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February 1, 2013

SUNBURY - The strong wind yesterday brought down a tree and power lines in Northumberland County, and the problem kept Route 61 between Sunbury and Shamokin closed most of the day on Thursday. Drivers trying to get to the Shamokin area were greeted by a detour sign at the intersection of Route 61 and Anthracite Road. PennDOT reported heavy wind in the morning blew a tree into a utility pole, bringing down several power lines. PPL crews were on scene fixing the damage on the busy roadway. A mile and a half stretch of Route 61 between Sunbury and Shamokin was closed. Detoured drivers had to go about two miles out of their way. The detour was in place for about ten hours yesterday as crews fixed those power lines.

MILLMONT – A 73-year-old Millmont woman was taken to the hospital after her car crashed into a blown over tree in Union County following storms yesterday. The crash happened just after eight a.m. on Creek Road in Hartley Township Police say Judith Blair Suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Evangelical Community hospital following the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

KYLERTOWN, CLEARFIELD COUNTY - Police say wintry weather is to blame for the nine car pile-up involving four tractor trailers Thursday morning on Interstate 80 eastbound in Clearfield County. The crash happened near mile-marker 134 near the Centre County line. A tractor trailer, traveling too quickly for the slick conditions, tried to slow down for traffic, but couldn't stop in time. That's when he swerved into the left lane, hitting eight other cars. Police say three people injured in the crash are expected to be okay.

WILLIAMSPORT – Fire crews in Williamsport were called out to a working structure fire last night. Fire crews were called out around eight p.m. to 954 Memorial Avenue. Quick work by crews had that fire out in minutes and crews were back in service just after nine p.m.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - A heat lamp blown over by high winds caused the fire that destroyed a Decatur Township home early Thursday morning in Mifflin County. East Derry Fire Company Chief Ed Mann tells the Sentinel the Messermen residence, located at 2425 Back Maitland Road, was fully engulfed in flames by the time first responders arrived. No one was injured in the fire and the American Red Cross is assisting the family.

DANVILLE - A professional caregiver with power of attorney stole more than $10,000 from a bedridden nursing home resident over whom she had power of attorney, and left the victim with only $4.85 in an account. Mahoning Township police have charged 64-year-old Grace Zigner, of Coal Township, for allegedly stealing the money from the account of the 58-year-old woman who resides at Grandview Health Homes. Police say she took the cash between June 2009, and this past August.

BRANDONVILLE – Police in Schuylkill County are investigating a burglary at a home in Brandonville. The break-in took place sometime between five a.m. and four p.m. at the home along Pole Road near Brandonville. Police say the thief got inside the home and stole several electronic items and jewelry including gold chains and two diamond rings. Anyone with information on the break–in is asked to call state police, Frackville.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MILTON - A Milton man facing a slew of charges in two theft cases sent his charges on to Northumberland County Court. 18-year-old Tanner Shade, of Milton, is charged with counts of theft, and related counts for two incidents. On December 5th, state police were called to a home on Frederick Road in East Chillisquaque Township, where Shade allegedly broke into a truck and removed several items from the vehicle. Then on January 25th, Shade allegedly stole a motorcycle, money and liquor from the Susquehanna Motorcycle Club, of Milton. Shade is also implicated in the January 8th break-in at the Cherry Alley Café’ in Lewisburg, who along with 23-year-old Jerome Todd of Lewisburg stole over $500 in cash from the register and a cabinet inside the coffee shop on North Third Street. Shade remains jailed in the Northumberland County Prison on $25,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC-w/Daily Item)

SUNBURY - Shortly after emergency officials dragged a vehicle to a stop, its driver — who abandoned the moving car after crashing into a pickup truck with police on his tail — leaped over a fence and into the waiting arms of another police officer. A Sunbury Meter reader spotted Edwin Santana around four yesterday afternoon. Police say Santana was wanted by police for nearly two years on a parole violation. Police gave chase after Santana hit the accelerator and began whistling through stop signs on Line, Reagan and Packer streets, and Edison Avenue, in Sunbury. The Daily Item reports, the chase continued on Front Street and ended on Linden Street after he hit a truck and then jumped out of his car. Santana ran through several yards before he was captured after scaling a fence behind a residence on River Avenue.

MOUNT CARMEL - A 51-year-old Mount Carmel man is facing multiple charges after he barricaded himself in a second-floor bathroom at his home late Wednesday night and threatened to kill himself with a large hunting knife. The man was taken into custody shortly before midnight after police used a pepper spray canister to draw him out of the room before deploying a Taser gun. The man was taken to Geisinger Medical Center where he was committed for evaluation on a mental health warrant. The man was taken into custody following a brief stand-off at his home.

MONTOURSVILLE - A Montoursville college student will be spending at least three years in state prison for possessing child pornography. 21-year-old Brandon Klopp, pleaded guilty in November to charges that he had four videos and 178 picture files of child pornography saved to his home computer. State police seized the evidence in November 2010 and charged Klopp in April of last year. Lycoming County Judge Marc Lovecchio handed down that sentence Thursday in Lycoming County Court.

SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP - An athletic trainer has been fired from her job at Central Columbia High School for an inappropriate relationship with a boy who is a student. The press Enterprise reports, 24-year-old Brittany Schreppel, of Williamsport, had been assigned to Central by Geisinger Sports Medicine. Last Friday, a student reported rumors of the relationship to a teacher, who told the principal. Superintendent Harry Mathias says Schreppel will not be back at Central. Geisinger suspended Schreppel without pay last Friday upon hearing the allegations. The alleged inappropriate acts did not happen on school time or on school grounds. Both district and hospital officials pledged to cooperate with any police investigation.

BELLEFOTNE - Centre County is now able to take another step to help its homeless and near-homeless find housing. The county has received a $150,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund that will help up to 76 households with rental assistance and security deposits. The funding is state-generated from the Act 13 Marcellus Shale Impact Fee. County officials say the need is increasing for residents because of the recent Hotel Do De fire and the closures of the Penn State Mobile Home Park and the Hilltop Mobile Home Park. The program is specifically tailored toward the homeless and near-homeless residents.

HUGHESVILLE – Last night, the last of four town hall meetings hosted by state Representative Garth Everett, in Lycoming County, brought out the most vocal of groups in Hughesville. Several people spoke out at the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Company about the impacts of natural gas drilling and how it's personally affected them. The complaints ranged from contaminated water and Everett’s alleged lack of concern, to gases released from gas wells to the lack of responsibility of gas companies and their power over state government. The Sun Gazette reports, Everett stood up for the gas companies saying natural gas drilling fees paid by gas companies have brought substantial financial resources to local municipalities for a number of uses. He said Pennsylvania can both drill for natural gas and be a steward of the environment.

STATE COLLEGE - Thousands have signed a petition online to get Joe Paterno's iconic statue back six months after it was taken down. Paterno’s iconic statue outside Beaver Stadium came down exactly six months after his death last January. Now a group of Paterno supporters are trying to get the statue back. One click at a time, more than 2,000 Joe Paterno supporters have signed an online petition on Facebook. The petition demands that Penn State's Board of Trustees give Joe Paterno's iconic statue back to his fans. Penn State took the statue down after Paterno was linked to the Sandusky scandal. The petition also demands that he NCAA sanctions against Penn State get reversed. It claims Paterno's legacy's been unfairly tainted.

HARRISBURG - Governor Tom Corbett is set to talk about his proposed budget for higher education, including Penn State’s appropriation, during a news conference today at the state Capitol. Last year, Corbett proposed slashing Penn State’s state funding for 2012-13 by 30 percent, but the level was eventually restored to $279 million, what it was in 2011-12. Penn State promised to keep its tuition-rate increases below the inflation index if the state funding was kept flat. For 2013-14, Penn State has requested $289.5 million from the state. The request includes a 3.5 percent increase for the university’s educational and general budget plus a $2.4 million increase for agriculture research and cooperative extension. At the state Farm Show in January, Corbett told public officials that he planned to maintain the same level of funding for agricultural research, which last year was $20.4 million. Penn State is asking for $21.5 million.

HARRISBURG – Negotiations are set to resume today between the state university system and its faculty members to try to resolve a prolonged contract dispute. The Associated Press reports, union members have been working without a contract since June 2011. They have authorized their leadership to call a strike if necessary. Hundreds of faculty members from the 14 state-owned universities protested last week outside the State System of Higher Education offices while the board of governors heard from both sides. The union says the system is making unreasonable demands for concessions on health coverage and other issues. School officials say concessions are necessary to ensure affordable, quality education.

HARRISBURG - State police say they have temporarily suspended use of breathalyzer machines in suspected drunken driving cases because of a judge's concerns about the accuracy of the devices. Spokesman Adam Reed says the decision stems from a Dauphin County judge's decision to throw out several DUI cases after learning that one manufacturer had omitted a state requirement to have a liquid solution tested by independent labs. Reed said the case is being appealed, but as a precaution police will temporarily refrain from using the devices. Instead, he says, suspects will be taken to a police facility or hospital for a blood-alcohol test. Reed said the change might actually result in more motorists being charged since blood tests can detect drug intoxication while breathalyzers cannot.