The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 21, 2013

MORNING BRIEFING:Police: Girl, 7, was asked to pepper spray workers

News from across Pennsylvania

Associated Press


Police say a Philadelphia-area woman returned to a dollar store where she'd been banned and pepper-sprayed employees who tried to escort her out before giving the can to her 7-year-old daughter and asking her to continue the fight.

Upper Darby police say 27-year-old Delaina Garling went to the Family Dollar Store on Monday, a place she'd been banned from for alleged theft. When employees tried to escort her out, police say she doused them with pepper spray.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says after employees tackled Garling, she handed the can to her daughter and said: "You know what to do, baby. Spray it!" Chitwood says the girl never used the spray.

Garling is charged with simple assault and other counts. A telephone message left for her was not immediately returned.


1 man dies in Pittsburgh high-rise fire

PITTSBURGH — Firefighters are working to contain a fire that killed a man in a Pittsburgh high-rise apartment building.

Authorities say the fire was reported just after 7 a.m. Thursday in the Shadyside neighborhood.

Public Safety Director Mike Huss says one man died on the fifth floor but didn't identify him. Several other residents were taken to hospitals for smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Historic Philly prison to display rare artifacts

PHILADELPHIA — Dozens of rare prison artifacts are being displayed for 10 days only at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

The items include a century-old mugshot book, homemade shanks, soap carvings and an inmate wallet made from cigarette packs.

The defunct, decayed and historic prison once housed gangster Al Capone. It was abandoned in 1971 and has since become the city's most eerie and quirky tourist attraction.

The objects have never before been exhibited because there were no climate-controlled rooms in the dank and decrepit facility.

But recent renovations will allow prison staff to temporarily convert a conference room into a "pop-up museum." The exhibit opens Saturday.


Clownfest moves from NJ to Pennsylvania

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — This is no joke: The annual clown convention that has called New Jersey home for nearly a quarter of a century is taking its red noses, floppy shoes and baggy pants to Pennsylvania.

Finances forced Clownfest to move from Seaside Heights to Lancaster, Pa., during the third weekend in September.

Organizer Vincent "Vappo the Clown" Pagliano tells The Star-Ledger of Newark people are "pinging" him in the head. But he says the move dramatically cuts expenses.


Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers says Clownfest was second to the Columbus Day Parade in terms of drawing crowds up to 10,000 people.

Pagliano says he decided to make the move before Superstorm Sandy damaged Seaside's boardwalk.

The clowns plan to play baseball in Lancaster instead of holding a parade.


Board extends Pittsburgh superintendent's contract

PITTSBURGH — The contract of Pittsburgh schools superintendent Linda Lane has been extended through June 2016.

The board voted 7-1 on Wednesday to approve the extension. It calls for Lane to make at least $200,000 a year, but she can earn as much as $265,000 by the end of the contract if she meets performance standards.

The 63-year-old lane twice turned down raises totaling $20,000 because of the financial problems facing the district. She arrived in Pittsburgh in 2007 as a deputy under Mark Roosevelt and replaced him when he left to become president of Antioch College. Her contract would have expired on Jan. 16, 2014.

She will face challenges. Financial estimates show the district may run out of money in 2016. The teacher's contract is also scheduled to expire in 2015.


Police: Fatal fire in Emmaus not suspicious

EMMAUS — Police say a fire that killed four people at an eastern Pennsylvania apartment house doesn't appear suspicious, but the cause remains unknown.

The fire broke out Sunday afternoon in Emmaus, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The Express-Times of Easton reports police said Wednesday that investigators have determined the fire was not suspicious and that there was no evidence of criminal activity. The cause of the blaze is still being sought.


The Lehigh County coroner said the bodies of 48-year-old Melissa Twining, 16-year-old Montana Twining, 56-year-old Lena Marie Adamo and 65-year-old David Jenkins Jr. were found inside. The coroner says they all died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.

The building had been a funeral home until the 1960s or 1970s, when it was converted into apartments.


House to vote on privatizing state liquor system

HARRISBURG — State lawmakers are preparing to vote on a proposal designed to replace the hundreds of state-owned liquor stores with sales of wine and beer through supermarkets and other private businesses.

A vote scheduled for Thursday afternoon in the state House would send the proposal over to the Senate.

Gov. Tom Corbett supports liquor privatization, and wants to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it would generate to improve public education.

Republican sponsors easily defeated unified Democrats during a key vote on Wednesday that threatened to derail the privatization push.

The union that represents state liquor store employees has been working to defeat the measure.

The proposal would give beer distributors the first shot at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses and open grocery stores to wine sales.