The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

January 8, 2013

Local and state briefs 1/9/2013

Search goes on for missing man

OHIOPYLE – Search crews continue to look for a Somerset man who went missing on New Year’s Eve, possibly in Ohiopyle State Park.

Jeremy Walker, 29, was reported missing Jan. 2 after his vehicle was found parked at a visitors center located in the former Ohiopyle Train Station.

More than 100 people, dogs and a helicopter have been involved in the search, which has been coordinated by park officials.

Work continues on Route 22 bridge

CRESSON – Emergency repairs to a Route 22 bridge spanning a Norfolk Southern Railroad line will continue today.

And PennDOT says that it means one eastbound lane will continue as well.

Repairs are scheduled to occur during daylight hours and last through the afternoon, PennDOT added, advising motorists to use caution while traveling in the area.

Hearing postponed in city drug case

A preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for a pair of alleged drug dealers from Johnstown’s West End accused of threatening a woman.

Amanda Martinez, 26, and Earl Mitchell Jr., of G Street, now are scheduled to appear before District Judge Michael Musulin on Tuesday.

Police said the pair were running a drug operation in a vacant apartment alongside their own. Officers said they found $8,000 in marijuana, based on street value, plus two stolen handguns and a bulletproof vest. Potting soil, packaging materials and other items also were seized by police, according to an affidavit.

Investigators said they uncovered the operation while investigating a weapon threat. Mitchell allegedly pulled a handgun on a neighbor a short while earlier, police said.

Judges to hear commuter tax pleas

EBENSBURG – Three Cambria County judges will hear the request of the city of Johns­town and Franklin Borough – both financially distressed municipalities – to levy the special earned-income tax dubbed the commuter tax at the same rate as last year.

President Judge Timothy Creany and Judges David Tulowitzki and Patrick Kiniry will hear Franklin’s request at 1:30 p.m. and Johnstown’s at 2.

The municipalities say the tax, which actually is paid by both commuters and residents, is necessary to raise revenues to help balance their operating budgets.

Junior Achievement launching fund drive

Junior Achievement of Cambria County will hold its annual fundraising campaign

7:30 a.m. Friday at the Holiday Inn, 250 Market St., downtown Johnstown.

Local business leaders are asked to support the effort to educate and inspire young people to succeed in the global economy.

JA’s partnership between the business community, educators and volunteers provides Cambria County students with relevant, age-appropriate, experiential programs that deliver career role models and cutting-edge tools, such as leadership, teamwork and decision-making skills.

This year’s annual campaign goal is to secure resources to deliver programs to more than 6,000 students. The fundraising goal for this year is $80,000.

Ethanol response course to be held

FRIEDENS – Somerset Hazardous Materials Response Team 600 will host an emergency response to ethanol emergencies course from

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Region 13/Hazmat Building, 113 Runway Road, Friedens.

The instructor and course materials are being funded entirely by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.

The course was coordinated through the Somerset County Department of Emergency Services, which also oversees the administration and operation of the county hazmat team.

Coroner plans inquest for man trooper shot

MOUNT PLEASANT – A coroner expects to hold an inquest in a few months on last week’s fatal shooting of man who reportedly attacked a trooper with scissors at a Westmoreland County supermarket.

County Coroner Kenneth Bacha told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review it’s his policy to hold the public hearings on police-related shooting deaths.

A 10-year veteran trooper who has yet to be publicly identified shot 26-year-old Seth O’Donnell of East Huntingdon Township on Friday morning, after O’Donnell tried to stab the trooper with scissors. Most of the blows were absorbed by the trooper’s bulletproof vest, though he did receive six stitches for one cut to his head.

Police say O’Donnell was acting erratically before police were called to the Save-A-Lot on Route 119 after O’Donnell began eating snacks without paying for them.

Couple donates $5M for PSU scholarships

STATE COLLEGE – A Texas couple has donated $5 million to Penn State, and the money will go toward scholarships.

The university announced the donation Monday. It will go into the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program and support scholarships for students with financial needs.

The Centre Daily Times reported the large donation came from Jeff and Kellie Hepper. The university will name a fitness center after Jeff Hepper’s parents, Clif and Jean, who met at Penn State and graduated in 1947.

University President Rodney Erickson called the gift “truly remarkable.”

Lawyer: Gossip doesn’t make pastor guilty

STROUDSBURG – A prosecutor suggested Tuesday that a philandering pastor killed both of his wives because he was unhappy with his sex life, but the former clergyman’s attorney said his client’s adultery doesn’t make him a murderer.

Monroe County prosecutor Michael Mancuso told a jury in the Poconos that Arthur “A.B.” Schirmer, 64, repeatedly hit his second wife in the head with a heavy metal object in 2008, then staged a car accident in a bid to cover it up. He said the plot unraveled a few months later when a member of the congregation committed suicide in the church office after learning that Schirmer was in a relationship with the congregant’s wife, the church secretary.

Emails and other evidence pulled from Schirmer’s computers indicate the former Methodist pastor’s marriage to Betty Schirmer was “very, very troubled,” Mancuso said.

The retired pastor is charged separately in Lebanon County with killing his first wife, Jewel Schirmer, in 1999.

Schirmer has pleaded innocent in both cases.

His attorney, Brandon Reish, acknowledged his client’s philandering ways, including the fact that Schirmer had a sexual encounter with a longtime mistress just weeks after his wife’s death. But he said in his opening statement that just because Schirmer cheated on his wives doesn’t mean he killed them.

“You can’t take bad behavior, bad science and church gossip and turn them into a murder, let alone two,” Reish said.

Hospitalized inmate dies on way to jail

PITTSBURGH – A blood clot is to blame for the death an inmate who was returning to the Allegheny County Jail after a stay in the hospital.

The Allegheny County medical examiner said 46-year-old Larry Reitz Jr. died Monday from a pulmonary embolism. A blood clot in his leg broke free and traveled to his lungs.

Reitz was being transferred from UPMC Mercy Hospital back to the county jail. When he stood up to get out of the van, authorities said he collapsed to the ground, striking his head. He was transported back to Mercy, where he was pronounced dead.

There was no word on why he had been hospitalized in the first place.

Business loan programs lower costs

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration said applicants to five Pennsylvania state business loan programs can temporarily bypass an up-front fee and get a lower interest rate.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development said Tuesday that interest rates will be 1.5 percent and a 1 percent administrative fee will be dropped for applicants through March 31.

Rates were 2.75 percent.

Department spokesman Steve Kratz said the administration hopes to spark economic growth and more private-sector investment. He said the reductions could be extended if the revolving loan funds can keep operating at that cost structure.

The loans are available through the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund, Small Business First Program, Pollution Prevention Assistance Program,  Export Financing Program and Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.

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State News
  • Green, Libertarian candidates abandon bids for governor

    Both third-party candidates who hoped to compete in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race have given up – leaving Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic nominee Tom Wolf to compete one-on-one.

    August 1, 2014

  • PennDOT contractor arraigned on $3.6M theft charge

    A Department of Transportation contractor stole $3.6 million in public funds by billing the state for work that was never done, state prosecutors said Thursday in what they described as an ongoing corruption probe of PennDOT’s southeastern Pennsylvania district.

    July 31, 2014

  • Police: Women stole thousands from elderly sisters, used money to show St. Bernards

    Two western Pennsylvania women have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from two elderly sisters and using the money to attend dog shows.

    July 29, 2014

  • Intervening neighbor’s death now ruled homicide

    The Allegheny County medical examiner says a neighbor who died after he intervened in a fight between a couple next door is the victim of homicide.

    July 29, 2014

  • Housing police: Naked women slashes 3 in melee

    Allegheny County Housing Authority police were trying to identify a naked woman who allegedly slashed or stabbed three other women in an apparent lovers’ quarrel at a public housing complex.

    July 29, 2014

  • Police: Rescued boys never mentioned drowned teen

    Police say two teens who were rescued from a jetty in Presque Isle Bay in Erie last week, and two others who were with them, never mentioned a fifth boy who drowned and whose body wasn’t found until Saturday.

    July 29, 2014

  • 2 arraigned, denied bail in deadly Philly carjacking

    Two men accused of carjacking a woman in north Philadelphia and plowing into a family selling fruit on a street corner, killing three children, have been ordered held without bail.

    July 29, 2014

  • PennDOT pushes ‘Yellow Dot’ vehicle stickers

    It’s the car sticker that could save your life.
    PennDOT’s “Yellow Dot” program has been around for several years, said Daniel Zakraysek, coordinator of the Cambria Allegheny Regional Highway Safety Network.

    July 28, 2014

  • Remembering elephant’s rampage

    The circus elephant paced the landing outside the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona.
    Police formed an uneasy line around the perimeter of the venue’s lawn, rifles at the ready.
    It was a cloudy, cold day in April 1993, and Tyke the elephant had just run around the circus ring, slapped a baboon and burst through a building’s front door, tearing off part of the wall above the door.

    July 28, 2014

  • State briefs 7/29/2014

    July 28, 2014

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