A man has been sentenced in connection with a fire at a bar in Northumberland County nearly six years ago. Anthony Sanutti Jr. has been sentenced to two-and-a-half to 23 months in Northumberland County Prison for previously pleading guilty to insurance fraud. Authorities say Sanutti was involved in the fire at the Brass Key Tavern on Reagan Street in Sunbury back in January of 2013. Sanutti is the son of Anthony Rocco Franklin who was recently found guilty of murdering his ex-son-in-law, Frank Spencer, in Columbia County.
Nearly two dozen Southern Columbia Area School District residents turned out for a meeting Monday to discuss ways to counteract bullying and revise the district’s anti-bullying policy. Some parents and students in the district blamed bullying and lack of action by the district for the suicide death of 14-year-old Southern student of Natalie Bodnar, last month. Authorities investigating the death previously stated there was no evidence of bullying. Board Member Kaye Keller told the News-Item that Monday’s meeting was positive. The new anti-bullying policy will be available on the school district’s website by December 4th.
Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary School crossing guard Amelia Blackledge is in the running for the title of America’s Favorite Crossing Guard. The contest is being promoted by Safe Kids Worldwide which is a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries. The winning crossing guard will receive up $500 in prizes and his or her school will receive $10,000 dollars. Voting for America’s Favorite Crossing Guard will continue through November 30th at www.safekids.org/crossing-guard.
Pennsylvania's Attorney General says last summer's grand jury report into sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania continues to be felt here and elsewhere. During an address before the Pennsylvania Press Club, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said taking on the Catholic Church is one example of his office's willingness to go after large institutions in an effort to protect Pennsylvanians. Shapiro says the effects of the report are unmistakable. Shapiro says he will continue to work with state lawmakers to ensure that all four recommendations contained in the report are carried out, including giving victims the chance to sue, even if the abuse happened decades ago.
Pennsylvania is seeing a higher than usual number of Hepatitis A cases this year. While Pennsylvania has seen between 40 and 60 cases of Hepatitis A a year over the past several years, so far this year 81 cases of the contagious liver infection have been reported in PA. Secretary of Health Dr. Levine says this year's cases seem to be among the homeless, men who have sex with men and I-V drug users. While there's no treatment or cure for Hepatitis A, Dr. Levine says there is an effective vaccine.
It will be a match of unbeaten high school football teams when Southern Columbia plays York Catholic Saturday afternoon in a Class AA state quarterfinal. Saturday's game kicks off at 1 O'clock. Coverage on the WHLM STATIONS begins with the pregame show at 12:30.
Riverside needs a new Mayor. Joe Oberdof who has been Mayor since 2014 and before that was a long-time borough manager in Riverside submitted his letter of resignation to borough council last night and it’s effective immediately. The Danville News reports the mayor’s resignation was the result of a borough council member hanging up on Oberdorf during a phone conversation Friday discussing police coverage during last week’s winter storm.
A Lycoming County contractor who failed to show up October 1st to begin serving a jail term for bilking a couple out of $6,500 is now in the Montour County lock-up. 42-year Chad Barto, of Muncy, was sentenced back in August to pay restitution and serve 6 to 23 months in Montour County Prison after pleading guilty to theft by deception after taking money from an Anthony Township couple, but failing to do work he was hired to do. Barto now faces a new felony charge for failing to appear at the prison voluntarily as he was supposed to on October 1st. A hearing on the new charge was postponed yesterday by Danville District Judge Marvin Shrawder because Barto didn’t have an attorney.
A Montour County businessman has broken a Guinness World Record. Stan Kohl of Kohl’s Stony Hill Tree Farm near Danville has broken the world record for the largest collection of Christmas tree stands. Kohl’s collection began with 10 Christmas tree stands back in 2004 and has grown to more than 1,200. Even though he has the Guinness World Record, Kohl plans to continue adding to his collection.
The state Auditor General says he plans to conduct a new audit of the state Health Department’s oversight of nursing homes. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says his department will examine how well the Department of Health has followed 23 recommendations contained in a 2016 audit on the oversight of Pennsylvania nursing homes. DePasquale says the audit two years ago identified and made recommendations regarding nurse staffing levels, as well as the handling of complaints and sanctions against poor-performing nursing homes.
Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office has released an annual budget report showing Pennsylvania lawmakers will probably have to fill a significant deficit in the next fiscal year. When the current fiscal year ends on June 30th 2019, the Independent Fiscal Office projects a budget deficit as high as one and a half billion dollars. IFO Director Matthew Knittel says it could be even higher if the economy slows down. He adds one-time revenue sources helping to fuel the current budget won’t be available next year, and even with no increase in spending, mandatory expenses such as Medicaid and other federal programs will send the state into the red without additional sources of revenue.
Matt Gillette has finished first three straight times in the Run for the Diamonds. The native of Orefield, Pennsylvania will be back to try to make it four in a row when the 9 mile road race takes place Thanksgiving morning in Berwick. You can hear live coverage of the 109th Run for the Diamonds on the whlm stations Thursday morning starting with the broadcast following the 10AM news.
Fire broke out at two area businesses over the weekend. Firefighters from Southside and Danville fire companies were called out for a dryer fire at the Riverside Laundromat on Route 54 Saturday evening. Also, firefighters in the Bloomsburg area were able to quickly extinguish a fire at the Playa Cancun Mexican Restaurant at 801 Central Road Friday night.
The state Department of Education has launched a new website designed to provide more information about how schools are performing, beyond just standardized test scores. The website FutureReady.PA.gov focuses on three main categories; the academic performance of students, if student progress is on track, and whether students are ready for college or to start a career once they graduate high school. Matthew Stem is Deputy Education Secretary. Stem says the website will make it easier for members of the public see how their school compares to like-sized schools and those with similar demographics.
October was another good month for the state's labor market. Pennsylvania's jobless rate held steady in October at 4.1 percent, its lowest level since July 2000. And at 6,063,400 the estimated number jobs in PA set a new record for the 19th consecutive month in October. The 18,500 increase in the estimated number jobs was the largest one month gain since July 2015. Department of Labor and Industry spokesperson Theresa Elliott says the biggest gainers were professional and business services, education and health services and the construction sector.
It’s budget time for local governments as they look at predicting revenue and expenses for the coming year. Montour County Commissioners say they will likely need a modest tax increase to balance budget for 2019...that would the first increase in about 7 years. Meanwhile, Columbia County Commissioners say they don’t believe a tax hike will be necessary for next year. Tax rates won’t be set until final budgets are adopted prior to the end of 2018.
The first snowstorm of the season has been a doozy. The heavy snowfall, sleet and freezing rain has made road conditions treacherous, caused crashes and generally made traveling difficult. PennDOT lowered the speed limit to 45 mph on some area roadways including Interstates 80 & 81, and Routes 11 & 15 as a result of the wintry conditions.
Legislation signed into law by Gov. Wolf is aimed at keeping firearms away from those accused of domestic abuse. House Bill 2060, now Act 79 of 2018, requires anyone who is the subject of a protection from abuse order to relinquish all firearms within 24 hours of the order being issued. In signing the bill. Gov. Tom Wolf said it's is proof that all sides can work together to address a serious issue. Republican state Representative Marguerite Quinn who sponsored the bill in the House, says it protects the victims of domestic abuse, and serves as an example of a common sense gun safety measure.
Folks from all over the east coast who will sell Christmas trees during the upcoming Holiday Season converged on Union County yesterday for what’s billed as the world’s largest Christmas tree auction. The event at the Buffalo Valley Produce Auction near Mifflinburg featured more than 35-thousand trees and more than 30-thousand wreaths, along with thousands of centerpieces and handmade Christmas décor.
The Danville Business Alliance kicks off holiday festivities with a Holiday Open House this weekend. From 5-9 p.m. Saturday and again from Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, the shops in downtown Danville, as well as the bars and restaurants, will roll out the welcome mat and help shoppers find early Christmas gifts or just what is needed for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. There will be special offers and refreshments from participating shops and restaurants. There will also be free horse-drawn carriage rides on Saturday from 5-9 pm.
Because of yesterday's snowstorm, the Mount Camel at Southern Columbia District 4 Class AA championship football game has been postponed until tomorrow night at 7. Coverage on the whlm stations will begin at 6:30 with the pregame show. The AAA final will also be played tomorrow night with Danville at home against Montoursville.
Due to the snowy weather moving through the state, the scheduled District 4 AA High School football final between Southern Columbia and Mount Carmel has been postponed to Saturday night. Stay tuned to the WHLM stations for further details.
A Sunbury man has been charged with homicide by vehicle in connection with a deadly hit and run crash earlier this year in Northumberland Borough. Police say 82-year-old Wayne Wetzel didn’t stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Orange and Second Streets in Northumberland and hit 71-year-old Ronald Clark with his SUV on August 17th. Clark died from his injuries about a week later. Wetzel's children called police and Wetzel admitted to hitting Clark and driving away.
An all-day policy meeting is scheduled to be held Monday at Southern Columbia Area School District to address bullying. The meeting will be held in the district office beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday. It is open to the public, and parents concerned about bullying are encouraged to attend to assist in reviewing policies aimed at addressing the problem. The meeting follows last month’s suicide of 14-year-old Southern student Natalie Bodner. Some parents and students in the district have said her death was the result of bullying, but authorities have said they don’t have any evidence of that.
A retired Roman Catholic bishop from Northeastern Pennsylvania who has come under harsh criticism for his handling of clergy sex abuse has defied his successor by attending this week’s national meeting of U.S. bishops. Former Bishop James Timlin was seen Monday at the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. After a grand jury faulted Timlin for his handling of clergy sex abuse, Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera barred him from representing the diocese in public. A Diocesan spokesman says Bambera asked Timlin not to attend, but added that membership in the bishops group and attendance at conferences is beyond Bambera’s control.
The recent elections resulted in more Democrats being elected to the state House and Senate and the higher numbers may breathe new life into legislative proposals favored by Democrats. Two Democratic priorities are an increase in the minimum wage and a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling. Representative Patty Kim says a wage increase is likely, if both parties can come to terms on how much. With Republicans still firmly in control of both chambers, the severance tax less likely, especially, as one lawmaker pointed out, some Republicans who favored the tax were among those defeated for reelection.
PennDOT says the Interstate 80 eastbound rest area in Mifflin Township, Columbia County, is once again open. The rest area was closed last week so the facility’s roof could be replaced.
The Benton Volunteer Fire Company says this year’s weather and a couple of other factors have put a strain on their financial situation. The fire company has posted a plea on Facebook seeking donations from the community. The Facebook post indicates the damage caused by this year’s flash flooding, less income at fundraisers due to poor weather, and mechanical failures with some equipment have impacted the financial picture for Benton firefighters. The social media post also indicates the the Benton Borough Council turned down a request for additional funding. You can mail a donation to the Benton Volunteer Fire Company at PO Box 252, Benton, Pennsylvania 17814.
This is Community Foundation Week and the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation based in Berwick is celebrating along with more than 795 community foundations across the country. The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation administers about 200 charitable funds benefiting the communities and residents of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union, Snyder, and Lower Luzerne Counties. With its affiliates, partners and donors across the region, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation provides more than $2.7-million dollars in grants and scholarships each year to help meet the charitable needs of our region.
The PA Liquor Control Board is out with its annual report for fiscal year 2017-2018. LCB spokesman Shawn Kelly says the state-controlled liquor store system is a major contributor to the budget, returning close to $750-million dollars to the general fund. Revenues also benefit the State Police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, as well as the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.