MORE TESTIMONY IN CLINTON COUNTY
No closing arguments, and no jury deliberations yet. More testimony was heard in the Clinton County murder trial of Loyd Groves yesterday. Rebuttal witnesses were called to the stand including John Heckel III the husband of Kathy Heckel, the woman Groves is accused of murdering back in the summer of 1991. Heckel answered questions as to items belonging to his wife found in a dumpster at the Lockport Armory where he worked at the time. The day was cut short after attorneys for both sides were called into a meeting with Senior Judge Kenneth Brown who is presiding over the case. Court will resume this morning.
COMMISSIONERS APPROVE INCREASE IN PENSION FUND
Following a report from the state reflecting retirees living longer Lycoming County Commissioners yesterday approved an increase to the county’s retirement fund contributions of a little over $241 thousand dollars for the upcoming county budget. Commissioner Rick Mirabito said the payment is not automatically made once the increase is approved, but that it had to be put into the budget putting total estimated payments at a little over $2 million dollars for 2019. Commissioners say the high cost of pension funding is an issue, but say that the problem begins at the state level where lawmakers have not done enough to curb escalating costs.
WILLIAMSPORT’S FIRE CHIEF TALKS REGIONALIZATION
Saying that manpower isn’t always where it needs to be, especially during serious calls, Williamsport’s City Fire Chief is urging that the city regionalize services with neighboring volunteer companies. The Williamsport Sun Gazette reports this morning that Fire Chief Todd Heckman urged council this week during a city budget session to explore regionalization which would help cover major calls within and outside of the city. A report released on Wednesday by the state warns that Pennsylvania’s fire and rescue services face a crisis saying the number of volunteers continues to fall amid funding needs and training challenges.
UNION COUNTY FIRE DAMAGES HOME
Fire struck yesterday afternoon in Union County. The two alarm fire was reported around 3:30 in a home along Main Street which is Route 45 in Hartleton. When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming from the home, and had it knocked down quickly, but the fire started back up causing firefighters on the scene to order a second alarm. Very few other details are available. It’s not believed anyone was injured. A damage estimate has not been released and the cause of that Union County fire is under investigation.
NO TAX INCREASE IN CLINTON COUNTY
Clinton County Commissioners yesterday released a 2019 budget which will contain no tax increase. The little more than $39.9 million dollar spending plan is said to be balanced and contains a .006 mills real estate tax which is expected to yield a little more than $12 million, 400 thousand dollars in revenue. Commissioners say they did have to add a line item to cover potential costs of new voting equipment which accounts for $415,000 dollars in the budget. The budget is going online at the county website today and Commissioners hope to pass the final budget during their meeting on December 20th.
MUNCY MAN SENTENCED FOR CHILD RAPE
A Muncy man was recently sentenced to State Prison for the repeated rape of a young girl. In November of last year, 46 year old Charles Jenkins was arrested after he was discovered having sex with a 13 year old at a Muncy residence. At the time, the girl admitted to have been having a sexual relationship with the man for several months. Jenkins who was charged with several counts was sentenced this week to 17 to 34 years in state prison.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration is settling a vote counting lawsuit filed following the 2016 election in part by affirming a commitment to push Pennsylvania Counties to buy new voting machines by 2020. The lawsuit was filed by Green Party Candidate Jill Stein who ran for president in 2016 looking for a recount of votes. The new machines will leave a verifiable paper trail to guard against hacking. Currently, four of five PA voting machines do not leave that paper trail. The settlement will also require the state to institute audits of election results by 2022 before the results are certified.
The Williamsport Area School Distirct Education Foundation has announced that they have granted a little more than $24,000 dollars to support six programs and initiatives across the district. The grants range from $16,340 dollars to the Curtin and Lycoming Valley Intermediate Schools music programs to impolment a new digital music curriculum down to a thousand dollars for the Williamsport Middle and High Schools to form a new club called Education Rising in an effort to attact and retain teachers in a grow your own strategy.
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS TONIGHT
The city of Williamsport heads into the Christmas Season with the annual Festival of Lights Tree Lighting in Brandon Park tonight. The event will be held from 6 to 8pm with music and dance performances, ice sculpting, food, music, carriage rides, a visit from Santa Claus and of course the official lighting of the trees in the park which will be on through the Christmas Season. More events in our area this weekend with the annual Christmas Parade in Loyalsock Township tomorrow at 1:30 and the tree lighting at Short Park at 5:39, and the annual Hughesville Merchants Christmas Parade on Sunday at 1pm.