Home Destroyed by Fire in Wyoming County

Posted by WNEP.com.

FALLS TOWNSHIP –Flames tore through a home in Wyoming County. Crews said the fire along Buttermilk Road near Tunkhannock started around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Three people living there made it out safely. Officials have not said yet what started the fire in Wyoming County.      

Talkback Feedback: Heart-to-Heart

Posted by WNEP.com.

Talkback Feedback takes a break from the usual light-hearted banter to have a heart-to-heart with the viewers about some serious issues.

Five Crashes in 24 Hours Spur Changes

Posted by WNEP.com.

LUZERNE COUNTY — PennDOT crews unload a new sign along Route 309 in Luzerne County. The goal is to get drivers to use caution and slow down. “It is hard to stay at 45 miles an hour,” said Tony Brennan of Luzerne. “Because you feel like a turtle, a snail.” After months of construction in […]

Hazleton Area vs Crestwood girls basketball

Posted by WNEP.com.

Joe Gavio has his Hazleton Area Lady Cougars playing excellent ball in the tough Wyoming Valley Conference.  Crestwood is coming off a loss to Pittston Area and we looking to bounce back at home against their rivals from Crestwood.  Lady Cougars 27 points from Mackenzie Yori to crush the Comets 64-39.

Riverside vs Holy Cross boys basketball

Posted by WNEP.com.

Riverside upset Holy Cross in overtime in the first meeting this season.   This time the Crusaders were home for the Vikings. Holy Cross used a big run in the 2nd quarter to pull to their halftime lead. They held on for the 61-53 win at home on Thursday night.

Honesdale vs Scranton Prep girls basketball

Posted by WNEP.com.

#3 Scranton Prep and Honesdale came into second half play with just one loss on the season in girl’s basketball.   The two Lackawanna League juggernauts met at Prep. The Classics used a 14-1 run in the 2nd quarter to pull away from the visiting Lady Hornets to post a 55-46 win on Thursday night.

Does It Really Work? Portable Auto Heater and Defroster

Posted by WNEP.com.

Kurt Aaron tests out the Portable Auto Heater and Defroster to find out, “Does It Really Work?” The maker claims it will quickly defrost your windows and heat up your car.  It can defrost windows from the inside or out.  Just simply plug it into your vehicles 12v power port and turn it on.  You […]

President Obama in Philadelphia calls for government spending surge

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Taking a defiant tone, Obama vowed not to stand on the sidelines as he laid out his opening offer to Congress during remarks in Philadelphia, where House Democrats were gathered for their annual retreat.

Declaring an end to “mindless austerity,” President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control.

Obama’s proposed $74 billion in added spending — about 7 percent — would be split about evenly between defense programs and the domestic side of the budget. Although he’s sought before to reverse the “sequester” spending cuts, Obama’s pitch in this year’s budget comes with the added oomph of an improving economy and big recent declines in federal deficits.

Taking a defiant tone, Obama vowed not to stand on the sidelines as he laid out his opening offer to Congress during remarks in Philadelphia, where House Democrats were gathered for their annual retreat.

“We need to stand up and go on offensive and not be defensive about what we believe in,” Obama said. Mocking Republicans for their leaders’ newfound interest in poverty and the middle class, he questioned whether they would back it up with substance when it mattered.

Republicans promise to produce a balanced budget blueprint this spring even as they worry about Pentagon spending. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, dismissed the Obama proposals as “happy talk.” And Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania chided the president for “abandoning spending discipline.”

GOP lawmakers are focused primarily on reversing restraints on military spending, while Democrats and Obama are seeking new domestic dollars for education, research, health care and infrastructure. Republicans argue that spending more in so many areas would undo the hard-fought reductions in the country’s annual deficit.

They also oppose many of the tax hikes Obama has proposed to pay for the increased spending.

Neither party has tender feelings for the sequester, which cut bluntly across the entire federal budget and was originally designed more as a threat than as an actual spending plan. With the economy gaining steam while deficits decline, both parties have signaled they want to roll some of the cuts back. A bipartisan deal struck previously softened the blow by about a third for the 2014 and 2015 budget years.

Both parties are generally inclined to boost spending for the military, which is wrestling with threats from terrorism and extremist groups and has been strained by budget limits and two long wars. “At what point do we, the institution and our nation, lose our soldiers’ trust?” asked Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Yet among congressional Republicans, there’s no unanimity about where more Pentagon funds should come from — a division within the GOP that Obama appeared eager to exploit.

Some House Republicans want to cut domestic agency budgets to free money for the military — an approach that failed badly for Republicans two years ago. Some are eying cuts to so-called mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, while others want to ignore the spending restraints altogether.

“Whatever it takes within reason to get this problem fixed is what I’m willing to do,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., adding that he would be willing to consider more tax revenue “just to get the damn thing done.”

The budget constraints stem from the hard-fought budget and debt bill of August 2011 that both parties negotiated and Obama signed into law. The threat of across-the-board cuts to virtually every federal agency was supposed to force Democrats and Republicans to compromise on smarter, less onerous spending cuts, but the measure kicked in when a supercommittee failed to reach an overall fiscal deal.

The White House said Obama’s budget would be “fully paid for” by cutting inefficient programs and closing tax loopholes — particularly a trust fund provision the White House has been eying. Spokesman Josh Earnest said that and a few other tax tweaks would not only pay for Obama’s increased spending but also offset middle-class tax cuts the president wants to create or expand.

At the same time, Earnest was quick to concede, “No president has ever put forward a budget with the expectation that Congress is going to pass it in its current form.”

Details of what Obama will ask for in his budget began to trickle out ahead of the budget’s formal release Monday. The Interior Department announced Obama would seek $1 billion for Native American schools, while Vice President Joe Biden said the budget would call for another $1 billion in aid for Central American nations.

At the Pentagon, Obama’s increases would help pay for next-generation F-35 fighter jets, for ships and submarines and for long-range Air Force tankers. On the domestic side, Obama has proposed two free years of community college and new or expanded tax credits for child care and spouses who both work.

In his meeting with House Democrats, Obama also insisted that Republicans must not be allowed to use a funding bill for the Homeland Security Department to try to quash his executive actions on immigration. The White House has called that approach a “dangerous view” that would risk national security.

Allentown approves twice rejected charter school application

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The school's founder proposes opening the arts-based school in the former Allentown Racquetball Club building in September.

Faced with a likely uphill legal challenge, the Allentown school board Thursday approved a charter school application it had previously rejected twice.

The board accepted an application from the Arts Academy Elementary Charter School to open an arts-based school in the former Allentown Racquetball Club building at 601 Union St.

The board approved the charter application by a 7-2 vote with board members David Zimmerman and Elizabeth Martinez voting no.

“I’m thrilled,” founder Thomas Lubben said. “It was a lot of work. It took two years.”

Lubben said the school will be ready to open in September. Between 300 ad 400 students have enrolled and very few that had signed up dropped out as a result of the delay, he said.

School organizers will hold new open houses and recruitment events following Thursday’s approval, Lubben said.

Arts Academy originally applied for a charter in August 2013, which the district rejected in December 2013. Organizers submitted a revised application a month later, which the school board rejected in May 2014.

The Arts Academy appealed to the Pennsylvania Charter School Appeal Board, and the Allentown School District in turn asked the state to dismiss the appeal. The charter appeal board in August rejected the district’s request

The appeal was still pending before the school board approved the application Thursday.

The board resolution approved Thursday states that existing charter appeal board case law indicates Arts Academy was likely to win its appeal.

Superintendent Russell Mayo said other factors in the district’s decision to approve the application included charter school organizers agreeing to seek accreditation through an agency recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

He noted that most charter schools are not accredited.

The charter school also agreed to pay the district $120,000 a year for services such as payroll, up from $60,000 in a previous proposal.

The new kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school will cap enrollment at 350 students and conform its school calendar to Allentown’s. The charter will also be required to provide a monthly attendance and enrollment report and notify the district within 15 days of an Allentown student’s withdrawal from the school.

The agreement approved Thursday allows Arts Academy to operate through the 2019-20 school year after which time the school board must renew the application.

The application process has been marked by arguments and accusations of unethical behavior.

Abraham Atiyeh, the owner of the the former racquetball club building, criticized school board President Robert Smith Jr. last year for not being impartial in his review of the application. Smith posted a comment on his Facebook page asking residents to submit letters in opposition to the charter.

And when the school district investigated a spike in enrollments, officials learned Atiyeh had hired professional consultants that earned a fee for every student they enrolled.

Talkback 16: Death Penalty, River Otters

Posted by WNEP.com.

Talkback 16: Viewers have some comments about capital punishment, and proposed changes to a hunting season.