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Regional News from WTAJ

HARRISBURG - The state house passed liquor privatization, and now it's onto the senate.
 
Local State Representative Carl Metzger, (R) 69th District, said it's a conflict of interest for the state to regulate and sell it.
 
He said Pennsylvania is one of two states left in the country who sell liquor this way, and added that liquor stores aren't much different than bars.
 
"Right now we sell it privately with the bartender. It's not like this is a lot different at the wholesale level as far as a bottle of liquor as opposed to a shot."
 
Rep. Metzger is optimistic it will pass the senate, but the governor has said that he is not in favor of this change.

CAMBRIA TOWNSHIP, CAMBRIA COUNTY - A person is recovering in the hospital after being hit by a car Saturday morning.
 
Cambria Township Police said the car was headed east on Route 22 when person walked out into the street.
 
That person was taken UPMC Altoona. No word yet on their condition.
 
A reconstruction team was called to help with the investigation.

SOMERSET, SOMERSET COUNTY -- Many showed up from around the community here at Somerset Alliance Church to pay their respects to Edward Roddy.
 
Roddy's family was surrounded Saturday by his second family -- the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department.
 
Clay Morocco with the Somerset Fire Department said, "There's a brotherhood among firefighters and police officers."
 
Jim Clark with the department said, "We wrap our arms around the brother -- the whole family and we get through this."
 
Roddy joined the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department three years ago. He was also a member at Boswell Fire Department. His family said he loved being a firefighter.
 
Stephen Miller, the chief at Somerset Volunteer Fire Department, said, "It didn't matter where he lived. He was going to be in the fire service. And that meant a lot to him."
 
He died last Sunday following complications from a heart attack he suffered at a fire in November. Saturday, the roles were reversed in Somerset as the community supported firefighters.
 
Miller said, "We've never had to go through this at all and I don't wish it on anyone."
 
Morocco said, " It's a very emotional time here in Somerset right now. Ed was a great guy."
 
Clark said, "He just always made everybody laugh."
 
The department worked all week to prepare for Saturday’s service.
 
"Ed was a class act,” said Miller. “And so is this department."
 
"If you went in first - he had your back,” Morocco said.
 
"This is the way Ed would've wanted to go,” said Miller.
 
And one thing's for sure -- the department will remember Ed for the good guy he was.
 
Clark said, "We will miss Ed very much and he's at peace now."
BOGGS TOWNSHIP, CENTRE COUNTY -- The boil water advisory for folks in Boggs Township, Centre County is over.
 
More than two hundred people needed to boil their water beginning Thursday evening. There was a water main break along Old Erie Pike, but everything is now fixed.

NEW ENTERPRISE, BEDFORD COUNTY - Bedford State Police say Todd Ferry of New Enterprise attempted to force a 17-year-old New Enterprise female into his pick up truck along Potter Creek Road in Bedford County on November 14th. 

Ferry and the teenager struggled for a bit before she was able to get away. 

He has been charged with attempted kidnapping, luring a child into a motor vehicle among other charges. 

Ferry is in Bedford County jail with an $80,000 bail.
ALTOONA - The Altoona Johnstown Catholic Diocese placed a local priest on leave based on allegations from about 30 years ago.

Friday afternoon the diocese announced they were placing Reverend Robert Kelly on leave. He's been pasturing at Saints Peter and Paul in Philipsburg. A member of that church told WTAJ he doesn't believe the allegations and says Kelly is a good man. But the lawyer who represented the man who made those allegations says Kelly should have been removed from the priesthood decades ago.

Tony Coray told the diocese that Father Robert Kelly sexually abused him for two years back in the early 90's while he was with Our Lady of Victory in State College. At the time the diocese said they looked into the allegations but didn't find evidence to support them. But they later agreed to a settlement out of court.

Kelly continued to serve as pastor in Philipsburg. Recently, Bishop Mark Bartchak looked into the case again. Diocesan spokesman Tony Degol says they placed Father Kelly on leave while they investigate. He will not be allowed to function publicly, celebrate, mass or be around children.

Degol says if the Bishop's investigation shows that Father Kelly in innocent he could go back to normal duties, but if they decide they believe the allegations he would be removed from the priesthood permanently.
A couple of area men have created a television show, called Standing Dead Outdoors, that has been picked up by the Sportsman Channel. It's now airing nationally in a prime spot. It's the first time local residents have achieved this type of television success, but they're not letting it go to their heads.

A tour of Randy Waddell's home, shows you he's a world class hunter. Very few people have achieved his level of success. Three years ago, he teamed up with his son in law Chris Mollica and Tim Fabbri of Pittsburgh to shoot video of their hunts, and develop relationships with potential sponsors. Last year, they got the good news, Standing Dead Outdoors would start airing in 2015.

It's a dream come true, but its been a tough road. The pressure to deliver is intense. There's no guarantee they'll see what they're after, or connect with a bullet or arrow. And they often shoot their own video. Like a video selfie, in the middle of a once in a lifetime moment.

They don't want this show to look like a Hollywood production. It's just about three guys who love to hunt and are good at it. They want to share their passion for the outdoors. They were told very few pitched concepts ever become a show. Standing Dead Outdoors has beat the odds, but they're only getting started. They're already working on the 2016 season.

Standing Dead Outdoors is at the Jaffa Outdoors show Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They hope residents will come up and say hi.
Click here for a link to their website and here for their Facebook page. Atlantic Broadband has the Sportsman Channel at 312.


COLLEGE TOWNSHIP, CENTRE COUNTY - Cabin fever can be a problem for many people who can't stand the cold.

A group of folks in Centre County didn't let the bitter cold keep them inside. It took 15 people 10 days and three tons of snow to make this igloo in College Township. Builders say they'll be been holding happy hours and throwing igloo parties for some frozen fun.

“We enjoy [the igloo] as much as we can while [it’s] standing,” igloo builder Anne Quinn Corr said. “Then when [it goes] down, we’re happy to see the spring and know we made it through.”
 
 Quinn Corr said the group has made four igloos since 2000.

ALTOONA - The 32nd Annual Jaffa Sports Show kicked off Friday. Hunting, fishing, and everything outdoors will be on display all weekend.

There are more than a hundred different booths and displays at the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.

Organizers say there are lots of things for kids to do as well, like a fishing pond, face painting, and pony rides.

ALTOONA - Take a look at this a crash in Blair County Friday morning.  A Marianna's delivery van drove right on top of another vehicle in the parking lot of the Weis Supermarket on Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Altoona. No details at this time of what led to the crash.


BEDFORD TOWNSHIP, BEDFORD COUNTY -- Starting last August, work was underway to prepare this 80 acres for business -- and they're almost done.
 
Alex Lapinsky, Project Engineer, said, "Probably by early summer we should be 100%."
 
Thursday, leaders met to figure out how to market this land to companies so it can stand out -- which can be difficult.
 
JP Tambourine, Manager Economic Development, First Energy, said, "Regionally and throughout the state is that there's a lot of available sites."
 
Sean Bardell of Johnston Realty in Bedford said, "We have a world class workforce here and we just need somebody to recognize that."
 
They're going to use signage, web marketing and direct mailings to get companies looking.
 
Bardnell said, "We have great access to major roads in this area including the turnpike, I-99 and I-70."
 
Tambourine said, "So when you have an asset like that sitting in your backyard you try to take advantage of it."
 
The county showed it's willing to support this site -- putting $2.4 million to prepare it up front to bring interest.
 
The goal is to bring an innovative company to this rural area by playing up its strengths. But it could take time.
 
Bardnell said, "You know, I wish I had a crystal ball and I wish I could say next week we're going to have somebody interested."
 
"There aren't a lot of companies looking to expand. But you have to be ready when they come knocking at your door,” Tambourine said.
 
The development association realizes it could be awhile before they have someone to fill this spot, but they'll be ready for the design phase of the project as early as this summer.
 

JOHNSTOWN - It was a two year process, but Cambria County opened a new homeless shelter in Johnstown.  The Martha and Mary House is located on Bedford Street. 

The main organizers in the shelter were United Way, Catholic Charities, and the Altoona Johnstown Catholic Diocese.  However, over 25 various agencies and organizations came together to help make this home something that the community can be proud to call their own.  Organizers say the homeless population is an issue in Cambria County, but Catholic Charities Executive Director Jean Johnstone hopes the shelter can help make life easier for some, "We can take each individual and develop a plan with them to be successful, to find permanency.  We want this to be a place of rest, a place of strength."

Johnstone says she is proud of the hard work put in by everyone.  This is something that took time, but in her eyes will pay off.  She tells us without the shelter they have been working to help the homeless by putting them up in places like hotels.  She says it will be nice to finally have a permanent place to work with them.

The shelter is just the beginning.  Organizers tell us to expect more development around the house.  They own the two lots next to the home.  The shelter looks to include a fenced yard and a parking lot with a handicap entrance to the home.



STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - It was just over three weeks ago when a service station along South Atherton Street in State College caught fire.

It was one of the biggest fires crews had to battle so far this season, but new high tech cameras are helping them learn from it and are providing an interesting perspective for others.

An Alpha Firefighter shows up to fight fires wearing two body cameras. He was wearing them during the fire at the service station and is sharing the video, from a firefighter's perspective.

"The first thing that I saw, obviously, was a lot of fire," Lt. Forrest Rothrock said. "They say big fire, big water."

This is the view from the chest and head of Lt. Rothrock.

"I got the helmet cam for my birthday I think two years ago," he said.

The other is a Go-Pro mounted to his chest flashlight. Both are his own cameras that he gets permission to wear on scene.

He likes to use them for training.

"A fire is a great experience, but especially around here, we don't experience them too often and usually, it's only experienced by a few members of the company that were there," he said. "I can show it to the new members coming in and say, look, I did this because of this or whenever I sprayed the hose this way, this happened a certain way."

Centre Region Fire Director Steve Bair thinks these body cameras can be useful.

"The Fire Marshall gets to see what the very first crew gets to see, or at least certainly when that person arrives," Bair said.

He said they to have some downsides, too, including potentially invading the privacy of customers.

"You just have to be really sensitive," he said. "And it's easy to take a picture or a snipit of video out of context, so I always worry about that a little bit, too."

These cameras are privately owned and operated. Bair knows of a few other companies in Centre County who have individual members using the, but doesn't see the company paying for this type of equipment any time soon.

"It's kind of a nice to have for training, but it's not a need to have kind of thing," he said.
JOHNSTOWN - A Canada Express Flight was forced to land at the Johnstown Airport after smoke was seen in the cockpit.  The flight was traveling from Raleigh to Toronto this afternoon.

The airport manager says they received a call that a plane would be landing due to reported smoke in the cockpit.  There were about 35 passengers on board the Air Canada flight, who say everyone on the plane remained calm. 

Maintenance was called to the airport, but passengers say they aren't sure how long it will be before they can catch another flight.



JOHNSTOWN - West Hills Regional Police say they have one suspect in custody that provided a full confession to yesterday's attempted robbery at a jewelry store.  It happened shortly before 5 p.m., when two suspects entered Orion Jewelers in Johnstown.  One of the suspects locked the doors, while the second walked to the rear of the store with a BB gun and demanded money.

One man got into a confrontation with the suspects and disarmed them.  The suspects then fled the scene wearing ski masks.

Police say they do know the whereabouts of the second suspect.  More information will not be released until the suspects are arraigned.


PHILIPSBURG, CENTRE COUNTY - We have a developing story involving the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. A Centre County priest was placed on leave Friday for accusations of sexual misconduct.

Rev. Robert Kelly has been serving as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Philipsburg.  In a statement, Bishop Mark Bartchak said the accusations involve children and they date back more than 30 years. 

While on leave, Kelly cannot serve as a priest and can have no contact with children.  We did research and found that this is not the first time Rev. Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse.

HARRISBURG - Governor Wolf announced a new initiative on Friday, designed to improve care for seniors. The governor unveiled a package of legislative and budgetary proposals he says will provide choice and protection for Pennsylvanians as they age.

Wolf's plans include increasing the number of people eligible for home and community-based long term care, streamlining the application process required to receive the care, and establishing a program to oversee home modifications that allow people to remain in their homes.

The governor says his proposals would result in more than 50 percent of residents receiving long term care being able to do so in a home or community setting.


Unless you're living under a social media rock, you probably know the "what color is this dress?" debate has broken the internet.

This is more than just team "black and blue" versus team "white and gold."

It might be your eyes are playing tricks on you.
 
The controversy began when a woman reached out to the public for help posting on Tumblr, a blogging website, and asked a simple question: what color is this dress? Is it blue and black? Is it white and gold?
It has become one of the top trends on Twitter with people from all over the world sounding off with divided interpretations.
 
An ophthalmologist at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City says people are highly sensitive to the color blue, and the cells in our eyes cause people to interpret the picture differently. And your interpretation depends on the contrast of your screen.

HARRISBURG - Governor Tom Wolf  is asking for President Obama for action to improve the safety of trains carrying crude oil through Pennsylvania.

Each week roughly 60 to 70 trains travel through Pennsylvania to carry crude oil to refineries on the East Coast. Pennsylvania sees some of the largest volume of Bakken crude oil transportation by rail in the United States.

Wolf has already taken actions to address the issue including holding emergency training sessions and asking his administration to put plans in place to both prevent accidents and mitigate impacts.

The governor is now asking for federal action to make sure the transfer of oil by train is safe.

You can read the full letter below:

February 26, 2015
 
The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear Mr. President,
 
As you know, Pennsylvania is blessed with abundant natural resources, including shale gas. I am eager to attract good paying jobs to our state as we responsibly develop the gas. Expanding our manufacturing base and building new advanced manufacturing enterprises is a key goal as we cleanly use our shale gas for energy and for feedstock purposes.

The transport of some shale energy resources, and particularly Bakkan shale oil, however, raises particularly significant safety concerns. Addressing those concerns is the subject of this letter.

I am writing to express concern and respectfully ask for your help to improve the transportation of crude oil in Pennsylvania. Each week, roughly sixty to seventy trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region travel through the Commonwealth destined for Philadelphia or another East Coast refinery.  Pennsylvania sees some of the largest volume of Bakken crude oil transportation by rail in the United States. 
 
Unfortunately, there already is a long history of incidents involving trains and tank cars carrying the especially volatile Bakken crude oil.  Among the tragic accidents-to-date is the derailment that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when a train derailed and exploded, killing forty-seven people and destroying most of the town.  There have also been train derailments and explosions in the United States, including recent disasters in Virginia and West Virginia, where both fires were managed by allowing them to burn out over several days.  In the case of Pennsylvania, there have been four train derailments since January, 2014, including 2 within the city of Philadelphia. 
 
Furthermore, the United States Department of Transportation just released an analysis regarding transportation of crude oil and ethanol across the nation.  This analysis indicates that, under current conditions, over the next two decades these trains may derail some ten times per year and potentially fifteen times in 2015.  It also indicates that an accident in a high-population area could kill more than two-hundred people and cause some six-billion dollars in damages.
 
The potential for disaster is too great to ignore.  In my first weeks in office, I have made it a top priority to address this issue. My administration has begun to take steps to increase safety and response capability regarding trains traveling through Pennsylvania.  These steps include:
 
§  In our first full week in office we conducted an emergency table-top planning exercise to model the state’s response in the event of a crude oil train derailment in an urban area. I participated personally in this multi-hour exercise.
 
§  I have met with executives from Norfolk Southern and have a meeting scheduled with CSX Corporation, the two top transporters of crude oil in Pennsylvania, to discuss safety measures that could lower the risk of derailments.
 
§  I have directed the Pennsylvania Office of the Fire Commissioner to examine how an oil train fire could be extinguished if needed to protect public safety.
 
§  We have undertaken a review of the frequency and the procedures associated with rail infrastructure inspections by federal and state inspectors.
 
I will continue to take these and other steps to ensure the safety of Pennsylvania’s citizens. But, the tools and options available to me are limited. I am therefore respectfully asking for your assistance in this vital matter. Expedited federal regulatory action in several areas is essential in better ensuring safety.
 
First, consistent national standards to reduce the volatility of crude oil prior to transportation are a must.  North Dakota currently is taking steps in this regard. But we have to ensure all Bakken crude has been treated to remove dangerous volatiles and is transported under the appropriate pressure and other relevant conditions
 
Second, current federal standards have reduced speeds to forty miles-per-hour in high-density urban areas. It is instructive to note that recent derailments and explosions have occurred at speeds less than this limit. I therefore respectfully request further review of this matter and revisions to the speed limit as necessary to ensure against explosive derailments.
 
Third, inspections by government inspectors of rail infrastructure must be enhanced.  In Pennsylvania we have only six inspectors trained with the support of federal resources, even though we have some five thousand miles of track, among the highest in the nation. I request additional federal assistance to assist us in hiring and training an adequate number of rail safety inspectors.
 
Fourth, the current standards for tank cars and braking systems are not sufficient.  Recent accidents in West Virginia and Ontario both led to large oil fires, even though the tank cars were of new and more stringent design.  Braking systems and tank car standards must be enhanced to reduce risk. 
 
Finally, the pace of federal rulemaking on rail safety is too slow.  We urge that new federal safety rules be developed and implemented with a sense of urgency appropriate to the risk presented.
 
Now is the time for action in order to increase safety and reduce risk.
 
Thank you Mr. President for your personal attention to this critical matter.
 
Respectfully and sincerely yours,
 
Tom Wolf

 

ST. MARYS, ELK COUNTY - A four alarm fire broke out at one of the maintenance buildings at the Straub Brewery in Saint Marys this morning.

It was a busy morning for firefighters in Saint Marys as they responded to a report of a working structure fire.

"I saw all the people walking down. I thought they were on a tour. We get a lot of tours up here, but it was the employees," says witness Dutch Maloney.

"The employees were all getting out. They were accounting for all the employees and making sure they were all safe," says witness Mary Bea Maloney.

Maloney was watching for two employees in particular, her son and her nephew.

"As we watched out the window, we could see them come out," says Mary Bea.

Then she started taking these pictures on her I-Pad. Witnesses say around 9:15 a.m., the fire was rising high into the air.

"The flames pretty much shot through the roof pretty quick and then the sides of the building just collapsed right down off of it," says witness John Roidt.

"In the beginning, it was black, really black and then the flames started breaking through out of the building," says Dutch Maloney.

"I saw a lot of ashes coming out. They got the hoses on it right away," says witness John McDowell.

Dozens of firefighters responded from Saint Marys, Fox Township, Ridgway and Johnsonburg.

"I could see the smoke coming in from work and I thought it was the brewery and it wasn't until we got up here that it was a storage building," says firefighter Tom Bauer of Crystal Fire Department in Saint Marys.

"It was certainly a fright. This brewery's been in my family and all my cousins and aunts and uncles' family for 140 years," says brewery president and CEO William Brock.

With barley littering the ground near the building, Brock said the building was used for maintenance, storage and tools. The water sprayed by firefighters quickly formed icicles inside the building's remains.

"It will be well missed but the brewery will go on," says Mary Bea Maloney.

A fire marshal from the Pennsylvania State Police was on the scene and he is looking into what caused this fire. He said it is accidental.

In a press release, the fire marshal added that a fiber optic connection to the building was lost at 8:47 a.m., indicating some sort of problem, and that damage was estimated at $300,000.