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February 26, 2013

STATE COLLEGE - A major winter storm impacting the Mississippi and lower Ohio River Valleys will track northeast toward Pennsylvania today. That means we will see a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. The messy weather is expected to move into our region this afternoon and early this evening. More of a mixed bag of precipitation is expected in areas north of Interstate 80 while it is expected to be mostly rainy in areas south of Interstate 80. The gloomy weather will persist as a secondary area of low pressure is expected to form near the coast, Wednesday keeping some rain and snow across the region during the day Wednesday. And the snow and rain showers will persist into the later part of the week as the storm lingers off the east coast.
(WGRC)

RICHFIELD – Fire crews from Juniata and Snyder counties rushed out to battle a two alarm house fire in Juniata County this morning. The fire was reported at 1010 horning road just off Seven Stars road in Juniata County, near Richfield. The fire was reported just after nine this morning.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

STRONG - A firefighter was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance after he reportedly fell through a floor while fighting a fire this morning at George Tomol Auto Sales at Routes 61 and 54 in Mount Carlmel Township, Northumberland County. Smoke could be seen billowing from various parts of the large, cinder block building along Route 61. PennDOT closed Route 61 from Route 54 to Sixth Street in Kulpmont during the firefight. It was reopened by 8:30 a.m. no word as to what caused that blaze thought to be in an unoccupied portion of the business.
(WGRC)

COAL TOWNSHIP - A Coal Township man, who was the victim of a non-lethal shooting in Hazleton Monday, was escorted by police from a Webster Street home and returned to the Luzerne County city. Police say an East Stroudsburg man shot the township man in the leg during some type of altercation inside a vehicle on Hazleton's south side Monday afternoon. Just after three Monday afternoon area police were alerted by emergency communications to be on the lookout for a vehicle registered locally and related to a Hazleton shooting. The News Item reports, five officers from Coal Township and Shamokin police departments were on scene just before four p.m. A black Dodge Durango was searched by officers and later towed from a dirt lot at Webster and Clay streets to the township police department. Hazleton police picked up the victim from Coal Township police.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY - A former substitute teacher in the Shamokin Area School District was sentenced in Northumberland County Court yesterday to six months of house arrest and will now be listed on Megan’s Law as a sex offender. 24-year-old Michael Zack, of Marion Heights pleaded guilty in December to a felony count of unlawful contact with a minor and a misdemeanor of corruption of minors. Zack was originally charged with sending around 4,300 text messages to two 17-year-old and two 16-year-old girls who attended Shamokin schools. Many of the messages, which were sent between March 15 and October 30, 2011, contained graphic sexual material.
(WGRC)

MIDDLEBURG – A Snyder County man wants homicide, conspiracy and perjury charges against him in Snyder County related to the July 1997 beating death of 22-year-old Donald Seebold III of New Berlin dropped because the commonwealth improperly used a statewide grand jury. 38-year-old Christopher Aucker, of Beavertown, also is asking to be tried separately from his co-defendants, 37-year-old Robert Reich, of Beavertown, and 36-year-old Ryan Sprenkel, of Middleburg. The three are accused of beating Seebold to death during a day-long birthday celebration for Reich at the Port Ann home of his aunt, Linda Thomas. It took nearly 15 years before witnesses spoke out about the events surrounding Seebold’s death to the statewide grand jury. Aucker’s attorney, Michael Rudinski, of Williamsport, is seeking to have the charges against him dismissed on the grounds that county District Attorney Michael Piecuch improperly used a statewide grand jury to make the case against Aucker instead of a county –wide grand jury. Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch tells the Daily Item, “Premature disclosure, including unwanted media attention, during an attempt to perform a county grand jury investigation would have ... jeopardized the investigation.” Knight is expected to rule soon on Aucker’s motions to dismiss the charges or try his case alone.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE – In Schuylkill County, an Orwigsburg man will serve 30 to 60 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a boy over a ten year period. 41-year-old David Noll had that sentence handed down to him by Judge John Domalakes, Monday. Domalakes, who also ruled that Noll is a sexually violent predator and thereby subject to lifetime Megan's Law sanctions. Noll pleaded guilty in November 2012.
(WGRC)

NEWPORT – Police in Perry County say they’ve caught the man they believed who held up the Dollar General Store in Newport at gunpoint. That happened Wednesday just before nine p.m. Police say 31-year-old Adam Bohn of Newport entered the store with a gun and wearing a mask, demanding money, but did not get any cash before he fled. Police say Bohn was picked-up a short time later driving a stolen car. Police say Bohn stole the vehicle just moments prior to the robbery. He’s now jailed in the Perry County Prison.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A Millville man faces felony charges after allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase that began in Williamsport and ended in Muncy. Officers from three departments joined in the pursuit, which exceeded speeds of 100 miles-per-hour. 55-year-old Robert Kepner faces one felony charge for fleeing and eluding police along with other charges. The chase began in Williamsport about 1:30 Sunday morning when state troopers attempted to stop his car for an illegal registration. The chase went through Loyalsock Township, Montoursville, Fairfield Township and eventually was caught in Muncy. Montoursville and Muncy Borough Police helped captured Kepner. Kepner told police he failed to pull over because "nothing on his vehicle was legal" and his license was suspended. Kepner also had bench warrants from Montour and Northumberland counties. The Sun Gazette reports, Kepner is now jailed on $150,000 bail.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG – The Bloomsburg Police Department has transformed its communications methods by recently implementing “Twitter” to get out important Public Safety information to the public. The newest form of Public Relations offers a fast direct line of communication between the community and the police department. Keeping the public informed is critical in preventing and solving crimes. The public continues to support policing efforts and serve as the eyes and ears of the community when law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times. A better informed community is a safer community. This low – cost tool using Twitter was implemented last week through the assistance of two Bloomsburg University interns. To access the Twitter account, follow BloomsburgPD or visit the police department website at bloompd.com.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A Canton attorney Monday made it to the dream job that he aspired to achieve ever since becoming a lawyer and joining a private practice in Bradford County more than 22 years ago. 47-year-old Matthew Brann tells the Sun Gazette, "I'm just a country lawyer from Canton." Brann, Monday, officially took the oath of office to become the next judge in the U.S. Middle District Court at the federal building on West Third Street in Williamsport. Nominated to the court by President Barack Obama on May 17th and appointed to the bench December 27th following confirmation by the Senate, Brann said he appreciated the work done by the senior and visiting judges, most of them traveling from Harrisburg and Scranton.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - Preliminary numbers show that State Patty’s Day 2013 in State College was less destructive than previous years. State College police fielded 327 calls for service and made 138 arrests in this year’s installment of the student-created drinking holiday from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Those numbers are down from 412 calls and 225 arrests in 2012. The number of alcohol-related hospital visits was also down. Mount Nittany Medical Center spokeswoman Nichole Monica says a total of 43 people were treated for alcohol-related issues, which is down from 54 last year. Police also attribute the number of incidents down after over three dozen downtown bars refused to sell alcohol during the weekend.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - A Penn State faculty senate panel says adding academic representation to the school's Board of Trustees would help the governing body understand the mission, values and complexities of overseeing the university. The Associated Press reports, the faculty report Monday is the latest set of recommendations to trustees looking into changes in governance following the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. The faculty committee recommends that more emphasis be placed on selecting trustees based on qualifications to help oversee running a university than on the constituency they represent. It also recommends that the university president remain on the board, given the direct experience with higher education governance. That contrasts to former state Auditor General Jack Wagner's report last year that recommended removing the president as a voting trustee.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - The Jersey Shore Area School Board on Monday took the next step in a potential elementary school closure, setting a public hearing at the high school for 7 p.m. March 14th. The board voted to re-open discussions on possibly closing Nippenose Valley Elementary School at its last meeting. Last night a large gathering of the public showed up at the Jersey Shore School board meeting to hear discussions on the proposal. When asked if the district was looking for a closure to happen during the current school year - the district must wait at least 90 days after a public hearing to decide on closing a school but can wait longer. Most members of the public who spoke during courtesy of the floor were against the closing of a school.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - State College Area School officials said Monday the construction of two new high schools is estimated between $154 million and $162 million. The Centre Daily Times reports, a two-high school option is among the handful of options under consideration in the State College Area High School renovation and construction project including up to $68 million dollars for the current buildings and $143 million for brand new North and South buildings. The public will be able to hear more about the site options, financing and project schedule during a community forum Thursday at 7 p.m. and will include presentations and time for public comments and questions.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - The Mifflin County Library and its branches have long made do with less in an effort to maintain quality community outreach under the weight of heavy cuts in state funding. But after operating in "survival mode" for three years, administration says the library has exhausted its resources. Executive director of the Mifflin County Library, Molly Kinney tells the Sentinel, “If funding doesn't become available soon, the library is in jeopardy of closing all operations.” The news comes in the wake of an announcement that the Milroy branch library has closed its doors indefinitely. Kinney said the closure is due in part to decreases in state funding for libraries, which has fallen by 38 percent from 2010 levels. Kinney said the library is about to embark on a fundraising campaign and asks every individual, service organization, club, church and business in Mifflin County to help. She said the library hopes to raise $100,000 by September 1st to compensate for cuts in state funding.
(WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG – It was a heated Bloomsburg Town Council meeting last night. Minutes after a group of 60 landlords yelled a chorus of “Vote it down,” a deeply divided council opted to make inspections mandatory for almost all non-student apartments starting this fall. After October, non-student landlords will be required to have their apartments checked by the town every three years. The outcome enraged many of those in attendance. For two hours, council heard from landlords why it shouldn’t pass the ordinance. Under the ordinance, landlords with non-student renters can get a provisional license for the first three years, without a requirement for an inspection. That will cost $100. After that, landlords must open their apartments to inspections every three years, at the cost of $150. Council plans to hire a third code enforcer to help with the new inspections. The move all boils down to what Landlords say will be an increase in rent for their tenants.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Two projects in Lycoming County that transportation planners have their eyes on could bring more than 700 jobs in the next few years if plans go according to schedule. Details of the projects were discussed Monday at the Williamsport Area Transportation Study Coordinating Committee's meeting. A hotel, restaurant and retail development in Fairfield Township on 12 1/2 acres off of Brushy Ridge Road could bring 400 jobs. Previous news reports indicated that a Cambria Suites and related parcels at the site would be developed by Gregory Welteroth. In Hughesville, developer Carl Schultz says his project at the intersection of Routes 220 and 405 easily could bring in 340 jobs with a planned new Best Western hotel, restaurant, convenience store and truck wash facility for the natural gas industry.
(WGRC)