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Wednesday April 4, 2007

Bus tour of Sunbury’s flood protection system

SUNBURY – The Flood Protection Workshop continues on and rolls right into Sunbury as three busloads of people took a tour of Sunbury’s flood protection system. The tour highlighted the pumping stations and the floodwall. Ending the tour was a look at the ‘hub’ of the Sunbury Municipal Authority, the Emergency Operations Center. Many were impressed with the condition of the center and the up-to-date technology.

Sharon Shaffer, Municipal Secretary at the Hyndman Borough in Bedford County, came to the three-day workshop and says she will adopted in her own office some policies she learned in Sunbury about keeping an emergency operations plan up to date. Operations Maintenance of Flood Control in Sunbury, Phil Kaylor was the tour guide and was pleased that everyone was so impressed, because the flood control staff is too. Kaylor says the Emergency Operations Center took two years to plan. The 9th Annual Flood Protection Workshop ends Thursday afternoon. (Sara Bartlett)

Nuclear Iran called scary, destabilizing

SHAMOKIN DAM – Reports this week claim Iran has the ability to produce a nuclear weapon by 2009, earlier than previously thought. If true, that’s troubling to 10th District Congressman Chris Carney, who currently serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Carney calls the notion of a nuclear Iran scary and destabilizing. The Islamic republic has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months according to ABC News.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Carney served as a Pentagon intelligence analyst and says the US needs to find allies to face the challenges put forward by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Carney still serves in the Naval Reserve. He spoke at the Joint Legislative forum of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Central PA Chamber of Commerce. (Matt Farrand)

Celebrating Holy Week in Central Pennsylvania

LEWISBURG – This is an important week for most in the religious community. Holy week is underway and Bishop Donald Main of Lewisburg says this week can be a time for personal reflection as well as community celebration. Main is the Bishop for the regional Lutheran church called the “Upper Susquehanna Synod”. He spoke in Sunbury on Sunday at the Zion Lutheran Church on how the church has changed over the years in recognition of Holy Week.

He says 50 years ago, the church was the center of the community in everyway and schedules were arranged around worshipping. Now, Main says stores are open on Sundays and some folks don’t even recognize “Holy Week” other than Easter Sunday. Main recommends that more people remember the importance of the week and take time for quiet reflection. (Ali Stevens)

Soldier killed in Iraq will be laid to rest this weekend

HUGHESVILLE – Funeral arrangements have been announced for a Hughesville soldier killed in Iraq in late March. 33-year-old Sean Michael Thomas will be buried with full military honors at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Hughesville on Saturday. There will also be a special funeral service at Hughesville High School at 11:30 Saturday morning. Thomas was killed on March 27th in Baghdad. He was doing a tour of duty in Iraq after a tour in Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. Thomas left behind a wife and six-month-old daughter. (Ali Stevens)

Woman in serious condition after crashing into a house

BRIAR CREEK TOWNSHIP – A Berwick woman remains in serious condition following a crash involving a house in Columbia County. Police say 65-year-old Marie Robbins drove her SUV into a home in Briar Creek Township on Monday morning. Police believe Robbins hit the accelerator instead of the brake at a stop sign, sending her SUV into a home. No other injuries were reported. Robbins is being treated at Geisinger Medical Center. (Ali Stevens)

Fiery tractor-trailer crash shuts down US 322 in Mifflin County

LEWISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A major artery in Mifflin County is closed in both directions this morning following a tractor-trailer crash. Mifflin County dispatchers say U-S Route 322 in the Lewistown Narrows is shut down both eastbound and westbound -- and will remain that way most of the day. Around 3:30 this morning, a tractor-trailer hauling cement rolled over and caught fire, blocking the highway. The driver of the rig reportedly was able to escape the wreck. A detour has been set up.

Columbia County man in critical condition following a crash over the weekend

DANVILLE – A Columbia County man remains in critical condition following a crash over the weekend on Route 487. Police say 53-year-old Allen Williams of Lime Ridge hit a utility pole along Route 487 in Stillwater on Sunday morning. The vehicle rolled several times and Williams was ejected through the sunroof of his vehicle. He was taken to Geisinger Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition. (Ali Stevens)

An escapee from the Northwestern Academy is quickly captured

COAL TOWNSHIP – An escapee from the Northwestern Academy was captured quickly on Monday night. Police from Coal Township, Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel Township, Kulpmont and Ralpho Township were all called to the scene on Monday night to help with the search. A 15-year-old from Carbon County reportedly escaped the academy and ran into a wooded area near Route 901. After about 10 minutes, the student was spotted and apprehended without incident. The boy will be charged with escape through Northumberland County Juvenile Court Services. (Ali Stevens)

Boys charged with several counts of arson plead guilty

SUNBURY – Two teen boys charged with arson fires in Coal Township have admitted to several fires in the Shamokin area also. 14-year-old Andrew Lloyd of Coal Township and 13-year-old Andrew Hepler of Shamokin have admitted in court to setting porches on fire in Shamokin between April and September of 2006.

They are charged with seven counts each of arson and related charges. Both of the boys were arrested last year along with four other boys, ages 10 to 14, for a series of fires in Coal Township. Lloyd and Hepler were sent to Northwestern Academy’s boot camp, where they continue to serve their time. The boys were in court yesterday and admitted their guilt in the Shamokin fires and were sentenced to community service and ordered to pay restitution. (Ali Stevens)

Indecent assault charges filed against a Lewisburg man

COLUMBIA COUNTY – Charges have been filed against at Lewisburg man for an indecent assault incident that occurred last July. State Police at Bloomsburg report 71-year-old Jack Harclerode assaulted a 10-year-old boy while at a campground in Columbia County. Harclerode is charged with indecent assault and corruption of a minor. (Sara Bartlett)

Milton man injured in a crash last evening in Turbot Township

TURBOT TOWNSHIP – Charges are pending following a crash last evening in Northumberland County. State police say 22-year-old Jeremy Brown of Milton was speeding on Broadway Road in Turbot Township around 6:15 p.m.

Brown lost control and drove off the road, hitting a utility pole near Schoolhouse Road. Troopers say he was transported to Evangelical Community Hospital with moderate injuries and was treated and released. Charges are pending against Brown for the accident. (Ali Stevens)

2nd Street Project moves forward

NORTHUMBERLAND – Progress made last night in Northumberland’s Second Street Community Center project. Borough Council approved a contractor, and the $14,000 bid, to remove asbestos. The goal is to renovate the old school into a building the community can utilize. Before construction can begin, asbestos insulation and tiling needs to be removed from the historic building.

Borough Council President Bryan Wolfe told WKOK, the removal of cancerous fibers would begin shortly. He said the playground should be open and available for use by this June. The building was bought by Northumberland nearly five years ago, and looks to have the building fully completed and ready for use by the middle of 2008. (Rob Fissel)

Liver transplant program unveiled at GMC

DANVILLE – Men and women waiting for liver transplants once had to travel to hospitals in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. However, Danville’s Geisinger Medical now has a fully operational transplant program that’s being called a big step toward improving health care locally.

On hand Monday were recent recipients, including Patrick Jacques of East Stroudsburg. He was brought to Geisinger in a coma due to liver failure, purportedly due to use of a liquid supplement meant to improve his circulation.

Jacques was the first Geisinger liver recipient. Officials say the program is comprehensive in that it addresses all needs of the complex procedure, starting with pre-transplant evaluation services. The program was unveiled Monday, though more than half a dozen successful transplants have already been performed. (Matt Farrand)

Selinsgrove factory will close

SELINSGROVE – A factory in Selinsgrove has announced they will close their doors for good. The Daily Item reports the parent company of Atwood Mobile Products of Snyder County will be closed as part of a company-wide re-structuring.

The plant, formerly known as Creation Windows, employs 61 people, who will all be out of a job by the end of May. The company will move to Indiana, leaving the Selinsgrove area entirely. Atwood Mobile Products is a manufacturer of windows and doors that are used in truck caps. They are currently located on Sand Hill Road in Selinsgrove. (Ali Stevens)

PennDOT pull’s Giant highway okay

LEWISBURG — The developer of a proposed Giant Market at Beagle Club Road and Route 15 in East Buffalo Township will have to provide additional information before proceeding with plans for the site. PennDOT spokesman Rick Mason explains that a highway occupancy permit is needed when any construction could encroach on a public thoroughfare, regardless of whether it is a private house or a commercial development.

Mason says the revocation was prompted by changes made by developer Craigarm in plans to develop the area, though he was not certain what had changed in the original plans. The permit was first issued in November of 2004. The site has been a focus of the Rural Route Neighbors, a group opposed to its development. (Matt Farrand)

First day of the Flood Protection Conference in Lewisburg

LEWISBURG – The first day of the Flood Protection Conference in Lewisburg Tuesday was full of presentations from members of the DEP and the Sunbury Municipal Authority. A hydrologist from the National Weather Service, Bill Marosi, also spoke, giving pointers on how to know when flooding will occur and what weather patterns are associated with floods.

Marosi also discussed a fairly new technology at NWS that will provide flood conditions to the public within minutes of the radar being published. The advance hydrologic prediction system (AHPS) makes a flood watch or warning much easier to decipher than plain text that has been used in pass years.

It gives people a past, present and future graph look at a flood. State Representative Merle Phillips made opening remarks saying he hopes the conference, which ends on Thursday afternoon, will take flood protection to the next level. (Sara Bartlett)

DEP official say Sunbury’s flood protection is great

LEWISBURG – Today is the first day of the 9th Annual Flood Protection Workshop. Over 100 people attended the first day of presentations at the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg. Ray Zomok, Chief of the Division of Project Inspection for the DEP, explains that of the key elements of the three-day conference is properly operating and maintaining a floodwall system and levee.

Zomok says that Sunbury is doing a great job with their system. There will be a bus tour of the floodwall, levee and pump system in Sunbury. The bus tour will highlight the Sunbury Municipal Authorities levee and floodwall system. Zomok says because of Sunbury’s exemplary flood control system, they were chosen to be the co-sponsor of the convention, which culminates on Thursday afternoon. (Sara Bartlett)

Family-to-Family program helps families cope

SUNBURY – One in four families cares for a member with a mental illness, often making it tougher on all family members. “NAMI” of the Central Susquehanna Valley is offering a 12-week program to educate afflicted families and help them cope.

Mickey McElroy is the president of NAMI and says the Family-to-Family program is meant to be comprehensive. They’ll be covering the physiology of mental illness, as well as family coping techniques.

McElroy says self-care for other family members is as important as primary care for the mentally ill person, and will also be covered by the Family-to-Family course. Classes will meet once per week from 7:00pm to 9:30pm, on Tuesdays in Bloomsburg at the Wesley United Methodist Church on Market Street.

In Milton at The Community Mennonite Fellowship on Broadway Road near route 147. Classes in Bloomsburg start April 10th, and classes in Milton start April 12th. More information at 271-4624, or 1-800-223-0500. (Matt Farrand)

Open for business at the SVCC

HUMMELS WHARF – Less than three weeks after a fire in the basement, the Susquehanna Valley Country Club is open again for business. The smoky fire on the night of March 13th caused structural damage to the building near Routes 11 & 15 in Hummel’s Wharf.

A State Police Fire Marshall determined that the fire was accidental in nature, and started by a discarded cigarette. There were no injuries reported, but a number of events had to be relocated in the aftermath of the fire reported during a snowstorm. (Matt Farrand)

SRHCES has a fish friend

SUNBURY – If you fish the Susquehanna River for recreation, you may have been surveyed lately. Executive Director Doug Austen pf the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission say information collected is being used to further develop fishing resources in the region.

The information includes where, how many and what kind of fish are being caught. Austen stresses the economic potential of recreational fishing in the area and offers the Erie area for comparison, where roughly 200 people are now employed in a growing fish industry.

Austen attended a recent meeting of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies and stresses that recreational fishing in the Central Susquehanna Region is a potential economic resource for the area.

The coalition and the PFBC are now teaming up to help further develop fishing in along waterways that are making a comeback. The West Branch of the Susquehanna is looked at as especially worthy as an economic and environmental resource. (Matt Farrand)

Bank robbing brothers plead guilty

MIDDLEBURG – Two teenage brothers have pleaded guilty to a bank robbery, which occurred last spring. Monday, 19-year-old twin brothers, Jeffery and Bradley Houtz of Lewisburg, appeared in Snyder County Court.

The men were arrested on May 24th of last year for the robbery of the Susquehanna Bank in Beavertown. According to the Daily Item, Bradley admitted in front of President Judge Harold Woelfel that he walked into the bank and demanded the teller to place cash inside a pillowcase.

Jeffrey admitted to being the driver for a getaway vehicle. Each twin faces six felony and misdemeanor charges. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the brothers will reportedly receive a minimum of 31 to 45 months in jail and remain under the supervision of the court for 20 years. (Sara Bartlett)

Mifflinburg man in serious condition following crash

DANVILLE – A Mifflinburg man is in serious condition after a motorcycle crash Monday night. State police say 37-year-old Jamison Hartley was injured in the Monday night crash on Route 235 in Hartley Township, Union County.

State Police say Hartley failed to negotiate a turn and stuck a pole. He was not wearing a helmet. Lifeflight, West End Fire Company and Ambulance assisted at the scene of the crash at about 8:30pm Monday night. (Matt Farrand)

Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business and entertainment:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Candidates for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns. Campaign-finance reports show a Philadelphia judge, Paul Panepinto, has the biggest war chest by far. Panepinto has more than a quarter of a (m) million dollars. He is competing for the Republican nomination against two candidates endorsed by the Republican State Committee -- Mike Krancer, chief judge of the state Environmental Hearing Board, and Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green. On the Democratic side, Philadelphia Judge Darnell Jones pulled in more than 169-thousand dollars. He's campaigning against two party-backed candidates -- Superior Court judges Seamus McCaffery of Philadelphia and Debra Todd of Allegheny County.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Beer sales have stopped again at a Sheetz convenience store in Altoona. A state judge says sales can't continue while the company appeals an order halting them. This afternoon, Sheetz employees locked up the beer coolers. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's order dated yesterday keeps the court's previous decision in force while the Liquor Control Board appeals the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Sheetz wants to sell beer in the restaurant area of its convenience store, but doesn't want to let customers drink beer on the premises. Commonwealth Court says it's illegal to sell beer without permitting consumption in the store. The Liquor Control Board disagrees and is taking the matter to the state Supreme Court.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A new Web site has been established to help Pennsylvanians get access to public records and know what they are entitled to see. The site www.openrecordspa.org (open records p-a dot org) includes a forum for posting questions and finding answers about accessing records from local and state government. It is from a new nonprofit group, the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition. The group was founded by journalists, librarians, attorneys, educators and community advocates. The coalition also monitors proposed state and federal laws, regulations and court decisions.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Health Department is putting out a call for volunteers lend a hand in the event of a statewide disaster emergency. Health Secretary Doctor Calvin Johnson says the state is launching the Statewide Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania, also known as "Serve-P-A." Johnson says the state is looking for both medical and non-medical volunteers. The site asks registrants to share information about any licenses or certifications they have and the best way to contact them. To register, log on to www.servpa.state.pa.us.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Here are the winning numbers selected Tuesday in the Pennsylvania State Lottery:

TUESDAY NIGHT Daily Number 7-1-4

Big 4 2-4-7-7

TUESDAY MIDDAY Daily Number 6-0-4

Big 4 0-7-2-2

The winning numbers drawn Tuesday in the "Pennsylvania Cash 5" game were: 01-02-22-33-35.

The winning numbers drawn Tuesday in the "Pennsylvania Match 6 Lotto" game: 35-37-41-44-45-48.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)