Deflategate: Judge Vacates Tom Brady’s Four-Game Suspension

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NEW YORK — U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman has vacated the four-game suspension the NFL imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the “Deflategate” scandal. [Previous Story] A ruling is expected this week in the “Deflategate” controversy that prompted the NFL to suspend star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four […]

Police Searching for Missing Man from Drums

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DRUMS — Police are searching for a missing Luzerne County man. The Butler Township Police Department is looking for Samuel Vacante, 52, of Drums. According to authorities, Vacante was last seen around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Police believe he may possibly be injured. Anyone who has information about Vacante’s whereabouts is asked to contact Butler Township […]

Man Charged with Stealing Jewelry Valued at Over $13,000

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LEHIGHTON — A man is charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from a home in Carbon County. According to authorities, Warren Shook, 45, of Lehighton , stole jewelry valued at over $13,000 from a home on Mahoning Drive East in July. Police charged Shook with theft and receiving stolen property, he has […]

Weis Markets: Fight Hunger Campaign

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CLARKS SUMMIT — WNEP-TV’s Ryan’s Run 6 continues this month by helping kids and adults with disabilities served by Allied Services.  Ryan Leckey has the details on how you can still get involved and even help feed those in need. Ryan is at Weis Market in Clarks Summit for a launch of their “Fight Hunger” campaign, […]

Allentown plans to spend $1.3 million on Cedar Beach

Posted by 69News:.

Allentown plans to spend about $1.3 million to recreate its Cedar Beach pool by next summer — with new attendance-boosting features including water slides, in-pool climbing walls and designated lanes for swimming laps.

It also plans to improve the filtration system at Mack pool and upgrade Bucky Boyle spray park — including adding new water features.

Lindsay Taylor, the city’s parks and recreation director, reported on plans for all the city’s pools during City Council’s parks and recreation committee meeting Wednesday evening.

She said the city will seek bids for all three projects in early fall and anticipates those improvements will be completed by June 2016.

No 2016 improvements are planned at the Jordan and Irving pools — or the long-closed Fountain Park pool.

At least a couple members of City Council want Fountain Park’s pool brought back by next summer.

“Something has to be done,” declared council president Ray O’Connell. “It’s imperative that we get something down at Fountain pool for the inner-city kids. I’m just not going to let it go.

“I’d love to see something at Fountain Park by 2016.”

Council member member Cynthia Mota, who chairs the parks and recreation committee, agreed with O’Connell that something should be done soon at Fountain pool.

But Taylor said Allentown’s other four pools should be considered first for improvements because they are operating and serving a need in the community.

Cedar Beach is the top priority because it is the city’s most popular pool, explained Taylor, with the highest attendance and revenue figures.

“We do believe people will come and pay to use that pool,” she said.

The parks director made a case that improvements should be made because attendance at the city’s four operating swimming pools has dropped by more than 33 percent — from more than 72,000 in 2011 to 48,600 in 2014.

She explained that decrease does not include 2015 attendance, because the Cedar Beach pool never opened this summer due to a major leak.

Taylor said the trend in aquatics “is toward facilities that offer variety for all ages” — including sprays and other water features — “and focus more on accessibility for all pool patrons, with zero-depth entry.”

She said the Jordan and Irving pools, as well as the Mack pools, will continue to operate as decisions are made about their future improvements.

“We will continue to evaluate the remaining pools to determine which ones will be done next,” she said, adding there is no firm timeline regarding when those pools will be renovated.

She indicated Jordan will be done before Irving and that it will get a variety of features similar to those planned for Cedar Beach.

Two pools in the existing Mack pool complex also eventually will be upgraded, although no changes are planned for Mack’s competition pool.

Spray pools are possibilities in at least two city locations. Those are shallow pools, four or five feet feet, with spray features that children play in. Taylor said those pools are deep enough for children to learn to swim.

Another possibility is the Fountain Park pool could be replaced with a spray park, where children get wet playing in water features but can’t swim because that water drains away.

Council member Jeff Glazier suggested spray parks primarily are for younger children and that 12-18-year-olds need places to swim.

Allentown plans to spend an estimated total of $1,725,000 at Cedar Beach, Mack and Bucky Boyle by the time next summer arrives.

O’Connell said $3 million is in the city’s budget for swimming pool upgrades, which means about $1.3 million will be left after those improvements are made.

Taylor said that’s not a lot of money to upgrade pools that have not been significantly improved for decades.

She said the city will seek grants to help pay for the pool projects and also will consider selling naming rights to the pools, as well as sponsorships.

Cedar Beach pool

Taylor said the Cedar Beach pool will remain in the same location, using its existing “footprint,” even though it is in a flood plain along Cedar Creek in west Allentown — and does get flooded.

New features in the pool will include water slides, a climbing wall, a section with designated lanes for swimming laps, a water feature area for younger children and in-pool bench seating.

She said the pool will be fully accessible to the handicapped, with programming for all age groups and abilities.

The new pool will have different sections, separated by concrete peninsulas.

By adding those peninsulas, Taylor said the amount of water surface in the pool will be dramatically reduced, “which reduces operating costs regarding chemicals because there is less water in the pool.”

Resident Tom Hahn expressed skepticism about having swimming lanes at Cedar Beach, saying people swimming in lanes keep others out of that part of a pool.

Hahn claimed those lanes and other “obstacles” planned for that pool will limit the number of people who can use it and create safety hazards.

The Cedar Beach pool also will get new piping underneath a new floor.

Mack pool

The city intends to spend an estimated $400,000 to replace the filtration system at Mack’s competition pool.

Taylor said that rough estimate includes replacing a roof and garage door on the pool’s filter building.

She said it is the original filtration system for that pool, which was built in 1962, and warned “it really can go at any time.”

She said the competition pool at Mack is a steel shell so, by replacing the filtration system, “that pool will be ready to go for many years.”

She said it is the only 50-meter pool within a 100-mile-radius of the city and presents an opportunity to bring people into the city for swimming meets.

“Mack Pool will be the city’s competition pool for many years to come,” said Taylor.

She explained the other two pools that are part of the Mack Pool complex in south Allentown will be considered for improvements at a later date. One of them may be turned into a spray pool.

Bucky Boyle spray park

After its spray park is improved in the coming months,“Bucky Boyle will continue to provide free relief to many residents with new water features and the upgraded water system,” said Taylor.

She said the free spray park is very popular but its water system and features are reaching the end of their useful life.

But she said the city can upgrade that spray park with its own workers “at significant savings.”

She estimated the cost of those renovations at about $25,000.

Bucky Boyle is in along the west bank of the Lehigh River.

Jordan pool

Taylor reported Jordan Park’s pool on the north side of town is third in attendance and revenue.

She said the pool has a leak but, so far, the staff has been able to control it.

Because Jordan is located in a popular community park, Taylor said the scope of improvements being considered for that pool is similar to those planned for Cedar Beach.

Irving pool

Irving Pool in east Allentown is the smallest and oldest of the city’s pools. It was built in 1939.

Taylor said it averages only 7,500 patrons per season.

She said Irving does not have a leak and still operates “pretty well.” But she also said the pool is obsolete and has to be demolished.

Her department is considering replacing Irving with a spray pool.

Fountain pool

The parks director said the Fountain Park pool along Martin Luther King Drive has been closed for at least five years.

Prior to its closing, she said attendance was very light even though Fountain was a free pool.

Taylor promised council members that Fountain will get equal consideration for a pool or spray park that meets the needs of children.

“We want to make sure we do the right thing.”

She even wants to get suggestions from children who would use a pool or spray park in Fountain Park.

She later indicated a final decision on the future of the Fountain pool site still may be two or three years off.

She said the shell of the existing pool will have to be demolished because it is in such bad shape.

Gunfire hits SUV, Driver Crashes into Home

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PLYMOUTH — An SUV crashed into a home after someone shot at the driver in Luzerne County. Shots rang out near Shawnee and Orchard Streets in Plymouth around 1 A.M. on Thursday. Officers said the vehicle was hit by at least two bullets, causing the driver to slam into a home on Nottingham Street. The […]

Lawyer asks DA to drop charges against singing man

Posted by 69News:.

A lawyer representing the Allentown man who was busted while singing a Beach Boys song outside a center-city restaurant last month is asking Lehigh County’s district attorney to drop the charges against him. 

James W. Ochse was arrested by Allentown police outside Shula’s Steak House on Aug. 14 and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

A letter dated Sept. 2 was sent to District Attorney James Martin by Atty. Richard J. Orloski, who said he is representing Ochse. 

Wrote Orloski: “I respectfully request that you personally review this matter, including the videotapes, and that you withdraw any and all charges against Mr. Ochse for singing on the streets of Allentown.”

Copies of Orloski’s letter were given to members of the news media during Wednesday night’s Allentown City Council meeting.

Walking unsteadily with the assistance of a cane, the 61-year-old Ochse stood to address council during the meeting.

People at the restaurant had shot video of the confrontation between Ochse and police, which began with him singing “Barbara Ann” and ended with him being taken to the ground and handcuffed.

Some maintain the video displays police brutality and have called for the firing of the officer involved.

“The video speaks for itself,” Ochse told council in a prepared statement also given to the news media. “Is that how you want your officers to treat your citizens?”

He said it is the job of City Council to be guardians over the police department “and I am here to remind you that the citizens of Allentown expect that of you.”

Police who arrested Ochse said they were responding to complaints about a man singling loudly and bothering restaurant patrons. They also said he became extremely hostile.

While he did not perform for City Council, Ochse said he loves to sing “and I’m pretty good at it.” He said he especially loves singing songs from his youth, particularly Beach Boys songs.

Reading from his statement, Ochse said: “I am not anti-cop.” He said many cops on the Allentown police force are his friends and that “a good police officer is worth his or her weight in gold. There are many officers just like that in Allentown.” 

He told council: “It is your job to make sure all of our police officers are the best they can be.”

Ochse, who lives in the 400 block of West Hamilton Street, said he is a long-time city resident. “I want to tell you who I am because I am more than what appears on videotape when I was arrested.”

Reciting what sounded like a resume, Ochse said he was honorably discharged after serving as a medical corpsman in the Marines and as a reserve officer in the Army.

He said he was a teacher for many years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and worked 10 years as an athletic trainer at De Sales University in Center Valley. He told council he is working to earn a PhD in sports medicine at United State Sports Academy.

Two other city residents at the council meeting stood to speak in defense of city police.

Ken Laudenslager is a long-time resident and a volunteer fire police officer who frequently works with the police department.

“In all those years I have never seen a policeman out of line, despite being taunted, challenged and even confronted,” said Laudenslager. “Our police force is very professional.”

Candida Affa said she’s been in the bar business for 35 years, but could not have stayed in business even one year if not for the police department.

“There is not one time in 35 years when they were unprofessional,” said Affa “They not only helped me out, but they were courteous.”

She said city police “are in the belly of the beast 24 hours a day. We cannot live without our police department. I always have their back, because they’ve always had ours.”

Orloski Asks DA To Dismiss Shula’s Crooner Case

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Should Lehigh County DA Jim Martin dismiss all charges filed against James Ochse, the Allentown crooner who was bodyslammed by an Allentown cop for daring to sing in front of the gentrified NIZ crowd? That’s what noted civil rights Attorney Rick Orloski thinks. He fired off a letter yesterday, asking him to “personally review” the matter and withdraw all charges.

Such a decision would be smart for everyone. Allentown police can claim it was a misunderstanding. Martin has come under some unfair flack for a very justifiable defamation action against WAEB and others. This could make very clear that part of his duty as the county’s chief law enforcement officer is to protect the rights of others.

Across the river here in Northampton County, DA John Morganelli has on his own dismissed charges filed against antiwar protesters who were charged with trespassing at the Palmer Post Office. He dumped a goofy prosecution brought by a Washington Township cop who charged a resident for daring to fly the American flag upside down. He even reduced some serious charges brought against “Nature Dave” when he walked into a bank with a sign saying, “You’re being robbed.” Nature Dave was making a political statement, but he scared some people.

Ochse had no political agenda. He was simply singing, exercising his right to artistic free speech.

In the meantime, this Nazareth cop is in serious trouble for singing into his dash cam.

Nazareth To Suck It Up, Cupcake, on its 275th Birthday

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

This could only happen in Nazareth. At this time last year, Nazareth was the laughing stock of Northampton County. Upset over tiny postage stamp-sized “FT” stickers that sought his ouster, Chief Thomas Trachta launched a full-scale investigation, chained and shackled three suspects, perp walked them, and then lost his case in court because he had no evidence. Magisterial District Judge Jackie Taschner told him to “suck it up, Cupcake!”  Now the entire Borough can do so. Free cupcakes are being offered to anyone who wants them after the parade.

Last time I offered Nazareth Borough Council cupcakes, they ended up in a trash can. 
I hear the ones being passed will be marked “FT.”
The Parade starts this Saturday at Nazareth High School at 2 pm and winds its way through the town. The Mayor was looking for convertibles from which borough council members can wave at the unwashed masses. 
The big question is whether the Sticker Gang will crash the parade. I think they’ll be on horseback.

Loan OK’d for purchase, development of former Glidden Paints site in Reading

Posted by 69News:.

A state loan will help paint a brighter picture for one Reading neighborhood.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development announced Wednesday that the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority has awarded a $1.35 million, 15-year loan at 2.75 percent to the Greater Berks Development Fund.

The money will be used to acquire and develop the old Glidden Paints property on Bern Street, between Centre Avenue and North Fifth Street, in Reading.

The 19.4-acre site, which once had 67 buildings situated on it, was used for the manufacturing of latex, solvent-based paints and resins.

Glidden left the site in 2007, creating the need for cleanup and environmental remediation, officials said.

The $2.25 million development costs will include the remediation, as well as sidewalks, curbs, lighting and landscaping. Work is set to begin this fall and take 18 months to complete.

The GBDF told 69 News it is seeking funding from another state program to make up the amount of money not covered by the loan.

The GBDF also said it does not yet have a tenant for the site, which will be used for industrial purposes.

Also approved by the PIDA on Tuesday was a $400,000 loan to the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation, on behalf of Little Hill Farm LLC, for the construction of two modern broiler houses in Bethel Township, Lebanon County.