Game Commission Bans Hunting in Frein Search Area

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BARRETT TOWNSHIP — State officials call it a rare move. By executive order, hunting and trapping are temporarily banned in seven townships in the Poconos as law enforcement continue to comb the woods for suspected killer Eric Frein.

Those townships are Price, Barrett, and Paradise in Monroe County and Blooming Grove, Greene, Porter, and Lehman in Pike County.

Officials believe it is just too dangerous for hunters to be in those woods with Frein still on the loose.

Frein is accused of gunning down and killing one trooper and wounding another.

“The individual that they’re looking for, Mr. Frein, probably has no regard for public or private land. I`ll assume that he`ll use any land available,” said game commission officer Bill Williams.

Deer archery season is scheduled to begin Saturday.

State police recently revealed they have discovered pipe bombs in their search area of the Pike and Monroe County border.

They recommended to the state game commission people be kept out of these woods.

“Here I am out here trying to get everything set up for the season and all of a sudden I find out I can`t go hunting on Saturday,” said Gene Besko of the Pine Lodge Sportsmans Association.

Game commissioners say hunters found in the banned area could get a verbal or written warning if they are there accidentally.

But if it’s clear they are defying the ban on purpose, there could be a citation and a fine of thousands of dollars.

Hunters we spoke with say they understand the precaution.

“If they would happen to stumble onto something and get hurt, you know, then we`d have another loss, an innocent victim,” said John Brown of Barrett Township.

Some sportsmen are preparing to hunt elsewhere.

“If they were going to cancel it, they should have coordinated it and canceled it in the beginning because it`s throwing a big curve into everybody`s idea of going out into the woods and going hunting,” Besko said.

Scranton Family Gets Victim Compensation For Deadly GM Crash

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SCRANTON — A family in Lackawanna County who lost a daughter in a car crash four years ago is among those receiving a settlement from American auto-maker General Motors.

General Motors has begun compensating the victims of crashes tied to faulty ignition switches in certain GM models after recalling those 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

Kelly Ruddy was only 21 years old when she lost her life in a deadly crash on Interstate 81 back in January 2010.

Kelly was driving north near the Bear Creek exit when she lost control of her 2005 Chevy Cobalt.

The car flipped. Kelly was thrown from the vehicle and struck by passing cars.

Her parents, Mary and Leo Ruddy have fought the vehicle manufacturer, General Motors, for the past four years and finally now GM has made a settlement with them for their daughter`s death.

But the Ruddy’s say this compensation is no victory.

“GM has taken our last surviving child, our hope, everything that we had and we have changed because of that,” said Mary Ruddy, who lost her oldest daughter to an illness shortly before Kelly died.

“It took us a whole four years. It was extremely difficult dealing with GM. They just set up road blocks and didn’t want to deal with us and give us any acknowledgment,” said Leo Ruddy.

General Motors is now admitting that a faulty ignition switch is responsible for numerous crashes and deaths across the nation.

The company has since recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including those Cobalts earlier this year, saying the faulty ignition switch can cause the engine to shut off, turning off the car’s safety features including air bags.

“It`s ten years too late, they should have did something back in 2004 when they knew about it , our daughter would still be here and still would God knows how many other people,” said Leo.

GM has admitted that people within the company knew for years the switches were faulty but failed to fix the problem.

“It would have cost 57 cents to correct the faulty ignition but they had a cost culture, they were concerned about saving pennies,” said the Ruddy’s attorney, Larry Moran.

“The pittance, the amount that was the difference between Kelly being here and Kelly not being here and the fact that they had known for so many years,” said Mary.

Under the settlement agreement with General Motors the compensation amount received by the Ruddy`s cannot be released.

Man Accused of Hitting 4 Month Old

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NEW RINGGOLD — A man from Schuylkill County is in jail accused of hitting a 4-month-old baby.

The child’s mother told police Travis Garris, 25, of Andreas was babysitting the infant on Monday and when she came home, she found the baby with bruises on the side of his head.

She took the baby to the hospital and doctors said the child had a fractured skull and significant facial bruising.

Garris was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, as well as simple assault, endangering the welfare of children, and recklessly endangering another person.

He is locked up in the Schuylkill County prison in lieu of $15,000 bail.

King’s vs. Lycoming Men’s Soccer

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King’s and Lycoming played to a 1-1 overtime tie on Tuesday night in a men’s soccer game in Wilkes-Barre Township.

Two Troopers Flown to Hospital After Falling from Tree Stand

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PRICE TOWNSHIP — Officials confirm two state troopers were injured after falling from a tree stand during the search for Eric Frein.

It happened just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The troopers had to be flown to the hospital.

State police said the troopers’ injuries were not life-threatening.

Police have not released any other information.

Man Killed in Crash in Schuylkill County

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RUSH TOWNSHIP — One man is dead after a crash in Schuylkill County.

Police said Andrew Woytko, 83, of Hazle Township was pulling onto Claremont Avenue in Hometown when his car was hit by another car driven by Rosanne Levitt, 29, of Lansford. The crash happened just after 3 p.m. Wednesday.

According to police, Woytko died from his injuries.

The other driver and a passenger in Woytko’s car were both taken to the hospital.

The crash is under investigation.


Police: Thefts at Two Walmart Stores Connected

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KELLY TOWNSHIP — Police are looking for two men accused of stealing cash from stores in two counties.

State police in Union County said two men stole $1,960 from a locked cash drawer at Walmart near Lewisburg just after 8 p.m. Saturday.

According to troopers, the men opened the drawer with a key they brought with them, and took off in a newer silver Cadillac.

Pittston Township police said they believe the men are the same individuals involved in a similar theft at the Walmart near Pittston Saturday afternoon.

Anyone with information is asked to call police in either Luzerne or Union counties.

First Day of School in October

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MILLVILLE — Summer vacation is finally over for students in part of Columbia County.

Students and teachers in the Millville Area School District returned to school Wednesday after a teachers strike that lasted nearly a month.

Teachers had to quit the picket line in order to get in the required 180 days of school before June 30th, but they are still at odds over a contract.

A representative for the teachers union said the next step is to try to settle the contract dispute with arbitration.

According to the district’s website the only days students will have off are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Memorial Day.

On Tuesday, Newswatch 16 spoke to students who were ready to get back into the classroom.

Eric Frein manhunt forces partial closure of Delaware State Forest

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

All public-use roads will remain open to transit, but walking within state forestlands in seven designated townships is strongly discouraged.

Recreation in the Pocono Mountains is taking another hit because of the ongoing search for alleged cop killer Eric Frein.

Sections of Delaware State Forest will be closed temporarily to hunters and other users traveling on foot, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Wednesday night.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission earlier today closed seven townships in the Frein search area to hunting ahead of Saturday’s statewide start of archery deer season. The townships, all within the state’s Wildlife Management Unit 3D, are Price, Barrett and Paradise townships in Monroe County and Blooming Grove, Porter, Lehman and Greene townships in Pike County.

DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti in a statement Wednesday night stressed all public-use roads will remain open to transit. Walking within state forestlands in these designated townships is strongly discouraged, she said.

Pennsylvania State Police revealed Tuesday their search for Frein turned up pipe bombs.

“These findings posed new justification for this serious and wide-sweeping decision,” Ferretti stated. “With archery season rapidly approaching this Saturday, and fall foliage viewing in that area moving into high gear, we ask the patience and understanding of all who enjoy the Delaware Forest.”

Frein has been on the lam since Sept. 12, when he is accused of fatally shooting state police Cpl. Bryon Dickson II and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass.

“Safety of state forestland visitors is paramount as the search continues for the fugitive wanted in the shooting death of a state police trooper,” Ferretti stated. “This is a necessary inconvenience to many, but it is designed to aid investigators and protect all forest visitors, not just hunters.”

The DCNR is the largest landowner in the area of the search, with the Delaware State Forest comprising 83,519 acres in Pike, Monroe, Northampton and Carbon counties.

Easton commuter tax hike proposed for 2015

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. proposes a 0.2 percent earned income tax hike for commuters. The city raised the tax for commuters previously in 2012.

Easton’s mayor has proposed increasing the city’s earned income tax on commuters for the second time in three years.

At a budget address Wednesday, Mayor Sal Panto Jr. called for raising the earned income tax for commuters to 1.95 percent, a 0.2 percent increase. He said the increase will help fund the city’s pension obligations.

easton revenues 2015This pie chart breaks down Easton’s revenue sources in the proposed 2015 budget. 

“This tax has not been popular. I understand that,” Panto told city council. “I tried to lower it this year. We have to raise it.”

The city raised the earned income tax on commuters by 0.75 percent in 2012. City residents already pay a 1.95 percent earned income tax. 

Pension obligations are going up $1.4 million from last year. The commuter tax hike covers $400,000 of that; residents have to make up the difference, the mayor said.

Under the proposed 2015 budget, the city will offer a $12,000 buyout to city employees. The budget plan calls for cutting 10 city positions to help balance a $2 million overall deficit.

Cutting the jobs would save $990,000, according to the plan. The budget calls for using $500,000 of the fund balance to prevent further job cuts.

“This budget was not easy to prepare,” the mayor said. “Difficult decisions have been made to right-size our organization.”

The city’s property tax, sewer and garbage fees will remain stable under the proposal.

The budget proposal calls for not filling two vacant police positions, a public works mechanic, highway equipment operator, a parks laborer and two technicians.

The plan calls for eliminating an assistant solicitor position, the fire chief’s executive secretary and a part-time fire inspector.

It calls for eliminating the $67,200-a-year Weed & Seed program, a West Ward community program that lost state funding in 2012. It leaves the Summer Nights program, which costs $20,000 and provides meals for children as well as activities.

The budget also allocates $200,000 for repairs to the municipal parking garage on Pine Street.


Also Wednesday, council approved spending $166,000 for new software and tablets for the city code enforcement department. The technology will allow the code officers to enter information digitally on site for inspections and print receipts for customers.

Voting in favor were Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. and council members Ken Brown, Elinor Warner, Roger Ruggles and James Edinger. Sandra Vulcano was absent and one position is vacant.