FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2014

County Posts No Tax Increase Budget
The Washington County Commissioners say they have no plans to raise taxes in 2015. The county is posting its nearly $82 million budget and all three commissioners tell WJPA NEWS say they will hold-the-line on taxes. Commissioner Chairman Larry Maggi said they are grateful for money generated by the Marcellus Shale gas drilling and will use some of that money for building improvements and work on more than 100 bridges. Commissisoner Harlan Shober noted they will also put some money into a "legacy" fund for the future. Commissioner Diana Irey-Vaughan pointed out that Washington County has one of the lowest tax rates in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Final budget adoption is December 18th.

Water Line Break
Pennsylvania American Water crews were called to Peters Township shortly after 3:30 this morning for a water line break in the area of Robin Hood Lane and Waterdam Road. About a dozen customers were without water. A spokesman for the water company expects repairs by early afternoon.

Buffalo Digging Out
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The snow is expected to stop in the Buffalo, New York area, but residents are still unable to breathe easy. Two blasts of lake-effect snow have left 7 feet or more of snow. And temperatures are expected to warm up considerably this weekend, meaning floods are possible.

New Charges Against Cosby
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - A Florida woman is the latest person to publicly accuse comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her when she was younger. Fifty-seven-year-old Therese Serignese says Cosby attacked her backstage in 1976 following a show in Las Vegas when she was 19. A Cosby spokesman has not responded to the allegations. Meanwhile, the 77-year-old comedian performed Thursday in the Bahamas to benefit a women's service organization.

Guilty Pleas In Turnpike Scandal
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A prosecution of "pay-to-play" allegations within the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is ending with two former high-ranking officials pleading guilty and getting probation. Former chief executive Joe Brimmeier and former chief operating officer George Hatalowich pleaded guilty Thursday to a single count of conflict of interest. Both were sentenced to five years of probation. The state attorney general's office says both pleas involved accepting hospitality from engineering firms. In Brimmeier's case, he solicited campaign donations for former Gov. Ed Rendell. Hatalowich admitted he influenced how turnpike contracts were awarded to help a firm. Former turnpike chairman Mitch Rubin pleaded guilty to commercial bribery last week and received a similar sentence. The only remaining count against former state Sen. Bob Mellow was dropped last month after the judge threw out other charges.

Ex-Coal Executive Pleads Not Guilty In Mine Blast
BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Former coal company chief executive Don Blankenship has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in the deadliest U.S. coal mine accident in four decades. Blankenship entered the plea Thursday at his first court appearance since he was indicted last week. He is accused of conspiring to violate safety and health standards at the Upper Big Branch mine. In April 2010, an explosion at the mine killed 29 men. The 64-year-old Blankenship faces up to 31 years in prison if convicted. His bond was not immediately set. The hearing was in a recess and bond was expected to be set later Thursday.

 

Obama Moves Ahead On Immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration. Obama says immigrants who've lived illegally in the U.S. for more than five years can avoid being deported if their children are citizens or lawful permanent residents, and they pass background checks and pay fees. They also can get work permits. Obama says he wants immigration enforcement efforts to focus on "felons, not families."

State Supreme Court Agrees With Union
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is siding with the nurses' union and putting a halt to plans by the Corbett administration to close more than a third of the county-based state health centers. The court on Thursday ordered the administration to stop eliminating the centers, reopen those that have already been shuttered and restore the level of public health services to 1995 levels. The ruling, in the form of a preliminary injunction, says officials can't ignore a 1996 state law that requires the state to maintain the 60 health centers it operated as of July 1995. Gov. Tom Corbett's administration sought to close 26 centers and reorganize public health services as a cost-saving budget change last year. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and others challenged the decision.

Kane Mum On Possible Prosecutions
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she hasn't decided whether to prosecute anyone in a scandal over the email exchange of pornographic images and videos by state government employees.
Kane's spokeswoman, Renee Martin, now says she misspoke when she said Wednesday that Kane had decided not to prosecute. Martin also said Wednesday that the emails don't contain child pornography. The statement about possible prosecution points to an Oct. 27 published opinion regarding a state Supreme Court justice's suspension over the emails. In it, Chief Justice Ronald Castille says one particular video "may violate the Crimes Code section on obscenity." Martin says Kane can't elaborate on the scandal because of a court order in a separate case. Kane's office is being investigated over whether it breached grand jury secrecy.

Another Fraternity Punished At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University says a second fraternity has had its charter revoked by its national office. The Morgantown school said Thursday that Beta Theta Pi has informed the university that the local chapter's charter had been pulled "based on past behavior issues." The Charleston Gazette reports that the move comes after Kappa Sigma fraternity's national office informed WVU last week that the school's chapter had been suspended since mid-October. WVU suspended social and pledging activities at its campus-affiliated fraternities and sororities last week following two recent incidents. Eighteen-year-old freshman Nolan Burch died last Friday after police said he was found unconscious and not breathing at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house. Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston confirmed the Nov. 12 incident was alcohol-related.

Deer Season Begins Monday In West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Deer hunters are getting ready to fan out across West Virginia for the start of the two-week gun season. The Division of Natural Resources says the season begins Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 6. It is open in all counties except Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wyoming. DNR Wildlife Resources section chief Curtis Taylor says an estimated 330,000 hunters should enjoy a great deer season in 2014. Last year, hunters harvested 56,523 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, an increase of less than 1 percent from 2012. Officials forecast that this year's harvest will be similar to 2013. In addition to the wealth of recreational opportunities, officials say deer hunters spend an estimated $230 million in West Virginia.

 



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