State Amateur Golf Championships

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The Country Club of Scranton is hosting the State Amateur Golf Championships this week.   Round one action featured Former Pittston Area and current Temple star Brandon Matthews who shot a one over par 73.   Honesdale’s Eric Williams fired 68 one stroke behind leader Isaiah Logue.

RailRiders vs Lehigh Valley

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The first place RailRiders hosted their neighbors from Lehigh Valley in a short home and home series against the Iron Pigs.  Iron Pigs win 3-1.

County Residents “Thrilled” Local Man Bought Mall at Steamtown

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SCRANTON — The long awaited reveal of who now owns the Mall at Steamtown is now over. We learned Monday evening the man who bought it is a businessman from Lackawanna County. John Basalyga, from Roaring Brook Township, was able to snag the downtown Scranton property at an auction on June 24 for $5.512 million. […]

Employee at Williams Township printer is victim of theft, police say

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Pennsylvania State Police say they are investigating the theft of cash from an employee's purse at Harmony Press Inc. outside Easton.

Pennsylvania State Police say they are investigating the theft of cash from an employee’s purse at Harmony Press Inc.

The Williams Township printing business was previously the victim of a six-digit theft of money that was supposed to be used or employee benefits, salaries and operations.

RELATED: Easton printing company sues employee who embezzled $672,000

Police said Monday that an 18-year-old woman from Emmaus had $200 in her purse taken between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday at the 840 Line St. business.

Police ask anyone with information to call 610-759-6106.

Kurt Bresswein may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KurtBresswein. Find on Facebook.

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Talkback 16: NY Minimum Wage, Space Exploration and Go Joe

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Topics in this edition of Talkback 16 include the proposed minimum wage hike for fast food workers in NY, the money spent on space exploration and the successful end of Go Joe XVII.

At least one hurt when plaster falls from Penn State balcony

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A two-foot by eight-foot section of plaster ceiling fell inside Schwab Auditorium, named for Bethlehem Steel Corp. founder Charles M. Schwab.

At least one person sustained minor injuries on Penn State University‘s main campus today as part of a balcony overhang fell inside Schwab Auditorium as 500 people attended an event for prospective engineering students.

RELATED: Penn State Lehigh Valley Day to feature alumni party, ice cream discount

The building was evacuated and closed until further notice after a two-foot by eight-foot section of plaster ceiling fell, the university said in a statement. What caused the collapse was under investigation.

An individual whose name was not released by the university was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, officials said. A second individual was examined and released by emergency medical technicians who responded to the scene about 11:25 a.m.

RELATED: North Carolina deck collapse: Deteriorated nails to blame, authorities say

Penn State said the audience of prospective engineering students had gathered for part of the “Spend a Summer Days” program by undergraduate admissions. The event was moved to the Thomas Building, the university said.

The auditorium made from buff-colored brick is named for former Bethlehem Steel Corp. President Charles M. Schwab and was completed in 1903, according to the school’s web site. It is located in the center of Penn State’s University Park campus, and its uses include being a venue for performance arts.

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Fiat Chrysler buyback settlement with government could prove costly

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Find out which Chrysler and Dodge models are included in the buyback, including Ram, Aspen and Durango.

Fiat Chrysler could be required to lay out hundreds of millions of dollars to get potentially defective Ram pickups and older Jeeps off the road under a deal with safety regulators to settle claims that the automaker mishandled nearly two dozen recalls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requiring the company to offer to buy back certain Ram pickup trucks and Dodge and Chrysler SUVs with defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control. More than 579,000 vehicles were initially recalled in 2013, but the company would only be required to buy back a third of those because many of the pickups have already been repaired.

The Italian-American automaker must also allow owners of more than a million older Jeeps with vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks to trade them in at above market value or give them $100 as an incentive to get a repair. Fiat Chrysler also faces a record civil fine of up to $105 million.

Fiat Chrysler shares dropped nearly 5 percent Monday afternoon following the weekend announcement of the deal.

The settlement is the latest sign that auto safety regulators are taking a more aggressive approach toward companies that fail to disclose defects or don’t properly conduct a recall.

RELATED: Takata air bag recall doubles to nearly 34 million; affected models listed

“Merely identifying defects is not enough,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Monday during a conference call with media. “Manufacturers that fail in their duty to fix these defects will pay a price.”

Nearly 1.3 million Rams, Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs and Dodge Dakota pickups from as far back as the 2003 model year were recalled for the steering problem in 2013. The government excluded around 700,000 of the oldest models from the buyback program because most have already been repaired or are no longer on the road.

But it ordered the buyback for up to 579,000 vehicles from the 2008 through 2012 model years. Of those, around 193,000 have not gotten the recall repairs and are eligible for either a repair or a buyback, according to recall reports submitted to the government by Fiat Chrysler.

In each case, Fiat Chrysler would be required to pay the original purchase price plus 10 percent, minus a certain amount for depreciation.

The ultimate cost of the settlement depends on how many pickup and SUV owners join in. According to Kelly Blue Book, a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 — one of the smaller, less-expensive trucks involved in the recalls — could fetch $20,000 in a dealer trade-in, assuming the truck has 60,000 miles on it and is in “good” condition. At that rate, FCA could spend $956 million to buy back one-quarter of the vehicles at issue. The company is allowed to repair and resell the trucks it buys back.

Models included in the buyback offer are certain Ram 1500s from 2009 to 2012; the Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4 by 4 from 2008; and the Ram 2500 4 by 4, 3500 4 by 4, 4500 4 by 4, and 5500 4 by 4, all from 2008 through 2012. Also part of the offer are 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs and the Dodge Dakota pickup from 2009 through 2011.

The government knows of at least one death attributed to the steering defect.

The older Jeeps have fuel tanks located behind the rear axle, with little to shield them in a rear crash. They can rupture and spill gasoline, causing a fire. At least 75 people have died in crash-related fires, although Fiat Chrysler maintains they are as safe as comparable vehicles from the same era.

FCA must offer $100 to Jeep owners as an incentive to get a repair or a trade-in incentive of $1,000 toward the purchase of another Fiat Chrysler vehicle. The repair consists of adding a trailer hitch to the Jeeps. FCA has already repaired around 441,000 of the 1.5 million Jeeps recalled.

The Jeep trade-ins could add to the tab, but they also could generate more new vehicle sales by getting customers into showrooms. Still, the total could strain the parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The company posted a first-quarter net profit of $101 million and had more than $20 billion in cash and securities on March 31.

FCA said the amount it pays to repurchase vehicles will be applied as a credit to the $20 million it agreed to spend on outreach efforts as part of its $105 million fine.

“FCA U.S. does not expect that the net cost of providing these additional alternatives will be material to its financial position, liquidity or results of operations,” the company said Monday.

Both the Jeep and Ram measures are part of a larger settlement between the government and the automaker over allegations of misconduct in 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. Besides the civil penalty, Fiat Chrysler agreed to an independent recall monitor and strict federal oversight.

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Two Men Charged with Arson

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CLIFTON TOWNSHIP — State Police say two men burned a shed and a cabin in Lackawanna County Sunday. Troopers said the two men had been “drinking all day” and then went for a ride into a wooded area behind Pocono Mobile Manor. Behind the mobile home park they found a cabin and a shed and started […]

Five-Year-Old Boy Injured in Hit and Run

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FACTORYVILLE – Police in Wyoming County are searching for the driver of a car who hit a five year old on his bike then drove off. The boy was riding his bike Monday on the sidewalk in front of Ray’s Supermarket on College Avenue in Factoryville. The police chief said the driver hit the child […]

‘It’s going to be worse': Gypsy moth damage up for 2015, expected to continue

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Late July and August mark the start of surveying for light-tan masses of gypsy moth eggs, as an indicator of where to spray next year. 

Cyclical by nature, damage from gypsy moth caterpillars this year approached the recent record for acres of trees affected in New Jersey.

In Pennsylvania, experts say that based on recent defoliation surveys 2016 is not expected to be any better.

“It’s going to be worse,” said Terry Brady, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The experts here, the entomologists here, what they saw in terms of infestation, in terms of damage initially, it’s not looking very good for next spring.”

The window has long closed to reduce gypsy moth populations for 2015. That’s done by about Memorial Day, by aerial-spraying a naturally occurring bacterial insecticide known as Bacillus thuringiensis — or Bt — onto leaves that the caterpillars eat. Fungus dependent on wet weather and beneficial insects also aid in the fight.

Oak, apple, sweet gum, basswood, birch, aspen and willow trees are affected the most by the gypsy moth. A tree begins to significantly suffer when 30 percent or more of its leaf surface is lost, and damage from gypsy moths can make trees more susceptible to other problems. 

Pennsylvania says it treated 26,433 acres in 2015, in Carbon, Columbia, Luzerne, Northumberland, Pike and Schuylkill counties — primarily on state-managed parks, forests, and game lands, plus some privately owned residential land in Carbon County.

Late July and August mark the start of surveying for light-tan masses of gypsy moth eggs, as an indicator of where to spray next year. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the cost to spray is borne by federal, state and local tax dollars, and varies from year to year depending on the infestation. 

The total cost for gypsy moth suppression in Pennsylvania was about $2 million in 2013, the first year spraying was done since 2009 — when the effort cost nearly $7.5 million, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

New Jersey charges municipalities a little more than $50 an acre to participate in the aerial-spraying program, according to the state Department of Agriculture. This state’s recent high cost for suppression was in 2008, when about $4.2 million went toward killing the voracious larvae, the U.S. Forest Service says.

RELATED: Seen the invasive Spotted Lanternfly? What to do as it may near Lehigh Valley

Tree damage from the insects in New Jersey reached a recent high in 2008, with 339,240 acres seeing defoliation, according to the state. True to the cyclical nature of the gypsy moth, only 1,068 acres of trees saw damage in 2012 — a record low.

That figure held about even for 2014, with 1,330 acres affect, but this year shot back up to an estimated 290,696 acres of trees in 175 municipalities across 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Warren County saw 32,029 acres affected, with Hardwick Township the hardest hit with 13,735 acres seeing damage. Hunterdon County recorded 3,185 acres affected, with the most being in Kingwood Township, at 580 acres. 

Most of New Jersey’s 2015 tree damage was in the seven northernmost counties in the state, with the highest concentrations in Sussex, at 108,882 acres affected; Passaic with 61,386 acres; and Morris with 60,699.  

Like Lehigh and Northampton counties, neither Warren nor Hunterdon counties saw the state spraying for gypsy moths in 2015. 

In New Jersey, those late-summer egg mass surveys generate letters that go out in January inviting municipalities where gypsy moths are found to sign up for spraying in spiring. Statewide, New Jersey sprayed 288 acres, in Morris County, out of some 500 acres recommended for treatment in 2015, Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lynne Richmond said.

“The spraying has to be done at a very specific time of year,” she said. “It can only be done at that time when the gypsy moth caterpillars are present … . In addition the leaves have to have come out on the trees. We spray and it lands on the leaves and the little caterpillars as they eat, die.”

The gypsy moth was introduced to North America in 1869 at Medford, Massachusetts, where it was used in a silk-production experiment, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says.

By 1902 this pest was widespread in the New England states, eastern New York, and regions of New Jersey, according to the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences. In Pennsylvania, he gypsy moth was first detected in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in the northeastern part of the state in l932.

A normal gypsy moth outbreak pattern can be described as two years of light infestation with minimal defoliation followed by two years of moderate to severe defoliation, with population collapse after the second year of heavy defoliation, according to Penn State entomologists. Infestations may flare up in future years; however, caterpillar density and level of defoliation will probably not be as severe or widespread as encountered during an initial infestation.

Kurt Bresswein may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KurtBresswein. Find on Facebook.


Following is more on gypsy moths and their life cycle, as well as efforts to combat them and how they differ from Eastern tent caterpillars: