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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cheating scandal investigation complete

SUNBURY – Following a lengthy investigation by the state Department of Education, it has been determined that a teacher improperly copied part of the math portion of the PSSA exam and gave it to students prior to the test in 2010. 

Former superintendent Dr. James Hartman oversaw the investigation and says they took quick action when learning of the cheating incident.  Hartman says they did not confine their investigation just to mathematics, but looked in other areas of testing in the high school.  They then sent a report to the Department of Education on their findings. 

Dr. Hartman says the teacher in question still works for the Shikellamy School District, but he says the administration handled the investigation properly.  Hartman says he regrets that the teacher’s actions will discredit achievement of students in the district who tested during the incident.  Dr. Hartman was a guest on our On The Mark program Thursday.  You can download that program online at www.wkok.com.  

Getting to know the Citizen’s Choice candidates

SUNBURY – Four independent candidates running for the Shikellamy School Board hope to succeed in the election as a team.  The Citizen’s Choice candidates are former Shikellamy Superintendent Dr. James Hartman, Jim Garman, Tom Michaels and Wendy Wiest. They are running as independent candidates.

Hartman says he is running because he knows the role of school director and the responsibility of a school board.  Hartman says he wants only productive results and he will work with others only in ways that will be productive for students, staff and members of the Shikellamy community.  Jim Garman graduated from what was the Sunbury High School in 1939 and is a retired business owner.

Tom Michaels is also a candidate and the father of Brett Michaels, who was cut as head coach of the high school wrestling team.  Michaels says he is not running because of his son, but wants changes made following the budget crisis.  Wendy Wiest, the mother of three students in the district. You can hear all four candidates talk about a number of topics in the Shikellamy School District on our Thursday On The Mark program online at www.wkok.com.  (Ali Stevens)

Theft of over $400,000 sending man to court

MIDDLEBURG -- A Middleburg man accused of stealing nearly $400,000 from his customers will go to trial next month.  39-year-old Kurt Keiper is part owner of Summit Transport in Middlecreek Township and allegedly accepted payments for vehicles that he failed to deliver to at least 10 customers. 

Keiper did not enter a plea agreement in Snyder County Court, and a jury is expected to be selected next week for the November trial.  Keiper is facing charges including theft by deception and deceptive business practices.  He has said he will pay back his customers, but continuances asked by Keiper to the court so he could get the money to pay them back, has forced a jury trial. (Sara Bartlett) 

Strange incident leads to an arrest in Selinsgrove

SELINSGROVE -- A Susquehanna University freshman was arrested early this morning after police say he locked himself in the bathroom inside the home of a 53-year-old woman on Sassafras Street.  Selinsgrove police say 18-year-old Brian Kelly of Chambersburg broke into the home around 5:40 a.m.

Police tried to get Kelly to come out of the locked bathroom, but eventually had to force the door open.  Kelly was said to be intoxicated and was charged with felony criminal trespass and several other counts.  He was released on his own recognizance in lieu of $50,000 bail.  The woman in the home was not harmed.  (Ali Stevens)

Coal Township man accused of stabbing his brother will go to court

COAL TOWNSHIP -- A Coal Township man will go to court on several charges after police say he stabbed his brother with a letter opener.  19-year-old Brett Wolfgang waived charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and disorderly conduct on to court yesterday. 

He was charged on August 31st, after police say he stabbed his brother in the shoulder and finger.  The incident took place in Wolfgang's home on W. Independence Street.  (Ali Stevens)

Quick work to repair Sullivan County bridge

LOPEZ -- PennDOT crews will make quick work replacing a major connector bridge in Sullivan County.  PennDOT's Rick Mason says the Route 487 bridge at Lopez sustained extensive flood damage and bids have now been open for an emergency contract to replace it.

He says this bridge required emergency work because it is a major route with hundreds of vehicles on it each day.  In addition, the detour is very long.  The bridge is expected to take 10 weeks to complete and open to traffic by mid-December.  Mason says it is a very quick turnaround for a project of this magnitude.  He says under normal circumstances, a project such as this would take 18-24 months to develop and construct.

Mason says PennDOT has identified nearly 1,700 damaged sites in their nine county district.  They have dozens of emergency contracts.  One in our area was Route 487 at the Northumberland/Columbia County line, expanding through Catawissa.  That was reopened today. (Sara Bartlett)

5th Annual Kelsey’s Fall Festival in Mifflinburg

MIFFLINBURG – Plenty of fun activities are part of the 5th Annual Kelsey’s Fall Festival on Saturday at the Mifflinburg VFW grounds from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival helps raise money for Kelsey’s Dream, a non-profit organization that helps children being treated for cancer.  Kelsey Kuhns died of cancer at the age of 11 and Saturday would have been her 18th birthday. 

Kylie Kuhns is Kelsey’s sister and talked about the events planned for the fall festival.  She says there will be plenty of food including an apple butter boil, French fries, soups, hamburgers and hot dogs and much more.   Entertainment includes music by Woody Wolfe and End of Me and a dance performance by Enterline’s Dance Center.  There will also be plenty of games, crafts and activities for the kids.

Many Mifflinburg School District students will be volunteering their time this Saturday at the Fall Festival.  And Cookie Monster and Elmo will be visiting with the younger kids.  To find out more about Kelsey’s Dream, go to www.kelseysdream.org.  (Ali Stevens)

Former Mount Carmel cop 'guilty' of child pornography

MOUNT CARMEL – A former Mount Carmel police officer has pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of child pornography. 56-year-old Blaine Handerhan was indicted last October after a joint investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the state police and the FBI. Handerhan faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming months.

A search warrant of Handerhan’s former home in Lebanon County was obtained in February of 2006 and police say almost 3,000 images of child pornography were found on his computer along with more than 40 videos of child pornography. Handerhan served as a Mount Carmel police officer for 30 years before retiring in 2005. (Ali Stevens)

Local road reopens

MONTANDON -- A busy commuter connector road has reopened. In Montandon, Route 45 is now open. It was closed off and on for most of September and early October. The closure, between Route 405 and Housel's Run Road, send vehicles on a three-mile detour. The standing water on the road has receded and Route 45 is now open at Montandon.

Selinsgrove man arrested for assaulting two probation officers

SELINSGROVE -- A Selinsgrove man is behind bars after police say he assaulted two probation officers that came to his home. Selinsgrove police say the two probation officers went to the home of 34-year-old Gilbert Mister III on Wednesday and observed drug paraphernalia in plain view. Mister reportedly became agitated and a struggle ensued.

Officers were eventually able to get Mister to the ground and handcuff him. Both probation officers sustained minor injuries in the struggle. Mister was charged with felony counts of assault and other charges. He was arraigned and sent to the Snyder County Prison on $100,000 bail. (Ali Stevens)

Coalition considers consequences of redistricting

LEWISBURG – The federal census taken every ten years is more than just a count of population; it’s used to redraw the legislative map. Activist Gene Stilp says how the lines are drawn could change the results of presidential primaries, if the state shifts to contests that count each congressional district individually, rather than winner-take-all.

The Director of Taxpayers and Ratepayers United says the issue is a great way to get people to look more closely at the political process and its consequences. Stilp travels statewide and will be at meeting Thursday in Lewisburg to explain and discuss redistricting.

The theme of the meeting is “Redrawing the Elections Map: What’s at Stake in 2011” and is organized by the Central Susquehanna Citizens Coalition. It’s planned for 7:00 p.m. at the Public Library of Union County in Lewisburg. (Matt Farrand)

Keller calls for action of reforming prevailing wage system

HARRISBURG -- On the 50th anniversary of the state's Prevailing Wage Act, some House lawmakers are touting a package of bills that would reform the law. State Representative Fred Keller (R-85th, Middleburg) says he thinks we should do away with prevailing wage.

Keller says in order to get something done though; he would adjust it for inflation. He says nobody wants to work at 1963 wages. The bills raise the threshold from $25,000 to $185,000. Keller says they are looking to give relief to Pennsylvania taxpayers by making sure the amount is adjusted so that the economy can get moving again.

Keller introduced the bill to raise the spending threshold in April and is encouraging action on quick reform of prevailing wage. (Sara Bartlett)

Investigation ongoing for former midget football president

SELINSGROVE -- Though no charges have been filed, an investigation is ongoing against the former president of the Snyder County Midget Football League. While he was the president, Tom Badman is accused using league funds to pay for personal expenses such as cell phones and parties.

Badman, who is also on the Selinsgrove School Board, has denied any wrongdoing. He stepped down as president and treasurer of the football league in August. The issue came to light during a Selinsgrove School Board meeting in September.

According to minutes from the meeting, resident and youth coach Scott Kerstetter addressed the school board with documents supporting allegations against Badman, pertaining to 'poor record keeping' for the midget football league. Kerstetter stated that an investigation began after the league lost their 501 (c)(3) tax exemption for failing to file annual taxes.

Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch was in attendance at the meeting. He tells us that the case against Badman is under investigation by Selinsgrove State Police, but no charges are currently pending. A call to Selinsgrove State Police and Badman has not yet been returned. (Sara Bartlett)

Salvation Army busier than ever

SUNBURY -- The Salvation Army in Sunbury is busier than ever. As the holiday season comes around again, they are helping families with food and other necessities. This year, they are even busier, according to Nancy Witmer of the Salvation Army, because they are also serving those who were previously served by the Red Cross.

In June, the Red Cross consolidated their offices, moving out of Sunbury and into Union County. Witmer says they are seeing a rise in food needs, especially now following the flood. Though it is the end of the Salvation Army's fiscal year and their funds are nearly exhausted, Witmer says they help out as they can, whether it is giving out food or giving out thrift store vouchers.

The Sunbury Salvation Army is holding Thanksgiving distribution sign-ups this week. Those who would like to receive a Thanksgiving meal are asked to sign up with the Salvation Army this week anytime from 9:00a.m.-3:00p.m.

All who sign up must bring proof of income and proof of expenses. The meal will be distributed Monday, November 21st and will include a traditional Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, potatoes, stuffing and a vegetable and fruit.

The Salvation Army will serve 200 people this Thanksgiving. They also serve during the Christmas holiday. Last year during Christmas, Witmer says they gave out nearly 700 food boxes and expect the same or greater this year. (Sara Bartlett)

Home damaged by fire in Trevorton

TREVORTON -- Fire heavily damaged a Trevorton home Tuesday. The blaze broke out around 3:30p.m. at the home on Pleasant View Street owned by Margaret Ebersole. Ebersole was not in the home at the time.

Heavy smoke was seen coming from the structure and several crews remained on the scene for about an hour. One firefighter was reported overcome by smoke, but he did not require hospitalization. No other injuries were reported.

The investigation into the fire continues. The Trevorton Fire Company was assisted at the scene by crews from East Trevorton, Sunbury, Overlook, Stonington, Herndon, Ralpho Township, Coal Township. (Sara Bartlett)

High risk breast clinic implemented at Thyra M. Humphrey’s Center for Breast Health

LEWISBURG – A new High Risk Breast Clinic has been implemented at the Thyra M. Humphrey’s Center for Breast Health at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg.

Beth Jordan of the Center for Breast Health says their goal is not just to detect breast cancer early, but to actually prevent breast cancer. She says if they can do anything to prevent it from even occurring, that is their goal. That is why they developed the High Risk Breast Clinic.

Jordan says asking their patients important questions can save lives, so they have them fill out a survey of questions determining their risk level. Family history is key, but many other risk factors can be determined too.

To find out more about the high risk breast clinic, you can contact the Thyra M. Humphrey’s Center for Breast Health at 522-4200. Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation has teamed up with Evangelical Community Hospital during the month of October to Paint the Valley Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Find out more on our website at www.wkok.com. (Ali Stevens)

30th annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival is this weekend at Knoebel’s

ELYSBURG – A premier local event is marking a milestone this weekend and the weather should be perfect for the annual event. This will be the 30th annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival at Knoebel’s in Elysburg.

Otto Kurecian is the director of the Columbia-Montour Visitor’s Bureau and says the first festival drew about 100 people and this year, they expect about 70-thousand visitors at Knoebel’s Grove.

The event features crafts, food, tours of the areas covered bridges and a 5-K race. Also, there is an antique car display and an auction. The festival runs Friday through Sunday. To find out more go to www.itourcolumbiamontour.com.

Hughesville woman hospitalized following a crash on Interstate 80

DANVILLE – A Hughesville woman is listed in fair condition today following a crash on Interstate 80 in Liberty Township, Montour County yesterday around 4:15 p.m.

State police say 25-year-old Rebecca Corrado was driving west on I-80 near Danville when she was struck by another vehicle driven by 47-year-old Edward Bensinger of Schuylkill Haven.

Two other vehicles were also clipped in the chain reaction crash. Corrado was taken to Geisinger, where she remains in fair condition after sustaining major injuries. Bensinger was not injured.

The drivers of the other two vehicles involved, 26-year-old Desiree Adams of Loganton and 51-year-old Gregory Moyer of Williamsport, both sustained moderate injuries. There conditions were not available. Traffic was heavy on Interstate 80 with a portion of the road closed for a time following the crash. (Ali Stevens)

State police investigate a theft from a job trailer parked at a Snyder County church

BEAVERTOWN – State police want to know who stole thousands of dollars worth of tools from a job trailer parked at a church in Snyder County. Troopers say someone removed more than $2,000 worth of tools from the trailer parked at God’s Missionary Church along Creek Road in Beaver Township sometime Monday or Tuesday.

Copper items inside the church were also stolen. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call state police at Selinsgrove. (Ali Stevens)

Two people from Port Trevorton were injured in a crash on Route 522

SELINSGROVE – Two Port Trevorton residents were injured last night in a crash on Route 522 in Penn Township, Snyder County. State police say 23-year-old Hyatt Henretty swerved to miss a deer that had wandered onto the road and struck a drainage ditch.

His vehicle went airborne and landed on its roof. Henretty and his passenger, 19-year-old Amber Henretty, were taken to Evangelical Community Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The investigation into the 8 p.m. crash will continue. (Ali Stevens)

Latest Pennsylvania news, business and entertainment

PINE GROVE, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says intensive development and a lack of maintenance of storm drains may have contributed to historic flooding a month ago.  Corbett says better planning might help reduce the amount of runoff going into streams and rivers.  Corbett toured flood damage in the hard-hit Schuylkill County town of Pine Grove on Thursday. He viewed damaged homes and businesses from a trolley, getting out to speak with flooded business owners.  Pine Grove Manufactured Homes Inc. chief executive Wayne Fanelli told the governor that his plant is closing for good after being flooded five times since 1993.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An association of Pennsylvania's county commissioners has a split opinion on Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to allow counties to impose a fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.  The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania said Thursday it likes the part where 75 percent of the revenue would remain in local government hands for a range of uses.  However, the association says county governments and the industry will be better served by a uniform, statewide levy that is administered by the state.  The money primarily would go toward the costs of regulating drilling, fixing the damage it causes and absorbing population growth stemming from the influx of drilling crews.  Corbett took a campaign pledge not to increase taxes or fees, but views his proposal as being in line with the pledge.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey is replacing a river gauge damaged by record flooding last month, leading to hours of confusion about the amount of water being held back by the levee system protecting northeastern Pennsylvania communities.  Workers began replacing the gauge on the Susquehanna River on Wednesday. Officials say the replacement will work up to a height of 48 feet, 5 feet above the river's crest during flooding brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.  The old gauge stopped functioning after the river reached 38 feet on its way to a 42.6-foot crest. That crest wasn't determined until several hours later using a high-water mark.  The new gauge is mounted on a Wilkes-Barre bridge above the height of the levee. It's expected to begin transmitting data this week.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

The latest business news:

Dow: 11,123.30, up 183.38

S&P 500: 1,164.97, up 20.94

NASDAQ: 2,506.82, up 46.31

Stocks rise...Obama on jobs ...New rate low

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock prices have been pressing higher today. If the market finishes higher at the closing bell, it would mark a third straight day of gains.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is calling his plan to create jobs and rebuild U.S. highways, bridges and schools an "insurance policy". Directing his comments toward Congress, he said the plan would help keep the economy from falling back into recession. He also challenged Republicans to explain to the American people why they are opposed to those measures.

WASHINGTON (AP) - It is hard for many people to qualify, but it is a good time to refinance or buy a home, based on interest rates alone. Freddie Mac says the average for 30-year fixed mortgages has dipped below 4 percent for the first time ever.     

NEW YORK (AP) - Analysts say figures posted by retailers on September sales show the U.S. is not slipping into recession. Target, Nordstrom, Macy's and others had sales numbers that topped expectations.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic-run Senate Banking Committee has approved the president's choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but GOP opposition indicates the nomination will face problems in the full Senate. By a 12-10 party-line vote, the committee backed former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to direct the new agency.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - These Pennsylvania lotteries were drawn Thursday:

 Mega Millions

     Estimated jackpot: $14 million

 Midday Big 4

     2-0-2-5

Midday Daily Number

     5-5-5

Midday Quinto

     0-3-4-5-5

Powerball

     Estimated jackpot: $71 million

 Treasure Hunt

     07-11-12-21-29

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) - Hank Williams Junior will no longer kick off "Monday Night Football." ESPN says it has decided to part ways with Williams after he compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler on Fox News Monday morning. Williams apologized for his remarks. Williams says it was his decision to leave and ESPN is stepping on his First Amendment rights. He adds, "Me, my song and all my rowdy friends are OUT OF HERE." Williams has sung the "Monday Night Football" theme for more than two decades. ESPN will no longer run the song because Williams owns the publishing rights and the master recordings.

NEW YORK (AP) - An authorized biography of Steve Jobs was high on best-seller lists within hours of Apple's announcement of his death. And publisher Simon & Schuster announced Thursday that the release date has been moved up from Nov. 21 to Oct. 24.  As of early Thursday morning, Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" was No. 1 on Amazon.com and No. 3 on Barnes & Noble.com. Fittingly, the book also tops Apple's own list: the iTunes books best-seller list.  Isaacson's book includes extensive interviews with the Apple co-founder, who rarely discussed his private life. Isaacson has written best-selling biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.  Jobs died Wednesday at age 56 after a long battle with cancer.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)