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March 22, 2013

PORT TREVORTON – Crews from Snyder, Perry, Northumberland and Union counties rushed to the scene of a four alarm fire this morning in Snyder County. The fire was called out around 8:30 this morning in a building at Keller’s Marine located at 2712 Main Street in Port Trevorton. The business services and sells boats and marine equipment. Billows of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building which can be seen from Route 15 in Union Township. At one point crews tried to fight the fire from the inside of the structure but were called out for fear that the building would collapse. 9-1-1 dispatchers believe emergency crews will be on the scene of the massive fire for quite some time.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport Police swarmed a portion of Sixth Avenue in Williamsport this morning around 4:30 after several reports of gunshots being fired in the area. It’s not known if anyone was hurt.  Police were looking for a black man who was reportedly seen running from the area with a pistol in his hand.
(WGRC)

JERSEY SHORE – Another man is being investigated surrounding the murder of a Jersey Shore man who’s decomposing body was found hidden in the basement of a home on Lincoln Avenue. On Wednesday a Judge approved a search warrant for state police to collect DNA from Michael Winchester, an alleged friend of Glen Jackson. The DNA samples were taken later that afternoon. Jackson is accused of stabbing to death Michael Krauser and hiding his body in the basement of his home. In the days following Krauser's death, investigators believe Winchester helped Jackson clean the alleged crime scene and possibly destroy and hide evidence. Jackson remains jailed in the Lycoming County prison without bail for Krauser’s murder. Winchester has not been charged.
(WGRC)

BLANCHARD – It appears another prescription drug overdose is allegedly behind the death of a high school student, in Centre County. 17-year-old Devin Stacey, a senior at Central Mountain High School was laid to rest yesterday. Court papers now say Stacey and a group of other teens bought and took Suboxone on March 13th. Stacey was found the next day, dead in an apartment in Blanchard. The Lock Have Express reports, Police searched the apartment along Main Street in Blanchard. No one has yet been charged in the case.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - A suspended corrections officer at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview accused of forcing an inmate to have sex pleaded no contest to the charges Thursday. 54-year-old Marlin Freeman, entered the plea in Centre County Court Yesterday. Police say the incidents happened in the Rockview State Prison Chapel between September 2009 and April 2012. Freeman allegedly threatened to take away the inmate’s janitorial job in the prison’s medical facility or get him placed in solitary confinement if he didn’t comply. Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
(WGRC)

PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge has scheduled a hearing next week for arguments about delaying the lawsuit filed by a young man who testified that Jerry Sandusky showered with him in 1998. The hearing is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the federal courthouse in Philadelphia. The presiding judge is Anita Brody. Lawyers for Penn State and The Second Mile have asked the judge to delay the suit, arguing in various court pleadings that the criminal prosecutions of former university leaders Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz will prejudice the defense of the civil suit. The university’s and charity’s lawyers want the judge to impose a stay until the criminal prosecutions are finished, and the lawyers have said those cases could go to trial in 2014. But the lawyers for the young man known as Victim 6 argued for the civil case to proceed, saying the man has waited long enough. Judges have delayed all the other civil lawsuits brought by men claiming to be abused by Sandusky.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - The Heister Street mural in downtown State College is a popular site for folks to visit, but its creators are hoping a new addition this spring will draw more attention. They're calling it "Inspiration Way" and they're hoping to honor the heroes of the State College community. In just a few months, bricks will cover the now concrete sidewalk in front of the Heister Street mural to honor heroes from the State College community. People are buying bricks in honor of Brandon McCombie, who was a hero from the Afghan/Iraq War, and of course Michael Murphy, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. But there's one hero that inspired "Inspiration Way." Many plan to memorialize the late Joe Paterno by placing bricks on the walkway. The bricks run between $100 and $1,000 dollars, depending on the size. Information on “Inspiration Way’ can be gotten by going to inspirationway.org.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - Mere hours after a sizeable crowd gathered at the Lewistown Train Station on Thursday in support of keeping Amtrak passenger railroad service from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Amtrak agreed to do just that. Governor Tom Corbett announced Thursday that a revised agreement with Amtrak calls for the state to pay $3.8 million a year to maintain service of the "Pennsylvanian" line. That's substantially less than initial estimates of $6.5 million a year. WGRC received news by email from Amtrak president and CEO announcing the continuance of service from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and New York, thus keeping the Lewistown station open for business.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BLOOMSBURG - Activities pick up at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds starting today in support of the 200th birthday of Columbia County. And one of the displays this weekend deals with life in the military in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. About a dozen re-enactors depicting a federal artillery battery will be on hand for the event. All the re-enactors will be dressed in period clothing and will be part of the Bicentennial celebration of Columbia County. There will be a lot of things to do at the fairgrounds Saturday, including a fireworks display at dusk.
(WGRC)

NEW BERLIN – Union County will officially be kicking off their Bicentennial celebrations today at the old Union County Courthouse in New Berlin. The ceremony this afternoon will mark the date when Union County, which also included Snyder County at the time, broke away from Northumberland County in 1813. Union County officials including Commissioners and Union County Judges will be on hand as the 17th Judicial Judges will hold court in the Old Courthouse for the first time since 1855. The event is by invitation only. Commissioner John showers says he hopes the ceremony will inspire County officials to prepare for another two hundred years of history preservation and appreciation.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

DANVILLE – On Thursday ground was broken on a new 115,000-square-foot, five-level Laboratory Medicine Building at Geisinger Medical Center. It will replace the current medical testing laboratories at Geisinger, providing space to expand Geisinger laboratory’s clinical, research and teaching programs. The $52.7 million dollar building is expected to be completed by April 2015, when it will provide enhanced laboratory testing, education and research areas, as well as staff and employee offices, meeting rooms and support areas. It is also conveniently located north of GMC’s Hospital for Advanced Medicine and parking garage to provide direct connections to both. To maximize turnaround times on lab results, tube transport system routes have already been planned and built through the Hospital for Advanced Medicine to connect with the new building. The expanded teaching capability will accommodate a future pathology residency program, a larger cytopathology fellowship program, and, eventually, a transfusion medicine fellowship program. Future plans will also consider clinical training opportunities for university medical technologist students.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - A group of employees from Golden LivingCenter-William Penn in Lewistown picketed the nursing home's parking lot on Thursday afternoon in demand of better wages and improved resident care. The demonstration was part of a statewide Day of Action, involving SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania union members. As they protested along Summit Drive, union members held signs reading "One job should be enough," "Resident care first" and "Be fair to those who care. The Sentinel reports, the protest was held in response to recent nursing contract negotiations between SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and Golden LivingCenters. It's part of a last ditch effort, during an already extended deadline of negotiation, to agree on better wages, additional training opportunities, increased staffing and extended hours of care per resident. Union representatives say on top of an already low starting salary, Golden LivingCenters is trying to decrease the yearly raise from 30 cents to 15 cents a year. Administrators at William Penn say Golden Living Centers value their employees and has presented a fair and equitable offer for negotiation. Negotiations are set to continue April 24 and 25th.  
(WGRC)

SUNBURY – A New Business Incubator will be opening in Sunbury. The Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone and Rural Economic Development Center will provide business services and based on eligibility, some companies will also be eligible for grant programs or micro-loan programs. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will take place at 218 Chestnut Street, Sunbury, on Tuesday, March 26th, at 5:00 p.m. and the doors of the new center will remain open for visitors until 7:00 p.m. The Ribbon Cutting will be provided in conjunction with the Central PA Chamber of Commerce; Senator John Gordner and State Representative Lynda Schlegel-Culver will be in attendance. Lease space will be available in April 2013 for occupancy for start-up businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors to begin or grow their business ventures. This is a low-cost incubator providing business with a professional atmosphere in which to begin and grow a new business idea. Businesses may receive free and reduced cost business consulting services; have access to research and development resources; opportunity to work with college students; assistance with sales and marketing and educational and training services. The Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone has been working with the Seiple Family Foundation, Central PA Chamber of Commerce, Bloomsburg, Bucknell and Susquehanna Universities; Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Geisinger Health Systems, the Sunbury Revitalization Inc. and Mayor David Persing to bring the new incubator to Sunbury.
(WGRC)

LEWISTOWN - Year three of a state grant program designed to allow the Mifflin County Correctional Facility, along with several partnering agencies, to provide re-entry services to all inmates in the prison, was approved Thursday by the Mifflin County Commissioners. Lisa Stalnaker, grant writer in the county human services department, tells the Sentinel, the grant totals about $133,000, and will be used for inmate risk assessment, education, psychiatric services, drug and alcohol counseling and mental health case management services, among others. Stalnaker said the program is strictly voluntary and, "just last week, the program was expanded to a community-based location in Juniata County and a request has been received to start one in Snyder County."
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The final numbers are in for Raise the Region 2013. The First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania says a grand total of $834,900 dollars were donated to over 160 non-profits in our area during last Tuesday’s 24 hour day of online giving. The public donations totaled $727,000 dollars, all together, and were boosted by $125,000 dollars in matching funds from the Blaise Alexander Family dealership. Monetary prizes and incentives also were awarded throughout the day with the Lycoming County SPCA receiving the $5,000 dollars grand prize for having the most unique donors throughout the 24 hour period.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Legislation to modernize and reform the State Tax Equalization Board has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 196-0, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator John Gordner. The bill previously received a unanimous vote in the Senate. Senator Gordner introduced Senate Bill 66 in response to inaccurate data forwarded by the State Tax Equalization Board to local school districts and municipalities. In 2010, there were numerous cases throughout the state where the State Tax Equalization Board incorrectly determined market values within municipalities, resulting in wrong data in as many of 50 of the 89 school districts that require multi-county tax equalization. While some of these problems were caused by obsolete computer programs that have been replaced, Senator Gordner says some problems were caused by the State Tax Equalization Board staff and were not recognized by Board members, who serve part-time and are private citizens appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Senate Bill 66 now moves to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG –The state House of Representatives voted Thursday to let small businesses sell wine and spirits for the first time since the start of Prohibition. House Bill 790, sponsored by Representative Mike Turzai passed the state House 102-99. The measure would repeal a law that gave state government the sole authority over the wholesale and retail sale of wine and liquor. Small-business owners applauded the measure saying the bill would lead to greater convenience, better selection and competitive pricing of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. However not all state representatives were happy with the vote. Lycoming County representative Rick Mirabito says privatizing the wine and liquor sales in the state would hurt rural areas, and especially young people. Mirabito noted that the governor’s own report stated that alcohol prices will go up in rural areas, and that, although the legislation will bring an increase in newspaper and other advertising, young people will be encouraged to consume more alcohol. Mirabito says the governor’s report also found that 82 percent of alcohol sales occur in Philadelphia, Allegheny, and south central counties. Thus, increases in sales revenues will benefit those areas. Mirabito noted that in 2009 the Center for Rural Pennsylvania issued a report that found alcohol use among rural youth to be higher than urban youth for each year and grade studied — for both boys and girls. The study showed that in rural Pennsylvania the median age of first-time alcohol use is 13-years-old. Mirabito said that in 2006 another study by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania looked at drug and alcohol treatment in rural areas. It showed 45 percent of clients in treatment were admitted primarily for alcohol treatment. Mirabito says this is of special interest to rural counties because the report found that counties paid for drug and alcohol treatment 37 percent of the time for rural clients. Mirabito says he believes lawmakers have the responsibility to make sure policies they enact do not bring more problems in our communities.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced that deficiencies in the dam at Centre County’s Colyer Lake have prompted the agency to initiate plans to completely drain the reservoir until the dam can be rebuilt to meet current engineering and safety standards. The drawdown is expected to begin next week and may take up to three months to complete. The lake will be drained at a rate of about two feet per week, depending on weather. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists are currently developing a fish salvage plan to remove and relocate as many fish as possible. The fish salvage is expected to begin by the end of March. The lake will be drawn down indefinitely until funding can be identified and secured to make the necessary repairs. The lake will remain open to public use until the water level reaches a point where it may be unsafe for anglers. At that point the lake will be closed and signs will be posting alerting anglers of the closing. Colyer Lake is a 77-acre reservoir located in Potter Township in Centre County. It is owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. It has been partially drawn down by approximately 10 feet since 2003.
(WGRC)