Wednesday November 14 2012

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2012

BOYFRIEND CHARGED WITH MURDER

SOMERSET COUNTY AUTHORITIES SAY THE HUMAN REMAINS FOUND ALONG THE GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE HIKING TRAIL NEAR MEYERSDALE SUNDAY BELONG TO 19 YEAR OLD JUSTINE JACKSON…AND NOW AN ARREST WARRANT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR HER BOYFRIEND, 23 YEAR OLD JONATHAN BEAL OF MEYERSDALE. STATE POLICE SAY JACKSON…WHO DISAPPEARED 2 MONTHS AGO…WAS STRANGLED, THEN BURIED IN A SHALLOW GRAVE. THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT SAYS BEAL TOLD SEVERAL  PEOPLE THAT HE KILLED AND BURIED JACKSON NEAR THE TRAIL. FAMILY MEMBERS SAY JUSTINE HAD TOLD THEM SHE WAS PREGNANT WITH BEAL’S CHILD. FRIENDS BELIEVE BEAL MAY HAVE FLED TO FLORIDA.

CONVICTED KILLER APPEALS

SEAN ALLEN OF HOLLIDAYSBURG IS SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE FOR THE 2009 MURDER OF PENN STATE ALTOONA STUDENT MARGO “MAGGIE” DAVIS. YESTERDAY, HE FILED AN APPEAL ASKING FOR A NEW TRIAL AND CLAIMING HIS ATTORNEYS MADE MISTAKES DURING HIS 2010 TRIAL. ALLEN’S PREVIOUS APPEALS WERE REJECTED BY BOTH THE STATE SUPERIOR AND SUPREME COURT.

EXECUTION SCHEDULED

GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT HAS SIGNED AN EXECUTION WARRANT FOR MARK SPOTZ OF CLEARFIELD COUNTY WHO WAS CONVICTED OF KIDNAPPING, ROBBING AND MURDERING A YORK COUNTY WOMAN DURING A 4-COUNTY SPREE IN 1995. SPOTZ KILLED 4 PEOPLE BETWEEN LATE JANUARY AND EARLY FEBRUARY, INCLUDING HIS BROTHER. THIS EXECUTION WARRANT IS FOR THE SHOOTING DEATH OF 41-YEAR-OLD PENNY GUNNET. SPOTZ IS SCHEDULED TO RECEIVE A LETHAL INJECTION JANUARY 8TH AT THE ROCKVIEW STATE PRISON IN CENTRE COUNTY.

FATAL WRECK

A BEDFORD COUNTY WOMAN DIED IN A CRASH ABOUT 5:30 YESTERDAY AFTERNOON. STATE POLICE SAY 23 YEAR OLD JESSICA CORNELL OF NEW PARIS LOST CONTROL OF HER CAR ON EGOLF ROAD IN COLERAIN TOWNSHIP. SHE RAN UP AN EMBANKMENT AND FLEW INTO A TREE. THE VEHICLE CAME TO REST PARTIALLY IN THE BEDFORD SPORTSMAN’S CLUB LAKE.

SANDUSKY SCANDAL

THE DAUPHIN COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATOR’S OFFICE ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT THE PRELIMINARY HEARING FOR FORMER PENN STATE PRESIDENT GRAHAM SPANIER, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT GARY SCHULTZ, AND FORMER ATHLETIC DIRECTOR TIM CURLEY HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13TH IN HARRISBURG. IF NECESSARY, THE HEARING WILL CONTINUE THE FOLLOWING DAY. ALL 3 MEN ARE CHARGED WITH PERJURY, ENDANGERING WELFARE OF CHILDREN, OBSTRUCTION, FAILURE TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE, AND CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY RELATED TO CASE AGAINST JERRY SANDUSKY. ALL 3 SAY THEY LOOK FORWARD TO PROVING THEIR INNOCENCE.

JERRY SANDUSKY’S DEFENSE TEAM IS ASKING FOR 2 ADDITIONAL WEEKS TO SUBMIT LEGAL BRIEFS SUPPORTING HIS BID TO HAVE HIS CONVICTION OVERTURNED AND A NEW TRIAL GRANTED. THE LAWYERS SAY THEY NEED MORE TIME TO GO OVER THE MANY DOCUMENTS RELEASED DURING SENTENCING. AND THE NEW APPEAL LAWYER, NORRIS GELMAN, IS STILL RECOVERING FROM A HEART ATTACK AND OPEN HEART SURGERY. SENIOR JUDGE JOHN CLELAND HAD PREVIOUSLY SET THE DEADLINE FOR THIS FRIDAY.

STATE AUDITOR GENERAL JACK WAGNER WILL HOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE AT THE STATE CAPITOL TODAY TO OUTLINE THE RESULTS OF A REPORT ON PENN STATE GOVERNANCE SINCE THE JERRY SANDUSKY SCANDAL. WAGNER HAS CRITICIZED THE UNIVERSITY FOR ALLOWING THE PRESIDENT TOO MUCH POWER. HE ALSO SAYS TOO LITTLE INFORMATION IS SHARED BY A PUBLICLY-SUPPORTED UNIVERSITY. SINCE THE FREEH REPORT WAS RELEASED, PENN STATE HAS IMPLEMENTED MORE THAN A THIRD OF THE REPORT’S 119 RECOMMENDATIONS.

THE PENN STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETS FRIDAY AT 1:30 AT THE PENN STATER CONFERENCE CENTER AND ALUMNI AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC HAVE UNTIL TODAY AT 1:30 TO REGISTER TO BE PART OF THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD. 10 PEOPLE WILL BE ALLOTTED 3 MINUTES EACH. THE REGISTRATION FORM IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE AT psu.edu/trustees. THE AGENDA FOR THE TRUSTEES MEETING SHOWS THEY WILL HEAR FROM BOARD CHAIRWOMAN KAREN PEETZ ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR A NEW PRESIDENT TO REPLACE RODNEY ERICKSON WHEN HIS CONTRACT EXPIRES IN JUNE 2014.

ROBBER SENTENCED

8 TO 16 YEARS IN A STATE PRISON IS THE SENTENCE FOR 19 YEAR OLD RICHARD MARTINEZ OF STATE COLLEGE WHO PLEADED NO CONTEST TO ROBBING AND THREATENING TO KILL 4 BOYS WHO WERE HIKING ON CENTRE HALL MOUNTAIN BACK IN MAY. POLICE SAY MARTINEZ HELD A BOX CUTTER TO ONE OF THE BOY’S THROATS.

TAX HIKES IN ALTOONA & BLAIR COUNTY?

ALTOONA’S ACT 47 COORDINATOR UNVEILED THE FINANCIAL-RECOVERY PLAN YESTERDAY. THE ALTOONA MIRROR REPORTS THAT IT RECOMMENDS A SMALL INCREASE IN EARNED INCOME AND PROPERTY TAXES…A FREEZE IN WORKER WAGES…AND VOLUNTARY CONSOLIDATION OF SERVICES WITH VARIOUS AGENCIES AND MUNICIPALITIES. THE 4 YEAR PLAN DOES NOT CALL FOR LAYOFFS AND ONLY A SLIGHT REDUCTION OF THE WORKFORCE THROUGH ATTRITION. PUBLIC COMMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED THROUGH NOVEMBER 28TH WHEN A PUBLIC HEARING WILL BE HELD.

BLAIR COUNTY PROPERTY OWNERS CAN EXPECT A 3-POINT-5 MILL PROPERTY TAX HIKE IN 2013. COUNTY COMMISSIONERS YESTERDAY GOT THEIR FIRST LOOK AT A ROUGHLY 67-MILLION DOLLAR SPENDING PLAN. THAT’S ABOUT 2 MILLION DOLLARS MORE THAN THIS YEAR’S BUDGET. ACCORDING TO FINANCE DIRECTOR ROBERT KUNTZ,   THE AVERAGE PROPERTY OWNER WILL SEE THEIR BILL GO UP ABOUT 35 DOLLARS. THE PROPOSED BUDGET IS AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW AT THE COURTHOUSE IN HOLLIDAYSBURG FOR ABOUT THE NEXT 3 WEEKS.

FALLING GAS PRICES

TRIPLE A FUEL GAUGE SAYS THE CURRENT AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR, UNLEADED GAS IN WESTERN PA IS $3.63, DOWN 2-POINT-9 CENTS A GALLON FROM A WEEK AGO. IN PARTS OF CENTRE AND OTHER AREA COUNTIES, DRIVERS ARE PAYING JUST $3.49, BUT IN ALTOONA GAS STILL COSTS $3.69. TODAY’S NATIONAL AVERAGE IS $3.44.

ELIMINATING TURNPIKE TOLL PLAZAS

CALLING IT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN HOW THE TURNPIKE OPERATES SINCE IT OPENED IN 1940, ACTING C-E-O CRAIG SHUEY TOLD A JOINT HOUSE AND SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE HEARING YESTERDAY THAT TURNPIKE OFFICIALS PLAN TO CONVERT THE HIGHWAY INTO ALL-ELECTRONIC TOLLS THAT CHARGE MOTORISTS WITHOUT REQUIRING THEM TO DRIVE THROUGH TOLL PLAZAS. THE PATRIOT NEWS REPORTS THE EXISTING NETWORK OF TOLL PALZAS WOULD BE REPLACED WITH OVERHEAD “GANTRIES” THAT STRADDLE TRAVEL LANES. TOLLS WOULD AUTOMATICALLY BE DEDUCTED FROM E-Z PASS ACCOUNTS. THE LICENCE PLATES OF OTHER VEHICLES WOULD BE PHOTOGRAPHED SO BILLS CAN BE SENT TO THEIR OWNERS. AS OF OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR, THE TURNPIKE EMPLOYS 755 UNIONIZED TOLL COLLECTORS, ALONG WITH 100 NON-UNION EMPLOYEES. MANY OF THEM ARE EXPECTED TO LOSE THEIR JOBS.

JOBS LOST

GAMESA ENERGY HAS ISSUED LAYOFF NOTICES TO 92 OF THE 154 WORKERS AT ITS CAMBRIA TOWNSHIP PLANT AND THEY ARE EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF WORK BY EARLY NEXT YEAR. THE TRIBUTE DEMOCRAT SAYS THIS IS PART OF A NATIONWIDE TREND FOR WIND ENERGY COMPANIES. A CONGRESSIONAL DEADLOCK OVER WHETHER TO EXTEND A SOON-TO-EXPIRE FEDERAL PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT HAS DRASTICALLY WEAKENED THE MARKET FOR NEW WIND FARMS AND COMPONENTS. 73 EMPLOYEES WERE LAID OFF AT THE FACILITY DURING THE SUMMER.