The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 24, 2013

Local and state briefs 5/25/2013

Mom charged after 2-year-old wanders

PORTAGE – A Salix woman was charged with endangeringthe welfare of children after her 2-year-old daughter was found wandering at a busy intersection in Wilmore.

State police in Ebensburg said a motorist spotted the girl trying to cross at the intersection of routes 160 and 53 the morning of March 18. The driver pulled her vehicle into a nearby parking lot, took the child by the hand into a market and called police.

The girl was wearing a diaper and jacket, and had her shoes on the wrong feet, troopers said.

Police said the mother, Jamie Ileen Miller, 22, of the 100 block of Taylor Lane, told officers she had worked late and spent the night at her mother’s home in Wilmore. When she awoke in the morning, her daughter was gone.

A charge of reckless endangerment was filed before District Judge Galen Decort of Portage.

Game agency reports another eagle shot

HARRISBURG – A second bald eagle’s death in Pennsylvania in the past month has been blamed on a bullet wound, the state Game Commission said Friday.

The agency said it made that determination after examining the carcass of a mature eagle found dead May 5 in Butler County. It was found in a Clay Township stream by local residents.

Earlier this week, the agency said it was looking into the shooting of a mature male bald eagle found injured on May 10 in Allegheny Township, near Loretto. That eagle later died from the wounds.

The Game Commission said anyone with information should call 888-PGC-8001 and may be eligible for a reward.

Bald eagles are classified as threatened in the state but are no longer on the federal endangered species list.

Reservations due for family fishing day

BELSANO – Cambria County and the state Fish and Boat Commission are sponsoring a free family fishing program from 1 to 5 p.m. June 2 at Duman Lake County Park near Belsano.

Participants will learn basic fishing skills like knot tying, casting, baiting a hook and taking a fish off the hook. After practicing these skills, they will have the opportunity to fish.

No fishing license is required. Equipment and bait will be provided by the Fish and Boat Commission.

Adults must bring a child and children must bring an adult.

Preregistration is required by Wednesday. Participants can register online at www.fishandboat.com/calendar.htm. Those without Internet access can call Mandy Smith at 443-9841 from 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Most ‘kids for cash’ convictions upheld

HARRISBURG – All but one of the convictions of a former county judge in the “kids for cash” juvenile justice scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania were upheld Friday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected nearly all of the arguments made by attorneys for Mark Ciavarella, who is serving a 28-year sentence for racketeering, fraud, conspiracy and other offenses.

At the heart of the case was Ciavarella’s involvement with privately run juvenile detention centers and allegations that as a juvenile judge he sent children to the centers so that he could make money.

“In many cases, with the intent of increasing his personal gain, Ciavarella disregarded the recommendation of juvenile probation officers evaluating the juvenile offenders’ cases and ordered their detention,” Judge Julio Fuentes wrote.

The panel threw out one count of honest services mail fraud, saying the statute of limitations had expired, and sent the case back to the district court for resentencing.

With the criminal investigation, the state Supreme Court threw out about 4,000 juvenile convictions in cases handled by Ciavarella. And in December, a federal judge approved a nearly $18 million settlement for claims from about 1,600 juveniles that they were wrongfully incarcerated by judges.

Ciavarella attorney Al Flora said he hoped to discuss the ruling soon with his client. He said no decision has been made on an appeal to the full 3rd Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ciavarella is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Pekin, Ill. Another Luzerne County judge who pleaded guilty in the same scandal, Michael Conahan, is serving a sentence of more than 17 years at a federal prison in Coleman, Fla.

Nemacolin casino set to open July 1

FARMINGTON – Pennsylvania’s newest casino will open to gamblers in just over a month.

Officials announced that the $60 million Lady Luck Casino will open on July 1 at noon, pending regulatory approvals.

The casino is part of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County. It will feature 600 slot machines, 28 table games, a restaurant and a lounge.

Earlier this week, the state Gaming Control Board approved a plan to charge non-resort guests a $10 entry fee to the casino.

Nemacolin is one of two facilities in the state with a resort casino license. Those casinos are meant to be an amenity to a resort and not a draw unto themselves.

Lady Luck is operated by St. Louis-based Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

Historic ferry faces possible closure

FREDERICKTOWN – The commissioners of one of two counties linked by a historic ferry have voted to cease its operations on Sept. 3.

The Fayette County commissioners voted Thursday to pull the plug on the Fredericktown Ferry. Commissioners in Washington County, on the other side of the Monongahela River crossed by the ferry, have said they would wait for Fay­ette’s decision before moving ahead.

It’s possible Washington County might try to find another entity to manage the ferry.

A ferry has run between Fredericktown and LaBelle since the 1700s, and the steel ferry operating now dates to 1948

It is funded with liquid fuels taxes in both counties, but has lost money and now serves only about 90 cars daily since the Bakewell Bridge opened nearby last year.

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