Today's News - Wednesday, August 21

Two teenagers allegedly used a pellet gun to rob a Geistown Borough business yesterday.  19-year-old Zachary Wissinger and 16-year-old Darnell McLaughlin were caught by police just hours later. The thieves were only able to take four packs of cigarettes from the Honey Bear Mini Mart yesterday morning, Richland Police said. Both teens were charged as adults.

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The former co-owner of a Johnstown restaurant was arrested for driving while drunk last Friday.  Kathleen Lasky, of Westmont, was harassing people at the restaurant at the top of the Inclined Plane, formerly the City View, which she used to own. She then left and was driving erratically before police pulled her over. Her blood alcohol level was .162, over twice the legal limit.

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Fog is to blame for a deadly crash in Cambria Township. 65-year-old Donald Gregg of Sankertown died Tuesday morning when his coal truck slammed into an embankment along Route 422 near the intersection of Route 219.  Police believe he swerved to miss a truck hauling a wind turbine.

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A deadly wreck Tuesday afternoon in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County. 47-year-old William Taylor of Boswell was killed when his car collided with a disabled tri-axle truck that was parked along the side of Route 30 near the Route 219 interchange.

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State drug agents arrested 26-year-old Clinton Mickens Junior of Johnstown after making a controlled heroin buy in Altoona last week. At today’s preliminary hearing, Mickens will also face charges for delivering 50 bags of heroin into the Altoona area back in March. He was already on parole for a drug conviction.

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Students, teachers and staff will be going back to school this morning in Decatur, Georgia, a day after a man with an AK-47 opened fire inside McNair Discovery Learning Academy.  Police say the suspect held one or two school staff members hostage at the school's main office.  No one was hurt.   

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The Army major accused of mass murder is expected to start defending himself today for his alleged role in the Fort Hood massacre.  Nidal Hasan has never denied he was the one who killed 13 people and injured dozens of others in the 2009 attack.  He's put two people on his list as potential witnesses. 

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Syrian opposition groups and witnesses say government forces used chemical weapons against rebel strongholds near Damascus today.  Videos posted online show dead bodies, most with no signs of injury, as well as injured people convulsing.  

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A New Jersey sailor remains in the hospital after yesterday's explosion at a Navy weapons base in Middletown, New Jersey.  Sailors were performing routine maintenance on a utility boat at the time of the blast.  Military officials at the base about 40 miles from New York City say the explosion wasn't close to where weapons are stored and that there was no danger to the public. 

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Tents are going up on the National Mall for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March of Washington.  Other preparations include police assignments.  Meanwhile, those who fought for civil rights are looking forward to celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.  

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Make sure you check for ticks. A new Centers for Disease Control report shows Pennsylvania leads all states in the number of reported cases of Lyme disease. Doctors warn that patients do not always develop the “bulls-eye rash” that is often associated with Lyme disease and recommend that anyone who finds a tick on his or her body seek medical advice even if a bite is not visible. Symptoms of Lyme disease are often similar to the flu and include fever, aches and fatigue. 

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The builder of the USS Somerset sailed through a recent trial run when it was tested over three days in the Gulf of Mexico. The amphibious transport dock ship will be delivered to the Navy later this year. The Somerset is named in honor of the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in Somerset County on 9-11. The ship builder also says it's 40 percent done with the USS John P. Murtha, named after the late congressman from Johnstown.

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A new report from the Institute for College Access and Success says Pennsylvania is the fourth worst state in the country when it comes to student debt. The average student graduates with almost $30 thousand in debt. Seventy percent of all students will be paying off some kind of debt. President Obama is on a bus tour this week talking about making college more affordable and he will stop in Pennsylvania.

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The last blue moon until 2015 is lighting the sky, but it isn't really blue. The phrase refers to a second full moon in a calendar month.  The rare phenomenon happens once every three years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The agency says the last blue moon that actually was blue in color appeared over Scotland in 1950.  

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AAA Fuel Gauge says Western Pennsylvania gas prices remain at $3.59 this week. The national average for regular unleaded is $3.54, the same as a week ago and 13 cents less than a month ago. Gas prices have fallen nine cents in August.  Violence in Egypt, Libya and Syria continues to be the main reason prices remain high.

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Believe it or not, but Pennsylvania’s major highways are the nation’s 15th smoothest, according to a Federal Highway Administration study. The surprising ranking places PA’s interstates ahead of nearby New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Ohio. The survey also says our interstate’s are the nation’s eighth most heavily traveled.  Idado has the smoothest highways and California’s are the busiest.

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