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Nurses at PMC Decide Not To Strike
Friday January 30th 2015

JNESO unionized registered nurses at Pocono Medical Center have ratified a new contract with officials at PMC, avoiding a strike of roughly 500 nurses. Understaffing is one of their biggest concerns.
Hospital spokesman Geoffrey Roach released the following statement:
"We have reached an agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our patients, employees and community."
JNESO Director of practice, Barbara Conklin says they've agreed to look at understaffing in 3 of the worst areas: the emergency room, the med surge areas and the telemetry floor.
Conklin says they will still continue pursuing staffing ratio issues through legislation.
The current contract expires tomorrow. Officials are working to finalize the new one which will come into effect Feb 1 and extend through Jan 31, 2018.

Northampton County Murder in Court Today
Friday January 30th 2015

The highly-profiled disappearance and murder of Jessica Padgett of Northampton was brought to the courtroom today. Gregory Graf, Padgett's step-father is accused of murdering the 33-year old to perform sexual acts on her corpse. Graf was advised to waive his right to a preliminary hearing today and did so. Northampton County District Attorney, John Morganelli believes the county has overwhelming evidence to convict Graf of the murder-one charge. However, Graf's defense attorney Jack McMahon says the defense will be looking deeply into his client's mental state mental state at the time of the murder. Graf is due back in court in April.

Super Bowl Preparations In The Poconos
Friday January 30th 2015

Restaurants and bars in Monroe County are gearing up for the big kickoff this Sunday. The New England Patriots will go head to head with the Seattle Seahawks for Super Bowl 49. And locals we talked to are just ready to celebrate no matter who plays.
The Poconos isn't as close to the action this year, but Super Bowl 49 in Arizona is still number one on locals minds. Everyone just seems to have plans getting together and eating great food. That's why restaurants and bars are already preparing for the big game between the Seahawks and the Patriots. Rooting on a team has taken a backseat as some people today couldn't even tell us who was playing.
Whether you want to order in or eat out, Monroe County establishments have got you covered. Employees at Dickey's Barbecue Pit located near Bartonsville are especially looking forward to Sunday. Last year they had just opened and weren't that busy.
General Manager Matt Bonefede says, "We have a lot of catering options. We have a lot of extra large family packs and family packs, and hopefully people come out and grab them all."
But if today's lunch crowd is any indication, we're sure they'll be getting a lot of calls for their one-of-a-kind taste.
Bonefede says, "All kind of smoked meats, all kinds of different sides, and we have our own smoker in house so it's not like we're bringing it in already smoked."
Now even if your team loses, there's still a place in Stroudsburg that you could leave still being a winner.
Jock N' Jill's Owner Barry Lynch explains,"200 prizes to give out, yeah a lot of the beer companies get involved and you know we have things like mountain bikes, beer refrigerators and an entertainment center."
Lynch says this is their fifth year throwing a Super Bowl party and it just keeps getting bigger. He says besides just a perfect atmosphere with about 28 TV screens and of course the prizes, there's great deals and themed food, along with their regular menu.
Lynch adds, "Chef is doing a wing sauce for each team this Sunday so there'll be one for the Patriots and the Seahawks."
Kickoff is at 6:30 Sunday night and no matter where you celebrate, stay safe, don't drink and drive.

State Legislators Reconsider Medical Marijuana Bill
Thursday January 29th 2015

The state could be closer to allowing medical marijuana use.
Legislators are taking another look at legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Last year the senate passed bill 1182 to allow it, but it died in the house of representatives.
Senate Bill 3, vey similar to that bill is before legislators again, but it may have new supporters this time around. State Senator Mario Scavello is one who's had a change of heart.
No votes have been taken yet, but there has been discussion. Legislators in the senate are expected to pass the bill and the governor has shown support.

Stepping Is More Than Just About The Beat
Thursday January 29th 2015

February is Black History Month, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate. One club at a local community college always honors the culture.
They call themselves Shadow Steppers- the Northampton Community College stepping club that meets and practices at the Monroe Campus dance studio in Tannersville. Their stomp, clap and slap the body routines have everything to do with African American roots.
Shadow Steppers Club Advisor Denise Harris explains, "When the men and women had to work in the coal mines, they were not allowed to speak so they had to learn other ways to communicate."
Now those movements of communication have transformed into the entertainment art form you see today. But it's still bringing home the message of Black History Month.
Shadow Steppers Club Co-Advisor Aliya Kenyatta adds, "Moving forward and bringing everyone together to celebrate a specific culture too so it's not to take away from its origin but we want to include everyone. And that's what Black History Month is all about."
That's why they're looking for more students to join in on the beat. And they've also incorporated dance into their routines.
Harris started the club in 2011. She only requests commitment in showing up for every practice and being ready to perform in front of people. They are willing to teach you. So if you're an interested student, just come to Kapp Hall Room 22 and join in on the fun Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 in the morning.

Alpine Back In Business
Wednesday January 28th 2015

Skiers are enjoying all the left over snow we got over the last couple days at Alpine Mountain.
The winter started out slow for them with a lack of snow, but now the owner says mother nature is making up for it.
Alpine is considered a beginner and family friendly ski and snowboarding resort. They use wider skis that help with balance.
They begin lessons at 4 years old.
The owner wants to build a nursery next year that can entertain kids while parents ski if they're not up for it.

Police Need Your Help
Wednesday January 28th 2015

Police ask for your help finding a suspected drug dealer. Earlier this month, our viewers tipped us off to authorities making an arrest on Main Street in Stroudsburg. Now we know it was a drug bust, but the man taken into custody is currently on the run.
Stroud Area Regional Police and Monroe County Detectives are in search of Randy Cruz. Police say they arrested several heroin addicts in the Stroudsburg-East Stroudsburg area. Interviews led police to Cruz being the supplier. Police say Cruz's distribution of heroin led to other crimes in their area, and it became a quality of life issue for residents.
Police say an investigation began a little over a month ago with the help of detectives. They had someone buy narcotics from Cruz on two occasions. Then a third meeting was set up early afternoon on January 12th for his arrest.
The drug bust happened on Main Street in Stroudsburg in front of Jock N' Jill's. Many people couldn't believe what they saw, especially FBI agents.
Detective Joseph Coddington of the Monroe County District Attorney's Office says FBI agents from Scranton were in the area for another case and they appreciated the manpower.
Cruz was then released, and is now on the run. He's described as 26-years-old, Hispanic, having a face piercing and covered in tattoos. There is now a felony warrant for his arrest.
Police say they held off on providing information on the drug bust for their informant's safety and it was still an on-going investigation for a possible bigger supplier. If you have any information on Cruz, please contact either Stroud Area Regional Police or Monroe County Detectives.

The Cost Of Wood Stoves May Dramatically Rise
Tuesday January 27th 2015

A popular heating source in the Poconos that saves people money, may no longer be as affordable to newcomers. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed last year updated regulations to reduce air pollution by wood stoves and wood heaters. If the law goes into effect, manufacturers producing new stoves will need to redesign them this May. The standards haven't been changed in more than two decades, but Manager Doreen Carmean at Stoves 'N Stuff located on Route 611 in Stroud Township says the EPA is missing the real problem. Carmean says stoves created after 1988 are already of great quality.
Doreen adds, "It's the old products that people can't afford to replace, and we need them to have an incentive to replace anything built prior to 1988 with things built now."
Stoves 'N Stuff actually has an example of a wood stove with the new regulations at a cost of about $4,000. That's a difference of about $2,000 over current stoves. The reason- besides just normal redesigning costs- is the stove will transform into a double re-burning system with a catalytic filter and second chamber.
Carmean says, "We believe it will harm not only people who can't afford a wood burning stove, but also businesses like ours that depend on selling wood stoves."
Carmean also says what the EPA wants is an attack on the entire industry:
"We actually have legislators and lawyers that are constantly going to the EPA and fighting this process."
An EPA spokesperson says Carmean's comments and nearly 6,000 others, either for or against the new regulations are being considered. You are no longer able to weigh in and a public hearing was held. The agency is under a court order deadline to sign a final rule by February 3rd.

LB Morris Closed - No Heat
Friday January 23rd 2015

A Jim Thorpe School is closed today after the heating system fails. The superintendent says boilers at LB Morris were not operational this morning and as a result school was cancelled. Parts of both boilers failed and prevented them from operating at full capacity. As of mid-morning, one boiler was back up and running. A part for the second boiler was on the way. The superintendent says school will be back in session Monday unless the district is affected by the forecasted snow.

Questions Surround A Traffic Plan
Friday January 23rd 2015

No matter who we talked to today shopping at Steele's True Value Hardware Store in Pocono Township, they all referred to the Route 715 and Sullivan Trail intersection in Tannersville as the biggest travel pain on the weekends. The shopping, skiing and various other destinations are too big of a draw. Pocono Township officials announced this week The Crossings Premium Outlets will provide a way to alleviate the problem. According to the minutes of the Commissioner's meeting-- The Crossings would pay Pocono Township Police to direct traffic at the intersection on the known busy days.
Today, the general manager of the Crossings sent us a statement that the announcement made by township officials was premature and no agreements have been reached yet.
Other details were hired flaggers directing parking in the Crossings' lot and possibly using Northampton Community College's lot for parking. While Crossings' officials agree these are all on the table, they're not able to confirm anything at this time.
We will keep you updated on this story as we receive more information from the Crossings' management.

Stroudsburg School Board Meeting Disappoints Attendees
Thursday January 22nd 2015

Residents attending last night's Stroudsburg School Board Meeting say they have a lot to be upset about.
First, their efforts to get Superintendent John Toleno's contract renewed have failed. The board voted five to four again. Students used social media, handed in a petition of 400 student names and community members manned phones getting the word out to #savetoleno.
While Toleno can apply for the superintendent position, he says he's looking to move on to another district.
Toleno says, "I have some future plans. I'm sure I'm going to land on my feet. I'm holding my head high. I'm very proud of what we did have here in Stroudsburg."
Then, the board approved a plan to close Clearview at the end of this school year and use the other four elementary schools as kindergarten through fourth grade. The next step is to finalize transportation and organization plans.

Theft From Fatal Crash Memorial
Thursday January 22nd 2015

A Palmerton woman is accused of stealing from a memorial site set up for victims of a fatal crash in Lower Towamensing Township. Troopers say 24-year-old Amanda Everitt stole a sliver and ruby necklace from a memorial on Dairy Road. Four teens were killed there December 19th. Everitt took the necklace between December 20th and January 20th. She's then accused of trying to sell the jewelry on Craig's List and Facebook. The family of one of the deceased saw a picture Everitt posted and a description of the necklace. Troopers got the necklace back and charged Everitt with theft and other related offenses.

Security Upgrades At Monroe County District Courts
Wednesday January 21st 2015

Many high profile and dangerous cases come through the local magistrate offices first before going to the courthouse. Sometimes things can get out of hand. So Monroe County officials are focusing on providing security upgrades to be proactive. One is a new response plan called "All-Call." Now if staff at a district court hit a panic button, the closest officer can respond. And that's not all that's happening thanks to state grant money.
Monroe County Deputy Court Administrator for Special Courts Deb Rivera says, "Door buzzers to secure areas where people just can't walk into to. Most of the offices are expanding their security cameras to include back hallways and parking lots."
Rivera also says more panic buttons will be provided. District Judge Michael Muth's office recently also got approved for bullet resistance glass. His staff currently works behind a thin pane of sliding glass. They're the last magistrate office to get it out of the ten.

Snow Safety
Wednesday January 21st 2015

Skiing, snowboarding and sledding...the perks of living in the Poconos. Winter sports can be a lot of fun, but can be dangerous too. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission more than 440,000 people were treated at hospitals, doctor's offices and emergency rooms for winter sports related injuries in 2010. That's why safety experts emphasize the importance of wearing the proper gear, like safety helmets. Physical therapists also recommend stretching your calves and hamstrings before hitting the slopes.

Stroudsburg Music Teacher Arraigned
Wednesday January 21st 2015

A Stroudsburg music teacher accused of having sexual contact with a minor was arraigned on related charges today.
According to police 90,000 messages exchanged from Brandon Flatley and a 17 year old girl were found. Police say he met her in one of his classes, when she was 10 years old.
A judge set bail at $75,000 with special conditions. Flatley is not allowed to be around any minors with the exception of his children or use social media. His preliminary hearing is scheduled January 30th.

North Whitehall Hit & Run
Wednesday January 21st 2015

State Police are looking for a vehicle that hit a Coplay woman last night on Route 873. The incident happened just before 9 pm near the McDonald's in North Whitehall Township. Troopers say the vehicle hit 42-year-old Jennifer Dietrich as she was walking across the street. The driver is believed to have fled north on Route 873. The vehicle is either a truck or SUV, dark in color. The vehicle may have damage to the front passenger area and a smashed passenger side headlight. The pedestrian was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Anyone with information is asked to contact State Police at Bethlehem.

Tuesday January 20th 2015

Penn-DOT has finalized a new program to replace more than 550 bridges across the state. The rapid bridge replacement project will replace two bridges in Pike County, eight bridges in Wayne County and 16 structures in Monroe County are also on that list. Some of the projects will start this summer and all of the bridges must be replaced within three years. The full list of bridges included in rapid replacement is available through this link

Controversy In Barrett Township
Tuesday January 20th 2015

Some Barrett Township residents are outraged. They believe their supervisors have no fiscal responsibility. It comes after the part-time township executive secretary/treasurer was replaced with a full-time employee with benefits.
Everything discussed at today's supervisor meeting will be handed over to the township solicitor to be addressed. Supervisors hope everyone shows up for the next meeting on Tuesday at 9:30AM.

Schuykill County Homeless Count
Tuesday January 20th 2015

The Salvation Army in Tamaqua is one of 11 base sites participating in the Schuykill County Local Housing Options Team homeless count. On January 29th, people who are homeless are encouraged to show up at the Salvation Army between 5 and 7 PM. The non-profit will be offering a meal to those who stop by and vouchers to a local grocery store, plus temporary accommodations at area motels.

Happy Birthday MLK!
Monday January 19th 2015

Today East Stroudsburg University held its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration breakfast. The event continues to grow every year. This year 450 people attended, the most ever. That's why they moved the 18th annual event to a larger space on the campus-- the Mattioli Recreation Center.
ESU Multicultural Affairs Director and Event Host Cornelia Sewell-Allen says, "Last year we had it in Keystone and we had about 326 attendees, but it was pretty tight, almost to a fire hazard."
Eventually the breakfast will be moved back to Keystone. School officials confirm plans for a new building.
Sewell- Allen says, "The new Keystone Room will be able to accommodate over 500 people."
In the meantime they're hoping even more people come out next year to honor the iconic man with a dream.

Carbon County Communications Center Report
Friday January 16th 2015

The number of calls going to the communications center continue to increase, but funding continues to decrease. That's according to the recently released annual report. Dispatchers at the center handled nearly 76,000 calls than in 2013. However, revenue from phone bills last year was nearly 24,000 less than the previous year. The communications center receives $1.50 for every land line directly from phone companies. Wireless callers pay a $1.00 911 fee on their cell phone bill, but that money goes to the state and requires the center apply for it. Legislation scheduled to be implemented this summer is expected to address the issue.

Getting Down To Business
Friday January 16th 2015

Some new legislators representing Monroe County are just getting started. That's why a lunch was held today with the business community to meet and greet their newly elected: State Senator Mario Scavello and State Representatives David Parker and Jack Rader. It was put on by the Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce in an effort to get the conversation started on a plan for the economy. All three have a lot on the agenda in Harrisburg this year including property tax reform.

Volunteers Plan For Annual Homeless Count
Thursday January 15th 2015

Volunteers are preparing for the region's annual homeless count.
Representatives from the Monroe County Homeless Initiative are looking for helping hands. The more people they find, the more money they get from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development.
Volunteers from the Valor Clinic are using their military skills to map out old and new areas where homeless are staying.
So far they have 20 volunteers prepared to help in the search.
Volunteers are also receiving help from ESU students.
Day center officials will be holding a meeting for volunteers on the 20th and 26th at 4pm. On the 27th the valor clinic is holding a meeting at 7pm.
The count is scheduled for the 28th.

Persistence Pays Off
Thursday January 15th 2015

A home in Stroud Township is slated to be demolished. That's something the Casalino's living next to the eyesore in Penn Estates have been pursuing for two years.
Teresa Casalino says, "The house is so deplorable that it's brought down the value of our house, and even if we try to sell it to move, we can't get what we want for it because it wouldn't even cover the mortgage."
Stroud Township officials confirm it is a lengthy process because it adheres to the property owners' rights. They did find the home is in disrepair and unsafe.
Stroud Township Planning Administrator/Zoning Officer John DeCusatis says, "The hearing was held in December. The property owner received notice to demolish the property on December 26th, giving her 30 days."
The property owner now has until January 25th. If it isn't demolished by then, township officials will begin proceedings to demolish it themselves. Township officials say the Casalino's did the right thing by seeing it through and thank them for their patience. The Casalino's tell us it was all worth it.

The Monroe County Commissioners Are Taking It To The Skies
Wednesday January 14th 2015

Monroe County officials will be taking a closer look at your property. It's part of the aerial photography project county commissioners just agreed to have done this year and in 20-18. The goal is to update the Geographic Information System (GIS) and tax assessments.

Dingman Shopping Center Update
Tuesday January 13th 2015

A vacant lot in pike county could soon be turned into a retail shopping complex. Back in July, plans were announced to build a major retail shopping complex on route 739 near the intersection of log tavern road. The complex would be anchored by a supermarket along with 15 additional retail stores. This morning, Mike Sullivan had a promising conversation with one major supermarket chain, though he wouldn't answer directly what store it was, he did say things are moving very quickly and they have expressed serious interest.

Long Time Traffic Problem Is Coming To A Head
Tuesday January 13th 2015

Traffic may be flowing freely today at the Route 715 and Sullivan Trail intersection in Tannersville, but on the weekends it's a different story. The shopping, skiing and various other destinations are too big of a draw.
Pocono Township Chief Kent Werkheiser says, "It's backed up on Route 80, the 715 Corridor, Sullivan Trail which then equates into 611, and I've seen it as long as all the way down to Bartonsville."
And now a procedure used to help alleviate the traffic jams is no more.
Pocono Township Manager Gregg Schuster explains, "The Crossing's had contracted out with crossing guards and the township police had shut down the traffic light and turned it over to a private party. That made all of us somewhat nervous."
Concerns over safety and liability with the hired flaggers directing traffic are now forcing a better solution. Unfortunately a permanent one is a few years from occurring.
Schuster says, "There's nothing you can do with roads that are not designed for the traffic that they're handling. PennDOT has some preliminary plans to go ahead and improve that intersection and widen some of those roads."
And locals are fed up.
Schuster believes a lot of the problems can be alleviated by people abiding by the traffic lights. But meetings have been set up with Crossing Outlets and Camelback officials to brainstorm other ideas to help fix the problem in the meantime. The first one is scheduled for this Thursday. They hope to come up with a plan for the next heavy traffic time-- Presidents Day in February.

ESU Student Sentenced for Rape
Tuesday January 13th 2015

A 19 year old ESU student will spend up to 4 years in state prison, after a judge's decision this morning.
The sexual assault happened in a dorm room, back in November 2013.
Before this incident, attorney's say the young man had no criminal record.
Now he's not only serving prison time, but he'll be on the Meghans law list for the rest of his life.

Tamaqua Drug Sweep
Monday January 12th 2015

Schuylkill County officials continue to crack down on drug dealers.
District Attorney Christine Holman is hands on, making sure drugs won't be tolerated. She's one of the many assisting Tamaqua Police in a drug sweep that started at seven this morning.
Tamaqua Police Chief Rick Weaver says, "The District Attorney supports us wonderfully to say the least and other police departments under the Drug Task Force. We had Rush Township, Higgins Township, state police and county detectives here."
Tamaqua Police are happy a six month investigation into people selling either heroin or meth is finally coming to a close. Six of the eight charged are now arrested, arraigned and behind bars at the Schuylkill County Prison. The two still wanted are Derek Hunsicker and Zachary Hoffman. Police warn not to help them avoid capture.
Weaver says, "You're in a house and they're there and you tell police they're not there and we find out they are there, you could be arrested for hindering apprehension."
That's what one defendant's girlfriend was charged with in today's arrests.
Weaver says, "She was put in Schuylkill County Prison under $10,000 straight cash bail."
If you have any information on Hunsicker or Hoffman, please contact Tamaqua Police at 570-668-6100.

Working in the Cold
Friday January 9th 2015

Temperatures again today were well below freezing, but many arctic warriors were out fighting the freeze to pay the bills. Construction workers like Michael Dye, got up at six this morning to finish a home he's been working on for a week. For Dye, it takes plenty of layers, coffee, and sheer will to battle these unruly elements. Other workers like Nick Shoules, also has been out all day in the bitter cold, he tells us that it takes a certain mindset, to battle through frigid temperatures. No matter how these people worked through the frigid weather, both were clear, that one thing acted as the true motivator. Michael Dye told us he needs to pay the bills no matter what, and Shoules echoed that sentiment saying "Im fortunate enough to have a job, while others aren't, besides I love what I do " He might need that strong passion, the Pocono Region is expected to be hit hard by an ice storm early next week.

Free Community College For Students?
Friday January 9th 2015

President Barrack Obama proposes students could get the first two years of community college education free, if they're willing to work for it. It's called "America's College Promise" and it would mean a savings of $3,800 in tuition per year for full-time students.
Northampton Community College President Mark Erikson believes the plan will open up increasing opportunities for students and change lives.
Erikson says, "Breaks my heart when I see a student who I know could and should come here, but for financial reasons is not able to do that."
Under Obama's proposal, students would have to attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA and stay on track to graduate. It's something that most students we talked to say they're behind, but they wonder where the money is going to come from and if taxes will increase.
Obama says federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost and states will pick up the rest of the tab. Other students are just opposed altogether and are just content with how things are now.
Northampton Community College student Katelyn Vettel says, "I don't think it's realistic. Personally I work for everything I have. Nothing really is free. I go to work, I work a full-time job and I work two jobs actually. I have to pay for everything that I do."
If lawmakers pass the president's plan, it's estimated it could help nine million students. The plan has not been presented to Congress at this time.

Restaurants Can Now Deliver Beer
Friday January 9th 2015

Ever want a cold six-pack with that large cheese pie? Well soon you might be able to get both delivered right to your door. According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, establishments that currently have a license to serve beer, can apply for to deliver it.
But this isn't a new rule. It's simply one businesses didn't know about until recently.
Many local businesses are on the fence, however. Those we talked to either wanted more time to look into the rule or weren't for it at all. But they didn't completely dismiss the idea. It remains to be seen if any restaurants in our area will apply for the license.

Good Deeds Pay Off
Thursday January 8th 2015

An East Stroudsburg boy spends his time helping people who need it most. Now the saying "good deeds pay off" is coming true in a big way for him.
Brett Ruben wants those going through a hard time to know there will be brighter days. That's why the East Stroudsburg High School South Senior has spent his time volunteering since seventh grade. He started at Headstart which helps low-income preschool kids and then moved on to soup kitchens--most recently the one every Monday at East Stroudsburg United Methodist Church...
At one point hope was all Ruben had. He says his mom helped him but he didn't have a good family situation growing up and money was scarce.
Now all of the hope he's given to others is coming back to him with a full ride to East Stroudsburg University. It happened on Immediate Decision Day when ESU Director of Admissions Jeff Jones came to the high school and sat down with Ruben. Jones says he opened up to him and something about him touched him deeply. Jones wanted to make it easier for Ruben to just think about being successful. He didn't even know about his community service. It wasn't until members of the University Relations Department volunteered at his soup kitchen. They learned Ruben's story and then got his permission to publish it on the website.
Ruben is set to start in the fall and be a physics major with the goal of being an engineer. He will continue to volunteer at the soup kitchen and will strive to get other ESU students to participate in community service projects. A little hope goes a long way in Monroe County.

Board Decides Not To Extend Toleno Contract
Thursday January 8th 2015

The Stroudsburg School Board decided not to extend Dr. John Toleno's contract as superintendent at last night's board meeting.
His contract runs out at the end of the school year and they're currently looking for a new superintendent.
Under state school code, the board had to decide on extending his contract this month. Some parents weren't happy about the news.
Dr. Toleno will be the Stroudsburg superintendent until the end of June. One of his options is to re-apply for the position.

St. Luke's Hospital Coming To Monroe County Fall 2016
Wednesday January 7th 2015

St. Luke's officials say it's now all systems go for a permanent home in Monroe County. They estimate about 1,000 Monroe County residents per year travel to Lehigh and Northampton counties for their hospital services there. Thanks to the Monroe County Commissioners this morning they soon won't have to. An inpatient facility, emergency room and outpatient services will be in their backyard.
St. Luke's Hospital Chief Financial Officer says, "They approved that St. Luke's could finance up to 100 million dollars in tax-free bonds for the construction of our hospital."
The hospital will be located on 41 acres previously purchased off of Route 611 in Bartonsville on Blue Bird Drive, which allows for easy access from Interstate 80. The Monroe Campus will mirror the St. Luke's Anderson Campus located on Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem. Phase one will just be the hospital but plenty of room will be left for growth if needed. The new hospital will have approximately 108 beds. Officials estimate over 200 local construction jobs will be created and about 300 employees will be required once it opens. Construction is expected to start in March and be completed in the fall of 2016.

Jim Thorpe Bank Supervisor Sentenced
Wednesday January 7th 2015

A former Jim Thorpe National Bank supervisor is sentenced to prison for embezzlement. According to the United States Attorney's office, 42-year-old Shelly Ann Kocher of Lehighton was sentenced today to 27 months in jail. She's also ordered to pay over $444,000 in restitution and serve three years supervised release. She's accused of taking over $376,000 while she was employed as a customer service supervisor at one of the Jim Thorpe branches. She made unauthorized withdrawals from customers' CD and savings accounts. When they learned of Kocher's actions, the bank reimbursed the victims for their losses.

Charges in Missing Money Case at Schuylkill Conservation Office
Wednesday January 7th 2015

A Pottsville woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the Schuylkill Conservation District while working there. State Police say an audit shows over $449,000 was stolen by 52-year-old Virginia Kunigonis. Investigators say she wrote fraudulent checks to herself and made personal unauthorized credit card purchases. She's accused of forging the names of employees at the conservation district and then altering the cancelled checks. The thefts took place between 2007 and May of 2014 when the investigation was launched.

Flu Epidemic Hits Monroe County
Wednesday January 7th 2015

Flu season is here and doctors are predicting a record year of flu cases.
According to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention 21 children have died from influenza and 43 states are experiencing a widespread of flu activity. Pennsylvania is one of them.
Pocono Medical Center in Monroe County has had 6 hospitalizations and 50 people diagnosed with the flu, but not hospitalized.
The latest CDC Flu View Report shows that flu related doctor visits are almost high as the 2012/2013 peak season. Doctors say it's important for parents to pay attention to symptoms, treat them as soon as possible and properly. Flu symptoms usually include severe body aches, tiredness, high fever, headaches, diarrhea and vomiting.
Doctors also recommend you wash your hands frequently and avoid crowds or people who look sick.

Celebrating Recovery
Wednesday January 7th 2015

Blue Mountain Community Church in Towamensing Township is commemorating two years of its "Celebrate Recovery Program." The program deals with issues like alcoholism, drug addiction and anger management or "life lessons" as they're called in the program. The church is now offering its services to people outside its congregation. Anyone interested in learning more about the program is invited to attend an open house at the church on February 13th starting at 6:30PM.

Hicks Sentenced To Death, Victim's Family Speaks Out
Tuesday January 6th 2015

The family of a murder victim whose body was thrown on a Monroe County Highway speaks out for the first time today. 36-year-old Deanna Null of Scranton was killed almost seven years ago by a Tobyhanna man, and a jury found him guilty back in November. Today the President Judge officially sentenced 40 year-old Charles Hicks to death.
Charles Hicks showed no emotion as he stood before the judge today now shackled awaiting his formal sentencing. Both Deanna Null's mother and sister addressed the court, finally sharing who she was and telling Hicks how they felt, calling him evil. A jury found Hicks guilty of murdering Null in 2008. He then dismembered her body and threw the body parts along Interstates 80 and 380.
Null introduced her sister to her brother-in-law. They're now taking care of three of her four kids now ranging between 13 to 23. The family describes her as loving and always smiling. Null's mother showed her graduation picture and said she played soccer and loved rollerskating. She was someone who was always there for them, now it's hard to bare she was taken away.
The family is satisfied with the judge's decision of the death penalty. Hicks didn't say he was sorry to the family, instead he complained his lawyers did a bad job. Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso says this is the most brutal murder he's ever seen and it may not be the only one Hicks is guilty of. Similar crimes have occurred in Texas and authorities there are looking into a possible link to Hicks.
Null's family is grateful for his work and everyone else who tried to get Deanna justice, they'll be donating money to the Tri-State Troopers' Fund.

Donate to East Stroudsburg Fire Victim
Monday January 5th 2015

Case Of 4-Year-Old Death Goes To Trial
Monday January 5th 2015

A Stroudsburg woman appeared in court today for the death of a four-year-old.
57-year-old Mary Winbush is charged with involuntary manslaughter and other offenses. She's accused of giving the girl Oxycodone, causing the child to overdose back in May. Officers say they were called to Winbush's home on North Second Street for the unresponsive girl, Janessa Davis. A later search warrant revealed the controlled substance in Winbush's possession, but the caregiver denies giving Davis Oxycodone.
Stroud Area Regional Detective Richard Wolbert says, "When she realized what was in the toxicology (report) that Janessa passed away from Oxicodone overdose, she went upstairs and tried to hide the pills from me. It's a consciousness of guilt as far as I'm concerned."
Police also found at least four other kinds of controlled substances without a valid prescription. All charges are held for a later Monroe County court date. Winbush remains out on unsecured bail set at $250,000 and is to have no contact with minors unless supervised by officials from Monroe County Children and Youth.

Scary Start To The New Year For Business Owner
Friday January 2nd 2015

Police are investigating a case of attempted arson in Hamilton Township. It happened New Year's Eve morning at a business located at the intersection of Route 209 and Rim Rock Road in Snydersville. Someone threw a Molotov Cocktail through Shooting For The Moon Spiritual Development Center's side window. Luckily it failed to light.
Owner Kathy Agate Brown doesn't know if she was targeted. A bail bondsman is also located in the building. Brown says no threats have been made and no one comes to mind who would want to do her harm. Swiftwater PA State Police are actively investigating the incident and ask anyone with information to contact them at 570-839-7701.

BRC13 News Archive