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LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2013

LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2013

  A 27-YEAR-OLD WIND GAP WOMAN IS DEAD AFTER AN EARLY MORNING ACCIDENT ON ROUTE 611 IN LOWER MOUNT BETHEL TOWNSHIP.  POLICE SAY MIECHELLE KELLER WAS NOT WEARING A SEAT BELT WHEN SHE LOST CONTROL OF HER VEHICLE, CRASHED INTO A TREE, BECAME AIRBORNE AND THEN HIT ANOTHER TREE.  KELLER WAS THROWN FROM HER VEHICLE IN THE ACCIDENT, WHICH HAPPENED JUST BEFORE 1 O'CLOCK THIS MORNING.

  AT A STATE SENATE COMMITTEE'S FIRST HEARING ON GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT'S DESIRE TO PRIVATIZE THE STATE'S LIQUOR BUSINESS, DEMOCRAT JIM FERLO DIDN'T MINCE ANY WORDS.  "THIS IS THE MOST NONSENSICAL, STUPIDEST BILL THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE," FERLO SAYS.  SENATORS HEARD TESTIMONY FROM WITNESSES WHO SAY CORBETT'S PLANS TO MAKE BUYING  ALCOHOL MORE CONVENIENT WOULD LEAD TO INCREASED CONSUMPTION, MORE CRIME AND MORE SOCIAL PROBLEMS.  THE COMMITTEE'S NEXT HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 14.

  THE LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED IN MARCH THREE-TENTHS OF A POINT TO 8.3 PERCENT.  LABOR ANALYST STEVEN ZELLERS SAYS A BIG REASON WHY IS BETTER-THAN-EVER NUMBERS IN SEVERAL JOB SECTORS.  "PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL SERVICES, EDUCATIONAL SERVICES AND HEALTH CARE AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE ARE ALL AT RECORD HIGH LEVELS," ZELLERS SAYS.  THE LOCAL JOBLESS RATE REMAINS HIGHER THAN THE STATE FIGURE OF 7.9 PERCENT, WHICH IS TWO-TENTHS OF A POINT LOWER THAN IN FEBRUARY.

  LEHIGH COUNTY JUDGE JAMES ANTHONY HAS REFUSED TO REDUCE THE SENTENCE FOR HOLLY PALLONE AND SHE MUST SERVE HER TERM OF FOUR TO 10 YEARS BEHIND BARS FOR ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTING AND KILLING HER 19-MONTH-OLD SON ON OCTOBER 6.  PALLONE KILLED HER SON AFTER SHE ACCIDENTALLY SHOT HIM WHILE UNLOADING A GUN SHE PLANNED TO SELL TO A DRUG DEALER.  PALLONE PLEADED GUILTY TO INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER BACK IN FEBRUARY.

  POLICE SAY RUMORS OF A PLANNED SCHOOL SHOOTING IN THE EMMAUS SCHOOL DISTRICT WERE UNSUBSTANTIATED AND ARE NOT CREDIBLE.  AN INVESTIGATION WAS PROMPTED BY A WEEKEND E-MAIL FROM A PARENT WHO SAID THERE WERE RUMORS THERE MIGHT BE A SHOOTING ON TUESDAY.  TWO STUDENTS HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH MAKING A PAIR OF BOMB THREATS IN THE DISTRICT, WHILE TWO OTHER BOMB THREATS REMAIN UNSOLVED.

  AN ALLENTOWN MAN ALREADY FACING CHARGES IN A CHILD SEX CASE IS NOW INDICTED ON FEDERAL CHARGES.  30-YEAR-OLD RAMY AHMED IS NOW OFFICIALLY FACING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES AND ALLEGATIONS HE PLACED A CRAIGSLIST AD SEEKING TO HAVE SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A CHILD.  AHMED ALLEGEDLY PLACED AN AD TITLED "LOOKING FOR PERVY DADS FOR INCEST".  AN UNDERCOVER AGENT SPOTTED THAT AND REPLIED, CLAIMING HE HAD AN 8-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER AND A 3-YEAR-OLD SON.  AHMED THEN ALLEGEDLY TOLD THE SO-CALLED FATHER WHAT HE WANTED TO DO WITH THE GIRL AND E-MAILED CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.  WHEN AHMED DROVE TO NEW JERSEY ON APRIL 2 TO MEET THE FATHER AND HIS DAUGHTER, AGENTS WERE THERE TO ARREST HIM.  IF CONVICTED, AHMED COULD GET LIFE IN PRISON.

  A PHILADELPHIA JURY IS SET TO RETURN TO WEIGH MURDER CHARGES AGAINST A DOCTOR CHARGED WITH KILLING FIVE PEOPLE, INCLUDING FOUR BABIES ALLEGEDLY BORN ALIVE.   KERMIT GOSNELL FACES THE DEATH PENALTY IF CONVICTED OF KILLING BABIES AT HIS CLINIC, WHERE AUTHORITIES SAY HE ROUTINELY PERFORMED ILLEGAL, LATE-TERM ABORTIONS.  A STRING OF FORMER CLINIC EMPLOYEES TESTIFIED THAT GOSNELL CUT LIVE BABIES IN THE BACK OF THE NECK TO ENSURE THEY WERE DEAD.  FOUR OF THEM HAVE PLEADED GUILTY TO MURDER CHARGES FOR THE BABIES THEY SAY THEY KILLED, OR FOR HELPING SEDATE A 41-YEAR-OLD PATIENT WHO DIED OF AN OVERDOSE.  THE DEFENSE ARGUES THAT GOSNELL HELPED DESPERATE WOMEN WHO HAD NO MEDICAL CARE AND NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN.  THE JURY DELIBERATED FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS TUESDAY. IT CONTINUES ON WEDNESDAY.

  FEWER AND FEWER PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE SEEKING APPROVAL TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES BEYOND A STATE-IMPOSED INFLATION INDEX WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL.  A STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REPORT RELEASED TUESDAY SHOWS 171 OF THE 497 DISTRICTS IN THE REPORT WERE GRANTED EXCEPTIONS FROM A REQUIREMENT THAT LOCAL VOTERS APPROVE TAX INCREASES THAT EXCEED THE INDEX.  OFFICIALS SAY THIS IS THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR IN WHICH THOSE REQUESTS HAVE DECLINED.  DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN TIM ELLER SPECULATED THAT THE TREND REFLECTS BOARDS' RELUCTANCE TO RAISE TAXES AND MORE INNOVATIVE METHODS FOR HOLDING DOWN EXPENSES.  OF THE REMAINING DISTRICTS, 311 APPROVED RESOLUTIONS DECLARING THEY WOULD NOT INCREASE TAXES ABOVE THE INDEX, AND 15 OTHERS LEFT OPEN THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY WOULD SEEK VOTER APPROVAL FOR LARGER INCREASES IN THE MAY 21 PRIMARY.

  PENNSYLVANIA STATE LAWMAKERS AND OTHER PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE DISCLOSING GIFTS, TRAVEL AND OTHER FINANCIAL DETAILS THROUGH AN ANNUAL REPORT MANDATED UNDER STATE LAW.  ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE SAY THEY COLLECTED MORE THAN $43,000 IN GIFTS, TRANSPORTATION, LODGING AND HOSPITALITY LAST YEAR.  THAT FIGURE IS EXPECTED TO RISE AFTER THE REMAINING ONE-FOURTH OF THE 253-MEMBER GENERAL ASSEMBLY SUBMITS THEIR STATEMENTS OF FINANCIAL INTEREST BY THE DEADLINE LATE WEDNESDAY.  LAWMAKERS ARE DISCLOSING TRAVEL-RELATED COSTS FOR TRIPS TO IRELAND, ARIZONA, ILLINOIS, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA AND WASHINGTON, D.C., AMONG OTHER PLACES.  THEY'RE REPORTING FREE SKI PASSES, ENTERTAINMENT AND A MEMBERSHIP IN THE ERIE YACHT CLUB.  MOST MEMBERS REPORT NO FREEBIES, AND MUCH OF WHAT'S DISCLOSED CONSISTS OF TRIPS AND GIFTS RELATED TO THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES.

  THE THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IS UNDER HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY BY FEDERAL REGULATORS BECAUSE OF A PROBLEM INVOLVING PROTECTIONS AGAINST FLOODING.  THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION SAID TUESDAY SEALS IN THE CONDUITS THAT HOLD ELECTRICAL CABLES IN THE PLANT'S AIR INTAKE TUNNEL WERE NOT ADEQUATE TO MAINTAIN THE PLANT'S EXTERNAL FLOOD BARRIER.  AS A RESULT, THE NRC SAID SEVERE FLOODING COULD HAVE THREATENED PLANT SAFETY EQUIPMENT.  THE NRC SAYS IT DISCOVERED THE PROBLEM DURING A VISUAL INSPECTION LAST FALL.  IT SAYS EXTRA SCRUTINY OF THREE MILE ISLAND WILL CONTINUE UNTIL IT IS SATISFIED THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN CORRECTED. IT SAYS A FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION WILL BE DONE AT AN UNSPECIFIED FUTURE DATE.  PLANT SPOKESMAN RALPH DESANTIS SAYS PLANT OFFICIALS TOOK CORRECTIVE ACTION LAST FALL AND NO ISSUES HAVE SURFACED SINCE THEN.

  NEW JERSEY OFFICIALS ARE SEEKING NEW WAYS TO EXPAND SERVICES TO YOUNG AT-RISK PROBLEM GAMBLERS AFTER THE STATE RECENTLY ALLOWED ONLINE BETTING.  THE COUNCIL ON COMPULSIVE GAMBLING WILL CONSIDER SEVERAL IDEAS AT A FORUM BEING STAGED TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE IN TRENTON.  AMONG THOSE DUE TO ATTEND ARE GAMBLING INDUSTRY LEADERS, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND STATE OFFICIALS.  EXPERTS FEAR THAT ONLINE BETTING COULD CREATE MORE SERIOUS PROBLEMS FOR UNDERAGE GAMBLERS, SO THEY PLAN TO PUSH FOR MORE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES.  THEY WILL ADDRESS THE NEED FOR A PRIVATE-PUBLIC SECTOR PARTNERSHIP TO CREATE AN EXPANDED SYSTEM THAT INCLUDES INTERVENTION AND TREATMENT SERVICES.  NEW JERSEY BECAME THE THIRD STATE IN THE NATION TO LEGALIZE INTERNET GAMBLING IN FEBRUARY.

 

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