The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

January 7, 2013

State in brief 1/8/2013

Corbett backs gun shows at complex

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett is standing by a policy that allows gun shows to be held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.

Spokeswoman Janet Kelley said Monday that Corbett considered a recent suggestion by a radio talk-show caller that gun shows be banned on publicly owned property.

Corbett told the caller that he raised a good point and promised to think about it. His comment drew attention in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Kelley said the governor decided against changing the policy because people who buy guns at such shows are subject to the same background checks that are required when they buy a gun at a store.

Pa. Dutch couple lose interpreter appeal

HARRISBURG – A state appeals court said a judge didn’t make a mistake when he denied a couple’s request to have a courtroom interpreter for their native tongue, Pennsylvania Dutch.

A Commonwealth Court panel ruled Friday against Joseph and Barbara Yoder, who had each been fined $300 for the summary offense of failing to connect to the public sewage system in Warren County.

The ruling said the Yoders exhibited a sufficient grasp of English in the court documents they filed and at trial. Pennsylvania Dutch is a German-based dialect.

Pennsylvania court rules require an interpreter if a judge determines the parties have a limited ability to speak or understand English.

The appeals court also upheld the guilty verdict.

Allentown dog found in Houston

HOUSTON – A microchip implant has helped a dog from Pennsylvania named Roxy get home after the missing animal was found 1,500 miles away in Houston.

Animal shelter officials said the German shepherd registered to Dan Loefflad of Allentown was returned Sunday afternoon. The pet was flown from Houston to Newark Liberty International Airport via United Airlines.

An animal control officer on Friday picked up the dog wandering on a southwest Houston street.

Officials noticed the pooch had a microchip, which led to Loefflad. He told animal shelter authorities who contacted him that a relative took his dog without permission and apparently drove Roxy to Houston.

Shelter authorities said a pet store helped coordinate Loefflad’s arrangements to fly the dog home at his expense.

Photo exhibit features defunct blast furnaces

BETHLEHEM – A new photography exhibit aims to bring the defunct blast furnaces of Bethlehem Steel back to life.

“Blast Furnace” will be unveiled Thursday at the Arts-Quest Center on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel complex. The group will use special cubes to mount the images and try to show what the blast furnace was like in the steel giant’s heyday.

Organizers said the 2-foot by 2-foot cubes will be arranged in sets of eight to create smaller “living room”-like spaces.

Turnpike toll  increase takes effect

HARRISBURG – A toll increase has gone into effect on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said most cash-paying customers will see a

10 percent increase, while E-ZPass users will pay 2 percent more. Motorists on the Southern Beltway in the Pittsburgh area will see a steeper increase in cash tolls.

The previously announced toll hikes went into effect Sunday.

Retired pastor on trial for killing wife

STROUDSBURG – Jury selection has been completed in the case of a retired Pennsylvania pastor charged with killing both of his wives who is on trial in the death of his second wife.

Sixty-four-year-old Arthur “A.B.” Schirmer is charged with killing Betty Jean Schirmer in 2008 and staging a car accident to cover it up. A panel of 12 jurors and four alternates was chosen Monday. Opening statements are expected today at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg.

Schirmer also stands accused of killing his first wife, Jewel, in 1999. A trial date hasn’t been set.

A grand jury has said Schirmer likely used blunt objects to kill the women.

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