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January 24, 2013

CATAWISSA – Route 487 in Columbia County was shut down following a crash there this morning. The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. at 600 Southern Drive, which is Route 487, in Franklin Township. Traffic was detoured at the J&D Campgrounds heading north. The Life Flight helicopter from Geisinger Medical Center was put on stand-by following the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

RAVINE - Fire crews in Schuylkill County rushed out to battle a dwelling fire at a home in Pine Grove Township just after nine this morning. The fire was reported at 28 Village Drive near the village of Ravine.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SHAMOKIN – Fire struck a vacant three-story apartment building early this morning in Shamokin. The fire was the third time in less than five months in the same general area. Smoke was spotted coming from the front of the apartment building on the southeast corner of Shamokin and Sunbury streets shortly after four a.m. Witnesses say three young men were spotted in the vicinity of the fire and took off when spotted. Firefighters made entry to the building through a front door and located burning debris in a room in the front of the first floor. The speedy work of firefighters kept fire damage contained to the one room. The fire is under investigation. The building is adjacent to 719 and 717 North Shamokin Street, where a fire damaged both properties on September 5th. Eight days later, a second fire broke out in the rear of 717 North Shamokin Street. The News Item reports, a cause for both fires was never determined and remains under investigation.
(WGRC)

MUNCY – A faulty furnace in the basement of a vacant home caused a fire yesterday morning in Muncy that destroyed the property. After the September 2011 Flood extensively damaged Sherry Bradley's property at 172 Water Street in Muncy Bradley spent the next 17 months renovating the home, which dates back to the mid-1800s. The fire which was reported around 5:30 a.m. closed down a portion of Route 405 between Muncy and Montgomery yesterday for several hours. Bone-chilling temperatures that hovered around zero made the firefighters' efforts to put out the fire all the more difficult as fire hydrants and hoses froze. Damage to the home was listed at over $200,000. There were no injuries reported.  
(WGRC)

GORDON - Flames destroyed a home in the borough of Gordon in Schuylkill County Wednesday night, sending one person to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Firefighters were called to 322 Hobart Street about 9 p.m. and found heavy fire and smoke pouring from the second floor of the home. One resident suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Shamokin Hospital for treatment. The American Red Cross was at the scene to assist the family that was displaced by the fire.
(WGRC)

FOREST HILL – A Mifflinburg man was flown to Geisinger Medical Center with head injuries after his car slammed into the rear of a garbage truck Wednesday morning. We first told you about the crash yesterday just after eight a.m. on Route 192 just west of Walbash Road. Police say 38-year-old Lenny Boop was flown from the scene of the crash. Police say Boop slammed into the rear of the garbage truck operated by 52-year-old Michael Derr of Shamokin. Police say 57-year-old Kenneth Zwezig of Lavelle was working at the rear of the truck and had to run out of the path of Boop’s car. Neither Zwezig nor Derr were hurt. A nusing supervisor at Geisinger says Boop was treated and later released.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SUNBURY – Two students at the Five Star Treatment School in Sunbury have been charged with trying to blow up the school. The School at Susquehanna and Packer Streets in Sunbury was thoroughly search by Sunbury Police, State Police and the use of dogs from the Lancaster County, and Union County sheriff’s offices and Sunbury Police Department. Police charged 18-year-old Michael Lepley, of Hummels Wharf, and a 16-year-old Trevorton boy with a felony count of threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and a misdemeanor charge of terroristic threats. Lepley is jailed in the Northumberland County Prison while the teen was placed in the custody of Northumberland County Juvenile Probation officials. The News Item reports, Sunbury City Police say a threat was made on a Facebook page between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Officials of the Line Mountain School District discovered the threat online and informed Shikellamy School District, where the school is located. No explosives were found at the school.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

POTTSVILLE - Pottsville police and state police dressed in haz-mat suits removed items from a city home Wednesday that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Police were conducting an investigation around 2:30 a.m. at a property at 431 Greenwood Avenue. Inside, they found bath salts and items that could be materials used to make meth. The items were safely removed. Police did not say what prompted them to initially conduct the investigation.
(WGRC)

FRACKVILLE – State Police in Schuylkill County have arrested four people involved in at least a dozen break-ins throughout the County stemming back to December 2011. Police have charged 36-year-old Edward Matlavage of New Ringgold, 34-year-old Ryan Navitsky, 33-year-old Matthew Martin, and 25-year-old Justine Lockhard all of Tamaqua with the break-ins. Police say the four would break into businesses, homes and cabins and steal mainly tools, but they also stole auto parts, two ATV’s, a golf cart and guns. Matlavage is locked up in the Berks County Prison on unrelated charges. Navitsky and Martin are jailed in the Schuylkill County Prison while Lockhard is free on bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – A business was entered and scrap metal was taken in Lycoming County. State Police say that happened sometime overnight Monday or early Tuesday morning at Lycoming Supply on Beeber Street in Loyalsock Township. Police say the thieves entered the premises and stole several hundred pounds of copper and brass scrap metal and then took off. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call state police, Montroursville.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN - The 59-year-old former bookkeeper for Saint Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Mifflintown who allegedly stole more than $248,000 from the church, sent her charges on to Juniata County Court Wednesday. Mary Zangrilli, is alleged to have taken the money over a seven-year period, beginning in 2005. Zangrilli is free on $250,000 bail. Police say Zangrilli made out over 300 checks from the church’s accounts to herself.
(WGRC)

MIFFLIN TWP. - As a Jeep driven by a wanted felon came barreling toward him on an isolated rural road Tuesday night, Officer Dallas Herbert drew his gun. Twice he yelled at the driver to halt. When the Jeep kept coming, police say, Herbert fired one shot. The bullet didn’t hit anything, but it did convince the suspect, 31-year-old Franklin Snyder, to stop. Snyder, and Sharon Perry of Berwick surrendered immediately, ending a 40-minute chase. Police say around 8:30 p.m. they were watching an area where meth makers were dumping waste and spotted Snyder’s Jeep in the area. The Press Enterprise reports, Police tried to stop Snyder and that when he sped off leading police on a chase. Snyder later told police he fled because he knew he had warrants for his arrest. Snyder is now jailed on $250,000 bail.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - United States Marshals this week arrested a Texas man wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child in Williamsport. Marshals picked up 36-year-old Dan Burch. Burch is accused of the May 2007 assault of a 13-year-old multiple times in Liberty County, Texas. Burch remained a fugitive from justice since May 2010. Marshals picked up Burch at the Econo Lodge Hotel in Williamsport Wednesday morning. He’s now locked up in Lycoming County awaiting return to Texas to face charges.      
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MAHANOY CITY – A sexually violent prisoner who was released from the State Prison at Mahanoy is back in jail after failing to register his whereabouts. State Police yesterday picked-up 43-year-old James Dixson and took him to the Schuylkill County prison. Police say he was released from the state prison on January fourth and failed to register with state police. Police listed him as a fugitive until his arrest yesterday.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG -Two ex-Bloomsburg University field hockey players were convicted Wednesday of assaulting another woman in a street fight. The Press Enterprise reports, 22-year-old Lauren McGinley, of Wilkes-Barre, and 21-year-old Nicole Bruce, of Susquehanna County, each face up to two years in prison for beating 25-year-old Ashley Carsia of Drums in October 2011. Jurors found both women guilty of simple assault offenses after deliberating for about 90 minutes. She was attacked near Husky Korners Apartments by women who followed her from a bar in Bloomsburg and confronted her about dancing with one of their boyfriends.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK - Four Penn State cheerleaders have been removed from the squad for violating team rules. University spokeswoman Lisa Powers confirmed that Penn State took disciplinary action against the students for breaking unspecified rules. Because such disciplinary actions become part of a student’s educational record, Powers said the university can’t disclose additional details. She also couldn’t say when the violations occurred, or when the students were removed from the team. It’s not clear if the decision is related to a criminal investigation surrounding a fall out of a downtown State College building that left another member of the team badly injured. 19-year-old Paige Raque, a freshman at Penn State, suffered serious brain and hip injuries October 15th after falling 39 feet out of a window at the Calder Commons apartment building. State College police have said foul play is not suspected, but alcohol was apparently being served to minors at a party in the room from which Raque fell.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The Williamsport Crosscutters have announced a ticket exchange program for fans of the now defunct Williamsport Outlaws hockey team. Anyone with tickets to the canceled January 21st Williamsport Outlaws game can exchange them for FREE tickets to Opening Night 2013 with the Williamsport Crosscutters on June 18, 2013. Crosscutters Vice-President of Marketing and Public Relations, Gabe Sinicropi says, “We feel bad for the sports fans of the area, especially those who purchased tickets for the January 21st game that wasn’t played when the team announced they were leaving town.”  He continued, “We simply want to step up and show sports fans in the Susquehanna Valley that we’re here and we care. For the past 15 years the Williamsport Crosscutters have provided the area with fun, affordable family entertainment. We take that job very seriously, both for our fans and our advertising and promotional partners.” Fans can exchange Williamsport Outlaws tickets dated January 21, 2013 anytime between now and June 18. Tickets can be exchanged at the Crosscutters offices, located at Historic Bowman Field, Monday-Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm. There is an exchange limit of two tickets per person and tickets may not be redeemed over the phone or online.  
(WGRC)

SUNBURY – The Sunbury Riverfront Project has been voted the 2012 People's Choice Rocky Award. The project used Redi-Rock precast rocks to build the new wall façade at the project. Paxton Precast, the local Redi-Rock manufacturer who supplied blocks for this project, was presented with the award on Sunday in Clearwater Beach, Florida at the 2013 Annual Meeting for Redi-Rock Manufacturers. Paxton Precast did an outstanding job on the Sunbury Riverfront Project. Paxton Precast also thanked the City of Sunbury, the contractors at HRI Incorporated who did excellent job installing the walls, and the engineers at Buchart Horn who designed the walls.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE – The Jersey Shore School District has put its plan to close several outlying elementary schools, and consolidate students following renovations at the Jersey Shore Elementary school, Middle-school and High-school has been put on hold for now. After presenting a comprehensive plan to the Jersey Shore Area School Board less than two weeks ago, the district now has to put the proposal on hold. Superintendent Richard Emery says that during a routine conference call January 16th with the state Department of Education about the construction project currently under way at Jersey Shore Elementary, the Department of Education informed him that going forward with the plan would "jeopardize" state reimbursement for the project. The proposal included moving the district's fourth- and fifth-grade students to the middle school, eight-grade students to the high school and closing all but one elementary school. The State says reimbursement would be affected because the grade reconfiguration was not included in the district's application for the construction project. The district also was notified by Department of Education that in order to not affect reimbursement, it could not implement the plan until the construction project was fully completed and the building was occupied for at least one year. Emery tells the Sun Gazette school administrators are still looking to alter the timeline of the start of the plan. He said the district still believes the plan is "doable," it just is going to take longer to implement. If the project stays on schedule, Emery said construction on the elementary school should be completed by the start of the 2014-15 school year. So the plan could not be implemented until the 2015-16 school year.
(WGRC)

COAL TOWNSHIP - Applications are being accepted by Shamokin Area School District for the creation of an armed security staff. One week after the school board voted to purchase metal detectors for all three Shamokin Area school buildings, the school advertised for contracted "school police officers". Director Charlie Shuey said Tuesday that despite the description, the positions would be for armed security guards who would not have the power to arrest. The advertisement seeks candidates with prior experience as a municipal or state police officer, including recent retirees, with certifications in law enforcement and weapons training. Brian Persing, board president, said the plan is to hire three officers - one for each school building - and perhaps have a fourth on-call in the event another officer is off from work. The hourly positions would be contracted for 180 days and would not include benefits.
(WGRC)

MILTON - Railroad tank-car maker ACF Industries in Milton, which closed in February 2009 and furloughed 320 workers, could soon be making railcars for Missouri-based American Railcar Industries. The Daily Item reports, a filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission showed American Railcar Industries filed an “entry in material definitive agreement” January 17th with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing stated American Railcar and ACF had reached an agreement in which American Railcar “will provide purchasing support and engineering services to ACF in connection with ACF’s manufacture and sale of certain tank railcars at its facility in Milton.” The deal ends in December 2014 and gives American Railcar 30 percent of profits earned on each railcar made by ACF.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE – The Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce is on the move. On Friday, the Chamber will be moving the offices to their new location in Union Station. Due to the move, there is a possibility that there will be an interruption of our phone service beginning today and continuing through Monday, January 28th. All of our phone numbers will remain the same. The Chamber of Commerce is planning an open house in their new offices in the Spring.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A proposed police contract that goes before Williamsport City Council tonight puts limits on what police can receive in pensions by preventing them from becoming bloated from excessive overtime and longevity. Mayor Gabriel Campana says the plan caps pensions at a first-year officer's rate, meaning the officer can collect no more than a first-year salary, of $42,000. The Sun Gazette reports, the four-year pact raises police salaries by 2 percent this year and 2 1/2 percent each year of the remainder of the contract. It calls for health care contributions and may have saved the city an estimated $100,000 in legal fees by not going into arbitration. Meanwhile, council also is expected to vote on whether to hire two more officers, which brings the department complement from 47 to 49, the budgeted amount this year.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN – For 40 years pro-life groups across our nation have gathered in the Washington Mall for the Annual March for Life Rally. A group of pro-life supporters from Mifflin and Juniata counties will be boarding a bus tomorrow morning at three a.m. to head to Washington D.C. to take part in the event. Father William Weary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Lewistown says the national event is not a religious event but you would think otherwise if you attend. Weary says two buses will be leaving Lewistown for the March for Life in Washington. He asks for prayers for safety in traveling and that someday Rove vs. Wade would be overturned.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

HARRISBURG — Two sides of the political debate over guns are hoping that competing rallies in the Pennsylvania Capitol will boost their cause among state lawmakers. Several hundred people attended the second event Wednesday, sponsored by the organization CeaseFirePA, including several people who spoke about losing family members to gun violence. The Associated Press reports, that event, inside the Capitol, came about an hour after an event attended by some 100 firearms owner and gun rights supporters. It drew cheers from vows to defeat any effort to infringe on the Second Amendment. The rallies were held amid calls for a boycott of the nine-day Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg next month because organizers banned the sale and display of assault type weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are encouraging bird and nature fans throughout the state to join tens of thousands of everyday North American bird watchers for the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count. The Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 15th -18th. A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, this free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation. Participants can report at birdsource.org/gbbc. Thousands of Pennsylvania landowners enjoy birds and other animals on their property. The Game Commission is committed to involving the general public in monitoring bird populations and helping landowners improve their property for wildlife. Last year, observers reported 17.4 million birds of 600 species in the United States and Canada.  
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission say it plans to reduce operating costs by $9 million over the next four years in order to meet future health-care and retirement obligations for its employees and to fund infrastructure needs. A portion of this reduction will come from closing two trout hatcheries, a move that will reduce annual operating costs by approximately $2 million. The two hatcheries include Oswayo in Coudersport, Potter County, which has nine employees, and Bellefonte in Centre County, which has nine employees. No furloughs are expected in the fish hatchery closures. The Fish and Boat Commission says fishing license sales have steadily declined since 1990, while at the same time operating costs have continued to increase.  The Commission says closing the two trout hatcheries would have the least impact on the number of trout stocked. The decision to close the two hatcheries is one part of a long-range strategy to reduce operating costs across all Fish and Boat Commission bureaus by a total of $9 million by the 2016-17 Fiscal Year.
(WGRC)