a seven-year period beginning in 2005. Police have charged Mary Zangrilli, of Mifflintown, with theft by unlawful taking, and related counts. Zangrilli remains free on $250,000 bail. The Lewistown Sentinel reports, a private investigator and Pennsylvania State Police Lewistown conducted the investigation, which lead to the discovery of more than 300 questionable checks made out to "cash" or to Zangrilli from the church's bank account at Juniata Valley Bank.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A Watsontown woman now faces additional charges of identity theft after a police investigation into a pet grooming business near Lewisburg. Troopers say 48-year-old Peggy Netzband took bank account numbers from personal checks written out to Millers Grooming and Kennel in Kelly Township. Police say Netzband would then use the account numbers to gain access to individual’s bank accounts and siphon-off money from the accounts. Police say Netzband stole nearly six thousand dollars from four people since December 13th.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

HARRISBURG - An attorney accused of stealing money from two clients to pay his own debts has been disbarred. Arlin Thrush of Bloomsburg has until February 9th to notify any remaining clients that he can no longer represent them. The Disciplinary Board of the State Supreme Court handed down that punishment after Senator John Gordner, a partner in his law firm, filed the accusations against Thrush in 2010. Thrush allegedly wrote two checks to himself for over $27,000 in March 2009, from two separate estates without the permission of the executors.  Thrush is now working as part of the management team for Affinity Oilfields Services. He let his law license go inactive soon after the accusations were filed.  
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - Lewistown Hospital now offers a way for the community to ask questions about the pending merger between the Hospital and Geisinger Health System. Community members can go online to submit any questions they may have and to read up-to-date details on the future of Lewistown Hospital by visiting www.lewistownhospital.org/merger. Questions are submitted anonymously and answers to all questions are posted for review. On December 4, 2012, Geisinger Health System and Lewistown Hospital announced that they have signed a non-binding letter of intent to explore ways the organizations can work together to benefit health care in Lewistown and the surrounding area. With the signing of the letter of intent, Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger can now move into a due diligence process and explore the possibilities of working together in greater detail. This process could take several months.
(WGRC)

BERWICK - Federal regulators began examining the Susquehanna Nuclear plant near Berwick on Monday following three unexpected shutdowns in recent months, but the facility’s operator said it is safe and stable. The Associated Press reports, a three-member team from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission arrived at the Susquehanna power plant to look into operator performance, equipment reliability and management decision-making. The move comes after three unplanned reactor shutdowns between November 9 and December 19th. Joe Scopelliti, a spokesman for Allentown-based PPL, which operates the two nuclear plants, says none of the incidents posed a safety threat. Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the nuclear agency, said it’s not clear how long the inspection will take. A report containing findings and recommendations is due 45 days after the inspection is completed. Recommendations could include increased oversight.  Sheehan says Susquehanna’s Unit 1 reactor is already under a higher level of oversight because of a flooding event in 2010.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - A school district in Lycoming County is calling for the closure of some elementary schools in an effort to save money. Administrators at Jersey Shore Area School District say they have no other options but to consolidate students at one elementary school. Three elementary schools in the Jersey Shore Area School District could be closed permanently by the 2014-2015 school year in an effort to save money. At a school board meeting Monday night, school administrators laid out their plan to eventually close Avis, Nippenose and Salladasburg Elementary Schools, which are located outside of Jersey Shore. The proposal first calls for Jersey Shore Elementary school to be renovated starting this year. Once that is complete, then students in the outlying elementary schools would then attend class at Jersey Shore Elementary. Grade structure at the existing schools would shift, with kindergarten through third attending Jersey Shore Elementary, fourth through seventh at the intermediate school and eight through 12 going to the high school. The district says it’s hands are tied. The district says enrollment is down at the elementary schools with 50 percent of classroom space not being used. Funding from the state is down but costs continue to rise. Officials hope a final decision is made at the board’s next meeting.
(WNEP)

STATE COLLEGE - A report from a state-appointed arbitrator that was to end the two-year statement between State College Area teachers and the district over a new contract passed an important hurdle Monday, as the school board accepted the report. The union president called the approval a positive move, as the focus now shifts to the nearly 600 teachers in the State College Area Education Association who will review the 38-page report after school today. If the teachers reject it, the report will go public. If the teachers accept it, the recommendations become the basis for a new contract.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Lycoming College has won a battle to create more parking for the school. Three vacant houses on Union Avenue can be demolished and the properties turned into a parking lot for use by Lycoming College. That was a decision made Friday by Lycoming County Judge Richard Gray, who reversed a decision by Williamsport City Council and upheld an appeal filed by the college. The college can receive the demolition permits within five days of the ruling and will pursue creating a parking lot. The lot will provide parking for those who attend practice or games at the Shangraw Athletic Complex, the stadium where football, lacrosse, soccer and softball teams practice and play games. School officials have no time-table set for when demolition will begin.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – Several Counties in Central Pennsylvania are considering expansion of their public transportation programs. While the process is underway the counties want to ensure existing programs are operating efficiently and that options to improve them are being fully explored. The SEDA-Council of Governments reports the Counties will make up the Regional Transit Consolidation Study, to be conducted by PennDOT’s Bureau of Public Transportation. The study will include Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, and Northumberland counties.  
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - On Monday, the staff of Mifflin-Juniata Regional Services gathered outside the organization's new Third Street location in downtown Lewistown to officially open services to the public. Kathie Graham, executive director for Regional Services, addressed the group, which included investors, board members and county commissioners, about the organization's move from the F.W. Black building. Together, Graham and Dan Lynch, president of the Regional Services Corporation board of directors, cut the ceremonial ribbon and opened the doors at 249 West Third Street. The new building offers a one-stop-shop for all Regional Service programs and affiliates, Graham said. People no longer have to go searching from building to building because all senior services are available under one roof. The former R and S Surplus Foods building now houses the Area Agency on Aging, Adult Day Care, MJ Food Service and the Call-A-Ride Service. The building is also handicapped accessible.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - A published report says Pennsylvania legislators collected $3.9 million for work-related expenses for food and lodging in the last two-year session, including one House member who received more than $55,000. Representative Dom Costa received more in per-diem payments than any other legislator. The Allegheny County Democrat says it's not a perk, but part of the job. The per-diem rates last year for trips to Harrisburg were about $160 a day. For overnight travel to Philadelphia, they were $242 a day. Lawmakers aren't required to show receipts for their expenses and the payments are on top of their nearly $84,000 annual base salary.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Senator John Gordner has been named Chairman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee for the 2013-2014 session of the General Assembly. Senator Gordner has also been reappointed to his post as Majority Caucus Administrator for the session. The Labor and Industry Committee will hold its first public hearing of the new session on January 29th to hear from the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry on issues relating to Unemployment Compensation Call Center issues. Senator Gordner will continue to serve on several other important Senate Committees: Appropriations; Community, Economic&Recreational Development; Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure; Judiciary and Transportation.
(WGRC)