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Category Archives: Community Watch

AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Helps Thousands File in PA

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – April 15 is coming up fast and there are a lot of changes in federal tax laws this year, but free help getting income-tax returns filed is available now.

AARP has offered free, in-person tax assistance and preparation since 1968. Last year, more than 1,500 volunteers helped 114,000 low- and moderate-income taxpayers at 290 sites across Pennsylvania.

The service focuses on people over age 50, but anyone is welcome to get help filing their tax returns. And according to Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of AARP Pennsylvania, the volunteers are well prepared to help out.

“We’re very proud at AARP that our Tax-Aide volunteers are trained and IRS-certified each year to ensure that they know about and understand the latest changes in the U.S. Tax Code,” he says.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers will offer their free tax assistance through April 15. But you need an appointment. To find a location near you, call 888-227-7669.

Johnston-Walsh points out that in 2018, getting tax help through the Tax-Aide program really paid off.

“People throughout the United States received $1.3 billion in income-tax refunds last year,” he says, “and $213 million in the Earned Income Tax Credits.”

He adds those tax filers also avoided the fees associated with commercial tax preparation services.

Johnston-Walsh notes that what began in 1968 with just four volunteers helping people with their income taxes has now grown into the nation’s largest volunteer-run, free tax preparation service.

“Today we have nearly 35,000 volunteers throughout the United States, at 5,000 locations around the country,” says Johnston-Walsh. “Neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers, senior centers.”

More information is online at ‘aarpfoundation.org/taxhelp.’

Super Bowl Sunday: DUI – There are no winners…

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HarrisburgPA –Super Bowl Sunday has grown into a national holiday of sorts with millions of fans celebrating the pinnacle of the National Football League’s season with parties and adult beverages. Unfortunately, this celebration also leads to an increase in impaired driving and associated crashes. Fans need to be responsible and plan ahead for the big day so that their season doesn’t end on a tragic note.
           The Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Reporting system shows that law enforcement officers made over 3,400 impaired driving arrests during February of 2018; many of those arrests occurred during Super Bowl weekend – February 2 – February 4. Motorists are urged to utilize sound judgment and to plan accordingly – there is never an excuse for impaired driving.
Police officers across the Commonwealth will be out looking for impaired drivers during the upcoming Super Bowl enforcement period. Increased patrols along with other means of detection and apprehension of impaired drivers will be employed throughout the State to ensure the safety of all motorists traveling on Pennsylvania’s highways and traffic ways.
C. Stephen Erni, Executive Director of the PA DUI Association addressed the upcoming weekend: “The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events in the country and is celebrated by many fans regardless of who is competing in the game. Drinking establishments host various events and many fans throw parties; unfortunately, these functions often lead to impaired drivers on our highways. Throw in prescription medications or illicit drugs and the problem becomes even bigger. Bartenders, establishment employees and party hosts need to pay attention to their guests and make sure to arrange alternate transportation for those individuals who appear impaired. We at the Pennsylvania DUI Association hope all fans enjoy the game and have a safe, memorable weekend.”
The Pennsylvania DUI Association would direct members of the public to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website – www.lcb.pa.gov – for additional information about alcohol and its effects on a person. Individuals prescribed medication are encouraged to consult with their physician / pharmacist concerning the medication(s) potential for impairment and interaction with alcohol. A little prior planning and personal responsibility can eliminate impaired driving and the senseless tragedies associated with it.

PENNSYLVANIA LOW TEMPERATURE REPORTS

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LOW TEMPERATURE REPORTS

Location                     Temp      Time/Date       Provider

...Pennsylvania...

...Adams County...
Arendtsville                  -2 F     0235 AM 01/31   AWS
Biglerville                   -2 F     0719 AM 01/31   AWS
Fairfield                     -2 F     0744 AM 01/31   AWS
Hanover                       -2 F     0800 AM 01/31   COOP
1 W Biglerville               -1 F     0730 AM 01/31   COOP
Cashtown                      -1 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP
Cashtown 1s                   -1 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
1 WSW Gettysburg               0 F     0743 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Bedford County...
1 SE Everett                 -13 F     0630 AM 01/31   COOP
1 ENE Queen                  -12 F     0806 AM 01/31   CWOP
Bedford Airport               -6 F     0735 AM 01/31   AWOS
Wolfsburg                     -3 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Everett                       -1 F     0730 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Blair County...
2 NNW Altoona                 -7 F     0750 AM 01/31   AWS
Tyrone                        -6 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NE Altoona                  -5 F     0804 AM 01/31   AWS
Altoona Airport               -4 F     0753 AM 01/31   ASOS
Blair Helibase                -4 F     0716 AM 01/31   RAWS
1 NNE Altoona                 -4 F     0746 AM 01/31   CWOP
Williamsburg                  -3 F     0730 AM 01/31   HADS

...Cambria County...
Ebensburg                    -13 F     0800 AM 01/31   COOP
Loretto                      -12 F     0750 AM 01/31   AWS
Johnstown Airport             -9 F     0754 AM 01/31   ASOS
2 N South Fork                -8 F     0815 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 S Coalport                  -6 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Cameron County...
1 ESE Emporium                -7 F     0419 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 ESE Stevenson Dam           -7 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP

...Centre County...
Garden Hollow                -10 F     0608 AM 01/31   RAWS
2 S Philipsburg              -10 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
1 WNW Park Forest             -9 F     1130 PM 01/30   CWOP
3 WNW Park Forest             -9 F     1117 PM 01/30   CWOP
Park Forest                   -9 F     1130 PM 01/30   CWOP
2 W Park Forest               -9 F     1115 PM 01/30   CWOP
2 ESE Port Matilda            -8 F     1115 PM 01/30   CWOP
2 E Port Matilda              -8 F     1116 PM 01/30   CWOP
1 SE Park Forest              -7 F     1201 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 SE Unionville               -7 F     1116 PM 01/30   CWOP
3 ENE State College           -7 F     0748 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 NNW Pine Grove Mills        -6 F     1147 PM 01/30   CWOP
University Park Arpt          -6 F     0653 AM 01/31   AWOS
1 ENE Rock Springs            -5 F     0753 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 ENE Millheim                -5 F     1014 PM 01/30   CWOP
1 WSW Zion                    -5 F     0703 AM 01/31   CWOP
State College                 -4 F     0800 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NNE State College           -4 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP
State College                 -4 F     0800 AM 01/31   COOP

...Clearfield County...
1 N Dubois                   -12 F     0800 AM 01/31   CWOP
Kennedy Preserve             -12 F     0708 AM 01/31   RAWS
Clearfield Airport            -9 F     1054 PM 01/30   ASOS

...Clinton County...
Coffin Rock                  -12 F     0716 AM 01/31   RAWS
1 NW Mill Hall                -9 F     0747 AM 01/31   CWOP
Loganton                      -9 F     0614 AM 01/31   AWS
Lock Haven                    -5 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Lock Haven Airport            -4 F     0240 AM 01/31   NONFEDAWOS
Renovo                        -4 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
1 E Kettle Creek State Park   -3 F     0800 AM 01/31   HADS

...Columbia County...
2 SSW New Columbus            -7 F     0803 AM 01/31   CWOP
Almedia                       -6 F     0750 AM 01/31   CWOP
Knoebels Grove                -5 F     0747 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NW Natalie                  -3 F     1000 PM 01/30   COOP

...Cumberland County...
3 SW Hogestown                -8 F     0721 AM 01/31   CWOP
Mechanicsburg                 -7 F     0705 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NW Shiremanstown            -6 F     0634 AM 01/31   AWS
Carlisle Springs              -5 F     0750 AM 01/31   CWOP
Wormleysburg                  -4 F     0724 AM 01/31   AWS
3 ENE Boiling Springs         -3 F     0743 AM 01/31   CWOP
Newville                      -3 F     0735 AM 01/31   AWS
1 SSE Carlisle                -3 F     0650 AM 01/31   AWS
Camp Hill                     -2 F     0710 AM 01/31   AWS
Lower Allen                   -2 F     0750 AM 01/31   AWS
New Cumberland                -1 F     0432 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Dauphin County...
Manda Gap                    -13 F     0718 AM 01/31   RAWS
1 N Rutherford Heights       -11 F     0739 AM 01/31   CWOP
Wolf Pond                    -11 F     0608 AM 01/31   RAWS
Skyline View                  -6 F     0710 AM 01/31   CWOP
4 ENE Halifax                 -5 F     0756 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 E Hummelstown               -4 F     0424 AM 01/31   NONFEDAWOS
2 ESE Skyline View            -4 F     0740 AM 01/31   CWOP
Hummelstown                   -4 F     0635 AM 01/31   AWS
Elizabethville                -3 F     0730 AM 01/31   AWS
Halifax                       -2 F     0710 AM 01/31   AWS
1 WNW Progress                -1 F     0747 AM 01/31   CWOP
Rockville                     -1 F     0800 AM 01/31   CWOP
Millersburg                   -1 F     0644 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Elk County...
3 NW Saint Marys             -13 F     0317 AM 01/31   CWOP
Johnsonburg                  -13 F     0529 AM 01/31   AWS
Ridgway                      -13 F     0325 AM 01/31   AWS
3 ESE Saint Marys            -11 F     0514 AM 01/31   MESOWEST
Ridgway                      -10 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP

...Franklin County...
2 NNE Rouzerville             -2 F     0415 AM 01/31   CWOP
Willow Hill                   -2 F     0804 AM 01/31   AWS
2 SE Willow Hill              -1 F     0748 AM 01/31   CWOP
Shippensburg                  -1 F     0649 AM 01/31   AWS
3 ENE Warrenton                0 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 WNW Mont Alto                0 F     0747 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 SW Greencastle               0 F     0546 AM 01/31   CWOP
Mercersburg                    0 F     0744 AM 01/31   AWS

...Fulton County...
2 SSW Cove Mills              -1 F     0725 AM 01/31   AWS

...Huntingdon County...
Mapleton                      -5 F     0747 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 SSE Raystown Dam            -2 F     0700 AM 01/31   HADS
Huntingdon                     0 F     0806 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Juniata County...
Mcalisterville                -3 F     0804 AM 01/31   AWS
Mifflintown                   -1 F     0539 AM 01/31   AWS

...Lancaster County...
Manheim                      -13 F     0740 AM 01/31   AWS
Ephrata                       -9 F     0620 AM 01/31   CWOP
Elizabethtown                 -5 F     0602 AM 01/31   CWOP
Lititz                        -5 F     0746 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NW Gap                      -5 F     0650 AM 01/31   AWS
East Petersburg               -4 F     0752 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 SE Lititz                   -4 F     0544 AM 01/31   AWS
Mountville                    -3 F     0729 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 SW Quarryville              -3 F     0624 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NW Mountville               -3 F     0751 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 NW Mount Vernon             -3 F     0532 AM 01/31   CWOP
Elizabethtown                 -3 F     0735 AM 01/31   AWS
2 NNE Paradise                -3 F     0631 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 E Willow Street             -3 F     0625 AM 01/31   AWS
Lancaster Airport             -3 F     0753 AM 01/31   ASOS
Millersville                  -3 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Paradise                      -2 F     0746 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 WSW Smithville              -2 F     0731 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 SSW Christiana              -2 F     0646 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 ESE Landisville             -1 F     0716 AM 01/31   CWOP
New Holland                   -1 F     0711 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 ENE Mountville              -1 F     0748 AM 01/31   CWOP
Millersville                   0 F     0710 AM 01/31   AWS

...Lebanon County...
2 WNW Fort Indiantown Gap    -13 F     0713 AM 01/31   RAWS
1 SW Lebanon                 -11 F     0437 AM 01/31   CWOP
Lawn                         -10 F     0615 AM 01/31   CWOP
Muir Airfield Ft. Indiantown  -9 F     0656 AM 01/31   AWOS
1 NW Cornwall                 -8 F     0530 AM 01/31   CWOP
Campbelltown                  -6 F     0347 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 WSW Richland                -6 F     0624 AM 01/31   AWS
2 SW Kleinfeltersville        -5 F     0616 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 ESE Palmyra                 -4 F     0400 AM 01/31   CWOP
Jonestown                     -4 F     0540 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 E Sand Hill                 -4 F     0650 AM 01/31   AWS
Newmanstown                   -2 F     0709 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 W Lebanon                   -2 F     1200 AM 01/31   COOP

...Lycoming County...
2 SSE English Center         -14 F     0800 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 NNW Montoursville           -9 F     0615 AM 01/31   CWOP
Williamsport Airport          -6 F     0654 AM 01/31   ASOS
Montgomery                    -5 F     0658 AM 01/31   CWOP
South Williamsport            -5 F     0730 AM 01/31   AWS
Duboistown                    -4 F     0720 AM 01/31   CWOP
Williamsport                  -4 F     0409 AM 01/31   AWS

...McKean County...
Kane                         -19 F     0640 AM 01/31   AWS
1 SSE Rew                    -17 F     0800 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 NNE Kane                   -17 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
2 SSE Kinzua Bridge State Pa -15 F     0710 AM 01/31   CWOP
Bradford Airport             -13 F     0653 AM 01/31   ASOS
Bradford                     -12 F     0804 AM 01/31   AWS
Port Allegany                -11 F     0600 AM 01/31   HADS
4 W Bradford                 -10 F     0800 AM 01/31   COOP
3 W Bradford                  -8 F     0759 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Mifflin County...
1 NE Strodes Mills            -3 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Montour County...
2 S Washingtonville           -7 F     0638 AM 01/31   CWOP
Mechanicsville                -3 F     0701 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Northumberland County...
Roaring Creek                -10 F     0556 AM 01/31   RAWS
Trevorton                     -7 F     0804 AM 01/31   AWS
Sunbury                       -2 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP

...Perry County...
New Bloomfield                -6 F     0744 AM 01/31   AWS
3 ESE Shermansdale            -5 F     0536 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 SSE Duncannon               -3 F     0730 AM 01/31   AWS
1 SW Loysville                -3 F     0750 AM 01/31   AWS
Big Knob                      -2 F     0408 AM 01/31   RAWS
2 ENE Loysville               -2 F     0750 AM 01/31   AWS
Newport                       -2 F     0734 AM 01/31   AWS

...Potter County...
1 NE Ulysses                 -14 F     0650 AM 01/31   AWS
Coudersport 1 SW             -13 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
5 SSW Galeton                -12 F     0801 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 SE Coudersport             -11 F     0648 AM 01/31   CWOP
Coudersport 7se              -10 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
3 ESE Coudersport             -8 F     0812 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Schuylkill County...
Bears Head                    -9 F     0708 AM 01/31   RAWS
Port Carbon                   -9 F     0815 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 E Summit Station            -8 F     0133 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 E Tower City                -8 F     0137 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 N Mahanoy City              -8 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Pottsville                    -8 F     0735 AM 01/31   AWS
Frackville                    -5 F     0745 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Snyder County...
2 S Selinsgrove               -5 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Penn Valley Airport           -4 F     0653 AM 01/31   ASOS
Selinsgrove                   -4 F     0745 AM 01/31   AWS

...Somerset County...
Seven Springs                -14 F     0735 AM 01/31   AWS
Meyersdale                   -11 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
6 NW Somerset                 -9 F     0814 AM 01/31   CWOP
3 WNW Acosta                  -8 F     0810 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 NW Wellersburg              -8 F     0743 AM 01/31   CWOP

...Sullivan County...
Laporte                      -12 F     0615 AM 01/31   COOP
Muncy Creek Near Sonestown   -10 F     0745 AM 01/31   GOES

...Tioga County...
Old Mountain                 -13 F     0716 AM 01/31   RAWS
2 NNE Leonard Harrison State -11 F     0435 AM 01/31   NONFEDAWOS
Wellsboro                     -8 F     0815 AM 01/31   CWOP
Cowanesque Dam                -8 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
Cowanesque Dam                -8 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP
1 ESE Wellsboro               -7 F     0545 AM 01/31   CWOP
Tioga Lake                    -7 F     0700 AM 01/31   GOES
Hammond Lake                  -7 F     0700 AM 01/31   GOES
Tioga                         -7 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP

...Warren County...
Kinzua                       -10 F     0407 AM 01/31   RAWS
Warren                        -7 F     0700 AM 01/31   COOP

...York County...
1 ESE Manchester              -8 F     0309 AM 01/31   CWOP
York Airport                  -7 F     0653 AM 01/31   ASOS
Dillsburg                     -5 F     0644 AM 01/31   AWS
1 WSW Emigsville              -5 F     0331 AM 01/31   CWOP
Capital City Airport          -4 F     0656 AM 01/31   ASOS
3 SE Siddonsburg              -4 F     0705 AM 01/31   AWS
Weigelstown                   -3 F     0330 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 SE East Prospect            -2 F     0701 AM 01/31   CWOP
Manchester                    -2 F     0724 AM 01/31   AWS
2 NW Windsor                  -2 F     0625 AM 01/31   AWS
1 SE York                     -1 F     0746 AM 01/31   CWOP
1 NNW Stonybrook              -1 F     0715 AM 01/31   CWOP
2 ENE New Salem               -1 F     0730 AM 01/31   HADS
1 SW Stonybrook                0 F     0808 AM 01/31   CWOP

Wildlife Advocates Urge Caution in Siting Wind Farms

Published by:

By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Conservationists say the push to expand clean, renewable energy sources is a top priority, but it needs to be done in a way that protects wildlife.

There are now 27 wind farms in Pennsylvania, generating enough electricity to power almost 350,000 homes, and more are on the way.

Jim Murphy, legal advocacy director at The National Wildlife Federation, says the switch to renewable energy is critical to combat climate change that threatens all life on the planet, but planners should locate onshore wind farms primarily in developed areas such as agricultural land and avoid wilderness that provides habitat for wildlife.

“You want to avoid flyways, areas where you get a lot of animal movement, particularly birds and bats, and then you want to make sure that siting doesn’t unnecessarily fragment habitat,” he explains.

Murphy adds that operational and technological advances now make it possible to reduce the risks to species such as eagles and bats that may be at risk of flying into wind turbines.

Atlantic coastal waters may soon be home to massive, offshore wind farms. Murphy notes they too can pose a risk to birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, but offshore wind farms also have proven to benefit some aquatic life by forming artificial reefs.

“The Block Island wind operation, just in the couple of years it’s been on line, has attracted a lot of wildlife,” he points out. “It’s a great fishing ground already. It’s already serving as a habitat structure.”

Murphy says siting wind farms far from shore can minimize the impact on birds.

While clashes between environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry have been difficult and often dramatic, Murphy has found the developers of renewable energy to be receptive to concerns about its potential impact.

“By and large, from the industry to the state regulators to the federal regulators, concerns about wildlife rise to the top, and there’s generally a desire to do something to ensure that wildlife is protected,” he states.

In 2017 there were approximately 54,000 land-based wind turbines in use in the United States, generating enough power for 27 million homes.

State Funding for Career and Technical Schools Falls Short

Published by:

By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Last year’s state budget increased funding for career and technical schools in Pennsylvania for the first time in a decade, but education advocates say there’s still a long way to go.

That extra $10 million in the current state budget for schools that provide hands-on training and experience for high school students was a much-needed boost, but Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said local school districts still are paying 90 percent of the cost of those schools out of their overall budgets.

“We see students who apply to these programs and they can’t get in, because there aren’t enough slots,” she said. “We would have more slots available to students if the school districts had enough money to send more students.”

Spicka called on Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers to commit an additional $10 million to career and technical education, and to increase Basic Education Funding by $400 million. She said failure to fund technical schools also hinders growth of the state economy by leaving employers unable to find skilled workers to fill vacancies.

“There are good jobs that can give students a pathway to a good, middle-class life even without going to college,” she said, “but these jobs are vacant, because students aren’t graduating from high school with the skills and the training that they need.”

About 55,000 students are enrolled in career and technical schools across the state.

Spicka said the low level of state funding for education has the greatest impact on lower-income school districts, which have to depend on local property taxes to fund their schools.

“As long as the Legislature continues to refuse to adequately fund education,” she said, “we’re going to have students in school districts that don’t have strong tax bases unable to access career and technical education opportunities.”

The state budget process will get under way next week when Wolf unveils his proposed budget for the coming year.

More information is online at paschoolswork.org.

Update CASE UPDATE: Westmoreland County Child Predator Sentenced to 25 to 50 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Charges

Published by:

January 29, 2019 | Topic:

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a Westmoreland County man who knowingly possessed and distributed child pornography was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison for felony charges related to child pornography after explicit images of minors were found on his personal computer.

Joshua Pottle, 37, of the 2500 block of Blacks Lane, New Kensington, was found guilty on all charges related to possession and distribution of child pornography by a jury on October 3, 2018.

An investigation revealed the above-mentioned residence was associated with the target Internet Provider (IP) Address connection, which Pottle stated had been his home for the past 23 years. On May 21, 2015, agents from the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit executed a search warrant and arrested the defendant, who was locked in his bedroom.

Pottle admitted to agents that the computers seized in the residence were his, and that he had downloaded the child pornography for the purposes of sharing the files on a peer-to-peer network which included images and videos of children, toddlers, and infants. The defendant was unable to confirm how much child pornography he had downloaded, but referred to himself as a “collector” of such illicit material and that ‘the only time he deletes child pornography files is when he needs to free up space in order to download more’.  During that search, agents also discovered a dresser drawer in Pottle’s bedroom containing 34 pairs of soiled young girls’ underwear.

“This is an egregious case – the defendant is a repeat child predator who has continued to engage in behavior that harms children. We are satisfied with the results from today’s sentencing — which will take a predator off the streets for a long time,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “My Office will investigate and prosecute anyone we uncover who sexually abuses children to the fullest extent of the law.”

Pottle was sentenced by Westmoreland County Judge Rita D. Hathaway.  The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Chuck Washburn.

Individuals who suspect an online predator or abuse can send anonymous tips to the Office of Attorney General by texting PAKIDS + YOUR TIP to 847411.

Sinkholes and Hired Muscle on the Mariner East Pipelines

Published by:

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that there had been new
developments along Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines in Chester County, Pennsylvania over the
weekend. On Sunday, January 20, a new sinkhole opened up in a neighborhood along the
pipelines. In addition, the District Attorney’s Office discovered that constables from outside of
Chester County apparently had been hired by Sunoco to act as a private security force around the
pipelines, holding themselves out as acting in an official capacity to people approaching the area
of the pipelines.

District Attorney Tom Hogan stated, “At this point, the criminal investigation is widening
and deepening, much like the damage being caused by these pipelines. We are investigating
what individuals bear legal responsibility for these sinkholes. In addition, we want to know who
hired these constables and authorized them to act like they have some type of legal authority in
Chester County. This has the appearance of hired muscle showing up to intimidate our citizens.”
On Sunday, January 20, another sinkhole opened along the Mariner East pipelines in the
Lisa Drive neighborhood in Chester County. See attached photographs. The sinkhole exposed
the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which had volatile natural gas liquids pumping through it when it
was exposed. Coincidentally, a natural gas pipeline in Ohio exploded over the weekend, on January 21. A pipeline run by Sunoco exploded in Beaver County, PA in September of 2018.
This same neighborhood previously has suffered through multiple sinkholes
caused by drilling related to Sunoco’s pipelines. The prior sinkholes damaged the homeowners’
properties, caused an evacuation of the area, and resulted in work on the pipelines being halted.
During interviews in the last few weeks, Chester County citizens reported that state
constables were patrolling the pipelines in Chester County during the prior sinkhole incidents.
The District Attorney’s Office discounted this report because no Chester County constables had
been authorized to do any such work.

However, when the January 20 sinkhole appeared, citizens reported the sinkhole to the
District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Hogan dispatched Chester County Detectives to the
scene at Lisa Drive. When a Chester County Detective in plain clothes approached the scene, an
armed man flashed a badge at the Detective and identified himself as a constable. The Detective,
who is familiar with all of the Chester County constables, asked the armed man who he worked
for. The man then finally identified himself as a constable from Northumberland County in
central Pennsylvania. When pressed further by the Detective, the man admitted that he had been
hired as security by Sunoco.

The Chester County Detectives subsequently informed the man that he was not permitted
to claim any official authority in Chester County or use his badge for such a purpose. District
Attorney Hogan will be contacting the District Attorney of Northumberland County to discuss
this situation. “Sinkholes. Fouled well water. Obscene messages from out-of-state pipeline workers to
Chester County residents. Hired guns flashing badges. Volatile natural gas liquids flowing in
pipelines just a few feet from schools and homes. We are not sure what it will take to get the
attention of Governor Wolf and the Public Utility Commission. All of this is happening on their
watch. The Chester County District Attorney’s Office is committed to this criminal
investigation, even if we must fight alone. The citizens of Chester County deserve our
protection.” Anybody with further information about pipeline-related incidents should contact Chester
County Detective Ben Martin at (610) 344-6866. Reports may be made confidentially. The
Chester County prosecutors assigned to this matter are Alexander Gosfield, Myles Matteson, and
special prosecutor Seth Weber.


Approved for release:
Thomas P. Hogan, Chester County D.A.

 

​Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Applications Now Available; Rebates are for property tax or rent paid in 2018

Published by:

Harrisburg, Pa. — Application forms for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are now available for eligible Pennsylvanians to begin claiming rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2018, Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell announced today. The deadline to apply for a rebate is June 30, 2019.

“This program helps more than half a million seniors and people with disabilities obtain rebates on the rent or property taxes they paid the previous year,” Hassell said. “We encourage everyone who is eligible to apply.”

Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website or by calling 1-888-222-9190.

It is free to apply for a rebate, and free filing help is available at hundreds of locations across the commonwealth, including at Department of Revenue district officeslocal Area Agencies on Aging, senior community centers and state legislators’ offices.

Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because rebates are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid in each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all other eligibility criteria.

Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1, as required by law. More than $252.6 million in property tax and rent rebates have been sent to more than 527,000 homeowners and renters across the state for property taxes and rent paid in 2017.

About the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.

Since its inception in 1971, more than $6.9 billion has been paid to qualified applicants through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

How do you check the status of your Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program claim?

The easiest way to check the status of your rebate claim is to visit the dedicated website that the Department of Revenue maintains — Where’s My PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate? You will need your social security number, claim year and date of birth to check the status of your claim.

Please keep in mind that Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program claim forms (PA-1000s) are loaded into the Department of Revenue’s processing system in late April. There will be no information available on your claim until that time.

Planet Fitness Is Coming To Parkesburg

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Parkesburg Borough officials report that Monday morning Planet Fitness had filed for a construction permit to renovate the interior of the former Acme location along First Avenue. The borough posted this status to facebook, “We are pleased to announce that this morning permit applications were filed by Planet Fitness to begin construction inside the old Acme building.”

Report: Construction Contractors Cheating Workers, Taxpayers

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Unscrupulous contractors in southeast Pennsylvania routinely are violating labor laws and victimizing customers, including state and local government, according to a new report.

The report from the Keystone Research Center found many contractors in the regional Philadelphia construction industry are in a race to the bottom.

Stephen Herzenberg, author of the report, calls that “destructive competition” – cutting costs by misclassifying workers as independent contractors, cheating them out of overtime pay, investing little in worker skills and in some cases operating unsafely.

“When construction contractors and subcontractors compete by violating the law, wage theft, threatening workers’ health and safety, in the end nobody else wins,” he states.

The report says imposing stiffer penalties for labor law violations and directing more resources to enforcement agencies would help safeguard workers, law abiding contractors and taxpayers.

Herzenburg points out that effective enforcement can pay for itself by directing revenue from fines and penalties to enforcement agencies, and it can change the current landscape of the construction industry.

“It creates a situation where, instead of people violating the law becoming the rule, you get back to what you’re supposed to have, which is most companies complying with the law,” he explains.

The report cites a study that found the Philadelphia residential construction industry operates “informally” with no pretense of adhering to state or federal labor laws.

Herzenberg notes that the skilled construction trades are among the last pathways available for blue collar workers to move into the middle class, and reining in construction companies that break the law benefits everyone.

“In the end, that’s not only good for our middle class, it’s actually a better way to run your economy,” he stresses. “You end up with a more productive economy as a whole as well as a more productive construction industry.”

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