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March 21, 2013

MONTGOMERY - A gas worker and his wife were left homeless Wednesday afternoon after a fire destroyed their fifth-wheel camper on Fredna Avenue in Montgomery. Fire ripped through the camper very quickly after the owner discovered flames around the furnace about 2:30 p.m. The local chapter of the American Red Cross was assisting the couple, and the Sun Gazette reports the gas worker's employer was already making arrangements to find housing for him. A state police fire marshal was expected to investigate.

NEW RINGGOLD - Police have identified the driver of a car that slammed into a tractor-trailer Tuesday night on route 895 and burst into flames in Schuylkill County. The Republican Herald reports, 22-year-old Zachary Teter, of New Ringgold, was pronounced dead at the scene of the fiery collision. The driver of the tractor trailer, which also caught fire, was no hurt. Police said the investigation into the crash is continuing.

MCVEYTOWN – A Mifflin County man has been charges with terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and related counts after a four-hour stand-off with police, Friday night. State Police say around 9:30 p.m. 50-year-old Terry Hoy of McVeytown fired a shot from a shotgun near two homes. He then allegedly locked himself in his home along Jack’s Mountain road and refused to come when police ordered him to do so. Police got a break when food left on Hoy’s stove began to burn causing thick smoke conditions in the home forcing Hoy out. Hoy is now jailed in the Mifflin County Prison.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG – Police in Bloomsburg are looking for two men that tried to break into two business early this morning. Police say the two white men were wearing hoodies, one with a Michael Jordan logo on it. The one man also wore glasses. Police say the two tried breaking into the Fuel –On gas station, and the YMCA building in Bloomsburg. Anyone with information is asked to call Bloomsburg Police.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

MIFFLINTOWN – A Mifflintown man is jailed in the Mifflin County Prison for a burglary early Monday morning. Police say they have charged 22-year-old Owen Weaver with the burglary of Oakland Fabrics and Housewares, along Free Spring Church road in Mifflintown. Police say Weaver broke into the business twice and stole about $77 dollars. After the first break-in, the business set up cameras and caught Weaver in the act.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - A tow truck driver was the victim of an attempted armed robbery early Wednesday morning in Patton Township, Centre County. Police say the driver of the truck was working the 800 block of Cricklewood Drive at 3:40 a.m. when a man approached the truck, pointed a handgun at the driver and demanded money. The suspect ran away after not being able to obtain any money. Police described the subject as a black male, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall with an average build with dreadlocked hair. Anyone with information is asked to contact Patton Township police.

MIFFLIN – State Police are looking for two Hispanic women one of which tried to steal another woman’s purse, Tuesday night. The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. at the K&C Fuel Oil parking lot at the Service mart in Mifflin. Police say both women are around 30-year-old and one is known as Angel. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call state police, Lewistown.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG —Another piece of local history is being destroyed.  Bloomsburg University plans to tear down the old Magee mansion. The Press-Enterprise quotes school officials who say it has flooded one too many times. The university has reached an agreement with the Magee Family Foundation to demolish the structure built by carpet magnate Harry Magee in the 1940s and give the land back to Magee’s family.  Magee Center had been home to BU’s continuing education and professional development programs prior to the Lee Floods in 2011. But the cost of continual repairs in the wake of various floods in recent years has led to the decision to get rid of the building. The University has applied to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for demolition money and is waiting to hear back.

LEWISBURG – At a March 12th meeting in Lewisburg Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Michael Krancer said that “he would eat smallmouth bass out of the Susquehanna River.” Krancer and the Director of State Fish and Boat Commission, John Arway are at odds over the health of the Susquehanna especially in regard to the quantity and quality of smallmouth bass living in its waters. Arway was a special guest speaker yesterday at the Susquehanna Summit held at the Country Cupboard Best Western in Lewisburg. Arway says it’s not a matter of if the river is sick it’s a matter of how much more evidence does the Department of Environmental Protection need before it decides the river is sick. Arway was among about 50 people present at the summit whose goal was to come up with solutions and policy options to address a sick river. Among them sportsmen, anglers, environmental group representatives and biologists. John Messeder, of Gettysburg, says a solution needs to be put into place to clean up the River’s waters. He says right now we are passing down the problems of the River’s health and its costs to clean it up to our children and grandchildren and that should not be. He hopes that a greater push would come out of the Summit to rally support in the state legislature to start a program now that would clean up the river. Kayaker and fisherman Dwayne Suddoth, of Manchester, says folks all along the Susquehanna River should be concerned about the health of the river. He says the disappearance of smaller bass in the river means something is wrong. He says if something is affecting the health of the fish than it is also probably affecting the health of other creatures dependent on the river’s water, including communities who use the river for drinking water. The Susquehanna Summit was sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and the Chesapeake Legal Alliance.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE - The Jersey Shore Area School Board took the next step in an elementary construction project as it awarded contracts Wednesday. The base bids for the project at Jersey Shore Elementary School totaled $11.7 million, which is less than the project's construction budget of $12.5 million. Brian Haines, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, tells the Sun Gazette noted that the bids came in last week with "a lot better results," than the last bid opening. The project was put out to a second bid after it came in about $1 million over budget in February. Another action the board made and the public worried about is their participation in upcoming school board meetings. The board voted 5-2 to approve changes to policy 903, which deals with public participation in meetings. One change is that each member of the public now will have three minutes to speak instead of five minutes as it was previously.

MIFFLINBURG – The $3.9 million project to reconstruct Route 45 (Chestnut Street) in Mifflinburg, from Route 104 to Forest Hill Road, will begin on Monday, March 25. The contractor will begin reconstructing sidewalks and new curbs. The intersection of Route 45 and Forest Hill Road will be reconstructed over one weekend, beginning Friday, April 5th at 8 p.m. and ending Monday, April 8 at 6 a.m. The reconstruction phases of Route 45, from Eighth Street to Forest Hill Road, will begin April 8th. That morning, the contractor will close down the first three block area from Eighth Street to Fifth Street and begin reconstruction. After this is completed, the crews will work their way east until they finish the reconstruction work. The reconstruction work on Route 45 will be done in three-block sections at a time. Detours will be in place. All work is scheduled to be completed by October 31st.

SELINSGROVE – The $1.9 million project to rehabilitate the truss bridge on Route 522 over Penns Creek at Selinsgrove in Snyder County will begin Monday, March 25th. The contractor will make structural steel repairs to the bridge, and replace the deck and sidewalk. Pedestrian traffic access will be maintained throughout the project. A detour will be in place during the project. Construction is expected to be completed by November 1st.

SHAMOKIN - The position of county jury commissioner will not be on the ballot for the May 21 primary election despite last week's decision by the state Supreme Court to overturn a law allowing the abolition of the posts. In January 2012, Northumberland County Commissioners Vinny Clausi, Richard Shoch and Stephen Bridy agreed to eliminate the office of jury commissioner held by Democrat George Dorko and Republican Samuel Deitrick, a former county commissioner. But the abolition of the posts wasn't scheduled to take effect until December 31, 2013, when the terms expire. Critics claim jury commissioners, who must be from different political parties, are obsolete since jury pools are selected electronically for criminal and civil trials instead of by hand as was the case when jury commissioner posts were created more than a century ago. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania has long advocated for abolition of the jury commissioners, while the Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners has lobbied against it. The News Item reports, Commissioner Vinny Clausi claims the county will save approximately $225,000 over the jury commissioners' four-year terms if they are eliminated. On Wednesday, he stated, "I think the jobs are a waste of money. They aren't needed anymore because the jury selection process is different today. We have to abide by the Supreme Court ruling for now, but I think it's a joke."

LEWISBURG - A representative from state Sen. Gene Yaw’s office will be holding an outreach at the Union County Government Center from 10:30 until 11:30 am on Wednesday, April 3rd. Yaw encourages anyone with a state-related inquiry or problem to stop by; no appointments are necessary. Constituents unable to meet with Yaw’s staff that day may also call the senator’s toll-free number – 1-800-443-5772 – with questions and concerns.  

LOCK HAVEN - Jersey Shore Steel Company takes pride in running the "greenest" steel mill ever. That’s what company spokesman Thomas Tillman, tells the Lock Haven Express, Wednesday during a meeting of the Clinton County Economic Partnership. The company recently received the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence. The award is open to all Pennsylvania businesses, farms, government agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and individuals for projects promoting environmental stewardship. Tillman said the company is in the running for additional recognition of its efforts at providing an environmentally and economically sound product. The company manufactures high-strength rail steel angles from re-rolled railroad stock for a number of products. The business uses a state-of-the-art rolling mill and computer-controlled rolling process to assure both product quality and production. The mill is located in the former New York Central locomotive shop in Avis, across Pine Creek from Jersey Shore.

PITTSBURGH - Some of the nation's biggest oil and gas companies have made peace with environmentalists, agreeing to a voluntary set of tough new standards for fracking in the Northeast that could lead to a major expansion of drilling. The Associated Press reports, the program announced Wednesday will work a lot like Underwriters Laboratories, which puts its UL seal of approval on electrical appliances that meet its standards. In this case, drilling and pipeline companies will be encouraged to submit to an independent review of their operations. If they are found to be abiding by a list of stringent measures to protect the air and water from pollution, they will receive the blessing of the new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, created jointly by environmentalists and the energy industry. Many of the new standards appear to be stricter than state and federal regulations. If the project wins wide acceptance, it could ease or avert some of the ferocious battles over fracking that have been waged in statehouses and city halls. And it could hasten the expansion of fracking by making drilling more acceptable to states and communities that feared the environmental consequences.

HARRISBURG - Thousands of unionized faculty and hundreds of sports coaches at Pennsylvania's 14 state-run universities, including Lock Haven University, have a new contract that provides annual salary increases but requires more co-pay for their health-care insurance. The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education ratified separate pacts covering teaching faculty and coaches represented by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties on Wednesday. The four-year contracts are retroactive to July 2011 and run through June 30, 2015. The agreements provide raises totaling 4 percent for the 5,500 faculty members, while the 600 coaches will get raises totaling 4.75 percent plus performance-based merit pools in the last two years of their contract. The separate agreements were previously ratified by the members of the two bargaining units. The new contracts include salary increases that essentially track those provided to other state employee unions, as well as changes in PASSHE's health care plan and other workplace revisions that should produce both immediate and long-term savings for the State System.