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June 20, 2013

MINEOLA, NEW YORK - Former investigators are pushing to reopen the probe into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of New York, saying new evidence points to the often-discounted theory that a missile strike may have downed the jumbo jet. The New York-to-Paris flight crashed July 17, 1996, just minutes after the jetliner took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard, including 16 students and five chaperones traveling to Europe from the Montoursville Area High School. The effort to reopen the probe is being made in tandem with the release next month of a documentary that features the testimony of former investigators who raise doubts about the National Transportation Safety Board's conclusion that the crash was caused by a center fuel tank explosion. In a petition filed yesterday seeking to reopen the probe, they say they have "reviewed the FAA radar evidence along with new evidence not available to the NTSB during the official investigation and contend that the NTSB's probable cause determination is erroneous and should be reconsidered and modified accordingly." The former investigators calling for a new probe say new evidence that a missile may have taken down the jet includes analysis of radar of the jetliner. Speculation of a missile strike began almost immediately after the crash. Theories that an errant missile may have been fired from a U.S. military vessel were widely refuted, but conjecture about a shoulder-fired missile launched by terrorists in a small boat has never completely gone away. The petitioners contend that the testimony of more than 200 witnesses who reported seeing streaks of light headed toward the plane should be reconsidered. The NTSB said after the first investigation that it found no evidence of a missile strike. It explained that what witnesses likely saw was the jetliner pitching upward in the first few moments after the explosion, but some witnesses still maintain that the streak of light they saw emanated from the waterline and zoomed upward toward the plane.
(WGRC)

NORTHUMBERLAND – A six-year-old Shamokin boy was rescued and resuscitated yesterday at the Liberty Splashland Pool in Northumberland. The boy was found at the bottom of the pool and then rescued and brought back around before being taken to Geisinger where the Daily Item reports, was conscious and talking. The incident was the second in the Susquehanna Valley after a boy was rescued and given CPR after found floating in the Mifflinburg Pool on June 12th.
(WGRC)

MOUNT CARMEL – The Merion Heights teen that went missing Monday in Northumberland County was spotted near Seventh Street in Mount Carmel yesterday morning and then caught by police just after four p.m. yesterday. The teen had a few scrapes and bruises but was reported to be fine. Mount Carmel Township Police are continuing their investigation into why 17-year-old Mackenzie Greco went missing after he said he was going for a run on Monday and didn’t report back home. The finding of Greco ended a two day search for him in Mount Carmel Township and the surrounding area.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

LEWISBURG – A New Berlin teenager has been charged with the May 22nd hit-and-run crash in Lewisburg that left a 62-year-old Lewisburg man injured. The Daily item reports, 19-year-old Megan Witmer is charged with accidents involving death or injury, and failure to give information and render aid. Jose Santiago Martine was struck at the intersections of Route 15 and Route 192. Police say Witmer was driving a car owned by Veronica Ulrich of Millmont at the time of the crash. Police say Ulrich is the woman who pleaded guilty in May of paying $25 dollars to a man to beat-up a Milton Area high School student who Ulrich says attacked her daughter.  
(WGRC)

SHAMOKIN - Authorities in Shamokin in Northumberland County are on the lookout after someone was attacked by two Bengal cats that are now missing. Police say a Shamokin resident who lives on East Chestnut Street, adopted the cats not knowing they were hybrids. Officers say the cats got aggressive, bit and then scratched the owner. Police in Shamokin say if you see the animals not to approach them, just notify authorities. Police say the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission was notified.
(WNEP)

BLOOMSBURG - A young bear out exploring new ground ambled right into the heart of the downtown Bloomsburg Wednesday afternoon. His visit caused quite a stir, drawing a police pursuit and crowds of curious onlookers. It came to an end in the quiet shade of a few trees behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with the help of a few tranquilizer darts. And then he was on his way back to the wilderness in a Game Commission bear trailer. Game Commission officials say the young bear had probably just been kicked out of his home by his mother so she can ready for new cubs. The Press Enterprise reports, police got their first call about the black bear from a resident around Catherine and 10th streets just after noon. They finally caught up with it around Fourth Street, as it made its way swiftly through yards across Main Street and into the church yard taking a drink out of a fountain and then sat down in the shade before Game officials were able to put the bear to sleep and cart it off.
(WGRC)

POTTSVILLE - Dave Moyer, a beekeeper from Schuylkill Haven, and his wife, Sue, were called Tuesday to remove thousands of honey bees swarming on Second Street in Pottsville. The couple removed most of the bees from outside the Lipkin Technology Building, located at1 S. Second St., and took the bees to their property. Moyer said there were approximately 25,000 bees and removing them took about an hour. The couple was called by Amy Burkhart, executive director of Pottsville Area Development Corp. Burkhart said she didn't remember ever having a bee problem at the site. Moyer said the bees were in a cluster on the building because the queen was there. This isn't the first time the couple have been called to relocate bees. They've removed them from fence posts, playground equipment and buildings.
(WPPA)

HUGHESVILLE – The driver of a car and her passenger were taken to hospitals following a crash in Moreland Township in Lycoming County, Monday. The crash happened around ten a.m. on Route 118. Troopers say 71-year-old Shirley Lorenz of Unityville lost control of her car on a curve and hit the guardrails on both sides of the roadway before coming to a stop. Lorenz was taken to Geisigner Medical Center while her passenger 78-year-old Walter Lorenz also of Unityville was taken to Williamsport Regional Medical Center.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

ALLENWOOD – A New Jersey man is being charged with stealing a car in Union County. That happened last night around ten o’clock at a home along Route 44 in Allenwood. State Police say 18-year-old Benedetto Derrico of Maywood New Jersey was being treated at the White Deer drug and Alcohol Treatment Center when he and another person took off and stole an SUV belonging to an Allenwood man. Police located Derrico and have charged him with theft by unlawful taking. Police are currently searching for the other individual involved. Derrico is currently locked up in the Union county Jail.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

BURNHAM - Two men face robbery-related charges after a home break-in Tuesday afternoon in Mifflin County. Mifflin County Regional Police Department say Demont Hodo, of Baltimore, and Donnie Wright, of Harrisburg, went into a home on South Walnut Street, in Burnham, just before five p.m. and robbed the resident at gunpoint of $1,300. Hodo and Wright were arrested a short time later on U.S. Route 322 in Juniata County. Both men are now jailed in the Mifflin County Prison on robbery and related charges.
(WGRC)

FREEBURG - Route 35 in Snyder County near the village of Freeburg was closed for a period of time yesterday after a large tree fell across the roadway bring down power and telephone wires and a pole. The closure was located about one-half mile west of Freeburg. Traffic was detoured around the scene of the tree down until the area was cleared and the pole and wires restored.
(WGRC)

LEWISBURG – Drivers on Route 15 in Union County are advised to be alert for lane closures in both the northbound and southbound directions at the scene of a water main break near North Armory Boulevard south of Lewisburg. Now last evening one lane of Route 15 in each direction, as well as the center-turn lane, was closed in the vicinity of the break. The center-lane closure will remain in effect into today.
(WGRC)

SELINSGROVE - Up to 100 pilots from Pennsylvania and Canada will be flying into the Penn Valley Airport on Saturday to test their skills in a barnstorming event. Airport officials say 45 pilots have pre-registered to take part in the day-long competition that begins at 10 a.m. He said he anticipates another 50 will show up. The public is invited to attend the event at 100 Airport Road in Selinsgrove. The Daily Item reports, pilots will participate in four competitions. They are a precision flour bomb drop, spot landing, short takeoff run and seven airport poker run, which will have the pilots flying to seven airports to pick up a card and the individual with the best hand wins. There is a $10 entrance fee for each event. Proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The Williamsport Parking Authority voted Wednesday to decrease its hourly rates by half in its garages from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday and during nationally recognized holidays. The Sun Gazette reports, authority officials say instead of $2.00 for the first hour, the charge will be $1.00.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - The Loyalsock Township School Board passed a 2013-14 budget, last night but not without some issues. It was announced during the meeting's public comment period that a grievance has been filed against the district due to the removal of two positions being cut from full-time to part-time. The Sun Gazette reports, the Loyalsock Township Education Support Professionals Association says the district failed to bargain in good faith over the positions. Meanwhile School Business Manager, Gerald McLaughlin, reported that slashing the two positions will save nearly $25,000. The board approved the $19.2 million budget with no tax hike. The budget had a deficit of $109,000, which will be made up using fund balance.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE - Two men from Bloomsburg are paddleboarding the entire Susquehanna River. Their 444 mile journey from New York to Maryland is raising money for projects in the Columbia-Montour County region. Steve and Randy Marks are spending a lot of father-son time together on the Susquehanna River. A group of children from the summer camp at the Danville Area Community Center cheered on the duo as they paddled through the Danville area yesterday. The Marks family is not just paddleboarding for fun. They are doing it as a fundraiser to raise money for two local causes; Kidsburg playground in Bloomsburg and the Danville Area Community Center. Steve and Randy started their journey on the Susquehanna on June 9th in Cooperstown, New York. They spend between seven and nine hours a day paddleboarding and hope to finish their trip Sunday in at the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
(WNEP)

LEWISTOWN - Lewistown Hospital's Corporate Members voted Wednesday evening to approve the Comprehensive Integration and Merger Agreement with Geisinger Health System. The 373 members voted 17 opposed and 216 in favor of the merger. The Geisinger Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the integration and merger this afternoon. If approved, finalization of the merger rests on regulatory approval by the state Attorney General's Office, Pennsylvania Department of Health and federal regulators. The merger is expected to be finalized within the next three months.  
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The NCAA already has one court victory over Pennsylvania, and a lawyer for college sports’ governing body argued Wednesday that the lawsuit brought by State Senator Jake Corman has too many flaws and should be tossed out. Lawyers for the NCAA and state Senator Jake Corman went before the judges from the state’s Commonwealth Court for oral arguments on the lawsuit that seeks to keep in Pennsylvania the whole $60 million fine Penn State is paying for the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The Centre Daily Times reports, NCAA lawyer Everett Johnson told the judges that Corman and fellow state Treasurer Rob McCord, who joined the lawsuit, do not have the legal standing to sue and take control of the $60 million. Johnson said the state treasurer cannot sue because that office does not have the authority to collect a debt, such as the $60 million fine. Instead, that would be the realm of the state attorney general, he said. The lawyer for Corman, Matt Haverstick, fought back and said the consent decree was silent on whose money the fine would be. He said it didn’t belong to the NCAA because the consent decree does not specify the owner of the endowment. Haverstick said the money was in effect being expropriated from Penn State and could be sent anywhere. As a result, state officials took it upon themselves to regulate it. Dan Pellegrini, the president judge of the court, and Judge Bonnie Leadbetter questioned Haverstick why the suit didn’t take aim at Penn State instead of the NCAA.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority Wednesday approved a grant of more than $114,000 to Northumberland County to assist in the project to convert the County Courthouse to a natural gas heating system. The Authority today approved the grant as a result of advocacy by State Senator John Gordner and State Representatives Lynda Schlegel-Culver and Kurt Masser. The project will involve a conversion of the courthouse’s thirty-year old oil heating system with a more efficient and cleaner natural gas furnace. The $164,000 project is expected to save Northumberland County over $1 million in heating costs over the expected thirty-year life of the project. The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority is an independent public financing authority created by the General Assembly in 1982. Its mission is to fund clean, advanced energy projects in the Commonwealth.  The grant awarded today is funded from the Growing Greener II bond program as part of an initiative to assist counties with clean energy projects.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - The Senate Wednesday passed legislation authored by Senator John Gordner that will provide important updates to the 30-year-old law that governs the practice of Speech-Language and Hearing treatment in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 137 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. Senate Bill 137 is the result of several years of discussion with the profession, state regulators and consumer groups.  The legislation also reforms the State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language and Hearing, resulting in savings to the Commonwealth. Bloomsburg University is one of three institutions of higher education that offers a Doctorate in Audiology program in Pennsylvania.  
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - An effort to slap a $100 surcharge on speeding tickets to help fund mass transit in Pennsylvania looks to be dead in the water, as one House member said Wednesday. The proposal is part of a $2.5 billion plan to fund roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure that has passed in the Senate. The surcharge revenue would be specifically routed for public transportation. House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said Wednesday lawmakers are hearing from constituents with concerns about their driving violations helping to pay for buses and trains. Another major concern has been introduced by law enforcement. "The chief of Pittsburgh Police had said they won't write tickets on traffic violations because of the added fee," said Miskin. "Tickets are about safety, not about raising money." The ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, Mike McGeehan (D-Philadelphia) said he's disappointed, but he isn't yet threatening to withhold support for the larger plan to fix roads and bridges. "Well, I haven't seen anything," said McGeehan. Mass transit is estimated to get 100 million dollars from the surcharge. Leaving it out would reduce mass transit's share of money from the overall plan by about one-fifth. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch told House lawmakers without it, other pieces of the larger transportation plan will have to be renegotiated. Support for that overall plan, on both sides of the aisle, is looking low. It could get a vote from committee early next week.
(WITF)