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February 15, 2013

LAKE WYNONAH – State Police in Schuylkill County are continuing their investigation into a crash this morning on Route 183 that claimed the life of an Auburn woman. The crash happened on Route 183 near Lake Wynonah, just before ten a.m. State Police say 22-year-old Courtney Hengen was flown from the scene of the crash to the Lehigh valley Medical Center where she later died. Hengen was a passenger in a car driven by 19-year-old Eric Mitchell of Auburn. Police say Mitchell drifted off the roadway, then over corrected going into the oncoming lane and slamming into a pick-up truck driven by 54-year-old Tina Walker of Fredericksburg. Walker was flown to Reading Hospital with major injuries while a passenger in her truck, 53-year-old William Walker was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center. An infant in Mitchell’s vehicle and Mitchell suffered minor injuries.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - A two-car crash sent an 18-year-old Montoursville woman to the hospital. Police say Brianna Fisher was pulling out of a driveway at 1074 Nichols Run Road in Porter Township just after four Thursday afternoon when she collided with a vehicle driven by Cathleen Gibson, a resident of Nichols Run Road. Fisher was taken to Jersey Shore Hospital. Gibson was not injured.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - A Geisinger medical helicopter carrying a patient “clipped” a flag on top of a crane Thursday, but there were no injuries. That happened around 12:30 Thursday afternoon as the helicopter was headed to the hospital. The pilot did land safely, and the patient was taken inside the hospital. Hospital officials say the helicopter sustained minor damage. The crane is on Geisinger’s campus for construction. Geisinger is conducting an internal investigation and has reported the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG -A trial began Thursday morning in Union County with testimony from a surviving passenger of a fatal crash in Union County’s Hartley Township last January that claimed the life of Allison VonNeida.  State police claim 22-year-old Christopher Wirth, of Hartleton was drunk, driving with a suspended license and traveling nearly 90 miles an hour along Route 235 in Hartley Township when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the woods. 22-year-old Dediree Cronin of Hartleton testified that she, VonNeida and Wirth had been to a bar before the crash, and that Wirth was driving recklessly. Both Wirth and VonNeida, were thrown from the car when it crashed. Wirth is charged with vehicular homicide in VonNeida's death and aggravated assault for Cronin's injuries. The trial continues today in Lewisburg.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - A Linden area woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing $14,000 worth of jewelry from the home of an acquaintance. Tiadaghton Valley Region Police say 26-year-old Jessica Deparasis, is accused of taking the jewelry from a home of a friend in the 300 block of South Main Street in Jersey Shore on February 5th. Deparasis allegedly admitted taking the jewelry and heading to Philadelphia to pawn it. She’s jailed on $50,000 bail.
(WGRC)

NEWPORT – A Lewistown man is jailed in the Perry County Prison on theft charges. Police have charged 20-year-old Andrew Rice with theft and burglary after it was discovered Rice had been stealing money from a Howe Township home since 2011. Rice is jailed on $50,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MAHANOY CITY - A Mahanoy City man was charged Thursday with stealing items valued at more than $35,000 and causing over $21,000 in damages last year at a Mahanoy Township business and the Schuylkill Historical Fire Society. 23-year-old Raymond Hower, is scheduled to turn himself into police. Police say the theft from the fire society happened in December. Hower allegedly stole brass fittings from an antique fire truck and tried to sell them for scrap at SOS Metals in Mount Carmel. Police were also able to link Hower to a November theft from Blaschak Coal Company, where 5,000 feet of copper ground and other copper items were stolen. Hower admitted taking the copper to Dukes Salvage in Mahanoy City.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG – Police in Bloomsburg are giving the public an opportunity to get to know the police force a little better. On Monday from seven to nine a.m. at the McDonalds in Bloomsburg the public is invited to come and have “Coffee with a Cop.” There’s no agenda, no speeches, just free coffee and the ability to get to meet members of Bloomsburg’s Police Department and ask questions of the officers.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Two new positions that were created to help ease a housing crunch at the Lycoming County Prison were authorized by commissioners Thursday. A bail release program manager and officer will be added to the county's employee roster. Prison Warden Kevin DeParlos said the positions would be advertised today. The eventual addition of the employees would bring to four the number of supervised bail staff at the prison. Bail officers would monitor about 50 to 60 nonviolent inmates that now are incarcerated but who will be released from behind bars and tracked by GPS monitors, all in an effort to decrease the number of prisoners behind bars at the county prison.  
(WGRC)

WEST MILTON - The West Milton Post Office is nearly back to normal operations after a vehicle crashed into the building last week. Officials at the post office say the facility is operating with normal window hours. The only part of post office that remains impacted are the P.O. Boxes and that section of the building remains closed. Post office box customers can pick up their mail at the service window during normal office hours.
(WGRC)

SHAMOKIN DAM – Motorists traveling Route 15 in Snyder County are advised to be alert for maintenance activities scheduled to start Tuesday, February 19th, weather permitting. Crack-sealing operations will reduce traffic to a single lane, northbound or southbound, in the active work zone in Monroe Township between the traffic signal near K-Mart and County Line Road to the north. The project is expected to take two days to complete. Motorists are reminded to stay alert to the possibility of slow-moving or stopped traffic ahead of the work zone.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – Lewisburg Area School board directors Thursday night approved a $29.4 million preliminary budget for 2013-2014 that includes a 2 percent increase in real estate taxes, and provisions that could raise those rates to 5.5 percent to cover a projected $868,000 deficit. The Daily Item reports, by law, Lewisburg can raise taxes 2 percent. The district also will file for retirement and special education exceptions that, if approved by the state, would allow Lewisburg to raise taxes by as much as 5.5 percent. Superintendent Mark DiRocco says, “At no time have I ever definitively said there would be a 5.5 percent real estate tax increase.” DiRocco says, “We have never had to raise taxes to the maximum, which is what the 5.5 percent increase would be.”
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – Williamsport City leaders are considering major renovations for the 86-year-old city-owned Bowman Field, but it will require adding financing that adds to the city debt and would need approval by City Council. The plan Mayor Gabriel Campana proposed is to invest $500,000 to help improve the stadium that is home to the Crosscutters, a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies that has a lease agreement with the city. The agreement was extended in November until 2014. Council will be asked to authorize use of a $2 million line of credit to make the improvements, most of them structure related. The Sun Gazette reports, City Council is expected to review the refinancing package in March.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A state rail infrastructure grant could mean more jobs for a Williamsport manufacturer and increased business opportunities for other area companies if the application is approved. Lycoming County commissioners approved applying for a $350,000 state Department of Transportation rail assistance grant Thursday on behalf of NuWeld, located in the 2600 block of Reach Road. The increased funding would allow for greater use of a 20-ton crane at the plant's transloading facility. Used in a limited capacity for about the past 30 years, the crane would be used to load and offload products at NuWeld, which specializes in mechanical services, including welding, engineering and fabrication for the nuclear, natural gas and power industries. Company officials say the total $513,000 project could bring in 60 to 120 jobs if the grant is approved. NuWeld would be required to provide 30 percent of the total cost.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - If the funding is secured, residents of Mifflin County could have a new boat launching ramp to enjoy in the near future. Bill Gomes, Mifflin County planning director, was on hand at Thursday's workshop meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners to request the county's help in securing funding for a new boat ramp to be built on the Juniata River in Bratton Township near Mattawana and McVeytown. Gomes said there is grant money available from the Chesapeake Bay Gateway Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and he plans to apply for funding from those organizations. Gomes added that if he is successful in obtaining funding, the county would be required to match any grant funds used, which he estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000 for the county's share. The Sentinel reports, he says he will request the money from the county's allocation from the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund to help pay for survey work, developing an easement for the property and other preliminary work that will be needed for the applications pending commissioners' approval.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - Columbia County is celebrating its 200th birthday next month and you're invited to the party. Commissioner Dave Kovach is chair of the committee putting it all together. He says there will be proclamations and ceremonies, not to mention a big parade and a fireworks display. It takes place on March 22nd and March 23rd. Kovach says it all marks the birthday of the county's origins back in 1813 when Columbia County was carved out of Northumberland County. Check out their web site for all the details you need to plan your attendance at the Columbia County Bicentennial. http://columbia-200.com/
(WPGM)

STATE COLLEGE - Jay Paterno knew Jerry Sandusky all his life. As a kid, Paterno played in the same pool as Sandusky on Penn State’s bowl trips and never thought of Sandusky as a pedophile. Paterno thought nothing about it years ago when his daughter went to the birthday party for one of Sandusky’s grandchildren at the former defensive coach’s house. Jay Paterno defended Joe Paterno on Thursday, saying neither he nor his father knew Sandusky was a pedophile and that his father was not part of a cover-up to allegations against Sandusky from a decade ago, the accusation by former FBI director Louis Freeh that the Paternos just began fighting. The Paterno family’s rebuttal was released Sunday, blasting Freeh’s report as a “profound failure” that mischaracterized the former coach based on assumptions not supported by evidence.
(WGRC)

UNIVERSITY PARK — Volunteers are gearing up for the 41st annual Penn State Dance-a-Thon this weekend. The Thon is billed as the country’s longest dance marathon and largest student-run philanthropy in the world. The 46-hour Dance Marathon raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Last year, Thon participants raised more than $10 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. The event is held annually at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Thon will start this afternoon at four p.m. and end four p.m. Sunday.  
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG - Evangelical Community Hospital has lifted its temporary ban on inpatient visitation after reviewing recent trends in influenza activity. In mid-January, the hospital placed a restriction on children aged 12 and under from visiting inpatient floors to prevent any spread of influenza to patients, employees, and visitors. The decision to restrict was based on the early arrival of influenza to the area and a rise in flu-like cases at primary care offices. After careful review of reports for the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Evangelical has decided to lift the ban.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The State Health Department says the number of flu cases in Pennsylvania continues to decline, but the risk of infection could be increasing for younger residents. Emergency departments in Pa. are seeing fewer patients with flu. Health officials say Influenza Type A, the form that's hardest on older people, is still the most prevalent strain. But the proportion of Influenza Type B viruses has increased. They generally cause milder illness than Type A , but the health department says the increase in Type B viruses may mean more  flu cases  in people under 50. The Health department says as of last week, 17 people died of flu-related illnesses in Pennsylvania this flu season so far. The majority were elderly.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – A $10 million state investment will fund important projects at 10 airports across Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Corbett made that announcement yesterday. The grants are distributed through the Capital Budget/Transportation Assistance Program, which is funded through state capital bond dollars in the General Fund budget. The grants leverage more than $11 million in local matching funds. One of those ten airports receiving funding is the Schuylkill County/Joe Zerbey Airport will receive $100,000 to build an additional hangar.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The Department of Environmental Protection today launched its annual live, 24-hour webcast of a nesting pair of peregrine falcons who live on a ledge on the Market Street side of the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg. For the first time, three high-definition cameras will chronicle the falcons’ activities while streaming the footage live on the internet to viewers around the world. Around the time the first egg is laid, an additional HD camera will be set up for an intimate view into the nest. In recent weeks, another male peregrine has challenged the resident male, who has been at the ledge since 2005. Despite that, the resident male has defended the ledge and started mating with the resident female, who has been at the ledge since 2012. Breeding activity typically takes place this time of year, so territorial battles can be fierce. In the 13 years falcons have been nesting at the building, the nest has produced 48 eggs and 40 hatchlings. Of these, 29 falcons survived—13 males and 16 females. The first egg of the 2013 breeding season should be laid the first week in March. The eggs should begin to hatch around mid-May and the young falcons will begin to take their first flights in mid-June. While their numbers are increasing, the Pennsylvania Game Commission still lists peregrine falcons as an endangered species at the state level. Nationally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird from its list of endangered and threatened species in 1999. The birds’ population in Pennsylvania has increased since the early 1990s as a direct result of conservation efforts like this one. According to the Game Commission, there are now 32 pairs of peregrine falcons nesting at various locations across the state. For more information, to sign up to receive the Falcon Wire e-newsletter or to watch the falcons live, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the Falcon Cam button on the homepage.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Thursday that she has rejected a contract sought by Governor Tom Corbett that would let a British firm manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery, saying it contravenes the state constitution. Her decision came after Corbett undertook a nine-month process to hire a private company out of the United Kingdom to replace state employees atop one of the nation's largest lotteries. The Associated press reports, Corbett can challenge Kane's decision in court. Corbett, whose administration signed the agreement last month, has said he believes Camelot Global Services can produce higher and more stable lottery profits as the state tries to keep pace with rising demand for programs for the elderly that the lottery funds. Democratic lawmakers have criticized Corbett as simply diverting money from programs for the elderly to a foreign firm at a time when the state employees who run the lottery are achieving strong gains in profits and sales and keeping overhead low. Currently, the 41-year-old Pennsylvania Lottery is run by the Department of Revenue. Its profits benefit programs for the elderly, including transit, rent and property tax rebates, prescription drug assistance, senior centers and long-term care services.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's voter identification law won't be enforced in the May 21st primary. Lawyers in a pending lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality have agreed that voters will not be required to show photo ID at the polls as a condition of voting. That means local election officials can ask voters to show ID, but they will be permitted to cast ballots as usual even if they lack the necessary documents. Whether the law is constitutional is expected to be decided in a trial in state Commonwealth Court that's slated to start July 15th. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson halted the law before last fall's presidential election on grounds that the state failed to make it possible for voters to easily get IDs before the election.
(WITF)