Blue Mountain District
The last line of defense against an active shooter in one school district in Schuylkill County is a bucket of river rocks. Superintendent Dr. David Helsel of the Blue Mountain School District revealed that secret during a hearing before lawmakers in Harrisburg. The superintendent was explaining his unconventional form of protecting the students in their schools in the event of an active shooter situation: give them rocks. But if a teacher decides to lock down a classroom, there are rocks in a five-gallon bucket kept in every classroom closet that students could throw if shooters get inside. But, Helsel says the rocks are seen as a last resort.
Shamokin School District
The school week ended prematurely for students and staff of the Shamokin Area School District in Northumberland County. Not because of a holiday or impending weather, but instead a threat. Coal Township police say the district received a direct and specific threat targeting students and administration at the Shamokin Area Middle and High School. It caused the district to cancel classes for Friday. Shamokin Area School District officials say school will be back in session Monday.
A new, 50-state study finds that putting more people in jail for drug offenses doesn’t reduce drug use or overdose deaths. 16 people died in Columbia County in 2017... so say coroner Jeremy Reese. Now... Jake Horowitz with Pew Charitable Trust.. says they compared states' drug imprisonment rates to rates of drug use, overdose death and drug arrests, and found no correlation at all. While Pennsylvania and Hawaii ranked 31st and 32nd in the nation for rates of drug imprisonment, the study shows the overdose death rate is almost twice as high in the Keystone State.
Pennsylvania's Corrections Secretary recently discussed the state's aging prison population. The average age of inmates entering the corrections system has increased by 7 years over the past several years which Corrections Secretary John Wetzel says could be due to the opioid crisis. Wetzel says the number of inmates over 50, which has tripled over the past 20 years, now makes up 21 percent of the state's prison population. That 80 percent of them are on medication is driving up medical costs.
A measure to amend Pennsylvania's Constitution to benefit crime victims has won unanimous approval. The measure known as "Marsy's Law," is named for a California woman murdered by her boyfriend in 1983. It seeks to grant victims of crime the same Constitutional rights as the accused. The proposed amendment must pass the Senate and the House in consecutive sessions, then be put to the voters. Six states currently have a version of this law on the books.
PennDOT will benefit from the broadband expansion initiative announced earlier this week by Governor Tom Wolf. PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards says the Wolf Administration's initiative to expand broadband access in PA will help PennDOT in its role as a national leader in the development of autonomous and connected-vehicle technology which requires fiber to be in the ground to work. Richards says it will also help PennDOT with traffic management and communication among other benefits.
Animal Resource Center
It's not everyday one finds two abandoned cats... but it can... and does happen. Appearing on the WHLM Morning Buzz this week... the Animal Resource Center's Linda Bird tells us about two cats abandoned.... looking for new homes. Be sure to check out the ARC's website... “NoKillARC.Org” to see their latest inventory... or join the conversation on their Facebook page.
Sterling Hotel Lot
The lot which used to be home to the Hotel Sterling in downtown Wilkes-Barre will be sold. The city council voted on the decision to sell the lot at Thursday night's meeting for 600 – thousand dollars. While the crowd at the meeting was split on the decision, the only council member to vote no on the sale agreement was Beth Gilbert. The proposal for the lot includes a hotel, upscale condos, office and retail space, and a parking garage.
Jane Doe 1970
The family of a cold case victim in Luzerne County finally has some answers. Relatives of Lucille Frye spent close to 50 years suspecting Jane Doe 1970 was their loved one. Now, they have the proof. Frye went missing from Wilkes-Barre around the same time an unidentified body was found in the woods off I-81 near Nuangola. Through DNA testing... police have solved the case.
Weis Markets in Luzerne County has given a non – profit a boost. The supermarket chain donated $15,000 to the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank. The donation is part of Weis' Fight Hunger campaign which provides food and donations to local food banks.
Published reports say the Shickshinny Volunteer Fire Company Fireman’s Relief Association made unauthorized payments and had improper financial controls and other problems. The information contained in a state audit. The Department of the Auditor General report puts future state aid to the association in jeopardy if the group doesn’t improve. The audit examined the organization’s operations between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2016. The association received almost $13,500 from Shickshinny Borough and Union Twp. during those years. Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis received a copy of the audit, reviewed it and sent it to Pennsylvania State Police in Shickshinny for further investigation.
A state legislator from suburban Philadelphia who is accused by Rep. Tarah Toohil of threatening to kill her announced this week he will not seek re-election. A week ago, Miccarelli agreed in Luzerne County court to a three-year protective order under which he is barred from having any contact with Toohil, his former girlfriend. Toohil of Butler Twp., accused Miccarelli of pointing a gun at her head in 2012 and threatening murder - suicide. On another occasion, Miccarelli warned he would crash a car while speeding at 100 mph down a highway, Toohil alleged in a complaint seeking a protection-from-abuse order.