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April 11, 2013

RIVERSIDE – For some of us Springtime Thunderstorms are calming and reassuring that winter is in the rear-view mirror. But storms that rolled through the region yesterday did do some damage. Lightning caused $15,000 worth of damage to the Riverside Laundromat and Tanning Salon late yesterday afternoon. Just before six p.m. lightning struck the metal roof of the building and caught the building’s roof on fire. Crews arrived at the scene and soon had the fire out but not before is damaged the structure. Fire crews also had to cut the roof to extinguish and lingering flames. Owners of the business say they should be open today. In Centre County winds were recorded at 67 mph at University Park Airport around 8 p.m. The National Weather Service office reported 64 mph winds last night. More than 1,300 people lost power in Centre County due to the storms. In Mifflin County dime sized hail fell with the heavy rain and strong winds produced power outages, and blocked roadways due to downed trees in Mifflin County as well. PPL says as of 4:30 this morning they still had over 3000 customers without power in their 21 county service area. Among them hardest hit was Lycoming County where 1500 people were still without power following last night’s storms.

MIDDLEBURG - It took three days for a jury to be selected to hear testimony in the coming trial of three Snyder County men accused of killing 22-year-old Donald Seebold III, of New Berlin, nearly 16 years ago. The Daily Item reports, jury selection began Monday morning and ended Wednesday afternoon with the selection of eight women and four men for the panel, plus two men and two women as alternates. The panel was chosen from a pool of about 200 prospective jurors summoned to the Middleburg courthouse. The trial starts April 29th in the criminal homicide and conspiracy case against 37-year-old Robert Reich, and 39-year-old Christopher Aucker, both of Beavertown, and 37-year-old Ryan Sprenkel, of Middleburg. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks. The men are accused of fatally beating and kicking Seebold, for flirting with Aucker’s then-girlfriend, now his wife, Sheila Liddington Aucker, at Reich’s all-day birthday party, held at the Port Ann home of his aunt, Linda Thomas. Liddington Aucker and Thomas are charged with perjury for allegedly lying to the grand jury about the events surrounding Seebold’s death.

JERSEY SHORE - A man accused of threatening violence in Lycoming County entered a plea in court Wednesday. Matthew Bachman entered a no contest plea to one charge of making a threat with a bomb. He was sentenced to five years’ probation. Bachman must also undergo mental health counseling and is not allowed to own a firearm. In January, police say Bachman threatened to blow up a business and stage a standoff with police.

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP - Two Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers from Pennsylvania have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. An Apache helicopter went down in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Ruffner, a western PA native who lived in Harrisburg, and Chief Warrant Officer Jarett Yoder of Reading. Governor Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett offered their condolences to the families of Yoder and Ruffner.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – Traffic on route 15 Southbound in a portion of Lycoming County will be reduced to one lane and traffic stops will be a part of ongoing construction. The contractor working on the Route 15 safety improvement project on the Montgomery Pike will be working on a 400-foot section that is too narrow to maintain free-flowing traffic. As a result, traffic in the southbound direction will be controlled by flagging operations from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Drivers should expect delays and should plan ahead for extra time in their travels. The traffic delays should only last a day but poor weather may force this phase of work into a second day.

WILLIAMSPORT – Low income housing is a go but a senior housing project proposed for Williamsport has been put on hold. Forty apartments targeted for low and moderate income families can be built, at the site of the Brodart Warehouse, but apartments for senior citizens as tenants can't get the necessary tax credits. The Sun Gazette reports, NRP Group, of Cleveland, Ohio, the builder planning to build the apartments received tax credits from the state Housing Finance Agency. The same can't be said for developers seeking such credits to build senior citizen apartments eyed for Mulberry Street and Via Bella, or Grove Street Commons, on the grounds of the former National Guard armory. John Grado, city engineer says developers, Fortus Group, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, which continues to pursue building a four-story senior citizen apartment complex on Mulberry Street, and SEDA-Council of Governments Housing Development Corp., Lewisburg, which wants to build on Grove Street, will have to wait about a year for another round of applications. With the Brodart project getting financing, the city plans to review bids from companies seeking to demolish the warehouse. The demolition and remediation bids are due to the city by May 2.

WILLIAMSPORT – The Lycoming County commissioners will be accepting an award today for the Lycoming County Landfill Gas to Energy Project. The project with its partners; PPL Renewable Energy and Federal Bureau of Prisons were awarded with 2012 Project of the Year honors in the category of electrical and thermal production from the Environmental Protection Agency. Lycoming County’s Landfill Gas to Energy Project was one of seven projects recognized in 2012. Eighty percent of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Allenwood Correctional Complex’s electricity is supplied and 90 percent of the power and thermal needs of the Lycoming County Landfill complex are met through the combustion of landfill gas.

SUNBURY - A new prison in Northumberland County was again the topic of discussion of last night’s meeting of the Northumberland County Commissioners.  The Commissioners held the night meeting so that those who could not attend a daytime meeting could approach the Commissioners with concerns. Regarding the possibility of a new prison, Chairman Vinny Clausi says it’s the wisest choice for a prison plagued by a recent series of lawsuits. Meanwhile some Northumberland County residents showed up at the night meeting and blamed the lawsuits on the way prison guards treat the inmates incarcerated there. Commissioner Stephen Bridy says while a new prison would help with some problems he feels the county should be working to reduce the number of prisoners and utilizing other public services, rather than to make room for more prisoners.

LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County Prison Board has struck a new deal with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on Wednesday, a move that opens the door to a potential $2.8 million in yearly revenue by providing local cell space for up to 120 state parole violators. With the Department of Corrections opening new prisons, the Department pulled its "regular" state inmates out of Clinton County several months ago to house them in the new state jails. That meant that Clinton County, which had been receiving $47 a day for those inmates, lost the money it formerly used to bolster finances and reduce the taxpayer expense of the county lock-up. At the end of the day, a new proposal came in from the state, even as the prison board and county commissioners released a study showing a loss in revenue of $2.1 million in 2012 for the prison. Clinton County officials say the new contract should go a long way toward covering the expense exposed by last year's departure of state prisoners.

DANVILLE - Keystone Accountable Care Organization, comprised of Geisinger Health System, Evangelical Community Hospital and Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers, has been selected as one of 106 new accountable care organizations in Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Together, approximately 7,500 patients can expect to receive care under the auspices of the Keystone ACO. The announcement is the latest and largest round of accountable care organizations under the Medicare shared-savings program. This most recent addition of ACOs ensures that as many as 4 million Medicare beneficiaries across the United States now have access to high-quality, coordinated care. ACO’s are a unique opportunity for financially strong, independent healthcare facilities to work together to serve their communities while at the same time experiencing cost savings that can be re-invested into more care programs that only create more benefits for their patients. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 250 ACOs have been established. Beneficiaries using ACOs always have the freedom to choose doctors inside or outside of the ACO. Accountable care organizations share with Medicare any savings generated from lowering the growth in healthcare costs, while meeting standards for quality of care.

WILLIAMSPORT - The Loyalsock Township School Board approved a tentative budget for the 2013-14 school year Wednesday, which included a .15 millage increase on real estate taxes. That means a home valued at $100,000 would see an increase in taxes around $15. The district still would be required to use $94,000 of its reserves with the tax increase to meet budget. School officials say the overall budget was a 3.66 percent increase over last year's. Retirement pensions and health care are the driving forces for the increase in budget figures.

STATE COLLEGE - The eighth annual Autism Speaks U 5K Race and 3K Walk will be held noon Saturday in downtown State College to spread awareness of autism. Penn State graduates Adam Dorfman and Andrew Moses initiated Autism Speaks U as a way for college students across the country to help raise money and spread awareness for the larger nationwide Autism Speaks campaign. Since its start at Penn State in 2006, Autism Speaks U has raised more than $1 million. On-site registration for the run and walk will begin 11 a.m. Saturday at the corner of South Allen Street and East Beaver Avenue near the State College Municipal Building.

HARRISBURG - The widow of longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno says she and her husband were ignorant about sexual predators like Jerry Sandusky. Speaking at a child-abuse prevention program in Harrisburg yesterday, Sue Paterno says she and her husband sometimes unknowingly helped Sandusky "groom" the boys he abused, believing he was helping them find a better life. Paterno says she was horrified to learn Sandusky sexually abused several young boys. A probe completed last summer accused Joe Paterno, who died in January 2012, and three former Penn State administrators of covering up an abuse allegation about Sandusky more than a decade ago in an attempt to shield the university from bad publicity. The Paterno family has vehemently denied the late coach had knowledge of Sandusky's crimes.

HARRISBURG - State senators are renewing an effort to ban coverage of elective abortions by insurance policies that are offered in Pennsylvania's health insurance marketplace that begins in 2014. The bill has passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on an 8-to-5 vote. However, the insurance policies must include coverage for treatment of any post-abortion complication or any miscarriage or complication related to a miscarriage. A similar bill is pending in the House.

HARRISBURG - Yesterday, Senators Bob Mensch, a Republican from Montgomery County and Jay Costa a Democrat from Allegheny County introduced legislation, Senate Bill 840 that would change the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services. Identical legislation, House Bill 993 passed the House Human Services Committee last month. The introduction of this legislation is the latest step in a statewide movement that is working to change the name of the department. The effort has been bolstered by overwhelming support from Pennsylvania organizations and state leaders, including five former Pennsylvania Governors and six former DPW Secretaries. Most recently, the full body of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania voted to support the legislation changing the name of the state Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services.