The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 14, 2012

Midday News Brief | Scranton sends out decade's worth of trash bills


Associated Press

SCRANTON —

The northeastern Pennsylvania city that had to cut worker pay to minimum wage earlier this year is sending out more than a decade's worth of delinquent garbage bills as it looks to generate cash.

Scranton last week sent out 7,800 garbage bills dating from 1999 through last year — prompting a crush of residents to descend on the treasurer's office Tuesday to either pay up or complain.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports the city's new collection agency used written records to generate a list of delinquent residents.

The city says anyone who can produce a receipt or canceled check for the fees will have their payment certified as paid.

Scranton temporarily cut the pay of about 400 employees in July because it couldn't meet its full payroll obligations.

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Coroner IDs hotel body that led to robbery arrests

ERIE — A coroner has identified a body found at a northwestern Pennsylvania hotel that led to the arrest of two people suspected in a series of bank robberies.

Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook says the dead man is 28-year-old Kenneth Hubbert. Toxicology tests to confirm how he died are still pending.

Investigators say they were called to the downtown Erie hotel Sunday by someone concerned about the man's welfare, saying heroin may be involved.

Erie police then arrested 34-year-old Anthony Herrmann who allegedly acknowledged robbing two banks on Thursday and 27-year-old Erin Anderson, who acknowledged helping Herrmann rob one of them.

The Erie Times-News reports the couple are suspects in bank robberies in New York and Ohio.

Herrmann and Anderson remain jailed.

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Alleged cop-killer's trial moved to Nov. 26

PITTSBURGH — A judge has rescheduled jury selection for a man charged with fatally shooting a Pittsburgh-area police officer who fell mysteriously ill and had to be hospitalized in the county jail before jury selection could begin earlier this week.

Allegheny County Judge Kevin Sasinoski tells The Associated Press that jury selection for 35-year-old Ronald Robinson's death penalty trial will now begin Nov. 26. That's expected to take three or four days, after which testimony will begin.

Robinson was found unresponsive in his jail cell Tuesday when guards went to awaken him for his jury selection. He was then taken to UPMC Mercy hospital where jail officials and his defense attorney said he was on life support before doctors on Wednesday advised he is expected to recover completely and be returned to jail later this week.

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School district makes bat donation to build school

FORD CITY, Pa. (AP) — A southwestern Pennsylvania school district is donating $61,800 to the Indiana Bat Conservation Fund so it can go forward with plans to build a new high school.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Wednesday that the Armstrong School District made the mandatory donation after officials there learned the school in Manor Township would encroach on the bat's forested habitat.

School board president Joe Close says the money will go to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which will use it to buy other properties that will be preserved as a habitat for the endangered species of bat.

Had the district not paid the money, the district could have had to provide new acreage for the bats or construction on the school would have been halted by the government.

The district is about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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Auditor general calls for Penn State changes

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania's auditor general is releasing a detailed report that expands on his call for Penn State to change how it's run in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Auditor General Jack Wagner said he believes the most important change would be to remove the university president as a voting member of the board of trustees.

He also says the 32-member board is too large, and that the governor shouldn't be a voting trustee.

The study elaborates on recommendations Wagner made in July. It adds sections on board term limits, emeritus status and "insiders" moving between university jobs and the board.

Wagner is also calling for the school and three other state-related universities to be covered by the state's open records law. They are Pitt, Lincoln and Temple.

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Bon Jovi gives boost to Philly low-income housing

PHILADELPHIA — Rock star Jon Bon Jovi helped break ground on a low-income housing development in Philadelphia that will bear his initials.

The 55-unit JBJ Soul Homes is expected to open in the Francisville neighborhood in about a year.

Bon Jovi's Soul Foundation provided the lead gift for the $16 million project, which is a collaboration among several private and public agencies.

The four-story building will include retail and office space. Forty units are being set aside to house the homeless.

At the groundbreaking Tuesday, Bon Jovi said public-private partnerships are important at a time when the country is so polarized.

He says he hopes future residents of the development will "pay it forward" by helping others.