To The Races

Rain didn’t stop the faithful fans of the 44th annual Pottsville Area Soap Box Derby from coming out to watch the racers speed down Laurel Boulevard. The race was supposed to start at 9 a.m., but was delayed until 10:45, due to the rain. Laurel Boulevard was closed from Seventh to Second Street for the event. 28 stock racers and 14 superstock racers participated. Children ages 7 to 13 competed in the stock division, while children ages 9 to 18 were eligible for superstock. The divisions are determined by size and weight. Bradeyn Ditzler, 11, of Port Carbon, won the stock division in a car sponsored by Fast Freddy’s Sub Shop. In the finals, he defeated Keera Brennan, 11, of Minersville. It was a repeat victory for Ditzler, who took the win in the superstock division last year.

Area House Fire

One family is out of their home after an early morning fire broke out in Schuylkill County. The first alarm was called around 1 a.m. Sunday along Center Avenue in Schuykill Haven. Everyone was able to get out safely without injury, however the home did sustain damage. The home located next door was also damaged in the flames. Investigators are still searching for the cause of the fire.

Buggy School

A high school in Carbon County alerted parents and students Friday afternoon of bird mites in the building. Lehighton Area High School tweeted out about the discovery, assuring families they contacted a pest control firm and were working to assess and evaluate the situation. Sources describe bird mites as parasites that are found near nesting birds, known to adapt from baby birds over to pets or humans. The mites are said to be very active during evening hours, known to multiply very quickly and be extremely difficult to eradicate once infested in a home or building.

Real ID Deadline Approaches

The Pennsylvania Legislature is pushing against a deadline set by the federal government to comply with new standards for more secure drivers’ licenses. In January, the state was given an extension until June 6, after Governor, Wolf and legislative leaders promised to come up with a plan to comply with the federal REAL ID law. Officials at the state Department of Transportation warn that a measure on deck in the state House falls short of fully complying. Act 38 is a law that bars the Department of Transportation from participating in the federal REAL ID program. At the time, lawmakers in Pennsylvania and many other states resisted federal law over concerns about privacy and the states’ costs of having the Department of Transportation make the changes to satisfy it. Since then, the resistance has been worn down in much of the country as privacy concerns have faded and the implications of not complying have become clearer.

Delong Insurance Update

A Mahoning Township supervisor has predicted the case to halt health insurance benefits for former township secretary-treasurer Christine Delong will likely drag on for up to a year. Supervisor T.S. Scott said DeLong’s attorney has filed objections to the township’s lawsuit, which seeks to not only end the township’s obligation to cover DeLong’s health insurance, but also requests the return of the $9,276 the township has paid for those benefits since the secretary, who also is a former supervisor, retired in July 2015. Those benefits amount to about $1,082 per month. DeLong believes she was entitled to early retirement health insurance benefits, claiming the board of auditors voted to approve them for her in January 2015. DeLong was 57 when she resigned as of July 15. She was secretary-treasurer for more than 20 years and simultaneously served as a supervisor for 18 years before losing to Bill Lynn in the 2015 primary.

Attack On ISIS

US-led coalition aircraft bombed pro-Syrian regime forces that were advancing on a remote base in southern Syria, near the Syria-Jordan-Iraq border. Two US aircraft were dispatched as a “show of force” to get the Syrian vehicles to turn around. An airstrike then hit the convoy after the vehicles continued toward the base, striking an enemy tank. The strikes were considered to be carried out in “self-defense” given the militias’ proximity to a base used by elite US and coalition troops.

Local Silo Burns

Crews extinguish a silo fire on Kansas Road in McVeytown. They used a ladder truck to vent the structure that was full of hay-silage just placed inside, two days before. They waited for a representative from Penn State before putting water into the silo.

Lewisburg Area Accident

Two people are hurt in a two car crash in Kelly Township, at Col. John Kelly and JPM Roads, 2 miles north of Lewisburg. One victim was flown from the scene by Life Flight helicopter for treatment at an area hospital. The force of the impact caused one car to roll onto its side. Local and state investigators are looking into the crash.

PA Lawmaker Slams ACHA

Senator, Bob Casey lashed out at Republicans for their health care bill, which he said would slash $880 billion from Medicaid, including funds that help students with disabilities. For school districts, that would mean a 30 percent cut in funding for those students. In a conference call with reporters, Casey said the bill would decimate Medicaid. The Scranton Democrat said Republican senators now are working on a Senate version of the bill behind closed doors.

New Construction For Danville Campus

Danville school directors approved four contracts to build the high school auditorium and new science classrooms and labs, as well as other work, but rejected several bids for alternate work to try to save money on the project, last estimated at $15.4 million. The board also directed the architect to proceed with the “value engineering” process to work with the contractors to try to trim further costs. The board held a special meeting to vote on the bids after postponing the vote at the May 9 regular meeting because the bids came in about $3 million higher than anticipated. Board members voted 6-3 after a nearly hour-long discussion that night to delay the vote and hold the special meeting to discuss what alternative work could be eliminated. The project also includes a new secure entrance for the school, as well as artificial turf and track for the football stadium.