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February 12, 2013

BEAVER SPRINGS – Gusty winds blew embers from an ash bucket setting on a porch of a home into a wood pile igniting a porch fire in Snyder County that spread to the inside of the home. That fire was reported around 8:30 this morning at the two story farm house located at 3846 Sand Hill Road in Snyder County’s Spring Township. Beaver Springs Assistant fire Chief Brian Thomas tells us the elderly couple who lived in the home was able to get out safely as the fire, fueled by strong winds burned its way inside to the living room of the home. Thomas says he doesn’t have a dollar amount on the damage but says there is moderate smoke damage inside the home and some water damage. There were no injuries. Thomas says the older couple will be staying elsewhere until the smoky conditions can be cleaned from the home.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

KREAMER - A dust silo fire at Wood-Mode in Kreamer Monday morning caused minor damage. Company spokesman Thomas Morgensen says an investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing, but described the incident as “minor.” Smoke was seen billowing out of the silo, just before seven Monday morning. Fire officials say there was very little wood waste in the silo at the time and several firefighters from local companies were able to put it out easily as production was briefly halted. There were no injuries.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport fire and police investigators are trying to determine the cause of a small fire that broke out Monday morning in a stall inside a boy's restroom at the Williamsport Area High School. The fire, which involved a toilet paper dispenser, was out when firefighters arrived just before eleven Monday morning. Damage was estimated at $500. Students were safely relocated to the auditorium and exhaust fans were used to clear smoke from the building and then allowed to go back to their regular schedules.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN – Police in Lewistown are investigating a garage fire that broke out Sunday. Police say the fire at 21 Marble Street was located in a five bay, wooden garage. The structure was on fire when police and fire crews arrived.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE -A former firefighter serving 81 months to 18 years in a state prison for arsons in Montour County will attempt to change a plea during a trial in April. 35-year-old Charles Jacobs, of Lewisburg, has asked to withdraw a guilty plea to false alarms. His attorney Leslie Bryden requested the case be scheduled for trial in April during a pre-trial conference Monday in Montour County Court. Jacobs previously was sentenced for setting fire to homes, a barn and a field. The former Potts Grove Fire Company member was also ordered to pay his share of restitution totaling nearly $300,000. He and 19-year-old Zane Patrick Snyder, of Milton, also a former Potts Grove Fire Company member, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to the arsons as part of plea bargains.
(WGRC)

ARISTES - Dense fog on Big Mountain played a role in a Shenandoah man driving through a stop sign and crashing through the cement block wall of a maintenance shed at Zion Methodist Cemetery, Monday in Northumberland County. 50-year-old Yazeed Azar, was alone in his Jeep on Midvalley Road when he apparently missed the stop sign in the fog shortly after 4 p.m. He crossed both lanes of Route 42 before his vehicle launched off an embankment, bounced off a cemetery road and again became airborne before crashing through the back of the maintenance shed. Emergency crews placed metal supports in place from the ground to the shed roof to stabilize the structure while emergency responders worked to free Azar. Azar was taken to Geisinger Medical Center, where he remains in serious condition. Meanwhile the damages to the cemetery shed are more than $10,000.
(WGRC)

SNYDERTOWN – A 56-year-old Northumberland man was taken to Sunbury Community Hospital following a crash yesterday. The crash happened in the village of Snydertown. Police say Samuel Griffiths suffered injuries when he pulled out from Smith Street with his pick-up truck onto Sunbury Road into the path of box-truck hauling mail driven by 21-year-old Dana Krouse of Middleburg. Police say Krouse was not injured.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LEWISTOWN – State Police are investigating a case of hit and run which injured a PennDOT employee early yesterday morning in Mifflin County. Police say around three a.m. Norman Heimbach was entering his truck parked along on Back Maitland Road in Decatur Township when a vehicle crossed the roadway and hit Heimbach in the back with its mirror pinning Heimbach up against the truck. The vehicle then took off. Heimbach was taken to Lewistown Hospital to be treated for what police called moderate injuries. Police believe the vehicle is a white Hyundai car. Anyone with information on the vehicle which would have its driver’s side mirror missing is asked to call state police.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

ASHLAND – A 27-year-old Shamokin woman remains in serious condition at Geisinger Medical Center and is looking at a slew of charges following a crash in Schuylkill County around ten Saturday morning. State Police say Renee Austerberry went off Route 61 in Blythe Township and slid down an embankment into a rocky ditch. Austerberry had to be cut free from her vehicle and was flown to Geisinger. Further investigation revealed Austerberry was driving on a suspended license, had no insurance and was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Stolen guns and drugs were found at a Williamsport apartment after members of the Lycoming County Drug Task force made a controlled buy of heroin and raided the apartment. Police say that happened Thursday night at the home of Benjamin Britford at 1380 Whitman Street in Williamsport. In the apartment police found stolen guns and three bundles of heroin. Britford now faces drug and weapons charges and is jailed on $150,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LEWISTOWN – Police in Lewistown are asking residents to keep their vehicles locked and don’t store any valuables in them, if left unattended. Police are investigating a rash of vehicle break-ins on East Walnut Street. Police were called to the area Friday and discovered the vehicles broken into and several items from the vehicles missing. Anyone with information on the vehicles break-ins are asked to call Lewistown Police.
(WGRC)

MILTON – Police are investigating the theft of items from two Union County residents. Police say sometime between February first and the 11th someone stole over $1500 in fishing equipment including a fish finder, depth finder, GPS, and marine battery, from a boat parked in the driveway of a home along River Road in White Deer Township. Police also say a handgun was taken from a home in Mifflinburg. The theft happened sometime between February fifth and the ninth at the home on Meadow Green Drive in West Buffalo Township. Anyone with information on either theft is asked to call state police, Milton.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

DANVILLE - A former certified nursing assistant allegedly removed Fentanyl from four nursing home residents’ patches, risking injury and causing them pain. Police have charged 40-year-old Charmayne Maddy, of Selinsgrove, with illegally administering or dispensing the painkiller Fentanyl, possession, attempted simple assault and theft. Police said the incidents happened between February and April, 2012, at Grandview Health Homes in Danville and the Highland Care Center in Laporte. Other nurses found three patients’ Fentanyl patches had been tampered with. Patches were torn open and the drug was removed from the patch. Maddy was employed by Dedicated Nursing Associates and worked at various care homes.
(WGRC)

BERWICK - A man has been charged with attempted homicide after he allegedly pulled a woman’s head back and held a meat cleaver to her throat Sunday. The incident left a two inch long cut along the victim’s throat. 63-year-old Roger Beebe of Berwick is now being charged following and argument with the 42-year-old victim at a home on Vine Street in Berwick.  The Press enterprise reports, Beebe is jailed in the Columbia County Prison on $300,000 bail.
(WGRC)

MIDDLEBURG — A witness in a 1997 homicide tearfully testified Monday in Snyder County Court that she lied to a state grand jury after being threatened by police.35-year-old Jennifer Long’s emotions ranged from emotional to confrontational as Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch questioned her for more than 90 minutes about the August 2011 testimony she gave to a grand jury regarding the July 1997 beating death of 22-year-old Donald Seebold III of New Berlin. The Daily item reports, in her testimony to the grand jury more than a year ago, Long, said she saw Seebold, being beaten by a group of people while attending a birthday party, heard her aunt, 46-year-old Linda Thomas, tell the partygoers to remove Seebold from her Port Ann property and watched as her cousin, 37-year-old Robert Reich, of Beavertown, and 36-year-old Ryan Sprenkel, of Middleburg, carry Seebold into the back of a pickup truck. Seebold was later found unconscious lying on Troxelville Road, about two miles away, by Sprenkel and two other partygoers, 38-year-old Chris Aucker, and his now-wife, Sheila Liddington Aucker. He was found dead the next day in Sprenkel’s vehicle, where they left him, allegedly believing he was passed out. Reich, Sprenkel and Aucker were each charged with homicide last March after the grand jury hearings in which several other witnesses provided similar testimony about an alleged fight. All three are scheduled to be tried together in April. Long was in court yesterday for a pretrial hearing on a charge of perjury against Thomas. Long says she was threatened by police and District Attorney Michael Piecuch to tell the grand jury she heard Thomas tell the others to remove Seebold from her property. Long says she never heard Thomas say that and she never saw Seebold being beaten.
(WGRC)

UNDATED – It’s a central Pennsylvania tradition that many don’t mind as it involves sweet treats on this day each year. It’s Fasnacht Day. Fasnacht Day is traditionally celebrated on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, as a means of emptying a household of ingredients typically involved in Lenten fasting. Fasnacht or doughnut celebrations allowed observers of Lent to have one last sweet treat before giving them up until Easter.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - After voting a year ago to not close any school, the Jersey Shore Area School Board decided to reopen discussions on closing Nippenose Valley Elementary School Monday. The item passed by an 8-1 vote. The motion was made after board member John Shireman requested the board explore closing an elementary school. Shireman voted against a closure last year but now said he has changed his mind. Superintendent Richard Emery tells the Sun Gazette that in order to proceed with potentially closing a school, the district must hold a public meeting to discuss and hear from the public on the matter. The meeting must be advertised for 15 days prior. A 90-day waiting period also is required after the meeting before a vote on closing a school can be held. No public meeting date has yet been set. Previous discussions on closing a school centered on Nippenose and Avis elementary schools, and are linked to a construction and renovation project at Jersey Shore Elementary School. The board also voted to approve a preliminary budget, which included property tax mill increase of about 5 percent. The district must now apply for a tax index exception with the state as the state allows only an index increase of 2.4 percent. School officials say the measure is only precautionary and doesn’t mean the school will actually go ahead with a five percent increase.
(WGRC)

SPRING MILLS - Penns Valley school board unanimously approved a preliminary budget Monday that would raise property taxes for area residents. District business manager Jeffrey Wall says, under the district’s preliminary budget, property taxes would increase around 2.1 percent. The increase is expected to generate around $250,000 for the district. The 2013-14 preliminary budget is pegged at $23.9 million which is an increase of $826,000, over the 2012-13 budget.  
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport has been marked as a target area for dog wardens, who soon will begin canvassing neighborhoods across the county, looking for homes with unlicensed dogs. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement is funded through the sale of dog licenses. As part of the state Department of Agriculture, it receives no revenue from tax dollars. Dog licenses can be acquired through the county treasurer's office. For animals that are spayed or neutered, a license will cost $6.45. It will cost $8.45 to license a dog that is not spayed or neutered. Although the price of a license is nominal, those who fail to comply with the law face steep fines. One unlicensed animal can cost its owner $50 to $300 in fines, not counting court fees. Since the size of Williamsport is so large several teams of dog law officials are expected to canvass the city.
(WGRC)

LOGANTON - There were lots of smiles, a few hugs, some tears and many "thank you's" during a special "Welcome Home" celebration in Clinton County, Sunday afternoon. The guests of honor were four-year-old Cheyenne Weaver, 13-year-old Charlotte Rebuck, and her brother 11-year-old Sam Rebuck. And they were a sight to behold for those who have been praying for the youngsters and their families since the tragic accident last month that killed Charlotte and Sam's mother Courtney and left all three kids seriously injured. The community was invited to drop by the Weaver home on Sunday afternoon and see for themselves how well the kids are doing. It was also a time set aside for their parents - Ty Rebuck and Carmell and Greg Weaver - to express appreciation to those who have provided overwhelming love and support in so many ways.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller is seeking a second term as the county’s top prosecutor. In a statement Monday announcing her candidacy for re-election, Parks Miller said she plans to “build on our proven record of successful, smart prosecutions.” Parks Miller, who took office in 2010, has successfully tried high-profile cases including the Mirinda Boob-Ronald Heichel murder trial, and the trial for three eastern European men who went on a violent burglary and robbery spree in 2009 and 2010 the Centre Region. Since taking office, Parks Miller also has created new protocols for specific types of cases, including one to unify the approach to handling child sexual and physical abuse. “While I am proud of the progress that has been made, there is much work that is left to do,” Parks Miller said.
(WGRC)

NEW YORK - Sue Paterno and her husband were not aware that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile, the widow of the former Penn State head football coach told Katie Couric in an interview televised Monday. Mrs. Paterno asked Couric, “…Jerry adopted children, the experts vetted him. He had foster children, the experts vetted him. The executive director of Second Mile is a child psychologist. If the experts don’t know, how can we know?” The interview aired on ABC Monday afternoon and featured a more emotional side to the Paterno family’s campaign to undo what their lawyer’s analysis termed a “rush to injustice” by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The interview followed the release Sunday of the analysis, which blasted the Freeh report by calling it a “profound failure” that made too many assumptions without interviewing crucial witnesses. Meanwhile Nike co-founder Phil Knight is again backing his old friend Joe Paterno. Knight released a statement early this morning criticizing the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which painted Paterno as part of a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, as “unjustified and unsubstantiated.” Knight says, “On reflection, I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment,” after reading the Freeh report.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE – A Centre County legislator is calling for another investigation into Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal — this time from an impartial source. State Representative Scott Conklin, said the person for the job is new Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who already has pledged to investigate Gov. Tom Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky case. Conklin says, “I’d love to see her looking at this in a nonbiased way and just strictly at the facts.” Conklin said he would like to see all the facts about Sandusky’s relationships with everyone involved and who the convicted child molester was as a person. He said he has always looked at former FBI director Louis Freeh’s report as the “Freeh opinion,” and Sunday’s Paterno report only cemented his desire for an impartial and thorough investigation.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – Governor Tom Corbett Monday announced that following a request for assistance from the state of Connecticut, he quickly directed PennDOT to mobilize crews and equipment to help citizens of that state recover from one of the worst blizzards in recent memory. PennDOT crews from Somerset and Tioga Counties left late Saturday, and crews from Montour and Columbia Counties left early on Sunday. PennDOT has sent three massive snow blowers, three tractor trailers (to haul the snow blowers), three crew cab trucks, several equipment operators, several foremen and a mechanic. Those crews are working to clear roads in parts of Hartford, Farmington and Meriden, Connecticut. PennDOT expects their teams to return to Pennsylvania later this week.
(WGRC)

PITTSBURGH - Some Pennsylvania Roman Catholics said they'd like to see a younger person replace Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday that he's stepping down amid failing health. The Associated Press reports, four U.S. cardinals with Pennsylvania roots will have a say in making that decision. Cardinal Donald Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh and is a former bishop of that city, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Cardinal Sean O'Malley also grew up in Pittsburgh. Cardinal Justin Rigali, the retired archbishop of Philadelphia, will also be eligible to vote for a new pope. Some in the Roman Catholic Church say Benedict's retirement could open the door for a younger, progressive pope — perhaps a black man — who will lead efforts to rebuild membership. Many Catholics say the church needs to change relatively minor rules that are driving members away. Charles Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia, said in a statement that Benedict's retirement "is another sign of his placing the needs of the church above his own. He will remain in our hearts and always be in our prayers."
(WGRC)