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LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2013

LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2013

  THE LEHIGH VALLEY UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HAS REACHED A LEVEL IT HADN'T SEEN IN ALMOST FOUR-AND-A-HALF YEARS.  "WE'RE DOWN TO 7.9 PERCENT IN MAY AND THAT'S THE LOWEST THE RATE HAS BEEN SINCE FEBRUARY 2009 WHEN IT WAS 7.6 PERCENT," SAYS LABOR ANALYST STEVEN ZELLERS.  HE SAYS TRANSPORTATION, WAREHOUSING AND FOOD SERVICES ALL SAW RECORD LEVEL EMPLOYMENT HIGHS IN MAY, WHICH BROUGHT AN UNEMPLOYMENT DROP FOR THE FOURTH STRAIGHT MONTH.

  39-YEAR-OLD DANIEL HOUSER COULD GET UP TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER ADMITING TO RUNNING A BETHLEHEM METHAMPHETAMINE LAB THAT EXPLODED AND INJURED TWO BETHLEHEM POLICE OFFICERS ON MARCH 8.  THREE OTHERS ARE ALSO CHARGED WITH BEING INVOLVED IN OPERATING THE METH LAB AT THE GREENLEAF STREET HOME.  HOUSER PLEADED GUILTY TUESDAY.

  A PARA-TRANSPORT BUS DRIVER DIED MONDAY EVENING AFTER FALLING FROM THE BUS' EMERGENCY DOOR EARLIER THAT DAY.  THE LEHIGH COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE SAYS 82-YEAR-OLD ERWIN SMOYER, OF NORTH WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP, DIED FROM HEAD INJURIES SUFFERED WHEN HE FELL FROM AN EASTON COACH VEHICLE ON LIBERTY STREET IN ALLENTOWN.  NOBODY KNOWS HOW SMOYER FELL OUT OF THE BUS.

  TWO BUDGET-RELATED BILLS ARE IN LIMBO TWO DAYS INTO PENNSYLVANIA STATE GOVERNMENT'S NEW FISCAL YEAR.  SENATORS RETURN TO HARRISBURG TODAY TO CONSIDER BOTH.  THE BILLS PASSED THE HOUSE TWO DAYS AGO, WITH CHANGES THAT ARE AT ODDS WITH SENATE LEADERS.  IN ONE BILL THAT GUIDES HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAMS, THE HOUSE REMOVED A PROVISION THAT WOULD HAVE REQUIRED GOV. TOM CORBETT TO SEEK FEDERAL APPROVAL FOR AN EXPANSION OF MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE 2010 HEALTH CARE LAW.  IN ANOTHER BILL THAT GUIDES HOW MONEY IS TO BE SPENT, THE HOUSE INSERTED A PROVISION THAT SUGGESTS HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADERS INTEND TO PASS LEGISLATION TO LEGALIZE HIGH-INTEREST "PAYDAY" LOANS IN PENNSYLVANIA.  MANY CONSUMER GROUPS OPPOSE PAYDAY LENDING AND A SENATE REPUBLICAN SPOKESMAN SAYS THEY DIDN'T AGREE TO IT.

  A NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA MILITARY BASE PLANS TO SHUT DOWN INDUSTRIAL OPERATIONS ON FRIDAYS FOR ALMOST THREE MONTHS IN ORDER TO COMPLY WITH FURLOUGH REQUIREMENTS IN LIGHT OF AUTOMATIC FEDERAL SPENDING CUTS.  TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT IN MONROE COUNTY, THE MILITARY'S LARGEST ELECTRONICS MAINTENANCE FACILITY, ON MONDAY NOTIFIED ITS 3,500-PLUS CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES THAT OPERATIONS WILL BE SHUT DOWN ON FRIDAYS FOR 11 WEEKS BEGINNING JULY 12 AND RUNNING THROUGH SEPTEMBER 20.  COL. GERHARD SCHROETER SAID IN A RELEASE THAT MORE THAN 300 EMPLOYEES HAVE ACCEPTED EARLY RETIREMENT OFFERS SINCE MARCH AND ANOTHER 333 CONTRACTORS HAVE BEEN RELEASED SINCE OCTOBER.  HE ALSO CITED A HIRING FREEZE, RESTRICTIONS ON SUPPLY PURCHASES AND TRAVEL AND ALTERED MODERNIZATION PLANS.  SCHROETER SAID "THE BASE CONTINUES TO PROVIDE RELIABLE COMMUNICATIONS AND ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS REQUIRED BY OUR NATION'S WARFIGHTERS."

  THE MOTHER OF A 10-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO GOT ADULT LUNGS AFTER HER PARENTS SUED TO CHANGE NATIONAL TRANSPLANT RULES SAYS HER DAUGHTER IS GETTING "AGGRESSIVE PAIN MANAGEMENT" AFTER SURGERY TO REPAIR HER DIAPHRAGM.  SARAH MURNAGHAN UNDERWENT THE TWO-HOUR PROCEDURE AT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON. HER MOTHER, JANET, SAYS IN A FACEBOOK POST THAT DOCTORS SAY THE OPERATION WENT WELL.  JANET MURNAGHAN SAYS "SARAH IS STILL MOSTLY SEDATED, WAKING PERIODICALLY IN PAIN, SO AGGRESSIVE PAIN MANAGEMENT IS UNDERWAY."  SARAH NEEDED NEW LUNGS BECAUSE SHE HAS CYSTIC FIBROSIS, AND RECEIVED A SECOND SET OF LUNGS JUNE 15 AFTER HER FIRST DOUBLE-LUNG TRANSPLANT FAILED.  HOWEVER, SHE HAS BEEN USING A BREATHING TUBE FOLLOWING  PARTIAL PARALYSIS OF HER DIAPHRAGM, AND DOCTORS HOPE TUESDAY'S SURGERY WILL HELP HER BREATHE ON HER OWN.

  AFTER TWO FALSE STARTS, A PHILADELPHIA ABORTION DOCTOR HAS SIGNED OFF ON A FEDERAL PLEA AGREEMENT OVER HIS DISTRIBUTION OF OXYCONTIN AND OTHER PAINKILLERS.  DR. KERMIT GOSNELL IS ALREADY SERVING LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE IN THE DEATHS OF THREE BABIES BORN ALIVE AT HIS CLINIC.  AUTHORITIES SAY THE 72-YEAR-OLD GOSNELL RAN A "PILL MILL" BY DAY AND A ROGUE "ABORTION MILL" BY NIGHT.  THE INVESTIGATION INTO HIS ABORTION PRACTICES CAME AFTER THE CLINIC WAS RAIDED OVER ALLEGATIONS HE WAS FLOODING CITY STREETS WITH THE WIDELY ABUSED PAINKILLERS.  GOSNELL HAS TWICE COME TO FEDERAL COURT FOR A PLEA HEARING, ONLY TO BALK AT THE DEAL.  HIS LAWYER SAYS GOSNELL SIGNED THE LATEST AGREEMENT OVER THE WEEKEND, AND IS DUE IN COURT JULY 9. THE DEAL ISN'T FINAL UNTIL GOSNELL PLEADS IN COURT.

  MORE THAN 490,000 PROPERTY TAX AND RENT REBATE CHECKS HAVE BEEN PROCESSED AND MAILED OUT BY THE STATE TREASURER'S OFFICE.  TREASURER ROB McCORD SAYS THOSE CHECKS ADD UP TO SOME SERIOUS MONEY.  "THEY'RE PROPERTY TAX/RENT REBATE CHECKS AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A LOT OF MONEY.  $232 MILLION IS GOING TO ALMOST A HALF-MILLION HOUSEHOLDS IN PENNSYLVANIA," McCORD SAYS.  SENIORS, THE WIDOWED AND THE DISABLED ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE MONEY.  McCORD SAYS THOSE PEOPLE STILL HAVE THROUGH THE END OF THIS YEAR TO APPLY FOR THE REBATE FOR 2012.

  PENNDOT'S ERIN WATERS-TRASATT SAYSPENNDOT AND LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE PARTNERING TO CRACK DOWN ON IMPAIRED DRIVERS THIS INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY DRIVING PERIOD.  "IMPAIRMENT BEGINS WITH THE FIRST DRINK, SO IF YOU PLAN ON DRINKING AND ALSO DRIVING DURING THE INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER," WATERS-TRASATT SAYS.  THE STATE FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION WILL ALSO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WATERCRAFT OPERATORS WHO ARE ENJOYING THE WATER WHILE DRUNK.

  ANGLERS WILL BE ABLE TO FISH FOR FREE IN PENNSYLVANIA ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.  THURSDAY IS ONE OF TWO "FISH-FOR-FREE" DAYS DESIGNATED BY THE PENNSYLVANIA FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION. THE OTHER WAS ON MEMORIAL DAY.  UNDER THE PROGRAM, ANY RESIDENT OR NON-RESIDENT CAN LEGALLY FISH IN STATE WATERWAYS WITHOUT A FISHING LICENSE.  ALL OTHER FISHING RULES AND REGULATIONS STILL APPLY.  THE STATE SAYS THE PROGRAM IS MEANT TO BE A GOOD WAY FOR FAMILIES TO GET INVOLVED IN FISHING.

  THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS HAVE SIGNED VETERAN CENTER VINCENT LECAVALIER TO A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT.  THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LET THEIR 33-YEAR-OLD CAPTAIN GO LAST WEEK, AND THE FLYERS POUNCED TUESDAY NIGHT, SIGNING HIM TO A REPORTED FIVE-YEAR DEAL WORTH $22.5 MILLION.  TAMPA BAY CUT TIES WITH LECAVALIER TO CLEAR SPACE UNDER A SMALLER SALARY CAP.  THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS TOOK ADVANTAGE OF BOTH OF THEIR COMPLIANCE BUYOUTS TO RELEASE FORWARD DANNY BRIERE AND GOALTENDER ILYA BRYZGALOV.  LECAVALIER DIDN'T MESH WITH TAMPA BAY'S PLANS, OR AT LEAST HIS CONTRACT DIDN'T WITH SEVEN YEARS AND $45 MILLION REMAINING ON IT.  THE FOUR-TIME ALL-STAR, DRAFTED NO. 1 OVERALL BY THE LIGHTNING IN 1998, HELPED THE FRANCHISE WIN THE STANLEY CUP IN 2004 AND SCORED A FRANCHISE-HIGH 383 GOALS.

 

 

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