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January 25, 2013

DANVILLE - A Danville woman was killed in a vehicle crash in Montour County last night. The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. on Route 642 in Liberty Township. State Police say 29-year-old Tiffany Jo Weaver Robbins died at the scene. Troopers say her car went off the road hit two ditches, and several trees.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE – Route 44 in Lycoming County is open this morning after a tanker truck crash closed it for a good portion of the afternoon yesterday. The driver of the truck, 39-year-old Brian Hazlewood of Montoursville escaped injury when the truck he was driving flipped onto its side in Porter Township, Lycoming County just outside Jersey Shore. The tanker owned by Energy Resources of Williamsport rolled into a 15-foot-deep ditch in the 500 block of Route 44 at around 2:30 p.m. The tanker was carrying 4600 gallons of frack water. None of the fluid leaked from the tanker. Hazlewood was transported to Jersey Shore Hospital for a blood test. An empty Energy Resources tanker was brought to the scene to transfer the liquid so two tow trucks could remove the crashed tanker from the ditch.
(WGRC)

ELYSBURG - An Elysburg girl’s car snapped a telephone pole in half when she slid off Route 487 near Knoebels on Thursday morning. The crash we first told you about happened around nine a.m. Police say the 17-year-old’s car crossed the roadway and slammed into the pole and then went down over an embankment. The teen driver didn’t appear to be injured, but she was taken to Geisinger-Shamokin hospital for evaluation. Police say a slick dusting of snow on the roadway contributed to the crash. Route 487 was shut down for several hours.
(WGRC)

GLEN IRON - A Millmont man was taken to Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg following a crash Wednesday in Union County. Police say 55-year-old David Spearing suffered moderate injuries in the crash which happened just after one p.m. on Route 235 in Hartley Township. Troopers say a vehicle driven by 45-year-old Timothy Carter of Watsontown was pulled partially out in the path of Spearing’s vehicle. Spearing’s vehicle rolled onto its driver’s side after it hit Carter’s vehicle. Carter suffered minor injuries in the crash. Police say both men will be charged with the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – We now know it was a Williamsport woman who was struck by a vehicle earlier this week at the look-out on Route 15 just south of South Williamsport, Wednesday. We first told you about the crash which happened around 8:30 a.m. Police say 47-year-old Tina Short was struck by a vehicle driven by 55-year-odl Josephine Miller also of Williamsport. Police say Short’s vehicle became disabled in the southbound lanes of Route 15 and when she stepped out of her vehicle she was struck by Miller. Short was taken to Williamsport Hospital.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SHAMOKIN DAM – A man hunt was underway in Shamokin Dam in Snyder County yesterday for a wanted fugitive, the man was finally caught inside the K-Mart store about an hour after the search was underway. It all began around 1:30 yesterday afternoon when Shamokin Dam Police were investigating an incident at 3249 North Susquehanna Trail, Shamokin Dam involving the wanted suspect Christopher Biddinger. Biddinger, who was allegedly armed with a knife, was wanted by the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Department and State Police. Biddinger was spotted running into a wooded area near the Econo Lodge along Routes 11 and 15. A search including local police and state police and canine units led police to the K-Mart store, where Biddinger was located and taken into custody.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – A manhunt was underway in Williamsport as well yesterday afternoon as police looked for a burglar in the Newberry section. The suspect, described as white, stocky build, bolted from a home in the 2300 block of Hillside Avenue shortly after 3 p.m., moments after the homeowner arrived at the house and surprised the intruder. Earlier in the afternoon, a resident of the 400 block of Depot Street arrived home to find their front door kicked in and firearms, along with jewelry, stolen from the house. It was unknown if the two burglaries were related. It was believed that some jewelry and computer equipment were stolen from the Hillside Avenue home. Old Lycoming Township Police also say they were investigating a burglary Thursday at a home in the area of Pleasant Valley and Rose Valley roads in Hepburn Township. The bandit was able to slink away from police who are continuing their investigation.
(WGRC)

SHAMOKIN - For the second time in less than 24 hours, fire crews responded to Shamokin Street in Shamokin to put out a blaze in an abandoned structure. A two-alarm blaze struck the former Hardshell Cafe at 422 North Shamokin Street just after seven last night. While fire engines arrived on scene, smoke poured from the basement of the structure and a nearby building at 420 North Shamokin Street. Fire fighters attacked the fire from outside the three story building. The fire was under control by 10 p.m. Around 4:30 Thursday morning a fire was reported in an abandoned three-story apartment building in the 700 block of North Shamokin Street. Police have been investigating several fires in abandoned buildings in the past few months.
(WGRC)

STEAM VALLEY – State Police in Lycoming County are investigation the theft of money from a busy restaurant along Route 15 in Cogan House Township. Police say sometime last weekend a woman stole over $1,200 from the safe of the Fry Brothers Turkey Ranch. Police say the woman entered the safe on two occasions. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call state police, Montoursville.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

NEWPORT – A Lewistown man is lodged in the Perry County Jail for stealing money from a Newport area home since 2011. Police have charged 20-year-old Andrew Rice with the theft of money from the home in Howe Township, Perry County. Rice is jailed on $50,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A Williamsport man who chased houseguests with an axe on New Year's Eve 2010 was sentenced to state prison time on Thursday. Judge Nancy Butts handed down the sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in state prison to 43-year-old Lane Johnson. Johnson was found guilty of aggravated assault stemming from the incident at the Memorial Avenue home. No one was hurt during Johnson’s drunken tirade.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - An ex-Berwick police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing hundreds of packets of heroin and up to 30 syringes from the Berwick Police station evidence locker last year so he could feed his drug addiction. The Press Enterprise reports, 30-year-old Christian Wilson, offered guilty pleas to all charges, including four counts of theft and another for having drug paraphernalia. The syringes were found at his home by state agents while serving a search warrant last July. Wilson admitted to having a drug addiction. Wilson also said he never gave or sold any of the heroin to others. Sentencing for Wilson will be held at a later date.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - An Aristes man created prescriptions for painkillers with his home computer, using the same prescription paper as an Allentown-area psychiatrist. The Press Enterprise reports, 45-year-old Troy Schoffler, would either take the pills once he got them or sell them. Schoffler was among six men and women from Columbia and Schuylkill counties charged by the state Attorney General with taking part in an alleged Coal Region prescription drug ring between 2008 and 2009. Those accused of being part of the ring are 34-year-old Amy Boppel, of Ashland; 30-year-old Kristen Overkott, of Aristes; 30-year-old Christopher Lee Phillips, of Gilberton; 36-year-old John Pryce, of Girardville; and 37-year-old John Weidensaul, of Girardville. Police launched an investigation after “numerous” pharmacists, including one from a pharmacy in Elysburg, contacted authorities about the Allentown psychiatrist writing prescriptions for patients in Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Berks and Lehigh counties. Criminal charges were recommended by a grand jury assembled near Harrisburg, which heard testimony about the drug ring in 2010 and 2011. Most of the prescriptions were for painkillers OxyContin and methadone or depression drug Xanax.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Saying they welcomed a city police contract that begins to take swipes at capping pensions and requiring police to contribute to health care costs, City Council unanimously approved a four-year contract Thursday between the city and the Police union. Mayor Gabriel Campana says the contract calls for raises of 2 percent for 2013, and 2.5 percent for 2014-2016. Among the important changes in the contract is it puts a cap on pensions by placing them at a first-year officer's rate of $42,000. It also asks for health care contribution for any new hires, as the city picks up 80 percent of the costs and the officers must pay up to 20 percent for the first year. It changes on a gradual scale as the police gain experience. Council members say the contract put the needs of taxpayers first and shows savings compared to overtime pensions the city had been used to doling out.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The professional hockey team that played outdoors at Bowman Field from October 24th until last Saturday has been locked out of the stadium by order of Mayor Gabriel Campana - until the city is paid for bills it's due. The Williamsport Outlaws also are being sued for non-payment of rent for 19 of its players by an apartment owner and have lost their chance to play in Federal Hockey League postseason playoffs. Campana said he had Streets and Parks Department personnel change the locks at the stadium and won't allow access to players' personal belongings until he gets $36,000 or more in utility bills that should have been paid by the team and/or the nonprofit affiliates that operated the ice rink. Meanwhile, the Outlaws organization has been sued by Edward Lyon and Kathryn Nassberg, owners of Penn Square Apartments, seeking nearly $11,000 in rent for 19 hockey players. Lyon said he has a soft spot for the team players, who he said are not at fault, saying "We're not kicking them out as many have no place to go." The FHL announced late Thursday it has taken over the management of the Outlaws. The action was taken by the league Board of Governors as a result of a decision by the Outlaws ownership refusing to play their remaining 12 road games.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - The task of preparing a 2013-14 budget for the Mifflin County School District began on Thursday when members of the School District Board of Directors were presented with a preliminary spending plan to vote on during the January 31st business meeting.  Sean Daubert, the district's chief financial officer, presented a preliminary budget in the amount of $65.8 million dollars, which includes federal program funding estimates. By law, the district can raise taxes by a maximum of 2.4 percent next year. If the board chose to go higher than that, a referendum would need to appear on the spring primary election ballot. State law mandates that school districts pass a preliminary budget prior to the end of January.
(WGRC)

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - In its war on blight, the City of Pottsville has been having trouble with properties in the process of foreclosure. City Business Privilege Tax Administrator Leo Schwartz brought the matter up before a crowd of 70 state, county and local officials gathered at Penn State Schuylkill on Thursday night to talk about ways to tackle blight in their communities. One of the guest speakers, Senator David Argall, who has an office in Pottsville, officially became chairman of the state Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on January 1st. The Republican Herald reports, the event was a blight summit organized by State Representative Mike Tobash, and the Schuylkill County commissioners and held at the R. Michael Fryer Conference Center.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State has hired an athletics integrity officer, a position required by the NCAA as part of its sanctions against the university in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Julie Del Giorno, who has 20-years experience in higher education and is an Army veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, will start April 1st. Del Giorno comes from Bethlehem-based Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary, where she started in 2006 as an administrator responsible for overseeing the college’s compliance with NCAA rules. As the athletics integrity officer at Penn State, Del Giorno will be tasked with ensuring the university’s athletics department is in line with NCAA and Big Ten rules as well as the athletics integrity agreement the university signed with the organizations in August. The athletics integrity agreements required Penn State to hire an athletics integrity officer, set up an integrity council and develop a code of conduct for the athletics department’s employees, administrators and student-athletes. The agreement was required in the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State that included scholarship reductions and a post-season bowl ban.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - With more than 300 vendors and exhibitors and nearly 50 speakers pulling out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Reed Exhibitions announced Thursday it is postponing one of the nation’s largest outdoors shows, which was scheduled to open next week in Harrisburg. In the wake of shooting at Newtown, Conn., last month, Reed Exhibitions decided to limit assault-style rifles and high volume ammunition magazines gun vendors could show or sell at the event. Chet Burchett, Reed Exhibitions President for the Americas, says “It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.” He went on to say, “the show has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.” More than 1,200 vendors participate in the annual show, which is held at the Harrisburg Farm Show building. It routinely attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The board chairman of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities and a union leader speaking for 6,000 faculty members on Thursday each accused the other side of being unreasonable in their stalled contract negotiations. The Associated Press reports, hundreds of protesting educators, including many who rode buses from distant campuses, waved placards and chanted "Contract Now!" outside the State System of Higher Education headquarters in Harrisburg, while the system's board of governors held its quarterly meeting. Kenneth Mash, vice president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the head of its negotiating team, said the system is demanding concessions on health care coverage from university employees that state-employee unions did not have to make in approving contracts for tens of thousands state workers in 2011. Board Chairman Guido Pichini said the system is trying to more closely align health benefits for university employees with those provided to state employees. The system pays about $15,000 a year for family coverage, compared to about $10,000 for similar coverage under the state plan. Faculty union members have been working without a contract since June 2011. Both sides have agreed on wage increases based on the state-employee contracts, but issues such as health care, class sizes and distance learning has been sticking points. The next negotiating session is slated for February 1st.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - At the direction of Governor Corbett, the Department of Environmental Protection announced today it will undertake a study to look at naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in by-products associated with oil and natural gas development. In the coming weeks, DEP will seek a peer review of its study plan and begin to sample and analyze the naturally occurring radioactivity levels in flowback waters, treatment solids and drill cuttings, as well as associated matters such as the transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes. DEP routinely reviews radioactivity data in wastes the oil and natural gas industry and other industries generate, and the information the agency has obtained to date indicates very low levels of natural radioactivity. This study, which is expected to take 12 to 14 months, is aimed at ensuring that public health and the environment continue to be protected.
(WGRC)