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A few years ago, my son was killed in a motorcycle accident. I took a week off from work but then had to go back. It was all I could do to keep myself together during the months after his death and the hour drive each way for work was unbearable at times. I always kept WGRC on the radio and would focus on the message in the music and the scriptures that were shared which many times felt like they were directed at me at the time I needed it most. (Williamsport)

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February 14, 2013

LEWISTOWN - Two people were taken to the Lewistown Hospital with injuries after their vehicle crashed last evening on Route 322 on the Walnut Street exit in Lewistown. Police say 55-year-old Dwayne Spicer, of Lewistown, was going too fast for road condition when he veered off the left side of the Walnut Street exit ramp his SUV entering a ditch after going over some guard rails. Police said Spicer and his passenger, 52-year-old Barbara Young, 52, of Lewistown, were cut free from the vehicle and taken to Lewistown Hospital for treatment of injuries. The crash is under investigation.

FRACKVILLE - Two from Shenandoah have been charged in a break-in at an antique store at the Empire, Black Diamond store in the Schuylkill Mall back in November. Police have charged 36-year-old Jennifer Richardson and 40-year-old Jeffrey Durgis with breaking into the store and taking well over $6,400 in antique gold and silver coins and causing $600 in damages. Both are also charged with retail theft from Blum’s Auction in the mall after they stole a gold ring. Both are jailed in the Schuylkill County Prison on $25,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

GIRARDVILLE - A former funeral director in Schuylkill County is charged with theft after authorities say he failed to deposit money that was supposed to go into someone’s account. State Police have filed charges against 43-year-old William McDonald, of Girardville used to run McDonald Funeral Home. Police say he accepted an $8,100 check to cover burial expenses for a woman who died, but used the money for other purposes.

LEWISBURG - The Union county Farm Bureau will be celebrating Food Check-Out Week from February 17th-23rd, as a means of recognizing that growing and raising wholesome food is a farmer's top goal. Americans enjoy a food supply that is among the safest, most abundant and most affordable in the world. Pennsylvania farmers are committed to producing safe, abundant and healthy food and the Farm Bureau is helping consumers find solutions to eating healthy on a stretched budget. Food check-Out Week will be observed through a charitable donation of food and money and other needed items for Pennsylvania's six Ronald McDonald Houses in Pennsylvania. Here in Union and surrounding counties, Farm Bureau is proposing donations to the Ronald McDonald House in Danville. A contribution of food or funds to the event can be made by contacting Susan Hauck at 966-3760. The donated items will be presented to the Ronald McDonald House in Danville during the Food Check-Out Week program on February 19th. Or you can personally drop off items at the Ronald McDonald House at 100 North Academy Avenue in Danville the morning of February 19th.

MIFFLINBURG - Mifflinburg Area School District will look at moving to two-tier busing in an effort to save money. Superintendent Dan Lichtel told the school board at its Tuesday night meeting the measure could save the school $100,000. Many Valley school districts use such a system, he said, in which the buses make two different runs. The Daily Item report, right now the district is a single-run system.  Lichtel says he doesn't anticipate rolling out two-tier busing next school year. Also at the meeting Business Manager for the District, Thomas Caruso says the District’s  2013-2014 budget deficit of $888,000 could drop about $400,000 if Governor Corbett’s pension reform passes the legislature.

JERSEY SHORE - After bids came in over budget, the Jersey Shore Area School District will need to make adjustments before proceeding with a construction and renovation project at its borough elementary school. Officials with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, told the school board Monday night bids came in about $1.3 million over budget. The budget recently was increased by about $1.4 million. To get under budget, engineers would adjust aspects of the design but not the overall scope of the project.

WILLIAMSPORT - Three community groups are considering a merger to allow better service to the City. Talks on a potential merger were announced Tuesday by STEP Incorporated, which already had agreed to partner with the Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Action, but also will bring into the fold the Campbell Street Family, Youth and Community Association, which was asked late last year to vacate its home at The Center on Campbell Street. Terry Roller, STEP president and CEO says, "We're very excited about it. We think it's a tremendous opportunity, not only for the organizations, but for the community as well." Although a merger isn't imminent, a potential step toward one will take place by the end of the week as STEP is set to become CAPPA's fiscal agent. Talks about a possible merger began about six months ago. Moving forward with a potential merger will take time. Roller said STEP has begun working with the other two organizations to look at services, programs, history, branding and finances to work toward a partnership.

BLOOMSBURG – Those still holding parking-tickets from Bloomsburg will soon have to worry about a ding to their credit history rather than a warrant for their arrest if they don’t pay up. A collection agency will handle parking tickets left unpaid for 30 days, rather than sending them to district court. Bloomsburg Town Council decided Monday to hand the unpaid tickets over to Bloomsburg Remit Corporation. Police chief Leo Sokoloski tells the Press Enterprise, “It’s an effort to clear a backlog of 4,000 unpaid tickets totaling more than $120,000. It’s also an attempt to get more people paying in the future.” The police department will continue charging $10 for expired meter tickets and $20 to $50 for more serious parking offenses. If not paid within 30 days the ticket would go to Remit. When someone doesn’t pay, Remit can submit the ticket to the credit agencies as an unpaid collection item. And that could hurt a person’s credit score.

COAL TOWNSHIP - A $1.2 million ophthalmology clinic is being constructed on the campus of Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. Ground was broken January 28th for the 4,000-square-foot addition to the Geisinger Specialty Care-Shamokin building. The addition, the first at the specialty care building since 2007, is expected to be completed in June. The News Item reports, the hospital sent out a release which says, "The new clinic will expand facilities for the diagnoses and treatment of eye disorders and diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye and uveitis, corneal disease, retina disease, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy." The investment comes just more than one year after the century-old hospital in Coal Township began operating under Geisinger Health System.

ALLENTOWN - PPL Electric Utilities has regained the top spot in business customer satisfaction among large utilities in the eastern United States in the annual J.D. Power and Associates study. The award is the company’s 19th overall since J.D. Power and Associates began studying customer satisfaction among electric utility customers. The honor this year marks the 10th time in the past 14 years that PPL Electric Utilities has earned the top honor for business sector customer satisfaction in the East Region Large Utility segment. The J.D. Power and Associates study ranks companies on a 1,000-point scale. PPL Electric Utilities’ score of 664 was above the national average of 647 for electric utility business customers. The utility continues to ramp up investments in its infrastructure to strengthen its system so customers will continue to enjoy safe and reliable service. A portion of the most recent J.D. Power interviews occurred immediately following Superstorm Sandy in late October and early November.

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jake Corman to keep the $60 million NCAA fine to Penn State University in the Commonwealth passed the House of Representatives today, moving one step closer to final passage.  The bill now goes to the Governor. The legislation provides that the fine money be paid into the State Treasury where it will be dispersed within the Commonwealth for the purpose stated in the consent decree signed by Penn State University and NCAA. Corman crafted the bill so that the fine money from Penn State will go to programs preventing child sexual abuse and assisting the victims of child sexual abuse here in Pennsylvania. Senator Corman says the bill was necessary due to the NCAA’s desire to distribute the money nationwide. As drafted, the bill creates a policy that applies to all large fines levied on Commonwealth-supported institutions that enter into agreements with governing bodies, including the NCAA fine on Penn State University.  The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature and the Governor is expected to sign it.  

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania state senators who launched into a review Wednesday on what the state can do to improve school safety in the wake of December's elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut; will have a complicated task on their hands. Senators on the education and emergency-preparedness committees were told there is no one-size-fits-all solution for Pennsylvania's 500 school districts, and that administrators often have more pressing day-to-day safety concerns than preparing for the unlikely appearance of a heavily armed and deranged intruder bent on killing dozens of children. Besides, districts disagree about whether it is wise to arm school security guards, and training school personnel to deal with armed intruders will be expensive and time consuming. In any case, some things can't be stopped, even when security procedures are in place and teachers react effectively. The Associated Press reports, Joseph DeLucca, director of federal, state and nonpublic programs for the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, urged senators to pass a set of statewide standards that require every school building to post an armed guard, undergo more intensive safety audits and train staff on a crisis response plan that is as uniform as possible. While some schools in our region are talking about arming teachers or police in the schools, in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh teachers and school resource officers are not permitted to carry guns. In the meantime, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan told senators, a team of trained state troopers have assessed the physical security of 250 school buildings, and another 240 schools are on a waiting list. But Noonan along with other senators on the committee say ultimately, school safety is a local issue and is up to local leadership.

HARRISBURG -The Susquehanna River Basin Commission says a lack of reliable funding for stream gauges is the greatest threat to monitoring the river. The report issued Wednesday says the overall health of the Susquehanna River basin is improving, but there are some problem areas. More than 2,000 miles of streams are polluted by mine drainage, and smallmouth bass in the lower region are suffering from increasing levels of disease. The cause of that isn't known although the DEP has issued a report on not being able to find any problems with the river to mandate it being put on a list of impaired rivers. Drinking water protection is also a concern in some areas. The commission says important data on the 49,000 miles of rivers and streams in the basin comes from a network of gauges, but funding for many of those was lost in 2011. The gauges are used to predict flooding and pollutant levels.

HARRISBURG - Dauphin County Commissioners are taking steps to ensure an outdoor and sports show returns to Harrisburg next year. The commissioners approved a $58,000 tourism grant to book the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in 2014 for the ten days associated with the show. This year’s show was cancelled after Reed Exhibitions, the British company in charge of the show, announced a ban on assault rifles and extended magazine clips sparking a mass boycott. The cancellation is estimated to have cost the region $80 million. It is unclear if Reed Exhibitions will return to run the Eastern Outdoor and Sports Show, but Dauphin County commissioners say if they do not, other groups could be brought in.