Danville Borough officials have opened the 4 bids they received for construction of new police station on the playground next to the former Danville Elementary School on East Front Street. The apparent low-bidder was T. Ross Brothers Construction of Montandon with a quote of nearly $1.75 million. The next closest bid came from Zartman Construction of Northumberland at $2.2 million. The bids will be reviewed to make sure they are eligible. Borough Council could take action to name the winning bid at their next meeting set for April 2nd. Borough Officials hope to have the police station completed by the end of the year.Read More
The NCAA men's college basketball tournament known as "March Madness" got underway last week, with many folks chipping in a few bucks and filling out the familiar brackets in a betting pool with friends or coworkers. Technically, such betting pools are illegal, but a state lawmaker wants to change that. State Senator Lisa Boscola is the sponor of a bill to decriminalize betting pools, if the amount bet is less than 20 dollars, there are fewer than 100 participants, and all the money stays within the group.Read More
Fire destroyed about half dozen buildings in a Schuylkill County borough where an earlier blaze destroyed six buildings last month. Fire crews were called to 100 block of Centre Street in Ashland at about 3:40 Sunday morning and found the back of several buildings engulfed in flames. Authorities sat the M&M Sandwich Shop and five homes next to it were destroyed. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Last month, a similar blaze destroyed six row homes in Ashland.Read More
Legislation to set minimums for nurse-patient ratios at Pennsylvania hospitals has been introduced in Harrisburg. The bill, introduced by state Senator Maria Collett of Montgomery County would establish a minimum number of nurses, compared to how many patients they care for in hospitals and other medical facilities. Different ratios would be set, depending on the nature of the unit. The legislation is part of keeping patients safe and ensuring they receive the best care possible; it also represents ways for hospitals to make an investment that pays off in overall savings.Read More
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the state Turnpike system is now almost $12-billion in debt and is on the brink of financial collapse. At issue is a 2007 state law, known as Act 44, which requires the Turnpike to transfer $450 million a year to PennDOT to fund mass transit across the state. In order to meet the payments, the Turnpike has had to borrow billions of dollars. The Turnpike was supposed to get some help in making the payments with the tolling of Interstate 80, but that was blocked by the Obama Administration. DePasquale says ever-increasing tolls aren’t putting a dent in the Turnpike’s debt, and it's actually making the money problems worse by forcing less people to use the Turnpike. His suggestions include drastically reducing toll subsidies for mass transit or legalizing recreation marijuana which he estimates would raise $600 million a year. More details on the Auditor General’s report about the Turnpike are available here.Read More
A former employee of the Columbia-Montour Council of the Boy Scouts of America has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $5,000 from the nonprofit organization. 62-year-old Joyce Fisher of Catawissa who did accounting work for the local Boy Scouts admitted to using the council’s credit cards to pay her personal bills and buy things for herself. She also stole hundreds of dollars in petty cash from the organization. The thefts occurred to between September 2017 and April 2018 and were discovered following an audit.Read More
Governor Wolf has renewed his disaster declaration regarding opioid addiction. In the 15 months since the governor used a state declaration usually reserved for natural disasters, he has renewed it five times. The governor’s office says the crisis is far from over, but there has been some promising news. Center Disease Control and Prevention figures show fewer people may have died of drug overdose deaths in 2017 and 2018 as compared to previous years. Emergency personnel have also used the anti-overdose drug naloxone more than 18-thousand times. The declaration has also loosened some regulations to allow state agencies to assist those with opioid addiction more quickly.Read More
Legislation is being reintroduced in the state House and Senate that is aimed at protecting unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome from being aborted. The bill would protect unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome from abortion as children are protected from abortion based on sex-selection. Supporters of the legislation say people with Down Syndrome have contributed much to society and there's no justifiable reason for aborting an unborn child diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Similar legislation failed to pass during the last legislative session. Governor Wolf has said that it if the bill makes it to his desk, he’ll veto it. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have also derided the legislation as a way to chip away at abortion rights.Read More
A $2.2 million gift will help provide teenagers in the foster care system with the opportunity to explore educational experiences at Bloomsburg University. The gift comes from the estate of Easton native Mitzi Marie Bryfogle. Her Will directed that portion of her estate go to help a public university. Her son Eric Bryfogle, executor of the estate, felt the Anchor Program at Bloomsburg University was the most deserving initiative. The Anchor Program gives teenagers from 15-to-18 years old in the foster care system, a chance to explore their academic interests and talents through a multi-year summer college experience and year-round mentorship opportunities. Since the program began in the summer of 2017, nearly 80 teens from more than 10 counties— including Columbia, Luzerne, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties—have taken part in the program.Read More
Pennsylvania State Police have developed a new policy for dealing with someone who may be in this country illegally. The policy, known as AR7-14, does not allow state troopers to arrest someone solely on the basis of immigration status. Troopers are directed to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement if a foreign national is suspected to being in the country illegally. State Police developed the policy with the help of federal officials, county district attorneys, the ACLU and other interested organizations.Read More
Governor Tom Wolf's PA Farm Bill proposal was the focus of a joint hearing before the state House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees. The PA Farm Bill proposal, which calls for investing $24 million in agriculture in PA, received a mostly positive response from lawmakers. But some concerns were also raised. Among them, whether $500,000 proposed for enhancing research on specialty crops is enough and if a $1.6 million initiative to grow the state's organic industry would pit farmers against farmers.Read More
A Bloomsburg University student was scooped up in a drug bust early Wednesday morning at a residence on Glenn Avenue in town. As the result of an ongoing investigation, Bloomsburg Police served a search warrant on the residence and seized about 7 lbs of marijuana, marijuana wax, liquid THC for use in vape pens, and approximately $3,300 in cash, as well as drug paraphernalia. Police say Christopher Feliciano was taken into custody and charged with possession with intent to deliver.Read More
A Berwick man is the winner of that record Cash 5 jackpot earlier this month. Officials from the Pennsylvania Lottery and Sheetz presented a big commemorative check Tuesday to Luther Coleman Jr., who won the nearly $2.5 million jackpot in the March 8th Pennsylvania Lottery Cash 5 drawing. The jackpot is the largest in the nearly 27-year history of Cash 5. The winning ticket was purchased at Sheetz on W. Front St. in Berwick where the 63-year-old Coleman is a frequent customer. Coleman says the windfall will help him and his wife move closer to their daughter in western Pennsylvania. Coleman says he used a couple different Pennsylvania Lottery machines to verify his ticket was the winner before he started to believe it was true. Coleman has worked for more than 31 years in mechanical maintenance at the nuclear power plant near Berwick.
Police arrested two people in a drug bust at a Columbia County motel Tuesday. South Centre Township Police say Matthew Enck and Samantha Bankes, both of Berwick, had 600 bags of fentanyl, 10.2 grams of crystal meth, cash, a rifle, and assorted drug paraphernalia in their room at the Super 8 Motel in Mifflinville. South Centre Township police where assisted by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Briar Creek Township Police and Columbia County Adult Probation.Read More
The Department of Corrections says all state prisons in Pennsylvania will be tobacco-free by July 1st. The Department of Corrections says banning the use of tobacco products in state prisons will not only make them healthier places, but also safer by eliminating black market tobacco sales. As part of the plan inmate commissaries will stop the sale of tobacco products on June 1st, although electronic cigarettes will continue to be sold and allowed to be used by inmates and staff in certain areas. Inmates will also be offered smoking cessation programs.Read More
A resolution which seeks to increase access to drug treatment and recovery has been advanced by the House Human Services Committee. State Representative Jim Gregory says the resolution he's introduced would have the Joint State Government Commission review unused state-owned properties and buildings for possible use as drug treatment and recovery facilities, noting that would remove a barrier to treatment and provide hope to people with drug addictions. Committee Chair Gene DiGirolamo says its often difficult to find empty treatment beds on weekends in PA. Under the resolution the Joint State Government Commission would have one year to issue a report on its findings.Read More
A Columbia County man accused of pistol-whipping the owner of a coin shop and stealing about $75,000 in cash, gold bars, and jewelry was sentenced to prison. Forty-year-old David Bobe from Berwick was sentenced Monday to 10 to 20 years in prison. He pleaded no contest in February to the violent robbery at Sterner's Coin Shop in Shamokin Dam which happened back in 2017. The Snyder County district attorney says the sentence will run consecutively to a 6 to 15 year sentence Bobe received for a different robbery in Columbia County. The DA says Bobe was on parole for that crime when he robbed the coin shop in Shamokin Dam. A second man, 39-year-old Michael Rodenizer from Beaver Springs, already pleaded guilty to the coin shop robbery. He is set to be sentenced later this month.
A Columbia County man was killed when a large oak tree fell on top of him Monday. Police say 70-year-old Donald Jeffrey was cutting down a tree along his driveway at 622 Pine Swamp Road in Cleveland Township, Columbia County when it fell on top of him. Jeffrey’s wife discovered him trapped under the tree. Columbia County Coroner Jeremy Reese pronounced Jeffrey dead just before 1 o’clock Monday afternoon.Read More
A bill approved by the state House Transportation Committee would bolster efforts to convince more Pennsylvanians to become organ donors. The bill would increase from 1 to 3 dollars the amount Pennsylvanians can donate the Organ Donation Trust Fund when renewing a vehicle registration. Bill sponsor state Rep. Joe Petrarca says because it's now possible to renew a registration for two years, his bill would allow those who use that option to contribute up to 6 dollars to the organ fund.
The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection is in the middle of a five year effort to assess the effects of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses in the Commonwealth. The surveillance effort began in July of last year, with the goal of tracking the activity level of ticks at all stages of life. The effort, was one of several recommendations from the state's Lyme Disease Task Force. Pennsylvania continues to lead the nation in Lyme Disease cases according to the CDC, with over 9,200 confirmed in 2017.