The Town of Bloomsburg has a new operating budget in place for 2013. Council unanimously giving their stamp of approval Thursday night. In it... no property tax increase, but it does show a nearly 100 – thousand dollar deficit. But councilman Eric Bower says... for the most part... he's pretty happy with the plan, but would have like to have seen an additional police officer added to the force. That budget gap is expected to be covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency money due to the town treasury stemming from the flood of 2011.
“Operation Safe Holiday....” designed to crack down on drunk drivers is underway in a ten county area including Columbia and Montour Counties. It comes through establishing DUI checkpoints and roving patrols. Sgt. Leonard Rogutski of the Bloomsburg Police Department is co-coordinator for the region. He says a lot of things happen when one gets behind the wheel of a car while impaired. Sgt. Rogutski says between Thanksgiving and the New Years holiday last year... there were 64 reportable crashes in two county area... with 13 accidents DUI related... with one person losing their life.
Berwick has gotten a reputation for being the meth capital of Northeast Pennsylvania.... now it's for a rash a burglaries which have taken place since late summer. Police Chief Ken Strish says most of the burglaries have happened to homes and cars which were unlocked... with some of the items possibly being fenced for drugs. Most of the burglaries have been in the area of LaSalle and Washington Streets... as well as the area of Front and Mulberry Streets.
A boost for the committee trying to build Kidsburg 2 – point – zero at the Bloomsburg Town Park. First Columbia Bank and Trust donating $50,000 to kick start their fund raising drive to make the park a reality. Committee organizer Deb Huckens says it's a pretty good feeling to get community support. First Columbia's donation comes just days after Kawneer and the Alcoa Foundation gave the committee $20,000... as well as the Mitrani Foundation coming through with a $10,000 check.
New Tool for Area Cops
It costs $360,000... and weighs 9 - and - a - half tons. It's an armored personnel carrier manufactured by Massachusetts – based Lenco... and it's stationed in Bloomsburg. Police Chief Leo Sokoloski says it's main purpose is to get law enforcement officers into an out of dangerous situations... as well as protect personnel from chemical attacks and gunfire. Although the APC... known as the Bearcat will be housed in Bloomsburg... it will be used in a seven county area stretching from Wyoming to Berks County.
A man originally from Florida... with a 37 – page rap sheet... will spend the next 20 to 40 years in state prison. 40 – year old Kim Roquet was handed the sentence after being convicted of the slashing of Bernardo DiGirolamo... a worker at the Decker Scrap Yard in Berwick. The Press – Enterprise is reporting in Thursday's edition... the unprovoked attack took place in January of 2011... when Roquet slashed DiGirolamo... and beat him in the head with a blunt object.
The Bloomsburg Area School District is always tweaking it's security plans... weather at the Elementary... or the middle or high schools. That word from Superintendent Cos Curry in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting nearly a week ago. Superintendent Curry says it's simply a case of being pro – active instead of re-active.... plus the ability of having open lines of communications with the Bloomsburg Police Department.
Manger in the Park
A collaboration between area United Methodist Churches has led to the production of Sunday's Manger in the Park in Bloomsburg. It will be held in Town Park on Market Street and began as a concept a couple of year's ago... so says Pastor Sue Rogutski. The program... featuring a live cast and animals gets underway Sunday evening at 6:30 near the Town Park Bandshell.
Buy local... and that's what appears to be the case in downtown Bloomsburg. With only days away from Christmas folks are discovering the downtown area... so says businessman Tim Wagner. And Wagner says there will be late night shopping Friday... with downtown merchants staying open late.... and Santa will be at his cottage to greet the kids who have gift requests.
Danville Middle School
The rebuilding of the Danville Middle School began Wednesday... more than a year after the flood of September of 2011 forced the school to close. The project began less than a day after the Danville School Board okayed a contract with Zartman Construction of Northumberland. Since the floods... students have been scattered throughout the district... but hope to return to the Route 11 campus at the start of the 2013 school year. Cost of reconstruction is pegged at $9.3 – million... with the Federal Emergency Management Agency picking up most of the tab.
The body of a woman found strangled to death in a Hazleton apartment... will be returned to the Dominican Republic. 32 – year old Maria Brea is expected to be buried in her home country over the weekend. Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea says there are no suspects in the case... but they do want to question Brea's former boyfriend... Oscar Garcia. He's been missing since the woman's death last Friday.
Murder / Suicide Probe
It could take weeks before investigators know what went on in a Butler Township home near Freeland... which led to the murder – suicide of a couple going through a divorce. 51 – year old John Walton... and his 41 – year old wife, Stacy, were found dead in their Butler Drive home earlier this week. One of the issues to be determined... who shot whom... and that question is expected to be answered by a crime lab.
Murder Charge Lodged
A Nanticoke man is facing a fourth homicide charge in Luzerne County Court. 19 – year old Shawn Hamilton is now charged with murdering his cousin... 22 – year old Kenyatta Hughston last July in the middle of Jay Street in Wilkes – Barre. Hamilton is already charged with three murders in a Plymouth apartment last summer... when a drug deal went south.