The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 13, 2012

Evening News Brief | Pittsburgh councilman wants to shame bad landlords




2 Fla. men charged in Pa. with snake trafficking

PHILADELPHIA — Prosecutors say two Florida men and their company have been charged in federal court in Philadelphia with trafficking endangered and threatened snakes.

The U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday that 54-year-old Robroy MacInnes of Fort Myers, Fla.; 47-year-old Robert Keszey of Bushnell, Fla.; and Glades Herp Farm Inc. are charged with conspiracy to traffic in the reptiles. MacInnes and the company were charged with trafficking in protected timber rattlesnakes.

Authorities allege that the defendants collected protected snakes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey between 2007 and 2008, bought protected eastern timber rattlesnakes illegally collected in New York and transported threatened eastern indigo snakes from Florida to Pennsylvania.

A message couldn't be left at the company Tuesday and a number listed for MacInnes remained busy; a message left for Keszey wasn't immediately returned.


Troubled Pa. district faces school closings, cuts

CHESTER — A plan to revitalize the struggling Chester Upland education system would close nearly half its schools, hire new administrators and cut dozens of jobs.

The blueprint was unveiled Tuesday by Joseph Watkins, the district's state-appointed chief recovery officer. He says the changes are needed to restore educational excellence and fiscal health.

Chester Upland threatened to shut its doors in suburban Philadelphia in January due to money problems. A subsequent federal court settlement with the state led to a badly needed cash infusion.

Watkins also proposes a two-year deadline for improving chronically low student achievement. If progress isn't made, the plan calls for outside managers to take over the district.

Acting Superintendent Thomas Persing says it will be nearly impossible to hit the proposed academic targets. State officials declined to comment.


Environmentalists to appeal ANF drilling ruling

ERIE — The Sierra Club and the Allegheny Defense Project have filed notice that they're appealing a federal judge's September ruling that says the U.S. Forest Service can't regulate gas or oil drilling or other efforts to access mineral rights in the Allegheny National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin's upheld an earlier decision that lifted a de facto ban on drilling in the northwestern Pennsylvania forest.

The judge found that the Forest Service had no more right than any other surface land owner to deny access to underground mineral rights owned by others.

The Forest Service owns the surface of the 513,000-acre forest, but only 7 percent of the mineral rights.

The environmentalists say the ruling ignores the reason the forest was established, which is to conserve land and water in the upper Allegheny River watershed.


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