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Times Leader 06-02-2011

Times Leader 06-02-2011

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The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 06-02
The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 06-02

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C M Y K
6
09815 10011
WILKES-BARRE, PA THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2011 50¢
timesleader.com
T
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imes
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Local student advancesin National Spelling Bee
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Charles Parente honored atannual Boys Scouts dinner
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DEAL
TODAY’S
DEAL
HARRISBURG Former Luzerne CountyJudge Michael Conahan has dropped his appealof a state agency’s decision to deny him hispension benefits, according a state official.Robert Gentzel, spokesman for the State Em-ployees’ Retirement System, saidConahan notified the agency inApril that he was withdrawing the appeal of the denial, as wellas his challenge of SERS’ deci-sion to seek repayment of morethan $21,000 in benefits it saysConahan improperly received.SERS halted Conahan’smonthly pension payment of $8,072 in April 2009, twomonths after he and formerJudge Mark Ciavarella originallypleaded guilty to honest servicesfraud related to the LuzerneCounty corruption probe.Since then, both men with-drew their pleas. Conahan re-en-tered a new guilty plea last yearto a charge of racketeering con-spiracy. Ciavarella was convictedby a jury in February of 12 charg-es, including racketeering, mon-ey laundering and tax evasion.Both men had challenged theSERS determination that they were not entitled to their pen-sions based on a state law thatpermits the denial of benefits toany person convicted of certaincrimes related to their public of-fice.Conahan’s attorney, Philip Gel-so, declined to comment Wednesday on Conahan’s rea-sons for dropping his appeal.Ciavarella continues to contestSERS’ decision to deny him hispension, which has been estimated at $5,156 amonth.A hearing on his appeal was set for today, but was postponed at the request of his attorney, AlFlora.Conahan’s decision to drop his appeal meansthe money he would have been paid will remain within the SERS retirement fund, Gentzel said.It also clears the way for SERS to take action tocollect $21,261 in benefits Conahan was paid from
APPEAL OF DECISION
Conahangives uppensionchallenge
State agency halted former judge’s monthlypension payment of $8,072 in April 2009.
ByTERRIEMORGAN-BESECKER 
tmorgan@timesleader.com
SeeCONAHAN,Page12A
Conahan
Conahan isalso with-drawing hischallenge ofSERS’ deci-sion to seekrepayment ofmore than$21,000 inbenefits itsays Conahanimproperlyreceived.
 WILKES-BARRE–Rejecting sentencing guidelines as being “overly harsh,” a federal judgeon Wednesday sentenced a for-mer Shenandoah police chieconvicted of falsifying a reportonahatecrimeto13monthsinprison – nearly four years lessthan the minimum sentencesuggested bythe guide-lines.U.S. Dis-trict Judge A.Richard Ca-puto said hebelieved thesentence im-posed onMatthewNestor wasappropriategiven the na-ture and cir-cumstancesof the crime.He offered lit-tle other rea-soning to support his decisionto significantly depart from theguideline range, which calledfor a sentence of 57 to 71months.Federal judges typically sen-tencedefendantswithinthegui-deline range, which is calculat-ed by probation officials basedon the nature of the crime andnumerousotherfactors. Judgesare not required to do so, how-ever, as the guidelines are advi-sory.Nestor, the former policechief, was convicted in Januaryof filing a false police report re-lating to the investigation intothe July 2008 death of Luis Ra-mirez,anillegalimmigrantwho was beaten to death by a groupof Shenandoah teenagers.NestorwasamongthreeShe-nandoahofficerschargedincon-nectionwiththeRamirezinves-tigation. William Moyer, who was convicted of lying to theFBI, was sentenced Wednesdaytothreemonthsinprisonforhisrole in the case. The third de-fendant, Jason Hayes, was ac-quitted of all charges. Thecruxoftheprosecution’scase against Nestor rested onthefactthathehadwithheldthenamesofseveralofthesuspect-edassailantsofRamirez,includ-ingBrandonPiekarskyandDer-rickDonchak,inhisoriginalpo-
SeeSENTENCE,Page12A
Ex-chief’ssentence 13 months
Shenandoah’s MatthewNestor had faced 57 to 71months behind bars.
ByTERRIMORGAN-BESECKER 
tmorgan@timesleader.com
NestorMoyer
 WILKES-BARREThreeAmericanRed Cross volunteers said they wouldn’t hesitate again to work in the wee hours of the morning during a se- verethunderstormwithfrequentlight-ningtohelp15citytenants displacedby a fire.“It was nothing outoftheordinary. This is what wedo,” said Henry Ja-blonski,64,ofNan-ticoke, of Mondaymorning’s efforts.Jablonski,ChristineMizenko,62,of Swoyersville, and Edna Vivian, of  Wilkes-Barre, who declined to list herage, helped tenants who were forcedout of their apartments at 63-67 Sulli- vanSt.whenanadjacentvacanthouse wentupinflamesatabout1a.m.Mon-day. When they pulled up in their emer-gencyresponse vehicle, a severe thun-derstorm moved through the areadrenching the volunteers and tenants.City Fire Chief Jay Delaney praisedthe Red Cross volunteers for taking care of the tenants during what hecalled a “dangerous, wind-swept thun-
SULLIVAN STREET FIRE
AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER
EdnaVivian,left,andChristineMizenkooftheRedCrossstandoutside63-67SullivanSt.onWednesday.Thevol-unteerssaidhelpingfirevictimsisjustpartofwhattheydo.
 Always ready to go
AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER
ChristineMizenkohasbeenavolunteerfor17years,andEdnaVivianhashelpedoutsince2004.
Red Cross volunteers were there toassist fire victims on Mondayduring dangerous storm.
ByEDWARDLEWIS 
elewis@timesleader.com
Anyone interest-ed in becoming aRed Cross volun-teer can call823-7161.
H OW TOH E L P ?
INSIDE:
Bodies found in house ID’d,
12A
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SeeVOLUNTEERS,Page12A
INSIDE
ANEWS:
Local 3ANation & World 5AObituaries 8AEditorial11A
BSPORTS:
Scoreboard 2BBaseball 3BBusiness 8BStocks 9B
CLIFE:
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SophieWilkinMostlysunny,windy.High72.Low53.
Details, Page10B
 WASHINGTON — House Re-publicans are pushing backagainst Obama administrationefforts to promote healthierlunches, saying the AgricultureDepartment should rewriterules it issued in Januarymeantto make school meals healthier. They say the new rules are toocostly. The bill, approved by theHouse Appropriations Commit-tee late Tuesday, also questionsa government proposal to curbmarketingofunhealthyfoodstochildrenandurgestheFoodandDrug Administration to limitrules requiring calorie countsbe posted on menus. The overall spending bill would cut billions from USDAand FDA budgets, including fordomestic feeding programs andinternational food aid. The pan-el also cut some farm subsidiesto cut spending.Republicans are concernedabout the cost of many of the
GOP can’t stomach Obama’s school nutrition program
AP FILE PHOTO
Appleslicesareamongthechoicesstudentshaveundergovern-mentnutritionguidelinessignedintolawinJanuary.
Administration’s proposalsare too costly and border ona ‘nanny-state,’ say critics.
ByMARYCLAREJALONICK 
 Associated Press
SeeLUNCHES,Page12A
BERWICK — For one group of eighth-graders from Berwick, a re-cent field trip to Baltimore includ-ed lunch at Hooters — a restaurantbetterknownforitsbustywaitress-es than its food. The Berwick Middle School stu-dents were visiting the NationalAquarium last week.Chaperonestookthemtovariousrestaurants for lunch because thegroup of100 was too large for a sin-gle place. The Bloomsburg Press Enter-prise reported on Tuesday that onegroupof15to20studentsendedupat Hooters.District Superintendent WayneBrookhart said that while he wish-es the group’s coed chaperones hadchosen another restaurant, he hasnot received any complaints fromparents.Hooters spokesman MikeMcNeil said the restaurant chainoften hosts groups, including sports teams and church organiza-tions with teens and younger chil-dren.
Hooters on 8th-graders’ trip menu
Some Berwick Middle Schoolershad lunch at the establishmenton a fieldtrip to Baltimore.
The Associated Press
 
K
PAGE 2A THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2011 THE TIMES LEADER www.timesleader.com
Aqua,KarenBilling,DorothyChurnetski,EdwardDugan,SharonGrohowski,StanleyLello,ReginaMackavage,JosephMeikle,GeorgeJr.Shupp,HaroldSoyka,Helen
OBITUARIES
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The Times Leader strives tocorrect errors, clarify storiesand update them promptly.Corrections will appear in thisspot. If you have informationto help us correct an inaccu-racy or cover an issue morethoroughly, call the newsroomat 829-7242.
HARRISBURG – One playermatched all five winningnumbers drawn in Wednes-day’s “Pennsylvania Cash 5”game and will receive$225,000.Lottery officials said 64players matched four num-bers and won $300 eachand 2,464 players matchedthree numbers and won $13each.
LOTTERY
MIDDAYDRAWING
DAILY NUMBER
4-2-7
BIG FOUR
3-3-1-0
QUINTO
7-7-4-1-2
TREASURE HUNT
06-11-12-21-27NIGHTLYDRAWING
DAILY NUMBER
9-7-5
BIG FOUR
4-3-5-4
QUINTO
9-1-6-1-7
CASH FIVE
08-19-30-31-43
POWERBALL
08-18-38-46-56
POWERBALL
31
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Delivery Monday–Sunday $3.50 per weekMailed Subscriptions Monday–Sunday$4.35 per week in PA$4.75 per week outside PAPublished daily by:Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company15 N. Main St.Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711Periodicals postage paid atWilkes-Barre, PA and additional mailing officesPostmaster: Send address changesto Times Leader, 15 N. Main St.,Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
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DORRANCETWP.
– Statepolice at Hazleton said12 brassarmed forces flag holders werestolen from veterans’ gravesitesin the Emanuel Christian Cem-etery from Sunday to Tuesday.Cemetery groundskeeperLonnie Rinehimer discoveredthe theft.
KINGSTONTWP.
– A wom-an was arraigned Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre Central Court oncharges she assaulted a taxidriver and resisted arrest.Josephine A. Zekas, 36, of Hemlock Street, Dallas, wascharged with simple assault,resisting arrest and harass-ment. She was released on$5,000 unsecured bail.According to the criminalcomplaint:Dave Carter told townshippolice he pulled off MemorialHighway into a parking lot when his fare, Zekas, startedacting crazy and struck himmultiple times.Police said in the complaintZekas struggled with officers when she was arrested.A preliminary hearing isscheduled on June 9 beforeDistrict Judge James Tupper inKingston Township.
HAZLETON
– A woman wasarraigned Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre Central Court oncharges she entered a vacantbuilding.Jamie Lynn Bonner, 31, of North Wyoming Street, Hazle-ton, was charged with burglary,criminal trespass and loitering and prowling at night. She was jailed at the Luzerne CountyCorrectional Facility for lack of $5,000 bail.According to the criminalcomplaint:Police spotted Bonner on asecond-floor porch to a vacantbuilding on North Wyoming Street at about10:15 p.m. Tues-day.Bonner told police she wasin the building buying heroin,the complaint says.Police said in the complaintthat Bonner ran away and wascaptured in the area of Manhat-tan Court and Green Street.A preliminary hearing isscheduled on June 8 beforeDistrict Judge Joseph Zola inHazleton.
WILKES-BARRE
– A wom-an was arraigned Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre Central Court oncharges she stole items fromthe CVS Pharmacy on SouthMain Street.Monica Auguste, 30, of Irv-ing Place, Wilkes-Barre, wascharged with retail theft. Bail was set at $5,000 unsecuredbail. She remains jailed onunrelated charges.City police allege Augustetook $129 worth of diapers,baby powder, lotion and butteron April13, according to thecriminal complaint.A preliminary hearing isscheduled on June 7 in CentralCourt.
PLYMOUTH
– Police arrest-ed a man they allege assaultedhis girlfriend.Richard Evans, 46, of Not-tingham Street, Plymouth, wasarraigned Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre Central Court oncharges of simple assault, dis-orderly conduct and publicdrunkenness. He was jailed atthe Luzerne County Correc-tional Facility for lack of $3,000bail.According to the criminalcomplaint:Police found Nora Simoncav-age bleeding from her mouthand Evans crouching near heron West Main Street at about10:10 p.m. Tuesday.Evans was telling Simoncav-age “how sorry he was, andhow much he loved her,” thecomplaint says.Simoncavage alleged they were walking home from a bar when Evans punched her in theface and grabbed her neck andarm.Police said Simoncavage wastreated at Wilkes-Barre GeneralHospital.A preliminary hearing isscheduled on June 7 beforeDistrict Judge Donald Whittak-er in Nanticoke.
WILKES-BARRE
– Citypolice reported the following:• Shaun Butler, 29, of Nanti-coke was charged with posses-sion of heroin Wednesday.Police said the arrest came as aresult of complaints from peo-ple living near a house at 852S. Franklin St. Butler was also wanted on probation violation,police said.• The Motorworld automo-bile dealership Wednesdayreported a man issued a checkthen stopped payment on it.Police are investigating thereported issuance of a badcheck.• Margaret Metzger of North Washington Street said Wednesday that a Pennsylvanialicense plate YDP14 was stolenfrom her vehicle.• Francine Fargione of Paint-ed Post, N.Y., said Wednesdaythat a door knob was damagedat residence on WestminsterStreet.• Copper pipes were stolenfrom a house in the100 blockof Carey Avenue on Tuesday.• Police said a man stoletwo barbells that were unat-tended on a sidewalk in thearea of11W. North St. on Tues-day.• An electric razor was re-ported stolen from CVS Phar-macy, South Main Street, on Tuesday.• Police said Jason Kis-thardt, of White Haven, wascharged with violating a pro-tection from abuse order aftera woman residing on WaterStreet alleged he called her on Tuesday.• Tyrone Mason of NorthEmpire Court said Saturdaymorning that his flat-screentelevision was stolen.• Lauren Loch, 24, of CatlinAvenue, was charged withpublic drunkenness after, po-lice said, she was intoxicatedon North Washington Streetearly Saturday morning.• Breanna Flynn,19, of May-ock Street, will be charged with underage drinking. Policesaid they responded to MayockStreet and determined Flynnhad consumed alcohol.• Olanda Carter, 43, of South Welles Street, wascharged with scattering trashafter a police officer said hesaw her throw a beer can in theroadway near the intersectionof East Northampton andSouth Welles streets earlySaturday morning.• Keno Johnson-Williams,34, of Jones Street, wascharged with public drunk-enness Friday night after policesaid he was intoxicated onJones Street.• David Cruz, 34, of SouthFranklin Street, will be charged with theft and receiving stolenproperty after he was seen on asurveillance video Thursdayremoving a television from aproperty owned by Audi Man-agement III on South FranklinStreet.• Shanae Coleman of NorthSherman Street reported some-one broke into her apartmentbetween Friday and Mondayand stole a 32-inch television valued at $600.
PLAINSTWP.
– Three peo-ple were charged with fighting inside the Mohegan Sun atPocono Downs casino anddamaging a kiosk machine inFebruary.State police gaming enforce-ment unit charged ThomasMatthew Perry, 21, of Dallas,Andrew Wolak Jr., 22, of Oly-phant, and Jeremy Paradiso,22, of Dracut, Mass, with crim-inal mischief and disorderlyconduct. The charges werefiled with District Judge DianaMalast in Plains Township andmailed to the three people.State police said damage tothe kiosk, if repaired, was$15,025 or replacement cost of $43,900, the criminal com-plaint says.Preliminary hearings arescheduled on June 28.
HANOVERTWP.
– Town-ship police reported the follow-ing:• A woman was taken to ahospital after a two-vehiclecrash on Lasley Avenue on Wednesday.Police said Irene Radle, of Lawrence Street, Wilkes-Barre, was turning into Telerx Com-munication when her 2001Dodge Neon was struck frombehind by a 2001Dodge Intrep-id, driven by Jessica Caines, of Sively Street, Hanover Town-ship.A passenger in Radle’s vehi-cle was taken to a hospital fortreatment.
POLICE BLOTTER
 When Nicholas Sheffler wasreadhisrights,itsoundedfamiliarto the Pittston man, who was ar-rested in Concord, N.H., Mondayforcarryingaloadedshotgunafterplansheandothersmadetorobadrugdealerunraveled,policesaid.ShefflerwasoneoffourLuzerneCounty men arrested after theydrove nearly eight hours from Wilkes-Barre on Monday to Con-cordfortheattemptedrobbery,po-licesaid.Jeremy Martin, 21, Edwin Ma-teo Jr., 22, and Joseph Hasan, 22,all of Wilkes-Barre, and Shefflerare being held in the MerrimackCounty House of Corrections inlieu of bail ranging from $100,000to $125,000 on charges including conspiracytocommitrobberyandattemptedburglary. Whilebeingtransportedinapo-lice cruiser Sheffler said he want-ed to speak to officer Joseph Rus-sell,accordingtoanarrestaffidavitfiled Monday by the Concord Po-liceDepartment.“Once the (Miranda) warnings were completed, Nicho-las told officer Russellthat he understood the warnings because he was a criminal justicemajor and that he want-ed to talk,” the affidavitsaid.AtfirstShefflersaidheand his friends were enroutetoMaineforaMe-morialDaybarbecueandthat they tricked him in-to helping in a robbery,the affidavit said. He lat-er admitted his role as alookout and said he car-ried two rolls of duct tape that were bought at a conveniencestoretobeusedtobindthedealerand any of his associates, the affi-davitsaid.Sheffler said Mateo came up withtheplanhedescribedas“fool-proof” and that “they would berich” because the dealer Mateodealt with before was a “hippie” who would neither put up any re-sistancenorcontactpolice,theaf-fidavitsaid.Before leaving Pennsylvaniathey stopped at a Kmart, whereMartin stole a package of stock-ingsandMateoboughtredbanda-nastowearduringtherobbery,theaffidavitsaid. The first attempt to enter thebuilding where thedealer lived failed be-cause the door waslocked, the affidavitsaid. After hearinnoise below, the deal-er yelled from an up-stairs apartment,“What’s good, mon-ey?” according to theaffidavit.Sheffler, Mateo andMartin regrouped atthe car parked at anearby gas station where Hasan waited,theaffidavitsaid.Allfourwenttothebuildingonthe second visit and Mateo had ashotgun and Martin carried ahandgun, but two men carrying hammers ran toward them andone of them asked Mateo, “Whatareyoudoing,E?Whydoesithaveto be like this, E?” the affidavitsaid.Mateo set down the shotgun wrapped in a T-shirt and Shefflerpickeditupastheyfledthescene,theaffidavitsaid.Policewhorespondedtoacallof an attempted break-in first appre-hended Sheffler and Hasan and afewhourslatercaughtMateoandMartin, the affidavit said. OnlyMateo refused to provide a state-ment,theaffidavitsaid.
4 area men busted in N.H.
Police allege the four droveall the way to Concord onMonday to rob a drug dealer.
ByJERRYLYNOTT 
 jlynott@timesleader.com
Before leavingPennsylvaniathey stopped ata Kmart, whereMartin stole apackage ofstockings andMateo boughtred bandanas towear during therobbery, theaffidavit said.
HOLYREDEEMERCLASSGRADUATES
AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER
E
rin Yanoshak, Kelsey Wolsieffer and Amanda Urbanski look at digital photos on a cam-era before the graduation of the class of 2011of Wilkes-Barre’s Holy Redeemer HighSchool on Wednesday night at Misericordia University. For a story, more photos and a listof graduates, see a special 2011graduation tab in July 9 editions of The Times Leader.
NANTICOKE Fiscal re-sponsibility and efficient useof tax dollars were discussedat Wednesday night’s CityCouncil meeting.“We have nearly $3 millionin the bank,” said Albert Wy-toshek, city treasurer, “and Iam unclear as to what type of accounts this money is in and why we don’t get more inter-est.” He noted the interest onthese accounts was under$2,000 a year.Holly Cirko, city administra-tor, said many of the accounts were earmarked for a specificpurpose and could not be in- vested in anything long-term,such as a certificate of depos-it.“Most of these accountshave money in and money out,“ said Mayor Joseph Dougher-ty. “Attempting to collect in-terest on these types of funds would be impossible.” Wytoshek said he believedthat council should investi-gate this matter further and heplanned to determine whetherbetter interest rates could bemade on the more than 30 ac-counts held by the city.Resident Jim Samelski alsobrought up current real estateowned by the city that is notgenerating any taxes.“Can we sell these proper-ties,” Samelski asked, “so that we can collect revenue fromthem?”Doughtery said research was currently being done onthe properties’ market valueand that it was the city’s intentto sell them.In another matter, Council-man Jim Litchkowski ex-pressed interest in the pro-gress of the city’s Home RuleCharter Committee.Linda Prushinski, a memberof that committee, said thegroup was in the process of de-ciding whether an additionalmember would be added toCity Council.Prushinski said the commit-tee would be meeting Tuesdayat City Hall.Mary Cheshinski, city clerk,invited the public to the Relayfor Life event and bake sale tobe held June18-19 at City Hall.
Nanticoke eyes accounts’ interest rates
City has almost $3 million inbank and has earned less than$2,000, treasurer states.
ByGERIGIBBON
Times Leader Correspondent
The next meeting will take place 7p.m. July 6 at City Hall.
W H AT ’S N E XT
DURYEA
- The regularmonthly meeting of the Du-ryea Borough Sewer Author-ity ( DBSA) will be at 7 p.m.Monday in the MunicipalBuilding.
AVOCA
– The regularmonthly meeting of the bor-ough council will be Thurs-day in the municipal build-ing, 752 Main St., immedi-ately after the 6:30 p.m. work session.
WEST WYOMING
– RobertF. Connors, tax collector,reminds residents that thecounty/municipal face peri-od will end Monday. The tax office will be open6 to 7 p.m. Monday. If mail-ing payment, it must reachthe tax office by then. Taxpayers should returnthe whole bill. If a receipt isrequested, send a self-ad-dressed, stamped envelope.If an appointment is needed,call 570-693-0130 after 4 p.m.Monday through Friday.
WARRIOR RUN
– TaxCollector Mary Ann Brodgin-ski reminds residents thatthe end of the face period isJune 14 for the 2011 county/municipal property taxes.Collection during the pen-alty period is by appoint-ment only by calling 825-4043. Send both copies of tax bill when mailing in pay-ments.
MUNICIPAL BRIEFS
 
C M Y K
THE TIMES LEADER www.timesleader.com THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2011 PAGE 3A
L
OCAL
timesleader.com
PITTSTON
Mass for school set to close
St. Mary’s Assumption School inPittston will celebrate its143 years of service at a special Mass tonight. Theschool, which is scheduled to closeJune15, is inviting graduates and oth-ers with memories of the school to theMass, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. at St.Mary’s Assumption Church on theschool grounds. That church closed inMarch as part of the Scranton Diocese’sconsolidation plan.Construction of the current St. Ma-ry’s Assumption School building beganin1924, but it was preceded by a wood-en schoolhouse constructed in1890,and classes had been taught at theadjacent church since1868. The Mass will be followed by anopen house and reception 6:30 to 9:30p.m.
 WILKES-BARRE
No left turns on Coal Street
Because of work being done in thecenter lane of Coal Street, the Penn-sylvania Department of Transportationis alerting motorists that no left turns will be possible between Empire Courtand Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard.Motorists needing to turn onto aside street or driveway should planaccordingly. The work will continue through thebeginning of July.Coal Street is being widened and theentrance onto Wilkes-Barre Boulevardis being realigned. Phase I of the $12million project is expected to be com-pleted next year.Phase II of the project is not yetfunded. It will connect Coal Street toUnion Street.
MOUNTAIN TOP
Kindergarten focus of rally
A group of concerned citizens ishaving a rally at 7 tonight to bring tolight the negative consequences of cutting full-time kindergarten in favorof half-day kindergarten to achievebudget cuts in Crestwood and otherschool districts. The rally is at NewLife Community Church , 570 SouthMain Road, between Crossroads Barand Knights of Columbus. The meeting aims to objectivelyreview Crestwood’s progress with full-day kindergarten and the potentialimpact to children’s academic progressof curtailing the program, organizerssaid. What appears to be savings couldpotentially wind up costing the districthundreds of thousands of dollars, ac-cording to a press release. There also will be discussion on how cutting trans-portation for kindergarten studentscould be discriminatory.
 WILKES-BARRE
Organizing Center class set
 The Northeastern PennsylvaniaOrganizing Center will have an orien-tation1to 3 p.m. Saturday for localpeople who want to take part in itsMedia Program. The event will at the Downtown ArtsCenter, 47 N. Franklin St., side en-trance. No experience is needed, nor isa journalism background required.Food will be served afterward. The Organizing Center is a resident-led organization dedicated to providing the community the means to developlong-term solutions to human-rightsissues. This includes people struggling  with housing foreclosure, unemploy-ment, lack of health care, access todecent education and similar problems. The Media Program exists to assistorganizations and individuals in telling their own stories. Saturday’s orien-tation is to train “resident reporters,” who will produce media that clarifiesthe issues, documents the realities of daily life and acts as a tool to inspireand unite those who have a vestedinterest in change, said Mitch Trout-man, media program coordinator.
I N B R I E F
DON CAREY/THE TIMES LEADER
St. Mary’s Assumption School in Pitt-ston is scheduled to close June15.
KINGSTON TWP. – Township po-lice made a welfare check on Jonath-an Balester about three hours beforefamily members found his body in-side his North Lehigh Street homeon Friday, according to a search war-rant affidavit.Police also found blood leading from the kitchen to where Balester was found inside a bedroom, thesearch warrant says.Balester, 56, died from multiplestab wounds, Lu-zerne County Coro-ner John Corcoransaid after an autopsy was performed onSaturday. The search war-rant says the back of Balester’s shirt wascovered in blood and “there ap-peared to be multiple stab woundsto the victim’s back.”State police at Wyoming said Bal-ester was found at 10:38 p.m. Corco-ran pronounced him dead at 11:20p.m.Police found exterior and interiorlights turned on, including a ceiling fan inside the house.State police obtained the rarenighttime search warrant autho-rized by District Judge DanielO’Donnell of Sugarloaf Township at3 a.m. Saturday when they learnedBalester lived alone and no otherperson could consent to search thehouse. Weather conditions alsoplayed a factor in obtaining thesearch warrant as investigators worked quickly to preserve evidenceoutside that may have been dissipat-ed by the rain.Search warrants applied at nightrequire additional reasonable causefor permission from a district judgeto enter a property, according to thestate’s crimes code.According to the search warrantaffidavit:Police checked their voice mail at
Police checked on Balester at family’s request 3 hours before relative found body 
Homicide victim stabbed in back
ByEDWARDLEWI
elewis@timesleader.com
Balester
See HOMICIDE, Page 4A
Luzerne County Courthouse employ-ees are permitted to leave work untiltemperatures are lowered in the build-ing, though they won’t get paid unlessthey use vacation or sick time, officialssaid Wednesday. Temperaturesexceeded90degreesinparts of the building Wednesday be-cause the air-conditioning system is un-der repair.Contractors could not complete workon the air conditioning sooner becausethey’rereplacing12airhandlersthatareused to both heat and cool the century-oldbuilding.TheheathadtobekeptonuntiltheendofApril,whichdidn’tleaveenough time to finish the work beforethe air conditioning was needed, offi-cials said.Many departments worked without over-head lights Wednes-day to try to maketheir workspaces cool-er.County District At-torney Jackie MustoCarroll is allowing  workers to dress casu-ally when they’re notin court.Some male workers wore polo shirts in-stead of ties and suit jackets. Women wereallowed to wear capri pants and open-toed shoes.Some court proceedings were movedto other county buildings.Prothonotary Carolee Medico Ole-nginski bought popsicles for her work-ers and said papers in the office stuck toher skin in the heat. Workers were hes-itant to leave because the office is short-staffed and preparing for the upcoming switch to online access of her office re-cords, she said.Union leaders measured the temper-aturefromthebasementtosecondfloorandgotreadingsof86to91degrees,saidPaula Schnelly, head the American Fed-eration of State, County and MunicipalEmployees (AFSCME) union.“The temperatures were not healthy working conditions at all,Schnellysaid.County Engineer Joe Gibbons said 50percent of the air conditioning shouldbe restored to the building next week,but he is trying a stopgap measure tocool the building today.Large industrial fans have beenmoved into the building. Building andgrounds workers will arrive early andopen as many windows as possible inthe building to draw in cooler air. Thefanswillbeusedtopushwarmerairoutthrough the second floor, Gibbons said.“We’re going to create a convectionsystem inside the dome,” Gibbons said. Theworkispartofa$2.2millionheat-ing and air-conditioning rehabilitationprimarily funded by federal stimulusmoney targeted for energy efficiency. Thesystem,whencomplete,willhavecomputer-operated controls that auto-maticallyadjustairhandlerstokeepthebuilding at a preset temperature, reduc-ing electricity usage by an estimated 20percent, officials said.
Heat forcesworkers outof courthouse
With AC being worked on, employeesallowed to leave, but are not paidunless using sick or vacation time.
ByJENNIFERLEARN-ANDES 
 jandes@timesleader.com
“The tem-peratureswere nothealthyworkingconditionsat all.”
Paula Schnelly
AFSCME unionhead
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Suka-nya (Sue) Roy is headed for today’ssemifinalsofthe2011ScrippsNationalSpelling Bee and hoping that thethird time proves the charm for pro-gressing even farther. The 14-year-old South Abington Township resident handled the brightlights and pressure of the two roundson the stage Wednesday, spelling bothher words correctly.Combined with her score on Tues-day’s 25-word written test, Roy quali-fiedalongwith40otherspellersforthesemifinal round. The day began with 275 spellers vy-ing to survive.Roy missed just one word on the written test. Missing more than two wordsonthewrittentest,andeitherof theon-stagewords,meantfallingshortof the semifinals.AfterwinningThe2011TimesLead-er/Scripps Northeast PennsylvaniaRegionalSpellingBeeearlierthisyear,Roy is making her third trip to the na-tional contest, courtesy of The TimesLeader.Her first two trips resulted in 12th-and 28th-place finishes, so this is herthird consecutive semifinals appear-ance.“IamhappyImadeit,”Roysaidafter Wednesday’s rounds were concludedandthesemifinalistsannounced.“Iam just going to try my best.”Roy said her experience has taughther it is important to “keep calm andrelax”duringthesemifinals,inthefaceofknowingthereare“nosecondchanc-es.” The214thspellerinthefirston-stageround (technically the second roundafter Tuesday’s written-test firstround) Roy walked to the microphone Wednesday morning to face her first word of the day: croissant. The eighth-grade Abington HeightsMiddleSchoolstudentaskedforadefi-nition, said the word again, and thendid a little practice spelling by writing on her hand.She then calmly spelled “croissant”correctly,andwalkedbacktoherchairto the applause of the crowd. There were only 38 words mis-spelled by the 275 spellers during the
Bee veteran headed to semifinals for a spell
South Abington Township’s SukanyaRoy is competing in her thirdScripps National Spelling Bee.
ByJONATHANRISKIND
Times Leader Washington Bureau
TIMES LEADER FILE PHOTO
Sukanya Roy is competing in theScripps National Spelling Bee.
See ROY, Page 4A
Instead of being held in a downtown D.C.hotel where it has been for a number ofyears, the competition is being stagedat a large hotel resort complex in subur-ban Maryland, about15 minutes outsideof Washington.The ultimate winner of the 2011ScrippsNational Spelling Bee will win an arrayof prizes, including $30,000 from themain sponsor of the Bee, the E.W.Scripps Co., as well as a $25,000 U.S.savings bond from Merriam-Webster, thedictionary publisher.Cash prizes also are awarded to otherfinalists, including $12,500 for secondplace and $7,500 for third place.
S C R I P P S N AT I O N A LS P E L L I N G B E E
Caleb, a 165-pound Great Pyreneeshoused at Blue Chip Farms AnimalRefuge in Dallas Township, has bittenthree people.ButMargaretBart,owneroftheani-mal rescue, does not believe Calebshould be declared dangerous.Bart appealed a March 31 decisionby District Judge James Tupper, Dal-las, that found her guilty of dog bites/confine & isolation, a summary of-fense, and which would declare Calebadangerousdogunderthestate’sDan-gerousDogLaw.PresidingJudgeTinaPolachek Gartley did not is-sue a decision Wednesday. The Dangerous Dog Lawrequires the owner or keep-er of a dangerous dog toconfine it to an enclosureand to restrain it with amuzzle and substantialchainorleashwheneveritisoutside the enclosure.Bart’s attorney, Garry S. Taroli, said the no-kill shel-ter is already complyin with those restrictions and is paying the medical bills for the bite victims,but wishes to avoid a $500 annual feerequired to register a dangerous dog  with the state.“All that does is take away moneythat can be used to care for other ani-mals,” Taroli said.Blue Chip Farms, located on Lock- ville Road in Dallas, hasbeen incorporated as anonprofit since 2004. Itrescues animals thatmight otherwise be de-stroyed by other animalshelters. Some of the ani-mals may be adopted.Bart said Caleb is not eli-gible for adoption. Taroli argued the Dan-gerous Dog Law does notapply to Blue Chip Farmsbecause the law provides an exemp-tion for farm dogs if the dog does notleave the property to attack and if thefarm is conspicuously posted alerting  visitors to the presence of a watch orguard dog at all entrances and exits.Bart testified the animal rescue oc-
Owner denies dog dangerous
Great Pyrenees from refuge hasbitten 3 people; refuge operatorappealing ruling.
ByMATTHUGHES 
 mhughes@timesleader.com
“All that doesis take awaymoney thatcan be used tocare for otheranimals.”
Attorney Garry S.TaroliSee DOG, Page 4A
GETTING KINGSTON POOL READY
CLARK VAN ORDEN/THE TIMES LEADER
J
eff Grodski and Thomas Missal, both of Kingston, sweep the Kingston Pool on Wednesday afternoon.The facility will open June11, at which time both boys will be lifeguards at the pool.

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