Friday March 1 2013

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FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013

POPE STEPS DOWN

POPE BENEDICT THE 16TH STEPPED DOWN YESTERDAY AND MORE THAN 12-HUNDRED PEOPLE TURNED OUT FOR A SPECIAL MASS AT ALTOONA’S CATHEDRAL TO PRAY FOR THE FUTURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN BISHOP MARK BARTCHAK LED THE MASS AND SAYS BENEDICT “LEFT US WITH SUCH ENCOURAGING WORDS THAT I THINK WE'RE IN GOOD SHAPE.” NOW, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS WILL ELECT A NEW POPE.

MORE LAWSUITS FILED

2 MORE ALLEGED VICTIMS OF FRANCISCAN FRIAR STEPHEN BAKER HAVE NOW FILED LAWSUITS AGAINST THE ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN DIOCESE, JOHNSTOWN’S BISHOP MCCORT HIGH SCHOOL, AND OTHERS. BAKER KILLED HIMSELF AT ST. BERNADINE’S MONASTERY IN HOLLIDAYSBURG IN LATE JANUARY SHORTLY AFTER THE NEWS BROKE THAT HE HAD SETTLED WITH 11 MEN IN OHIO WHO CLAIMED HE ABUSED THEM. MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE IN 5 STATES NOW SAY THEY WERE VICTIMS.

SANDUSKY SCANDAL

PENN STATE PRESIDENT RODNEY ERICKSON IS STILL FACING CRITICISM FOR HIS PART IN POSSIBLY ACCEPTING THE FREEH REPORT A LITTLE PREMATURELY. AT A SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HEARING IN HARRISBURG YESTERDAY, ERICKSON FACED TOUGH QUESTIONS PRIMARILY FROM SENATOR JAKE CORMAN WHO WANTED TO KNOW IF ERICKSON STILL BELIEVES THE REPORT’S CONCLUSIONS ARE ACCURATE. SENATOR JOHN YUDICHAK SAYS PENN STATE HAS STILL NOT ADDRESSED THE GLARING DEFICIENCIES AND HE BELIEVES IF THIS IS DONE, IT WOULD NOT ONLY MAKE THE UNIVERSITY A STRONGER INSTITUTION, BUT IT COULD APPROPRIATELY ADDRESS SANDUSKY’S VICTIMS. ERICKSON DID NOT COMMENT DUE TO PENDING CRIMINAL AND CIVIL CASES.

39 CANDIDATES ARE VYING FOR THE 3 OPEN SEATS ON PENN STATE’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES. THAT’S MUCH LOWER THAN LAST YEAR’S RECORD 86 CANDIDATES IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE SANDUSKY SCANDAL. VOTING WILL BEGIN APRIL 10TH AND WRAP UP MAY 2ND.

SUSPECT CLAIMS POLICE BRUTALITY

POLICE SAY STEPHEN ESPENLAUB OF ALTOONA CONFESSED TO POSING AS A DRUG ENFORCEMENT OFFICER ALONG WITH HIS FRIEND ANGEL VASQUEZ OF PITTSBURGH…THEN DEMANDING CASH AND DRUGS FROM A MAN IN DECEMBER. ESPENLAUB WENT BACK AND WAS CAUGHT IN JANUARY. NOW, ESPENLAUB HAS WRITTEN A LETTER TO THE ALTOONA MIRROR SAYING HE ONLY PLAYED A MINOR PART IN THE SCHEME AND HE LOANED HIS CAR AND POLICE SHIRTS TO 2 OTHER MEN. ESPENLAUB ALSO SAYS HE WAS BRUTALIZED DURING QUESTIONING AT THE POLICE STATION. POLICE SAY THAT’S NOT TRUE. ESPENLAUB’S WIFE, NATALIE FRILEY, IS ALSO FACING CHARGES.

ANOTHER SHOOTING SUSPECT IN CUSTODY

JOHNSTOWN POLICE SAY JASON MAINES AND CHARLES MEYER ARE NOW BOTH IN CUSTODY. THEY WERE ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED IN A SHOOTING IN THE MOXHAM AREA OF THE CITY LAST SATURDAY.
ACCORDING TO POLICE, THE SUSPECTS HAD A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA SHIPPED TO A HIGHLAND AVENUE HOUSE THEY THOUGHT WAS UNOCCUPIED. MEYER, MAINES, AND A 3RD SUSPECT ALLEGEDLY CONFRONTED THE HOMEOWNER WHO TOLD THEM HE HAD TURNED THE DRUGS OVER TO THE POLICE. SOMEONE PULLED A GUN AND ONE SHOT WAS FIRED.  THE 3RD SUSPECT IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION WITH A GUNSHOT TO THE HEAD AND THE HOMEOWNER WAS SHOT IN THE KNEE.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG RING BUSTED

POLICE IN BLAIR AND CAMBRIA COUNTIES SAY THEY’VE BUSTED UP A MAJOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG RING. MINDY WOLF OF ALTOONA AND ROSEANN RICKS OF JOHNSTOWN ARE THE ALLEGED RINGLEADERS. WOLF IS ACCUSED OF STEALING PRESCRIPTIONS FROM THE HOLLIDAYSBURG DOCTOR’S OFFICE WHERE SHE WORKED. SHE AND RICKS THEN GOT SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF NARCOTICS FROM PHARMACIES IN THE JOHNSTOWN AREA. POLICE SAY RICKS ALSO PAID OTHERS TO USE THE STOLEN SCRIPTS TO OBTAIN DRUGS FOR HER. MORE ARRESTS ARE EXPECTED.

WORKING ON A STATE BUDGET

AS BUDGET TALKS CONTINUE, PENN STATE PRESIDENT RODNEY ERICKSON AND LEADERS FROM OTHER STATE UNIVERSITIES TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG YESTERDAY. ERICKSON SAYS SCHOOLS ARE FACING BIG CHALLENGES AND OFFICIALS MAY HAVE TO MAKE SOME DIFFICULT CHOICES IN THE NEAR FUTURE IN ORDER TO IMPROVE STUDENT LEARNING AND SUCCESS, WHILE REDUCING THE RATE OF COSTS. LAWMAKERS MUST PASS A NEW SPENDING PLAN BY THE END OF JUNE.

SAVING AMTRAK SERVICE

AMTRAK’S PITTSBURGH-TO-HARRISBURG LINE COULD BE CANCELLED THIS FALL IF PENNDOT DECIDES NOT TO PICK UP ITS 5-POINT-7 MILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL SUBSIDY. A PRESS CONFERENCE AND RALLY ARE SCHEDULED FOR 10 AM TODAY AT THE HUNTINGDON AMTRAK STOP AT 4TH AND ALLEGHENY STREETS. SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE STATE REPRESENTATIVE MIKE FLECK…HUNTINGDON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS…JUNIATA COLLEGE OFFICIALS…AND A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MICHAEL ALEXANDRA FROM WESTERN PENNSYLVANIANS FOR PASSENGER RAIL.  FLECK SAYS HE’S FIGHTING TO SAVE THE LINE BECAUSE NEARLY 6-THOUSAND PEOPLE ANNUALLY UTILIZE THE TRAIN STOP IN HUNTINGDON.