In a game you heard on the WHLM Sports broadcast, Berwick played against MMI Prep at Berwick. MMI Prep beat Berwick by a score of 49-34.
Governor Wolf has declared a State of Emergency in Columbia and Montour Counties as well as other counties in central and northeast Pennsylvania. PennDOT officials have also announced a ban on commercial travel ahead of the storm. The commercial vehicle ban will be in place from noon Saturday to noon Sunday on the Interstates and the Turnpike. Speed limits will also be restricted to 45 mph on interstates during the storm. The declaration of emergency allows deployment of the Pennsylvania National Guard and allows for additional help from neighboring states.
Pennsylvania US Senator Bob Casey says he has decided not to run for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. He had announced back in November that he was exploring a possible run. Casey released a statement today that says in part:
“2020 is not the time for me to run for President, but it is the right time for me to continue to fight the battles I have fought as U.S. Senator and state official. I have no doubt that our Democratic Party will nominate a candidate who can win Pennsylvania and the Presidency.”
A man accused of operating a meth lab in the former DeLong School in Washingtonville has given up his right to a preliminary hearing on a long list of charges from his arrest last October. The case against 30-year-old Casey Hunsinger of Washingtonville will now move to Montour County Court. He remains free on bail awaiting trial. This is believed to be the first meth lab found in Washingtonville.
Surveillance video has helped police identify a man and woman who broke into 6 washing machines and stole quarters at the Wash-n-Shop laundromat in the Market Street Shopping Plaza in Bloomsburg Tuesday night. The video also shows the pair brought along two young children to act as look outs. Laundromat owner Randy Howell tells our news partner Newswatch 16 this is the third time in the last three weeks the Wash-n-Shop has been hit with theft and vandalism. Howell says the laundromat is open 24 hours a day and he may need to reduce the hours it is open. The suspects are identified as 33-year-old Robert Johnson, Jr. and 34-year-old Amber Hornberger, both of Catawissa. Police believe the pair also tried to break into a washing machine at Howell’s other laundromat in Scott Township.
With uncertain times ahead, the agency that oversees Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, including Bloomsburg University, welcomed its new Chancellor this week. Even though he's been on the job for five months, Daniel Greenstein was officially sworn in Wednesday as the 5th Chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education. While acknowledging that difficult choices will have to be made to turn the struggling system around, Greenstein, who comes to Pennsylvania after helping to oversee state colleges in California, added he's optimistic that the system here will survive.
Reforming Pennsylvania's criminal justice system is the focus of a study being prepared by Pennsylvania's Auditor General. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the report will look into reducing the number of people jailed in Pennsylvania. There are an average of 47 thousand inmates per day in state prisons, the majority for nonviolent offenses, according to DePasquale. He adds prison costs have risen 50 percent between 2006 and 2015. The report is due in the fall.
Berwick Police have released two surveillance photos of the suspect wanted in connection with Tuesday afternoon’s robbery at the Fulton Bank at 200 South Poplar Street. The man, who is about six feet tall and 220 to 240 pounds was dressed in black clothing and his head and face were almost completely covered. The suspect informed bank employees he had a bomb, provided a handwritten note, and demanded money. Anyone with information about the suspect or the crime is asked to call the Columbia County Communications Center at 570-784-6300.
Additional photo of robbery suspect entering the Fulton Bank at 200 South Poplar Street in Berwick Tuesday afternoon dressed in all black.
Accu-Weather says there’s no doubt—a winter storm will hit our area this weekend. But, exactly how much snow we can expect here is a bit up in the air as we will likely be close to the line where the snow could change over to ice and rain. Accu-Weather Meterologist John Grishak says if we get all snow we could see about a foot of the white stuff, but it will probably be closer to 6 inches if we get the change over to ice and rain. Grishak says the snow should start late Saturday afternoon. Behind the storm on Sunday and Monday will be a bitterly cold air mass could mean standing water and slush from any rain we receive will freeze solid.
The state Department of Human Services is alerting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in Pennsylvania of a change in the disbursement of their February benefits. Because of the partial federal government shutdown, Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller says about 1.8 million PA SNAP recipients will be receiving their February benefits this Friday, January 18th. Miller reminds SNAP recipients that they will have to make the benefits they receive this week last through February. Should the shutdown continue, Miller says SNAP payments beyond February will be determined based on the availability of USDA funds.
No one was injured during a bank robbery Tuesday afternoon in Berwick. Police say a man about 6-feet tall, 220-to-240 pounds, and dressed in all black handed a note to a teller at the Fulton Bank at 200 South Poplar Street in Berwick at around 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon. The note indicated the man had a bomb and demanded cash. The man, whose face was covered by a hoodie, got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Montour County Commissioner Dan Hartman says he will seek a second four-year term as a county commissioner. Hartman, a Republican, is vice chairman of the board of commissioners. He is also on the board of the Area Agency on Aging and serves on the board of CMSU, which provides mental health, intellectual disability and drug & alcohol services to residents of Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union Counties.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, Pennsylvania State Police seized more than $17 million worth of cocaine, meth, heroin, fentanyl and other illegal drugs. For all of 2018 they removed $66 million worth of drugs from PA communities and highways including 197 pounds of heroin and fentanyl. State Police say the drug seizures are an important part of the Wolf Administration's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
A new legislative session means a new effort to reform property taxes in Pennsylvania. Republicans in the state Senate will reintroduce Senate Bill 76, which would eliminate local property taxes and replace the lost revenue with a combination of higher sales and personal income taxes. Senator David Argall, Chairman of the Majority Policy Committee, says he will meet with each of his colleagues to see what they are willing vote for and what changes need to be made. The bill failed to make it out of the Senate in the last session with a vote of 24 to 24.
Giant Food Stores is getting set to deploy robots in all of its 172 stores including those in Columbia and Montour counties. The tall, slow-moving gray robot with googly eyes is named Marty. Giant says customer response at the test stores has been largely positive. In addition to scanning shelves for items that are out of stock, Marty also does price checks, looking for discrepancies between the shelf and the store’s scanning system. And, the robot will also notify store employees when he encounters spills in the aisle.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank will begin holding special food distributions this week to help federal employees living without paychecks as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. The organization, which serves 27 counties including Columbia and Montour Counties, will distribute food to federal workers today, tomorrow, and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at its locations in Harrisburg and Williamsport. Workers will need to bring their federal ID. More information is available by calling 717-547-6336 or online at www.centralpafoodbank.org.
The Lycoming Mall owes thousands of dollars in unpaid sewer and water bills according to the Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority and the mall could be sold to the highest bidder at a sheriff’s sale which is scheduled for February 1st. The owner of the mall did make a partial payment on Monday, and if he make arrangements to pay the rest of the unpaid bills, next month’s sheriff’s sale could be canceled.
A PennDOT maintenance crew will perform crack sealing this week on Interstate 80 westbound from the Lightstreet Exit near Bloomsburg to the Montour County line. The work will be done today through Thursday, weather permitting. There will be lane restrictions in place during the work.
Tom Wolf opened his second term as Governor Tuesday with an inaugural address that quickly touched on first term accomplishments and second term policy goals, but spent more time on Pennsylvania pride and teamwork. Prior to Governor Wolf's swearing in, John Fetterman took the oath as Pennsylvania's 34th Lieutenant Governor. Fetterman will preside over the GOP-controlled state Senate, and pledged to serve in a spirit of bipartisanship during his tenure.
A leader in the state Senate says welfare reform will once again be on the agenda this legislative session in Harrisburg. One of the issues surrounds work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients. Legislation vetoed last year by Governor Tom Wolf will likely be reintroduced this session, according to state Senator David Argall, who chairs the Senate Majority Policy Committee. He says there's no reason for healthy individuals who are collecting benefits not to be seeking employment.
Maple sugaring season is getting underway in Pennsylvania. While many people think about Vermont when it comes to maple syrup, Pennsylvania is the fourth largest producer of maple syrup in the country. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of maple syrup. There are maple syrup producers in almost all of the state's counties, except in those in the Philadelphia area.
There are couple of new faces elected to top positions with Bloomsburg Fair Board over the weekend. Columbia County Sheriff Tim Chamberlain narrowly defeated incumbent Bill Barratt to become Superintendent of Parking and Police. Cheryl Bissinger was elected to the treasurer’s post to replace the retiring Bob Beishline. Meanwhile the Fair Board has started looking at the possibility of selling beer during certain grandstand shows.
Danville Superintendent Dr. Jason Bendle says the student who wrote a bomb threat on a bathroom wall last Wednesday at the high school has been identified. Bendle made the announcement in district wide communication Friday. Bendle says the school is following disciplinary guidelines for the student. School Police are involved and they are in contact with the Montour County District Attorney regarding possible charges.
The Danville Area School Board has approved a new contract for nearly 80 support workers including custodians, cafeteria workers, aides, and secretaries. The support staff will receive raises of 30 cents per hour in each of the next two years and pay increases of 50 cents per hour in each of the following two years.
Pennsylvania’s prison population is shrinking. Corrections officials report inmate population for 2018 at 47,300, a drop of 2.2% over the previous year. Organizations like the conservative Commonwealth Foundation are praising the figures, pointing to recent criminal justice reforms while crime is still falling. The group is pushing for even more changes, such as automatic parole for low-level offenders.
Pennsylvania officials are watching closely as the partial federal government shutdown drags on. Governor Tom Wolf says state officials are looking at how specific state agencies might be affected by the partial federal government shutdown. The governor says they don't think there would be a significant impact until March if the shutdown drags on that long. But the governor says Pennsylvanians are being impacted, for example by fewer TSA workers at airports and delays in receiving passports.
In a game you heard on the WHLM Sports broadcast, the Bloomsburg boys high school basketball team took on the team of Warrior Run. Bloomsburg beat Warrior Run by a score of 40-38.
Central Columbia has been ranked the #1 rural school district in Pennsylvania by the school ratings website, Schooldigger.com. The ranking is based upon 2017-2018 statewide testing data recently released by the the state Department of Education. Central Columbia was ranked 39th out of 603 districts statewide which puts the district in the top 6-and-half-percent of all districts. Since all the school districts ranked higher than Central are classified either urban or suburban, this makes Central Columbia the #1 ranked rural school district in PA.
How did other area schools rank on Schooldigger.com? Danville School District #61, Southern Columbia #111, Berwick #188, Benton #152, Bloomsburg #202, Millville #403.
Grief counselors were at the Milton Area School District on Thursday after a fifth grade student was killed by his own mother in a murder-suicide in Lancaster County on Wednesday. According to police, 32-year-old Nicole Welton of Milton shot and killed her 11-year-old son inside a motel room near Lancaster and then shot herself. There’s no word on a motive.