May 9, 2012

May 9, 2012

DANVILLE – A Danville State Hospital patient assaults three staff members in Montour County.  State Police say during a lockdown at Danville State Hospital in Mahoning Township 18-year old Caitlin Swisher spit on three staff members, bit one on the arm and caused another to require stitches to close an elbow wound.  Swisher is charged with aggravated assault and related counts for the May 3rd incident.
John Callahan (WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - A Centre County man accused of robbing and threatening to kill four boys who were hiking on Centre Hall Mountain now faces trial on the charges.  19-year old Richard Martinez of State College waived his preliminary hearing today on charges that include four felony counts of robbery and a felony count of aggravated assault.  The Centre Daily Times reports, the boys told police Martinez forced them to the ground, kicked one of them in the head and went through their pockets and stole three iPods and a bottle of water from their backpacks.  He then allegedly held a box cutter to one boy's throat and threatened to kill them.  Martinez remains jailed on $75,000 bail.
(WGRC)

UNDATED - The number of robberies police believe a Hazleton man committed in three counties continues to rise.  With the recent filing of a new criminal case in Hazle Township, 19-year old Tysheed Hargrove, has been accused of eight robberies in three counties. State police at Hazleton said more charges are expected to be filed.  The Republican Herald reports, the armed convenience store robberies began in early January and were spread across Luzerne, Schuylkill and Carbon counties this winter. They ended February 5th after a high-speed chase with Tamaqua police, who found the robbery weapon inside the vehicle.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE – A Centre County man will go to trial, charged with more than 300 counts of child sexual abuse.   41-year old Jeffrey Storms of Bellefonte had 328 charges of various child sexual abuse charges bound over for trial at a preliminary hearing today.  A child told police about the abuse last December and an investigation revealed more child victims.  Storms is jailed on $250,000 straight bail with his trial set for August.
John Callahan (WGRC)

LEWISBURG – In Union County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved funding totaling nearly $3 million to address the repeated flooding of several properties in the Borough of Lewisburg. The money will be used to acquire and demolish ten houses along the east side of South Sixth Street. The properties, which are bordered by Limestone Run, commonly referred to as Bull Run, have been identified as the most vulnerable to flooding.  The project will make it possible for a greenway corridor to be constructed between downtown Lewisburg and Bucknell.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT – A Lycoming County college eliminates positions.  Trying to meet budget demands and keep tuition costs low, Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport has confirmed the elimination of 19 full-time positions and a decision to not fill 46 positions that have been vacant the past year.  In a statement, President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour said the layoffs are effective June 1st and will save the college just over $1 million.  Gilmour also said 46 positions - 11 of them faculty - that were vacated since last July will no longer be filled. This action will save the college an additional $3.59 million.  Gilmour cited level funding from the state, a decrease in enrollment and a 20-percent increase in health care as reasons cuts were necessary.
(WGRC)

MIFFLINVILLE – Fire crews in Columbia County scrambled out early this morning to fight a fire in Mifflinville. The fire was reported just after three a.m. at 300 West Third Street at the home of Trina Martz and David Bratten. Mifflinville fire Chief David Mausteller tells us heavy smoke was reported coming from second floor windows and the eaves of the home when fire crews arrived on the scene. Martz and Bratten and two young children were able to escape the home without injury, and there were no reports of any injuries to firefighters. Mausteller says the fire was electrical in nature and is being considered accidental. The fire cause significant damage to one room on the second floor and water damage throughout the rental unit owned by Ernie Kline of Millville. Mifflinville was assisted by crews from Espy, Lime Ridge and Berwick.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE – A State College man was killed in a crash on Interstate 99 in Patton Township yesterday. The crash happened just after three p.m. on Interstate 99 just east of Skytop Mountain Road. Police say 68-year-old Earl Ripka made a U-turn and traveled north in the southbound lanes colliding nearly head-on with a vehicle driven by 30-year-old Mitchell Koptchak of Phillipsburg. Ripka’s vehicle then went into the median and rolled several times before coming to rest. He died at the scene. Koptchak suffered minor injuries.
(WGRC)

HONEY GROVE – A Juniata County man died after swimming in a creek Sunday evening. Police say 53-year-odl Richard Noss of Honey Grove drowned in Tuscarora Creek around seven p.m. Sunday. Police say Noss was fishing with a friend when he went for a swim and drowned. He was pulled from the creek and was unable to be revived. Police have called his death accidental.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

SELINSGROVE – State Police are investigating a break-in in Snyder County that netted thieves around $200 dollars in cash. The break-in happened sometime between 5:30 Monday evening and nine a.m. Tuesday from Moyers Garage in Beavertown. Police say the cash was taken from the office of the garage. Anyone with information on the burglary is asked to call state police, Selinsgrove.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

THOMPSONTOWN – Two have been charged with stealing scrap metal in Juniata County. Police have arrested 24-year-old Jonathan Haubert of Thompsontown and 29-year-old Jeffery Graybill of Millerstown with stealing over 200 pound of scrap copper wire from a garage in the 1000 block of Route 235 in Thompsontown. The two allegedly sold the copper for over $440. Police say the owner of the garage had previously installed surveillance cameras on his property and caught the theft on tape.
Jim Diehl (WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - A couple from New Oxford Pennsylvania will each spend considerable time in federal prison after sentencing handed down in U.S. Middle District Court in Williamsport. Michael and Rebecca Strausbaugh were found guilty last year of child exploitation and pornography for producing images of sexual abuse of a child between the age of 5 and 8 months. Mr. Strausbaugh receives the most severe sentence with 45 years in prison and Mrs. Strausbaugh gets 15 years in prison.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE - A prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky case “inadvertently” released the names of some alleged victims in a document posted but then removed from Centre County’s website. The filing included lists of more than 200 discovery materials the prosecution turned over to defense attorney Joe Amendola. The document in its entirety was posted to the site Monday afternoon but taken offline a few hours later as ordered by the judge. It was re-filed Tuesday, and the judge overseeing the case approved keeping the lists sealed from public disclosure. While Senior Judge John Cleland granted the Attorney General’s Office request to seal materials, the judge denied requests by three state departments to seal motions to quash subpoenas they received from the defense that sought information they argued may lead to the identification of the young men. Amendola sought records such as criminal histories, mental health reports, and unemployment claims from the departments of Public Welfare, Corrections, and Labor and Industry. In separate matters, attorneys for several state departments filed motions to quash the defense subpoenas. That’s expected to be addressed at a hearing this afternoon.
(WGRC)

STATE COLLEGE - Former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary will sue the university in what his court filing describes as a whistleblower lawsuit. The attorney for McQueary filed what’s called a writ of summons in county court Tuesday for an employment dispute. While it doesn’t outline the details and cause for the civil lawsuit, the document gives Penn State notice the 37-year-old former Nittany Lion quarterback plans to sue his alma mater and employer. The document indicates McQueary intends to seek damages outside the normal arbitration limits. The University says it cannot comment on the pending lawsuit.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE — A Moshannon woman convicted of child endangerment for keeping her daughter in a home littered with dog feces won’t be able to have children live with her again. That crushing reality was part of the sentence imposed Tuesday on 41-year-old Kathy Lee Hackett, who was also told by attorneys that it’s unlikely she’ll regain custody of her child. Hackett left the courtroom in tears. Judge Pamela Ruest handed down that sentence yesterday in Centre County Court. Ruest ordered Hackett to spend 45 days to 23 1/ 2 months in the county jail with credit for eight days she already has served. After she is paroled, she will be on probation for two years.
(WGRC)

BELLEFONTE — A Penn State student will serve jail time for tipping over a news van during the riot in November that followed university trustees’ announcement that they were firing Joe Paterno as head coach. Nineteen-year-old Vincent Malizia, of Philadelphia, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days to 23 1/ 2 months in the Centre County Jail. He’ll be on probation for a year after his parole, and will have to do 100 hours of community service. The sentencing was part of a plea deal with prosecutors. In March, Malizia pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and summary criminal mischief, and the Centre County District Attorney’s Office withdrew felony riot and criminal mischief charges. Malizia was one of thousands of people who took to the streets after Paterno was terminated by the university’s board of trustees late November 9th. But Malizia was involved in the ugliest incident during that riot, the overturning of a WTAJ news van on East College Avenue. He was also ordered to pay restitution of almost $49,000.
(WGRC)

SUNBURY — A 2-mill property tax increase could be in the future for residents of the Shikellamy School District as school directors held a special meeting Tuesday night to work on a $1.1 million budget shortfall. If approved, the tax increase would cost residents about $32 more a year. The Daily Item reports, Board members continued studying Director Jim Garman’s plan of asking for a 10 percent reduction in service fees from the district’s vendors. Garman is now asking the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit to lower its fees for some services. A proposal to hire two high school teachers was axed. Instead, board members will use the $166,000 toward the budget deficit. With the $378,000 the district would generate with the tax increase and $100,000 Garman’s budget-cutting plan may save, the district would be headed toward a balanced budget. Directors will meet again on Thursday to vote on a proposed budget.
(WGRC)

DANVILLE — A new middle school at a different site is no longer a financial reality for the Danville School District, due in part to a projected budget deficit. There is a little more than $5 million earmarked for the repair and flood-proofing of the Danville Middle School, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pick up about 75 percent of that. Chris Evans, a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency representative, told school board directors that during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The middle school was closed following Tropical Storm Lee last September, forcing the school’s 550 students to be taught at classrooms in other district schools. The School Board has determined to have middle school students back in the Danville Middle School during the 2013 school year.
(WGRC)

MONTOURSVILLE - Montoursville Area School Board Tuesday night unanimously approved a $26.4 million preliminary budget for next year that holds the line on real estate taxes. The Sun Gazette reports, the spending plan reflects a nearly $1 million increase from last year. The increase in the budget is due to increased costs for retirement and health care. But there is no expected increase in taxes for residents in the school district. School officials say a number of cuts are being proposed. Two teachers are expected to retire and will not be replaced. In addition, a high school secretary position and custodial job will not be filled. The final budget is expected to be passed at the board's regular monthly meeting June 12.
(WGRC)

HUGHESVILLE - East Lycoming School Board passed the 2012-13 proposed general fund budget of more than $21 million at Tuesday night's meeting. The budget has an increase of more than $1 million from last year’s budget. The Sun Gazette reports, to balance the budget, a 2.17 real estate tax rate increase, is expected. The increases come from four main areas: health insurance, state school retirement system, cyber-charter school tuition and debt service for prior building renovations. The final budget adoption is scheduled at the June 19 meeting.
(WGRC)

NORTHUMBERLAND — Rain changed the location, but did not deter 42 high school teams from participating in the Susquehanna Valley Envirothon Tuesday. The event was held at the Shikellamy Marina, instead of the Shikellamy Overlook. The teams participated in six competitions in stations including forestry, soils, current issues, wildlife, aquatics and geology. Among those advancing to the Pennsylvania State Envirothon in Pittsburgh are teams from Lewisburg, Sunbury Christian, Bloomsburg Christian and Columbia/Montour Vo-Tech. If the teams win in Pittsburgh they will advance to the international competition to be held at Susquehanna University this year.
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - A $27.6 billion state budget bill that restores some $500 million of proposed state spending cuts awaits a Senate floor vote today after clearing a key committee by a unanimous bipartisan vote. The measure approved Tuesday by the Appropriations Committee seeks to restore cuts mainly in higher education, basic education and county-run human services programs that Governor Tom Corbett proposed earlier this year. But action on the final budget won't be completed until next month after the House offers its own version and the governor weighs in on the negotiated legislation. The bill would restore more than $200 million of state funding to Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University and the 14 state-owned universities. Reflecting increased state tax revenues in recent months due to an improving economy, the bill provides $50 million for the Accountability Block Grants used by school districts for kindergarten and pre-school programs. The accountability grants were zeroed out in Corbett's proposal. Also, state aid is restored for the Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs. By restoring $84 million for county human services programs, a proposed $168 million, in state aid would be halved to 10 percent. The bill would add $10 million for payments to operators of group homes for individuals with mental disabilities, thereby drawing an additional $10 million in federal funds. And it adds $30 million for Medical Assistance Long Term Care Services affecting residents of nursing homes.
(WGRC)

BERWICK — PPL has fixed some of the problems at one of its Susquehanna nuclear reactors, but it still has work to do, inspectors said in a report issued Monday. Regulators had discussed the preliminary results of their inspection during a public meeting in March. The written report officially closes their investigation into why Unit 1 had four unplanned outages within 10 months. Since then, PPL has fixed the procedures that led to the outages, and the plant had only one unplanned outage. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says during an inspection which ran February 13 through March 2, the company hadn't done enough to fix problems that led river water on its way to a cooling system to flood the basement of Unit 1's turbine building July 16, 2010. The flood was blamed on a faulty gasket. And the company also failed to sample enough gaskets and flanges to make sure the problem wasn't more widespread. PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said the plant just hadn't had enough time to finish its corrective actions. Right now the plant is trying to fix problems with cracked turbine blades discovered in Unit One in April, during a planned outage. This time, the plant will shut down Unit 2 to check its turbine blades for cracks as soon as Unit 1 is back up and running. Regulators will check PPL's progress again, although a date hasn't been set. For now, the plant remains in the second-lowest of five levels of oversight, along with nine other reactors nationwide. Four reactors are under even more scrutiny.
(WGRC)

WILLIAMSPORT - For the fourth consecutive year, the Old Lycoming Township Police Department received first place among seven police departments in the annual DUI Enforcement and Training Awards, presented Tuesday by the Lycoming County DUI Advisory Council. The Sun Gazette reports, award winners are determined by a formula, so larger municipal departments are not given an unfair advantage. Montoursville Police Department received the second-place award. Seven police departments overall participated in the program. DUI checkpoints will continue throughout the summer, including Memorial Day weekend. Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling spoke at the event a says there have been seven fatal crashes so far this year in Lycoming County with two of them being alcohol related. A third is pending to see if it is related to the synthetic drug bath salts.
(WGRC)

ALLENTOWN - PPL Electric Utilities is in the third and final year of the initial clearing of vegetation from the rights of way of major power lines - an effort called Wire Zone - Border Zone. The effort which was prompted by strict new federal requirements has been controversial in some areas. In addition, PPL Electric Utilities is continuing to work on safety and clearance issues in its transmission line rights of way by enforcing a new policy on obstructions - sheds, swimming pools, and other structures that will no longer be permitted in power line easements. A meeting on the policy will be held May 21 at 4 p.m. at the PPL Montour Preserve, Environmental Education Center near Washingtonville. Registration is required. To make reservations email mgenevese@pplweb.com.  
(WGRC)

HARRISBURG - Motorists may have the option of going a full five miles faster on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, if one state House proposal is approved. The plan would raise the roadways upper limit from 65 to 70 miles-per-hour. Democratic state Representative Joe Preston of Allegheny County is behind the bill to boost that upper limit – only if the Turnpike Commission so chooses. The reason behind the move is that the Turnpike has been widened, flattened, and straightened over the past decade or so. It now heads to the full House for a vote.
(WGRC)

SAN FRANCISCO— Artist Thomas Kinkade died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription tranquilizers, but his heart had grown so enlarged he had been vulnerable to a fatal heart attack at any point, according to a detailed autopsy report released Tuesday. The Associated Press reports, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office says the self-described "Painter of Light" died on April 6 of an acute combination of ethanol and Diazepam intoxication, or in common terms, of alcohol and the tranquilizer marketed as Valium. The 54-year-old Kinkade's sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes led to a commercial empire of franchised galleries, reproduced artwork and spin-off products that was said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales. In recent years, however, he had run into personal difficulties, including a 2010 bankruptcy filing by one of his companies and an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence that same year.
(WGRC)

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