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March 1, 2013

POTTSVILLE – A crash early this morning in Schuylkill County sends a man to the Lehigh Valley Hospital by helicopter.  The crash happened just before three a.m. on route 209 near Pottsville. Police say 27-year-old Jamie Gerber of Pine Grove was not wearing his seatbelt when he tried to make a turn onto Willing Street and hit a mound of ice and an embankment. Police say Gerber was thrown through the windshield of his vehicle upon impact.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A 36-year-old mother faces charges after her 10-month-old daughter ingested parts of a cigarette laced with the recreational drug PCP, inside the family's Williamsport home. Police have charged Erica Moore with recklessly endangering, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a controlled substance as a result of the incident that happened in December. Moore allegedly placed a PCP-laced cigarette on a coffee table in the living room, where the tot got ahold of it and began chewing it. A short time later the baby girl became lethargic and unresponsive. The mother rushed the toddler to the Williamsport Regional Medical Center where she told doctors what had happened.  The girl was then taken o Geisigner Medical Center but a report on her condition was not released.

WILLIAMSPORT - A Lycoming County jury returned a not-guilty verdict Thursday morning in the rape trial of 30-year-old Sherman Keller of Loyalsock Township. The jury acquitted Keller of felony charges after deliberating for about an hour and a half. Keller was accused by a 19-year-old woman of assaulting her at his home in February last year. After Keller was arrested for the February, 2012 allegations, a 28-year-old woman accused him of raping her at his home in the fall of 2011. He will be tried on those charges during county court's next trial session in April.  

LOCK HAVEN - Thanks to the cooperation of several Clinton County agencies in developing a grant application, Clinton County officials celebrated the success of a local $300,000 grant Thursday. The grant, which will primarily benefit District Attorney Mike Salisbury's office and the Clinton County Women's Center, will be applied over a three-year period to promote the STOP program. The STOP Program enhances advocacy and improves the criminal justice system's response to violent crimes against women. Salisbury will use the grant to hire a part-time detective devoted to investigating domestic violence cases. The grant will also be used to pay a portion of the costs for the victim-witness coordinator's advocacy efforts, and will provide training to local and state police.

LEWISBURG - School board members Thursday night voted unanimously to expand police service at Lewisburg Area schools under a pilot program in which Buffalo Valley Regional Police and state troopers will patrol grounds daily at the district’s four buildings. The administration and board will re-evaluate the project this summer before deciding to whether continue it for the 2013-14 school year. The added patrols could cost the school district about $13,000 through June, though the Daily Item reports; the cost was not addressed in the motion before the board.

LEWISTOWN - The Mifflin County School Board of Directors voted at its meeting Thursday to close Union Elementary School at the completion of the current school year due to district restructuring. Union Elementary, located in Belleville, had 64 students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade at the beginning of the current school year.

STATE COLLEGE - State College Area school officials told about 130 people Thursday about the building options and initial cost estimates during a community forum on the high school renovation project. The information presented consisted of breakdowns of the eight scenarios plus explanations of the costs to finance the project. The costs for the all but one of the options exceed $110 million. The one under triple digits is a renovation of the existing buildings, and that cost is estimated around $65 million to $68 million. The board has not yet selected an option, and the board will have to seek voter approval to finance the cost of the project because it will exceed the state-set maximum the district can raise property taxes.

DANVILLE - A judge found more than a dozen Danville landlords not guilty Thursday, using the same ordinance to clear them that the borough used to cite them. Danville’s Residential Rental Registration ordinance, which requires all rental units to be registered and inspected annually, says that failure to register in 2012 would have drawn a $100 dollar fine against the landlords. District Judge Marvin Shrawder presided over hearings last week for about 16 landlords fighting 51 citations, and more cases are pending. Shrawder found a passage that requires landlords to register for 2012, but removes any penalty for not doing so. The wording of the law, however, would not present a problem for citations filed for failing to register in 2013.

STATE COLLEGE - The people who own the Hilltop Mobile Home Park have every right to close it down if they want, but people who live in there say the way this place is being shut down is illegal, and they want their fair share before the deal is done. Yesterday was the day residents of the mobile home park were to have vacated the property. Matthew Rooke is the president of the Hilltop Homeowners Association. He says the closure of his neighborhood is illegal; so he and about 20 other people are waiting it out. The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection is investigating this situation. A law passed last year says if in compliance, a mobile home park owner has to give nearly six months of notice before evicting residents. On top of that, the law says the owner has to help pay relocation expenses that could range between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the situation. The investigation at the Attorney General's office may determine that the land owner has to help the residents move financially but it has nothing to do with preventing the park from closing. The residents are also looking at the possibility of purchasing the park themselves so that they can live there.

WILLIAMSPORT – The American rescue Workers in Williamsport are challenging the public to help them help the less fortunate with their “Stuff The Bus,” campaign. Kevin Carroll with the American Rescue Workers says while funding from government and other sources is drying up the need to help the homeless in the Williamsport area is increasing. So the American rescue Workers would like to stuff a yellow school bus with clothing to give to those who need it most. Carroll says the bus will be located at the former BiLo parking lot at Hepburn Street and Park Avenue in Williamsport. The clothing will benefit the American rescue Workers hunger and homeless prevention programs. The bus will be available for clothing donation between nine a.m. and nine p.m. from now till this Saturday.

LEWISTOWN - Residents of Mifflin County may lose access to health care provided by the state health center, in Lewistown, if Governor Tom Corbett's 2013-14 budget is approved in June. The Mifflin County center is one of 26 Pennsylvania state health centers that will close. Specifically, the state budget uses the term "co-locating," meaning that when a center closes, the services previously offered there will merge with a neighboring county's center. Linda Allen, nurse at Juniata County State Health Center, tells the Sentinel that both Mifflin County and Perry County centers would merge with Juniata. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Juniata County State Health Center is located along Market Street in Port Royal. If the Lewistown and Perry County centers close, their functions would merge with the Port Royal location.

WATSONTOWN - MePush Incorporated of Lewisburg and Minuteman Environmental Incorporated of Milton were among Susquehanna Valley businesses honored Thursday at the Central PA Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and awards ceremony at The Watson Inn, in Watsontown. The Daily Item reports, MePush won the Small Business of the Year 2012 award, and Minuteman won the Business of the Year.

HARRISBURG - Thousands of faculty members at Pennsylvania's state-owned universities are poised to vote next week on the ratification of their first contract in nearly two years. The Associated Press reports, Lauren Gutshall, spokeswoman for the faculty union, said Thursday the voting will take place from Monday through Wednesday at the 14 campuses. Gutshall says the ballots will be counted at the Harrisburg headquarters of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties on Friday, March 8th. The 5,500 faculty members in the State System of Higher Education have been working without a contract since June 2011. The four-year pact recommended by union leaders includes concessions on health care, but calls for pay raises of one or two percent in each of the last three years.