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March 28, 2013

DIAMONDTOWN – Route 61 in Northumberland County in the area known as Diamondtown is re-opened to traffic after being closed for about five hours yesterday due to a truck crash. The crash happened just after nine a.m. Witnesses at the scene say a ten wheeler loaded with coal dust was coming off Wilburton mountain when it went off the roadway hit several parked vehicles before smashing through part of Greco’s Service Station and Auto Parts center and a block wall. Tony Greco, owner of the business tells us he was downstairs when the truck took off the doors and smashed the windows of his business before going through and coming to rest partially over the wall. The driver of the rig was hurt but was up and walking around the crash scene. He was eventually taken to a hospital. Greco says it sounded like thunder when the truck went smashing through his business. Route 61 was closed for several hours and was eventually re-opened just after two p.m.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

GOWEN CITY – Another state roadway was closed in Northumberland County yesterday afternoon for a brief time. A disabled tractor trailer closed down route 125 in East Cameron Township Northumberland County for about an hour yesterday. The closure was between Upper Road and Point Breeze Road. State Police were on the scene assisting with that incident.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SUNBURY – Quick response by fire crews saved a home in Sunbury yesterday afternoon. A fire in the bedroom of a home on South 10th Street in Sunbury was reported Wednesday afternoon. Reports say, the fire was located in a back bedroom of the home. The fire was contained to the bedroom, but officials say there was some minor damage to the rest of the house. Those living in the home will be temporarily displaced. The fire was an accident as officials say it was electrical in nature. There were no injuries.
(WGRC)

DUSHORE – Police in Sullivan County have arrested two men for burglary charges after stealing two flat screen televisions from an apartment in Dushore. Police have charged 24-year-old William Baals and 19-year-old Dustin Crawford-Albright both of Dushore. Police say the two broke into the Overton Apartments sometime between last Wednesday and Sunday and stole the televisions from a 59-year-old resident. Baals is jailed in the Montour County Prison, Crawford-Albright in the Clinton County prison both on $50,000 bail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

NEW COLUMBIA – Police are looking for the copper thieves that took around $5,800 in copper wire from 15 portable lighting apparatuses from a business in Union County. The lights belonged to Hines Location Lighting located along Tabernacle road in New Columbia. The copper wiring was stolen between last Wednesday and Tuesday of this week. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call state police, Milton.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - What would happen if a plane crashed in State College?  Rescue crews and emergency agencies ran through a mock crash drill yesterday to test how emergency crews would respond. It was all part of a yearly drill aimed at keeping emergency crews on their toes in the event of a mass casualty incident. 49 people, scattered in the woods and in a field were all a part of the training. Emergency crews were not told ahead of time as to what to expect. They are then evaluated on their response.
(WGRC)

POTTERS MILLS - PennDOT is moving ahead with preliminary studies and plans for a roadway safety enhancement project along Route 322, near the village of Potters Mills in Centre County. The project, known as Potters Mills Gap, will stretch east from the Route 144/322 intersection to the top of Seven Mountains, near the Centre/Mifflin County line. The project could help ease traffic delays and safety concerns for thousands of motorists who use the roadway regularly.  Crews will be studying the area beginning in early April. Property owners will be contacted during the study. PennDOT will evaluate and document existing safety and congestion issues and the project will move through the process of being added to the Centre County Long- Range Transportation Plan.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - It was a classroom project that opened the hearts of boys and girls teaching them to be thankful for what they have. The 17 students in the fifth-grade class at Lock Haven Catholic School recently wrapped up a nearly four-month project to help clothe children in Haiti. The project was called, “Operation Clothing Haiti," and had students turning pillow cases into shirts and shorts, and providing flip-flops for Haitian children. The Express reports, 17 dresses and 17 pairs of shorts were made, packed, and ready to be sent out this week. School officials say the project not only taught students how to sew but also to be grateful for where they live and what they have.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - The Second Mile has been given court approval to sell its building on South Atherton Street in State College. Out-of-county Judge William Morgan Wednesday, approved the deal that will have the charity, founded by Jerry Sandusky, sell the two-story office building on South Atherton Street for $650,000 to A.G.L. 2 Limited Partnership, of State College. The sale has been part of Second Mile leaders’ plan to shut down and transfer the nonprofit’s assets and programs to a Texas-based organization for children and families. The Centre Daily Times reports, Second Mile officials decided to close down because the charity was crippled financially after Sandusky, its longtime public face, was accused and convicted of child sex assault. The closing is set for April 25. The sale price exceeds the $560,000 appraisal of the property in December 2011, which is why Second Mile lawyers said the charity wanted to appease the title insurer by getting court approval.
(WGRC)

LOCK HAVEN - First-term Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz is reportedly doing well and recovering from heart surgery after suffering a heart attack Tuesday morning. Smeltz was flown from Lock Haven Hospital to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. Reports say, Smeltz underwent a four-hour procedure, which included quadruple bypass surgery. Smeltz is expected to make a full recovery.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY — Northumberland County Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy rushed Tuesday and Wednesday to find a judge on the federal level to hear a lawsuit filed by a Coal Township man after learning a county judge was going to take the case. After County judges Robert Sacavage and William Weist refused to hear the suit, County Judge Charles Saylor, on Monday, sent a letter to the Commissioners saying he would hear the case. The Daily Item reports, William Knapick filed the complaint against Clausi and Bridy after claiming commissioners imposed a two-minute limit on public comment and cut him off 90 seconds into his public comments. Knapick says that was a violation of the Sunshine Law.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE — Some Montour County prisoners unhappy with their food refused to return to their cells Tuesday, prompting a police response to restore order. The Press Enterprise reports, during the brief melee, a police dog bit an inmate sending him to the hospital to be treated. Prison officials say the ruckus started about 8 a.m. and involved about a half dozen inmates. Prison staff called for assistance from Danville and Mahoning Township Police plus the Union County Sheriff’s Office were at the scene. In all, about a dozen lawmen were on hand along with several police dogs, and the situation was over in about two hours. There was no damage at the prison. The district attorney will decide whether to file charges in the disturbance.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – A lack of room to put inmates and rising trends in certain criminal activities have put Lycoming County commissioners and court officials in what one former county district attorney characterized as being "between a rock and a hard space." Consultants hired by Lycoming county have produced an option for a new $40 million, 538-bed combined facility that would house prison and Pre-Release Center inmates that they say would last the County about 50 years. The Sun Gazette reports, commissioners have said they do not want to resort to building a new prison before all options have been exhausted. Meanwhile Lycoming County has initiated plans for a day reporting center and increased supervised bail monitoring to help keep nonviolent offenders and those approaching the end of their sentences out of the prison. Commissioners say those tactics will be used for about two years and evaluated to see if they make a dent in the prison population.
(WGRC)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the federal government can be sued for abuse claims against prison guards. The Associated Press reports, the high court ruled in favor of prisoner Kim Millbrook, a prisoner at the federal prison in Lewisburg, who had accused prison guards of sexually assaulting him in May 2010. Prison officials said Millbrook's claim was unsubstantiated. Millbrook sued the federal government for negligence, assault and battery, but the lower courts threw out his lawsuit. He appealed to the Supreme Court, writing his petition in longhand. Justice Clarence Thomas said that Millbrook’s lawsuit can move forward and the court appointed him a lawyer. The Federal Torts Claim Act waives the United States' immunity against lawsuits for civil wrongs intentionally caused by federal representatives, including federal law enforcement officers. But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said immunity is only waived when the law enforcement officer is executing a search, seizing evidence or making an arrest. Thomas said those terms describe what federal law enforcement officers can do, not what they can be sued for.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Lawmakers need to reduce taxpayers’ share of payments into Pennsylvania’s major state pension funds in the next few years even if the rest of Governor Tom Corbett’s pension-overhaul proposals bog down. Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said Corbett’s $28.4 billion state budget plan for the year starting July 1 includes $175 million in savings from a proposed short-term reduction in taxpayers’ contributions to the pensions of hundreds of thousands of state and school employees. Similar deferrals would avert sharp increases in the following two years. The Associated press reports, failure to approve the changes would require cuts elsewhere in the budget. Corbett’s pension initiative has yet to be introduced as legislation nearly two months after he unveiled it, and the reaction from legislators has been cool at best. Yet Zogby and James Schultz, the governor’s chief counsel, talked about the package as if it is not only likely to pass but also likely to be upheld in the courts. The most radical changes in Corbett’s plan would reduce the future pension benefits of more than 370,000 members of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System to save $12 billion over 30 years. Unions representing the employees have vowed to sue if the changes are approved, and their leaders say decades of case law are on their side.
(WGRC)