Here is the latest from Newsradio 1070 WKOK

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fire forces occupants from Montour Township trailer

DANVILLE – Firefighters are on the scene of a reported structure fire in Montour Township, Columbia County.  Occupants of the trailer at 28 Perry Avenue were advised to get out, as smoke was reportedly coming from an electrical panel.

Montour Township firefighters are being joined by Bloomsburg fire personnel at the scene.  The first call was made to responders at about 3:45p.m. (Matt Farrand)

Sunbury woman injured in a crash on Route 522

MIDDLEBURG – A Sunbury woman was injured in an accident on Route 522 near Middleburg Tuesday morning.  Around 9:15a.m., 41-year-old Kelly Derr was driving when 47-year-old Brady Bolig of Middleburg pulled his SUV in front of her vehicle, while trying to turn onto Route 522 near the Middleburg Auction Barn. 

Derr lost control of her car, which spun into a ditch.  Derr was taken to Evangelical Community Hospital for treatment of unknown injuries.  Bolig was not injured and will be cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.  (Ali Stevens)

Area elected officials are donating their cost of living adjustments to various organizations

SUNBURY -- Several area elected officials have decided to donate their cost of living adjustments to various organizations.

Judge Charles Saylor will give his $2,750 raise to Court Appointed Special Advocates, which consists of volunteers who are the child's voice in the foster care system.  Northumberland County Judges William Wiest and Robert Sacavage have both decided to accept their increases.  Judge Wiest told the News Item, "I believe I deserve it because of the responsibilities that come with this position.  I don't feel bad taking it."  The judges' salary are over $164,000 a year.

Senator John Gordner (R-27th, Berwick) said he will donate his $1,308 to libraries in his district.  He says each of the 18 public libraries will receive about $55 and he will add $20 to that total, so each library will get about $75.

Newly elected Republican Lynda-Schlegel-Culver of the 108th Legislative District says she will not accept a pay increase due to the poor state of the economy and high unemployment rate.  Also, Republican Kurt Masser of Elysburg, state representative-elect for the 107th District, has decided not to accept his pay raise and will return the increase to the state general fund.  The salary for state representatives and senators are more than $79,000 a year.   

Plans to extend the Shamokin rail line

SHAMOKIN – Plans are underway to build new sidings off the Shamokin Valley Railroad.  The SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority has announced they are constructing a 2,000 foot track at the eastern end of the line, which is adjacent to SEEDCO Industrial Park.  In addition, a 1,500 foot track servicing the wood products firm, Timberend. 

The total cost of the two projects is $1 million, with $700,000 provided by the state and $300,000 from a federal grant.  The projects got underway last week and the Authority’s Executive Director, Jeff Stover, says this is the first stop to industrial expansion in lower Northumberland County.  (Ali Stevens)

More on the Bush Era tax cuts from a local CPA

SUNBURY – A local CPA helped explain the Bush Era tax cuts expansion plan, recently negotiated by Republicans and President Barack Obama.  Bill Roll of Herring and Roll CPAs in Sunbury says with the extension of Bush tax cuts, there will be some changes with the payroll taxes, where the social security tax will be dropped 2 percent. 

However, that will have a negative impact on lower income folks because of a credit called the “making work pay credit” being eliminated.  He says someone making $20,000, has a 2% decline in the social security tax, so they save $400, but if they are married, they lose $800 without the “making work pay credit," so they have lost $400.

Before, with the “making work pay credit," married couples filing got $800 and single filers received $400. To hear more about tax cuts and changes, you can listen to WKOK’s Thursday On The Mark program online at www.wkok.com.  (Ali Stevens)

Needy Family Fund donations more than $32,000

UNDATED -- Donations continue to come in for the Needy Family Fund, as it works toward its $75,000 goal.  Recent contributions include $200 from Milton and Ruth House of Mifflinburg, and  $100 each from the Ladies of Grace Lutheran Church, Robert and Violet Soper of Selinsgrove, Rachael McCardle of Middleburg and Doris Saylor Kline of Lewistown, in memory of Terry Saylor. 

There were also $800 in anonymous donations.  That brings today's total to $32,692.93.  You can learn more about the Needy Family Fund, and how you can donate at www.wkok.com. (Sara Bartlett)

Christmas Tree project continues in Danville

DANVILLE – The 2010 Community Christmas Tree Project in Danville continues and organizers of the 60-year-old program hope the public steps up with donations.  The project benefits the less fortunate by stepping up with toys for the kids and clothes and food for everyone. 

Police Chief Bob Burke and Dorothy Bonawitz, head of the public assistance office, started the program as a tree in the police station where gifts for the less fortunate could be left under the tree.  Chairman Red Swank says the effort has grown significantly over the years

Organizers are looking for brand new toys or toys in excellent condition. They also need non-perishable food.  The items can be taken to the Danville Borough Ballroom on Saturdays from 9 to 5 or Tuesday through Friday between 3:00p.m. and 7:00p.m.

Resident of Hughesville explains the process of Forest Fragmentation in the Marcellus Shale

SUNBURY – Some people have never heard of the issue of forest fragmentation, which is taking place in the Marcellus Shale in the natural gas drilling process.  Kevin Heatley of Hughesville works throughout the United States as a restoration ecologist and gave us a snapshot of the issue. 

The senior scientist with Biohabitats Incorporated was a guest on WKOK’s On The Mark program Tuesday and says fragmented forests are narrow strips of forest land surrounding industrial sites and shopping centers.  He says that kind of forest does not function the same as a “core forest.”  A core forest is a large patch of woods that have a buffer of woods around it.

A study has found that two-thirds of the proposed drilling wells will be located in core forests, which Heatley says will have quite an impact and will change the forest structure in the state. To hear more from Kevin Heatley on the impacts that forest fragmentation will have on the state and in the Marcellus Shale Region, you can listen to Tuesday’s On The Mark program online at www.wkok.com.  (Ali Stevens) 

Two teens charged with having drugs at their high school

WATSONTOWN – Two teens from Watsontown have been charged with drug possession at school.  State police say a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were found in possession of prescription medication at Warrior Run High School on Monday afternoon.  They were both charged with drug possession.  The investigation continues.  (Ali Stevens)

Mifflinburg driver killed in a Centre County crash

PHILLIPSBURG – A Mifflinburg woman was killed in a crash on Monday in Centre County. State police say 21-year-old Karlene Bilger was driving south on Interstate 99 in Worth Township just before noon when she swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting a pick-up truck, driven by 69-year-old Robert Warner of Port Matilda.

Warner tried to avoid hitting Bilger, but the truck slammed into the driver’s side of Bilger’s vehicle and she was pronounced dead on the scene by the Centre County Coroner. Warner was taken to a local hospital for treatment of moderate injuries. (Ali Stevens)

Driver hits trees after losing control of vehicle

MIDDLEBURG -- A Middleburg motorist is in critical condition after a single vehicle crash Monday afternoon. State troopers say 18-year-old Brandon Biggs lost control of his vehicle traveling south on Smalsh Barrick road in Middlecreek Township, Snyder County at about 3:00 p.m.

The vehicle hit a tree, went into a ditch, then hit another tree before coming to rest. Biggs was flown to Geisinger Medical Center with what were described as major injuries. Biggs joins three other residents, in critical condition, who were injured in recent accidents. Joyce Paul of Herndon, Stephen Hurst of Danville and Ronald Delcamp of Lewisburg, are all still in intensive care. (Matt Farrand)

Department head expects construction slump in city

SUNBURY -- Revenue projections for Sunbury's Public Safety Department are being revised downward. Director Joe Bartello expects a slump in construction and rental permits during the year ahead, and revenues to fall by about $40,000.

Director of Accounts and Finance Todd Snyder says Bartello e-mailed him with the news Monday morning. Unexpected higher costs for health insurance for two new city police officers are also contributing to a revised budget gap of about $80,000.

The last-minute developments mean the 2011 budget needs more work before a final, balanced version can be presented. An additional public meeting will be needed before a budget can be considered by council. It is planned for Monday at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers. (Matt Farrand)

City council signs off on contractor payments

SUNBURY -- Work on Phase 2 of the Sunbury Riverfront Project is nearly finished, and City Council is paying the bills. Council agreed Monday night to pay nearly $600,000 to contractor HRI for riverbank stabilization.

Work is complete on all but about 800 feet of the project that will reverse years of erosion along the river. Councilman Jim Eister expects the project to be completed by the end of the year, if the weather cooperates. Nearly $160,000 will also be paid to Kinsley Construction for work on the street side of the floodwall. (Matt Farrand)

Free skating sessions for youth groups at ice rink

SUNBURY -- Youth groups are being offered a chance to try the Sunbury Ice Rink at no charge. Parks and Recreation Director Jim Eister says a free session at the rink for young people is the best way to promote the facility.

The offer is being extended to church youth groups, and other organizations for young people. Eister says hours are limited, and the free skating session is for the first visit only. Groups are encouraged to call the rink at 286-1441 for more information. (Matt Farrand)

Mifflinburg man to be sentenced for shooting death

LEWISBURG -- Sentencing has been scheduled for a man accused in the fatal shooting of a Mifflinburg teen. 18-year-old Alexander Shoemaker, of Mifflinburg, will be in court Wednesday on involuntary manslaughter charges. Shoemaker is charged in the May 8 death of 16-year-old Anthony Hernandez.

The two, along with another teen, were at a home on Walbash Road in West Buffalo Township when Shoemaker began playing with a handgun and pulled the trigger. Hernandez was struck in the chest and died at the hospital. Shoemaker, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Harold Woelfel Jr. (Sara Bartlett)

Judge Charles Saylor to donate cost of living raise

SUNBURY -- At least one Northumberland County judge will be giving up his cost of living raise next year. Judge Charles Saylor says he will be donating the $2,750 raise to Court Appointed Special Advocates, which consists of volunteers who are the child's voice in the foster care system.

By law, the raise will be added to paychecks started January 3. Saylor earns about $160,000 per year and says he can not in good conscience keep the raise, considering many are working to makes ends meet, being hit with higher contributions to keep health insurance and not getting raises in social security. Saylor, who has served in the county for nine years, plans to see another term as judge next year. (Sara Bartlett)

Snyder County Commissioners to tour USTA facility

MIDDLEBURG -- Snyder County Commissioners say they will tour Lewisburg's Union-Snyder Transportation Alliance, while the option of the facility moving into Snyder County is on the table. A PennDOT grant of $3.2 million has been secured, and that would be matched by a state grant. It is now up to both Snyder and Union Counties to decide whether they will split $80,000 to complete the new facility.

Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz says the board would like to tour the facility and see why USTA would like a new one. USTA is looking at the Pawling Station Business Park near Selinsgrove for the location of a new facility. Kantz says having the whole facility under one roof would be an asset.

Administrator at USTA, Cindy Zerbe, tells us that they have outgrown their Lewisburg area facility, both in office space and fleet size. She says in ten years they have added 15 buses to their fleet. She adds that USTA serves slightly more people in Snyder County, but believes switching sites would not hinder USTA's ability to serve people in Union County.

Zerbe also says she is hopeful that the commissioners in both counties will be able to provide the $80,000 for the project, but that she knows there is a short timeline and budgets are tight. If a funding package can be agreed upon for the $4 million facility, construction would begin as early as the spring. WKOK has not heard back from Union County Commissioners regarding the issue. (Sara Bartlett)

Checkpoint nets DUIs, traffic citations

MILTON -- Four drivers were found under the influence of alcohol during traffic stops Friday night and early Saturday morning. Police from Stonington, Milton, and Selinsgrove took part in a DUI checkpoint along Route 147 in Northumberland County. 75 vehicles were stopped.

Police say four drivers were found driving under the influence. One of those drivers was also found to be in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. In addition, 20 warnings were issued for vehicle code violations, seven citations were issued for various traffic code violations and one person was cited for driving while under suspension. (Sara Bartlett)

Armed robbery on Bloomsburg University campus

BLOOMSBURG -- A student was the victim of armed robbery on the Bloomsburg University campus. Officials say three men robbed a student around 3:30a.m. Sunday near Elwell Hall. Two of the men had guns. The student was not hurt. Police are continuing the investigation, and University officials are advising students to use caution when walking on, or off, campus after dark. (Sara Bartlett)

NFF Family: NFF recipient does her best to share holiday

SUNBURY – It’s hard for Marylou Kile of Sunbury to keep up with all the children her children are raising. She is grandmother to 77, mostly in the Sunbury area, and her only income is from social security. The grandchildren range in age from about three months to as she puts it, “…in their thirties.” Marylou notes that three more grandchildren are on the way.

Marylou raised eight children of her own, and is now disabled. She says she, “does her best,” to get by from week to week. Her only income is from Social Security. Marylou says while a new car would be nice, a food basket supplied by the Needy Family Fund is a wonderful way to brighten the season.

Marylou Kile and others have turned to the Salvation Army’s Needy Family Fund for assistance during the holidays. Each year, hundreds of families enjoy gifts, food baskets and financial assistance from the fund.

It is administered by Salvation Army citadels in Milton and Sunbury, and is sponsored by the Daily Item, the Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation and Susquehanna Bank. Donations can be made at Susquehanna Bank, 400 Market Street in Sunbury. Progress of the fund can be monitored online at www.wkok.com (Matt Farrand)

Latest Pennsylvania news, business and entertainment

HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania mayor whose get-tough policies on illegal immigrants attracted national attention has resigned after 11 years in office.  Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta was elected to Congress last month, defeating a 26-year Democratic incumbent on his third try. He left the mayor's office at noon today.  Barletta says he's proud of his effort to drive illegal immigrants from the city of about 30,000. Four years ago, he championed an ordinance that penalized landlords for renting to illegal immigrants and businesses that employed them. Cities around the country followed suit.  A federal judge struck down Hazleton's law as unconstitutional in 2007, and it has never been enforced. The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court may soon allow cameras into its courtrooms for the first time.  Chief Justice Ronald Castille said today the justices plan to vote next year on whether to allow limited video coverage of its proceedings. He says it would educate the public and put a face on the state's judiciary.  As part of a test, the Pennsylvania Cable Network recently set up robotic cameras to record arguments before the court in Harrisburg. The video isn't being aired, but DVDs are being distributed among the justices as they discuss whether to lift the ban on cameras.  The state Superior and Commonwealth courts already allow cameras to cover certain non-jury civil proceedings.  The review of the high court's policy was first reported by The Legal Intelligencer.

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - The Delaware River Port Authority is considering doing away with a ferry that connects the waterfronts in Camden and Philadelphia.  The ferry runs during the summer and is used mostly by people visiting attractions like the Susquehanna Bank Center concert venue, the Campbell's Field minor-league baseball stadium and the Adventure Aquarium. This year, it had about 160,000 passengers.  A private operator pays the DRPA about $58,000 to run the service.  The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill and The Philadelphia Inquirer are reporting some DRPA commissioners are questioning spending $1.2 million to pay for upgraded ferry docks.  The future of the service could be decided Wednesday, when the commission is to approve its budget.    

NEW SALEM, Pa. (AP) - The family of a western Pennsylvania man who was killed in a car accident are trying to find the toy he bought for his son just before the accident.  Thirty-one-year-old Steve Conway was killed last month in the Fayette County crash. Conway had just bought a $70 toy truck for his son's birthday and it was in the car when he died.  But Conway's family says the toy wasn't found in Conway's van which was towed to Joby's Towing in Uniontown after the crash.  Joby Cantalamessa tells WTAE that they do everything they can to make sure the cars there are safe. Cantalamessa tells the television station he plans   to buy the family a new toy truck.

The latest business news

Dow: 11,459.70, up 31.18

S&P 500: 1,239.15, down -1.31

NASDAQ: 2,623.00, down -1.91

Stocks jump...More hiring...Best Buy squeezed

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock prices have strengthened today, helped in part by a stronger-than expected retail sales report. The Dow has traded above the 11,500 level.

NEW YORK (AP) - The bosses of big companies expect more hiring ahead, which could bode well for workers who've been wondering when the job market might pick up. The Business Roundtable says 45 percent of CEOs surveyed expect their companies to add more workers.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Best Buy reports a third-quarter profit that fell more than expected, and the consumer electronics giant cut its full-year outlook. Best Buy says the company's market share in  TVs, mobile computing and video game software fell.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Chrysler is recalling about 76,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks. The automaker wants to fix a power steering problem that could make brake pedals return slowly after   the driver applies them. A Chrysler spokesman says there have been no crashes or injuries reported.

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City funeral chapel has claimed the body of Mark Madoff on behalf of the family. The 46-year-old son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment on Saturday. It was the second anniversary of his father's arrest.

     (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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

 Mega Millions

     Estimated jackpot: $104 million

 Midday Big 4

     8-3-0-1

Midday Number

     2-7-2

Midday Quinto

     4-0-7-1-7

Powerball

     Estimated jackpot: $20 million

 Treasure Hunt

     07-08-16-20-29

     (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lisa Kudrow's TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" has lined up Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie and other stars who want to trace their family roots.  NBC said Tuesday that the new season of the show will also include Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O'Donnell and Kim Cattrall.  Kudrow, the former "Friends" star, is an executive producer for "Who Do You Think You Are?" and researched her own ancestry for the show last season. She said celebrities who take part are eager to find answers about their family history.  "Who Do You Think You Are?" returns early next year on NBC.

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) -- The white suit John Lennon wore on the cover of "Abbey Road" is up for sale. The owner is having financial troubles and needs the money. A co-owner of the auction house says the last time the suit was up for bid, it went for $120,000 in 2005. Also being sold is the blazer Lennon wore in the "Imagine" music video.

SYDNEY (AP) - She's a hit in the land down under.  About 6,000 fans flocked to the Sydney Opera House to watch Oprah Winfrey tape two star-studded shows today. They were selected from a pool of 350,000 hopefuls.   Winfrey is wrapping up a weeklong trip accompanied by 302 American audience members. The state and federal governments have spent around $5 million on the trip. The price tag has drawn criticism. But officials and Winfrey say the investment will bring millions more in tourism publicity.  Four shows will air in January and are expected to be watched by millions in 145 countries. Guests will include the family of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.  Jackman hurt his eye while making an aerial entrance from the top of the Opera House onto the stage. Taping was briefly suspended until Jackman could be checked out. His injury wasn't serious.

     (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)