David Millard / Budget
Budget hearings continue at the state capitol in Harrisburg. State Representative David Millard of Mt. Pleasant Township says not only are lawmakers working on a new budget, which begins July 1st... but are trying to watch revenues coming in... which are about $50 – million below estimates in February... but are currently running about $100 – million ahead of estimates. Lawmakers are currently working on Governor Corbett's proposed $28.4 - billion spending plan.
Department of State
Democrats peppered Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Department of State with questions about Voter ID during a budget hearing on Thursday. There's concern among state house Democrats that the Corbett administration is not prepared to fully educate voters again if the courts clear a challenge to the Voter ID law in time for the November election. But, Secretary of state Carol Aichele says her department is prepared to do vigorous outreach. The Voter ID law will not be in effect for the May primary election, due to the court case.
Toomey / Budget Cuts
Still no movement in Washington dealing with an estimated 85 – Billion dollars in federal budget cuts which kick in at midnight Friday. Pennsylvania US Senator Pat Toomey contends the cuts are relatively modest... however, he says the design is flawed.
We're less than a month away from celebrating Columbia County's Bicentennial. The county is turning 200 years old on March 22nd. County Commissioner David Kovach is heading up the celebration... featuring concerts... parades and fireworks. The celebration gets underway on March 22nd at the courthouse in Bloomsburg.
Benton Marine Honored
A Marine from Benton was honored this week by the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers as a “Community Hero.” Master Sgt. Joel Whitmoyer who graduated from Benton High School in the early 90's... was given a hero's welcome... seats in the owner's suite... as well as a personalized jersey. He has served one tour of duty in Afghanistan... and is training at Camp Lejeune for a second tour, which begins in April.
Prison Death / Funeral
Funeral services will be held Saturday morning at the Holy Trinity church in Nanticoke for 34 – year old Eric Williams. He was beaten and stabbed to death earlier this week while working as a corrections officer at the federal prison in Waymart. A viewing will be held Friday night at the Nanticoke high school. Thus far... officials with the prison system have not said much about their investigation.
West Hazleton Police say they plan to charge five men who allegedly sexually assaulted a mentally challenged woman. Police say the five men allegedly attacked the 18 – year old woman this week in a home along Winters Avenue... after making contact with her on Facebook. An affidavit shows some of the men threatened to kill the woman if she didn't do what they asked. Police say the arrests are expected next week.
A former West Nanticoke volunteer firefighter... now living in a personal care home... has been arrested after he allegedly made three calls to Luzerne County's 9-1-1 dealing with bogus emergencies. 50 – year old Lee Beatty was caught on a surveillance camera dropping a dime to emergency services at a pay phone across the street from the Tilbury fire station. The biggest fib... Beatty telling emergency dispatchers that a car had crashed into the Susquehanna River. In all cases fire department personnel responded.
There will be a new place in Sunbury where new businesses can set up shop. The Keystone Innovation Zone incubator on Chestnut Street is expected to open it's doors soon... allowing new, small business to flourish. Mayor David Persing said he hopes the incubator will help develop new companies.
Charged With Shooting
A 37 – year old Point Township man... in Northumberland County... has been charged with a misdemeanor in the accidental shooting of his son. Brian Patrick Long is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. His 8 – year old son accidentally shot himself last August with a pistol and suffered life – threatening injuries. The child has since recovered. A preliminary hearing for Long is set for March 13th.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are now accepting applications for federal grants now available to help the state's rural fire departments. It comes at a time with the increased risk of forest and brush fires. A year ago... the department awarded an estimated $540,000 to 141 volunteer fire departments across the state. Since the program began 31 – years ago $10 - million has been awarded to various fire departments.
Outdoor Show Canceled
A popular Pennsylvania outdoors show that was postponed indefinitely because of a controversy over assault weapons will not be rescheduled this year. The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show had been scheduled to start February 2nd at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. But its ban on assault weapons in the wake of a Connecticut school shooting led to a backlash and vendor boycott. On Thursday, state officials who run the Farm Show Complex said the show would not be held this year.
Two area girls high school basketball teams will bid for District 4 championships Saturday afternoon. At the Decker Gymnasium at Mansfield University, Danville plays Athens in the Class AAA final at 1 o'clock. In the Class AA final at Shamokin, Southern Columbia plays Mount Carmel. That game begins at 5.
The Benton girls take on Northeast Bradford Saturday at 1 o'clock at Montoursville High School in the Class A consolation game. The winner will advance to the state playoffs.
The Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University men's basketball teams split a pair of games during the regular season. Saturday night they meet again at Mansfield in the PSAC Playoffs. That game begins at 7 O'clock. Catch all the action on the WHLM Stations starting with The Husky Warmup Show at 6:40.
A number of area high school wrestlers will try to qualify for the state championships when they compete in the Class AA Northeast Regional this weekend. That tournament begins Friday night at 6 O'clock at the Williamsport High School.
In the NBA Thursday night... The Chicago Bulls defeated The Philadelphia 76ers 93 – 82.