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4/24/17

by News Department on 04/24/17

4/24/17

by News Department on 04/24/17

LVHN Hazleton...



Lehigh Valley Health Network announced plans to modernize and renovate the existing Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton on East Broad Street. 

The work includes a major expansion of services that will create a health care campus at the existing Health & Wellness Center along the Airport Beltway in Hazle and Butler townships. 

Dr. Brian Nester, president and chief executive officer of LVHN, said its leadership and industry experts conducted a nearly two-year assessment of health care needs and trends in both the region and the industry. 

Nester said the assessment determined it was not prudent to construct a full replacement hospital, but to focus on outpatient services, while maintaining and modernizing the current hospital. 

In addition to modernizing and renovating the existing 42-year-old hospital and expanding the Health & Wellness Center, LVHN’s plan calls for expansion of a center city location that currently offers ExpressCARE and Lehigh Valley Physician Group Pediatrics. 

The plan also includes expansion of the cancer program and a comprehensive physician recruitment and retention strategy.

4/24/17

by News Department on 04/24/17

Stack loses privileges...




Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is stripping the state’s lieutenant governor, Mike Stack, and his wife of state police protection following complaints about the Stacks’ treatment of troopers and other state employees who tended to their taxpayer-funded residence. 

The governor hand-delivered the letter to Stack Friday, informing him of the decision. 

Stack responded in a statement three hours later, saying that he agreed with the decision. He said he and his wife acknowledged that their behavior was “unacceptable” and called it a symptom of a larger problem that he was committed to addressing. He said he also apologized to Wolf for “any embarrassment this situation has caused.”

4/24/17

by News Department on 04/24/17

Trump coming to Harrisburg...





President Donald Trump plans to mark his100th day in office on Saturday with residents in Pennsylvania, which he credits with providing him the critical electoral votes he needed to get elected.

 Trump's visit to Harrisburg falls on the first day of a potential federal government shutdown. It also happens to be the same day as the White House Correspondents Association dinner in Washington, D.C., that he and his staff are boycotting to protest what he considers unfavorable media coverage. 

The rally will be held at the Farm Show Complex in the New Holland Arena for 7:30pm. 

Anyone interested in attending will need to sign up for tickets at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/schedule/register/harrisburg-pa2/.

4/24/17

by News Department on 04/24/17

2 Dealerships named in fraud case...




Two now-closed Schuylkill County automobile dealerships are among those mentioned in a report by the 39th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury in a presentment on what it alleged to be fraudulent activity involving license plates, titles and other documents. 

According to the Republican Herald, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Aflak Auto Sales Inc., Cressona, and Prestige AAA Auto Sales Inc., Orwigsburg, each failed to return numerous dealer license plates that have been improperly used on vehicles. 

The two dealerships were among 14 named as parts of a scheme, called Operation Car Wash, which cost Pennsylvania and New York more than $1 million in unpaid sales taxes, EZ Pass tolls and parking fines.

 The grand jury alleges other unlawful activities involved in the scheme included rolling back odometers and acquiring fake automobile insurance cards and driver’s licenses. 

Shapiro said he has charged 12 people in connection with the plan, which started in 2008.

4/21/17

by News Department on 04/21/17

4/21/17

by News Department on 04/21/17

Fraud charges...




The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has filed welfare fraud charges against 68 individuals, in Pennsylvania, between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2017. 

Inspector General Bruce R. Beemer noted the cases range from a low of $1,040 in fraudulently obtained SNAP benefits to a high of $58,891.50 in fraudulently obtained SNAP and medical assistance benefits. 

These charges will generate a total of $420,018.93 in restitution paid to the commonwealth, as well as additional cost savings as the defendants will be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they defrauded. 

To report suspected fraud, please call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582 or visit the OIG website at www.oig.pa.gov.

4/21/17

by News Department on 04/21/17

Yuengling Lager Jogger...




D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.’s 5th annual Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K walk and run will be held Saturday, in Pottsville. 

The annual event has sold out with 3,500 registered participants. Attendees can watch the race start at 501 Mahantongo St., and enjoy live music, food and entertainment. 

However, brewery tours are not available on Saturday. 

Proceeds from the event will benefit “Operation Gratitude,” which supplies care packages to our military. T

he Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5k started in 2013 and is the only race to start and finish at America's Oldest Brewery. 

The race will start at 9:00am.

4/21/17

by News Department on 04/21/17

Fueling Station...



PA Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday the opening of the first compressed natural gas fueling station planned for transit agencies statewide as part of a $84.5 million public-private partnership with Trilliam CNG. 

Schuylkill Transportation System, in Saint Clair, is one of the 29 transit companies that will get its own compressed natural gas filling station. 

According to a press release from the governor’s office issued Thursday, the start date for construction at the Saint Clair facility has been pushed back to 2021. 

It was previously set for 2018. When the project is completed, the fueling stations will supply gas to more than 1,600 CNG buses at transit agencies across the state.

4/21/17

by News Department on 04/21/17

Woman/Child found...



A woman who had been the subject of a search after failing to return her son to his father has been found, along with the child. 

According to the Republican Herald, state police at Frackville said Thursday they were looking for 35 year old Suzanne M. Hadik, of Pottsville, after she failed to return her 1-year-old son to his father, Zachary Johnson, on Sunday. 

Police said the child was listed as a missing person and a felony warrant was obtained for Hadik on a charge of interference with the custody of children. 

Police, however, did not provide any additional information as to where the mother and child were located and whether or not Hadik was or will be charged with a crime.

4/20/17

by News Department on 04/20/17

4/20/17

by News Department on 04/20/17

Stackpole sentenced to state prison...




40 year old Courtland I. Stackpole III, of Mount Carbon, is headed to state prison after admitting to a Schuylkill County judge Wednesday, that he shot at three people, injuring one, in June 2016 in Pottsville.

 Pottsville police charged Stackpole in the one case with firing a shotgun at a Chevrolet Suburban SUV occupied by three people, hitting one of them, about 2:40 a.m. June 6, 2016, in the 500 block of East Market Street. 

In a separate case, Stackpole pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance. In that case Schuylkill Haven borough police charged Stackpole with selling methamphetamines for $100 to a confidential informant on May 6, 2016, in the borough. 

Judge Charles M. Miller accepted the plea and sentenced him to serve six to 12 years in a state correctional institution.

4/20/17

by News Department on 04/20/17

Burn Ban to begin...




A countywide burn ban will go into effect Friday. The Schuylkill county commissioners approved a 30-day ban on open burning Wednesday. 

The ban was recommended by Timothy Ladner, district forester for the Weiser Forest District, and received overwhelming support from county fire chiefs. 

Schuylkill County has been experiencing an exceptional number of uncontrolled fires according to a press release from SCEMA. 

Under the ban, residents are forbidden from any outdoor burning of items such as garbage, leaves, grass, litter and paper. Grilling in proper containers is still permitted.

 However, the ban forbids lighting fires in outdoor burn barrels or fire rings. 

Residents violating the ban face fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for each additional violation. Violators are also responsible for the cost of extinguishment of any wildland fire they cause. 

The ban will go into effect at noon Friday and last until noon May 21.

4/20/17

by News Department on 04/20/17

Skimmer devices found...



Two skimmer devices were found inside the pumps at a gas station in Schuylkill County. 

The sophisticated devices were able to steal PIN numbers from debit cards without the appearance of the pump being tampered with. 

St. Clair Police Chief William Dempsey said two skimmer devices were found inside pumps 2 and 8 at the Exxon Mobile on Route 61 in St. Clair. Police say they believe the criminals may have taken a master key to open the pump and get inside. 

The criminals replaced the cable inside with one that had an information storage device on it. 

Police are in the process of looking through surveillance, but they believe the criminals could have placed the skimmer devices months ago and had them lay dormant. However, they do have one suspicious vehicle on camera in the parking lot after hours. 

St. Clair police are working on the case with the FBI.

4/20/17

by News Department on 04/20/17

Overcrowding at County Prison...

Eyewitness News Reporter Hailey Bianco has the story...



(Copy and paste this link for video) http://www.pahomepage.com/news/schuylkill-county-prison-works-on-ways-to-lower-population/694490726

POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- Some prisons in our area are overwhelmed with inmates. Those prisons are turning to other counties for help housing prisoners. In this Eyewitness News follow up, reporter Haley Bianco explains how one county is keeping its population down. 

"It's a major challenge," said prison board chairman George Halcovage Jr.
 
Schuylkill County Prison Board Chairman George Halcovage says they're looking everyday for new ways to keep its prison population under it's maximum capacity limit. When the prison reached more than 300 inmates, the state stepped in -- declaring that the prison could house no more than 277.
 
So the prison had to find alternatives.
 
"We have to find room," said Halcovage. 
 
They've managed to do that by signing contracts with six other county  prisons in the state.... the newest addition, Lackawanna County Prison. 
 
It costs between 50 and 70 dollars a day to house inmates at other prisons. Right now, there's about 70 prisoners housed elsewhere. That's a hefty bill of 42-hundred dollars -- a day. 
 
The county doesn't want to be paying that bill forever. So local leaders are lining up new ways to keep the prison count low. 
Some options they've already implemented --- diverting drug cases to an out-patient treatment drug court..
 
Since lowering the inmate count at the prison, people who work there say they've seen the benefits.
 
"We felt that impact of reducing our population, with the inmates and their behavior and also the staff," said Gene Berdanier, Schuylkill County Prison warden. 
 
He says keeping the inmate count at a manageable number makes it easier to classify the prisoners -- and help those who want to be helped. Another avenue they're approaching -- an intermediate punishment center -- with a goal of preparing inmates with the skills needed to successfully re-enter the community. 
 
"Almost every inmate in our county facility will be released back into the community at some point so we're trying to improve the inmates while they're incarcerated so we're exploring programming at all times," said Berdanier. 
 
By outsourcing prisoners, the sheriff's department is also having to cover the costs of transporting those prisoners. Prison board members hope once the intermediate punishment center opens, the need to outsource inmates will be eliminated. 
 
As of today, five companies have expressed an interest to the prison board about working with them to open the center. 

4/19/17

by News Department on 04/19/17

4/19/17

by News Department on 04/19/17

Argall's Bill is approved...



The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved a proposal written by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) that would protect consumers utilizing household goods movers. 

Argall said, “In Pennsylvania, it is more advantageous to operate a household goods moving company illegally than it is to comply with the law. 

These illegal companies often lack the necessary insurance coverage to protect damaged goods during a move, leaving the consumer on the hook.” 

Argall’s bill would make it a punishable offense to perform an illegal move in the state with a $5,000 fine. 

Vehicles used in an illegal household goods move would be confiscated and registration would be suspended. Repeat offenders would be subject to a $10,000 fine. 

Revenue generated under the bill would be invested into future motor carrier enforcement through the PUC. 

The bill only applies to commercial, for-hire entities. 

The legislation now moves to the full Senate for its consideration.

4/19/17

by News Department on 04/19/17

Tick Season...




With warmer weather in store, so is the risk of a tick bite and possibly lime disease. 

The most recent data available from the Department of Health shows 36 cases of Lyme disease in Schuylkill County in 2014. 

A report by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Lyme disease and Related Tick-Borne Diseases released in September 2015 reported in the past 30 years statewide, 50,000 to 70,000 people have been affected by tick-borne diseases each year. 

To reduce the risk of tick bites: Avoid tick-infested areas, especially from May through July. Use insect repellent containing 10 to 30 percent DEET to clothing and exposed skin. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be spotted more easily. And always perform tick checks after being outdoors. 

If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it promptly and seek immediate medical attention.

4/19/17

by News Department on 04/19/17

Study into State Universities...



The Senate of Pennsylvania approved a resolution sponsored by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) that requires an independent study of the future of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to be completed by the end of the year. 

Senate Resolution 34 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state. 

Argall said, “The study will help us understand why enrollment at certain universities is declining, what the urgent needs are and how to best move forward to ensure the students of Pennsylvania can receive a quality and affordable degree.” 

The LBFC, a bipartisan research agency, has until December 31, 2017 to report back to the General Assembly on its findings.

4/19/17

by News Department on 04/19/17

Fire Chiefs Association approve Burn Ban...



The Schuylkill County Fire Chiefs Association voted unanimously to support a 30-day burn ban for Schuylkill County at a quarterly fire chiefs meeting Tuesday. 

According to the Republican Herald, a ban has been issued every year since 2010. J

ohn Matz, Schuylkill County emergency management director, said the burn ban can be put on the agenda for the April 26 Schuylkill County commissioners meeting and if approved, would be effective noon April 28 until noon May 28.

 The commissioners can also vote to extend the burn ban. If a burn ban were enacted by the commissioners, residential burning would be prohibited, in addition to commercial burning. 

The ban has to first be approved by the Schuylkill County commissioners to go into effect.

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