Drug Bust Very Close To A Monroe County School
Tuesday June 30th 2015
A month long investigation has resulted in heroin, marijuana, illegal guns-- one stolen, and cash confiscated at a Stroudsburg home. But even more alarming, the drug bust happened less than 100 feet from the high school grounds. We talked to neighbors near 10 Linden Street where the search warrant was executed. They tell us many kids use that street to walk to and from school.
Detective Joseph Coddington of the Monroe County District Attorney's Office says, "A huge concern for safety because everybody's seen and heard on the news, drug deals gone bad. If something like that would've happened right there, it would've been a tragedy with all those kids that went through there."
19-year-olds Christopher Gordon, Shawn Proctor and Mackenzie Bowers, along with a juvenile female were all taken into custody. An adult female was also there at the time and she remains under investigation. The three men were all sent to jail on $50,000 bail awaiting their preliminary hearings and the juvenile is at a secure facility.
Trial Starts For 47-Year-Old Murder
Monday June 29th 2015
A trial is underway in Monroe County for a former cold case homicide that happened 47 years ago in Chestnuthill Township. 69-year-old Richard Keiper accused of murdering Bethlehem Steel Employee 40-year-old Alfred Barnes in 1968 is facing a jury. Barnes' body was found in a farm field off of a dirt road that has since been paved and is now called Evergreen Hollow Road located near Effort. He had been shot to death. Keiper was first linked to the murder in 1971 after allegedly trying to sell a gun that he told the buyer was used to shoot a man. The trial is expected to continue the rest of this week.
The Show Will Go on in Milford
Friday June 26th 2015
The 13th Annual Milford Music Festival Kicks off tonight. Over 20 bands from every different genre of music will be playing at venues throughout the town. Folk bands, Jazz music, and even one band who was featured on the show, the Voice, will call Milford their stage. The festivities are free all weekend to attend, the Music Festival wraps up on Sunday, with a music in the park celebration. Organizers of the event, say the expect over five thousand people to pile into Milford over the next three days, generating big money for the town.
Shots Fired in West Penn Township, Schuylkill County
Thursday June 25th 2015
West Penn Township Police are called out last night after residents hear a number of gun shots coming from a vehicle. The incident happened on Cold Spring Road near the Commonwealth Connections Academy. Police tell us they are in the process of getting surveillance video from the academy. They believe a pick up truck and one other vehicle may have been involved. The Police Chief says officers found shell casings that look to be a 22-caliber. They're not sure what the person was shooting at but it was rapid fire so the gun may have been a semi-automatic. The vehicle turned onto Route 443 and headed toward Carbon County.
West Penn Township Burglary, Schuylkill County
Thursday June 25th 2015
West Penn Township Police are investigating a home burglary. Someone forced their way inside the house on Pine Ridge Drive between 6 am and 4 pm on Thursday.
Man Wanted for Questioning:
- Stood about 6 feet tall
- Early to mid 20's with thinning, darker colored hair
- Tattoo on left hand between thumb & finger of the Dallas Cowboys Star
- Tattoo on the right forearm, possibly an Eagle, colorful
- Last seen wearing khaki shorts, dark colored plain t-shirt and dark tennis shoes
Anyone with information is asked to contact West Penn Police: 570-386-1100
Ballard's execution moving forward?
Wednesday June 24th 2015
District Attorney John Morganelli announced he's filed a petition to have the "stay" lifted on convicted mass murderer Michael Ballard's execution. Ballard was set to be executed on December 2nd, 2014. In November, a judged granted a stay on his execution so Ballard could join a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection. During his trial in 2011, Ballard admitted to brutally stabbing to death his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather and a neighbor who tried to help.
Sneak Peek At Kalahari Resorts And Conventions
Tuesday June 23rd 2015
The much anticipated authentic African themed resort is about to open in Monroe County. Today we got an exclusive sneak peek of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions at Pocono Manor.
Almost two years ago we witnessed the groundbreaking for the first Kalahari Resort on the East Coast, now the first phase will open to the public on July 1st. Construction crews are just putting on the finishing touches and then the African Safari will come alive. The Pocono Mountains is home to the third family-owned resort originally from Wisconsin.
Next week 457 guest rooms will be available for you to enjoy 100 thousand square-feet of indoor waterpark space, an outdoor waterpark, 65 thousand square-foot convention center, a spa, game center and restaurants. Construction has also already started on the second phase. Come Spring 2017, the hotel and indoor waterpark will basically double in size.
Family member Travis Nelson says, "This will be the largest and greatest indoor waterpark ever created, no question about it."
But you don't have to book a room to immerse yourself in the African culture.
Nelson says, "You're welcome to walk in, take a look around. If you want to enjoy the waterpark, you can purchase admission for the day, the restaurants are certainly available."
The owners are hoping it becomes a local hot spot.
Nelson adds, "You will be able to receive a locals card that will get you complimentary valet to the restaurants, as well as other discounts."
For more information to book reservations or for the local discount, just go to their website at www.kalahariresorts.com.
Scholarship and financial aid scams
Tuesday June 23rd 2015
A warning from the Attorney General's office to college students applying for financial aid. Scholarship and financial aid scams are becoming increasingly common. Experts remind student and parents legitimate applications require an essay and references. Also, you should never pay an up front fee to apply. Applicants who believe they may be a victim of a scholarship or financial aid scam are asked to call the Attorney General's bureau of consumer protection office at 1-800-441-2555.
Suspect Identified in Veterans Makers Theft, Mahoning Township
Tuesday June 23rd 2015
Mahoning Township Police say they believe they know who vandalized a cemetery earlier this month. On Monday, officers recovered 38 veterans makers and seven metal vases from a home on Valley View Drive in the township. Those items were reported stolen from St. John's Church on Mahoning Drive West on June 1st. A suspect has been identified. Police say he is currently in Northampton County Prison on unrelated charges. They have not identified the suspect but say charges are pending and additional information will be released at a later date. All of the markers that were not broken have been returned to the cemetery.
New E-Z Pass Interchange to Open June 30th
Tuesday June 23rd 2015
Work is winding down on the Turnpike's new E-Z Pass interchange in Penn Forest Township, and it should be open within a week. The Pa. Turnpike Commission expects the interchange to open on June 30th. The new interchange will allow E-Z Pass users to get on or off the Northeast Extension in either direction in Albrightsville. If a non-E-Z Pass motorist attempts to exit, an image of the vehicle's license plate will be captured and a violation notice will be mailed to the registered owner. The first violation notice will include the toll from the furthest turnpike entry point, plus a $25 administrative fee. The destinations listed on the Exit 87 sign will be Jim Thorpe/Lake Harmony.
Vandalized Home In Effort
Monday June 22nd 2015
A family's soon-to-be home is ransacked in Monroe County's West End. Vandals struck last Wednesday just before the homebuyer arrived to sign the papers at the Effort property. The farmhouse, barn and mobile home located off of Sugar Hollow Road used to belong to buyer Teri Flowers-VanBritsom's ancestors. She planned to buy the property back ever since her parents divorced and sold it in 1979. She's determined to come home after 37 years despite the devastating act.
Flowers-VanBritsom says, "We will prevail as a family. I have 10 children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren so this is a place for the family to come back together again."
She's just looking for justice for what she estimates over $8,000 in damage. Anyone with information or if any similar incidents have happened, you're asked to contact Fern Ridge State Police at 570-646-2271.
Help Fund New Community Center In Monroe County
Friday June 19th 2015
A proposed Coolbaugh Township community center is in need of your support. Two community activists unveiled their project to the public last night at the Pocono Mountain West High School Auditorium. The facility will be for everyone in Monroe County if only they can raise the funds.
The motto behind the project is to "play, learn and grow together." We're told it's something greatly needed in the community that will cater to children, adults, seniors and veterans.
Co-Founder of Pocono Mountain Learning Recreation Center Michael Stern says, "There's not enough opportunity to go for the youth and the seniors to have like a safe haven."
Michael Stern and Damon Armand want to make their dream of building a new Pocono Mountain Learning Recreation Center a reality for the community. It's something 15 years in the making and last night they got to share their vision with the public. The three-building complex is proposed for Route 611 in Coolbaugh Township. People will pay a membership fee but it'll be free for seniors and veterans.
Stern says, "We'll be needing people that run the facilities, activities directors, people that deal with the kitchen because we're going to have a full-commerical-grade kitchen so we can give the veterans and seniors three hot meals a day."
One is the Learning Center which will have a hall for seniors and veterans to socialize, computers and after-school tutoring.
Co-Founder Damon Armand says, "As a coach, I notice that a lot of players I lose throughout the year because of the the fact their grades, they can't sustain their grades."
Two is the Recreation Center that will be four full-size basketball courts.
Armand adds, "Can be converted to volleyball, zumba classes, dance, exercises, cheerleading, you name it."
Three is the Multi-Sport Center complete with a walk-in track.
Armand explains, "Any type of sport we can play on an artificial turf."
Now they just need the community to want it, need it and support it.
Pocono Summit Resident Louise Fickens says, "I think it's going to be great. Seniors need a place to go like a glorified YMCA, we don't have that."
Student Aaron Bailey at Monsignor McHugh School says, "I hope it's going to be built soon so I can have a place to play and other kids my age can have a place to play basketball and other sports."
The men have the verbal agreement from a local bank to carry a loan for the facility. They just need to raise $300,000 from the community to break ground. They've raised $5,000 so far on their website and others contributed at the presentation like local business owner of the Mr. Mattress Discount Store. He gave $1,000.
If you'd like to help bring the center to Monroe County, just go to their website at www.poconomountainlrc.com to donate and for more information on how to help.
Theft from Slatedale Cemetery
Thursday June 18th 2015
A Lehigh County Cemetery is hit by thieves. State Police say someone stole 12 brass flower vases from graves in the Slatedale Cemetery along Brown Street. The theft happened between June 11th and 13th. The vases measured approximately one foot by four inches in diameter. Anyone with information about the theft is Washington Township is asked to contact State Police at Bethlehem. Meanwhile police in Carbon County continue to investigate a theft at Mahoning Township cemetery. On June 1st, 30 veterans markers were reported stolen from Saint John's Church on Mahoning Drive West. There's no word on whether the incidents might be related.
Help Build Resica Community Playground
Thursday June 18th 2015
The building of a community playground in Monroe County is finally happening this summer thanks to devoted volunteers. Last year volunteers tore down the old playground after it was ruled unsafe. Kids went a whole school year without a playground behind Resica Elementary after a lack of funding halted the work twice. Now a new one is set to be built on the empty field July 15th through the 19th. But they still need the community's support to help finish the project. They don't have enough cash and they need volunteers to help with the build. Co-Chair for the Resica Community Playground build and Principal of Resica Elementary School Gail Kulick says, "A few more fundraisers coming up to get the last approximately seven to eight thousand dollars that we need to ensure that we can get the entire playground built."
The playground itself costs $170,000 and there's a lot of work for both skilled and unskilled people to do before the grand opening Sunday the 19th at 6PM.
Kulick adds, "We need lots and lots of people. We'll need probably 120 people to 150 people a day."
To sign-up to help with the construction or for information on the last fundraisers, just go to their website at kidscreateplay.com.
Major Manufacturer Inches Closer To Pike County
Wednesday June 17th 2015
All Fresh Farms, a hydroponic produce company is moving its East Coast Headquarters to Greene Township. The proposed location is located on Mozzette Road. The new 50-thousand square foot facility sits on ten acres of land, and will be producing over 500-thousand pounds of fresh produce a week. Owner of the company, Steve Nelson, say they are going to start off with a small skeleton crew, but more than 200 jobs will be opening up by Christmas.
DEP Expands Drought Watch
Wednesday June 17th 2015
DEP is expanding its drought watch from 27 to 37 counties in Pennsylvania.
A dry fall, an extremely cold winter and below-normal precipitation this spring are all contributing to low groundwater and surface water levels throughout the state.
Here in our area, Monroe County has been on the list for several weeks. And recent downpours haven't helped.
Monroe County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Trish Attardo explains, " The ability for that rain to be absorbed into the ground where many of us get our drinking water from was not really there. Most of that water just ran off the surface and into our streams."
Luckily that's not the case when it comes to those under the Brodhead Creek Regional Authority.
Manager Kenneth Brown says, "It's not really lowered our water supplies, and as a matter of fact with the June rains, our water supplies are much better than they were in May."
The reservoir that supplies East Stroudsburg is also in good standing. We're told it's at full capacity.
Borough Manager Jim Phillips adds, "We had over two inches of rain this past Sunday and so water is still going over the spillway."
But the majority of residents in the county don't rely on a municipal source of water- They have their own well. That's why the watch primarily concerns them.
Brown says, "I think they need to be very prudent in what they do because they don't really know what's going on in their well in most cases."
Water suppliers are still following DEP's guidelines because the weather can easily change and it's important to be conscientious in saving water.
The easiest way to conserve water is to make sure faucets are turned off completely to prevent drips, you should also make sure you don't have any leaks. But there are other simple ways too.
Attardo shares, "Taking shorter showers, shutting the water off while you brush your teeth, washing only full loads of laundry, go to a car wash instead of washing your car at home- you tend to use less water. You can install a rain barrel to collect water that naturally falls from the sky."
If you're concerned about the flow and potential leaks around your home, Monroe County Conservation District sells a kit in their gift shop that helps monitor and reduce your water usage.
Murder Trial Begins for Allentown Man
Wednesday June 17th 2015
A murder trial is underway for an Allentown man accused of murdering a Tamaqua woman. 26-year-old Anthony Heath is defending himself in the Lehigh County court case. Heath previously admitted to strangling Angela Steigerwalt at his apartment on Chew Street. He's then accused of setting her body on fire in Jim Thorpe. On the day of the alleged murder in January 2014, Heath says he was angry with Steigerwalt for hesitating to drive him to a custody hearing. The trial began with prosecution outlining the murder and Heath's plan to dispose of Steigerwalt's body. According to court records, Heath drove Steigerwalt's car to Walmart to purchase items necessary to burn her body. Heath today owned up to abuse of the corpse and to tampering charges but says her death was an accident, and he had no malicious intent. Health, who was found in North Carolina with Steigerwalt's car after the alleged murder, says he didn't steal her vehicle. He said he was scared and panicked but was going to turn himself in. Heath is expected to take the stand at some point in this trial. Today's witnesses included first responders who found Steigerwalt's burning body off Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe. The trial will resume Thursday morning.
Multiple Traffic Back Ups On Route 209
Tuesday June 16th 2015
Multiple work zones are backing up traffic on Route 209 in Monroe County's West End. Drivers and business employees are wondering what's causing the hold ups from Sciota to Lehighton. We talked to PennDOT officials who say the construction sites are all part of a safety improvement project. The project is separate from the already established construction to widen the Route 209 and 715 intersection. But it's just adding to the congestion. PennDOT officials say to expect to see more of these pop up work zones not only on Route 209, but Business Route 209 in Monroe County throughout the summer until Labor Day.
PennDOT District Press Officer Ron Young says the safety improvements include,"Doing some shoulder reconstruction where the shoulder is decaying, the high pressure surface treatment provides more traction especially during wet conditions or winter conditions and the tree trimming provides more sight distance for people."
PennDOT officials say peak driving hours aren't supposed to be affected.
If you want to try to avoid the work zones, PennDOT officials say you can check where they're going to be daily on their real-time website 511PA.com. You can also call 5-1-1 or download the 511 App on your smartphone.
Boulder Field Charges
Tuesday June 16th 2015
Two Monroe County residents are charged with vandalism at the Hickory Run State Park in Carbon County. 29-year-old Nicholas Marudis of Strousburg and 20-year-old Chelsea Dunleavy of East Stroudsburg are charge with criminal mischief, a felony, and two counts each of "violation of rules on Commonwealth property." The pair are accused of spray painting rocks and a tree in May at Boulder Field, which is a national natural landmark. Some of the markings at the Kidder Township park included their first names and their initials. According to court documents, the spray paint cans were found nearby as well as a with a library card belonging to Marudis. That along with a tip and video of the pair purchasing the spray paint at Walmart led to the charges. Restoration for damage is estimated to be in excess of $5,000.
Forest Pest Wreaking Havoc
Monday June 15th 2015
The Gypsy Moth Caterpillar is devastating trees in the Poconos this year and many homeowners are pleading for help. But at this time of the season, you are out of luck.
People are looking for answers to stop the massive attack of a hungry caterpillar. It's happening everywhere you see a tree line that you can see through.
DCNR Forester Matt Hazen says, "We're seeing the defoliation is very bad right now. It's worst than last year. We sort of expected that because of the egg mass counts we were getting."
If you had a lot of egg masses on your trees last year and didn't get your property sprayed, Mother Nature sealed your fate this spring.
Hazen explains, "A major killer of the gypsy moths is a fungus and virus. So when we have a dry year, the fungus isn't as prevalent as it is in a wet year. So right now we're seeing a lot that have survived."
Right now they're at their worst in terms of the devastation on your yard's appearance. Co-Owner Jacqui Hakim of Pocono Tick and Skeeter Control says a full-size Gypsy Moth Caterpillar can eat one-square-foot of leaf surface a day. While you missed your chance to stop their munching, you don't want the feeding frenzy to keep happening year after year.
Hakim says, "The last cycle I lost about a third of my trees, and it was hard to have them taken down."
Luckily since we've recently had a lot of rain, the fungus and the virus are both now stepping in to kill many of them off for next year. You can tell they're dying if they're hanging off a tree in a "V" or by their back legs.
Hakim adds, "Just leave them on the trees because the germs from them will remain on the tree and infect other caterpillars this year and next year."
Hakim says the rest will be changing into moths by the end of this month. But in the meantime, you should be reporting your problem. Spraying for next year is determined in the fall.
Hakim says, "Get in touch with the county commissioners because they're keeping a log of all the problems this year so they know what to tell the state next year."
You should also start counting how many egg masses you have on your tree trunks in August. If you see a lot, get in contact with a sprayer to ensure you don't have to deal with the devastation this year next year.
Summit Hill Man Wanted for Assault
Monday June 15th 2015
Summit Hill Police are looking for a man accused of assaulting a woman and sending her to the hospital with injuries. 31-year-old Roger Marfitt is accused of beating the woman on June 6th at a home on West Fell Street. Summit Hill Police were notified a day or two after the incident and Marfitt had already fled. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Summit Hill Police Department.
Three Charged, One Dead In Coolbaugh Township
Friday June 12th 2015
Three are charged after a man is found dead inside his Coolbaugh Township home with heroin. As of now, Pocono Mountain Regional Police say siblings Krae and Cody Reese, along with Shaquan Cooper are accused with dealing the drug to the victim. That's because the man's cause and manner of death are still pending toxicology results that could take one to two months. Police suspect it to be not only an overdose but the result of a batch containing fentanyl. They have this warning for the public:
Chief Chris Wagner says, "Fentanyl can be very deadly and we put that out there so the public is aware again of the bad batches of heroin. We want to make sure certainly that we don't have lots of deaths from these bad batches of heroin. We obviously want to get to the drug dealers and get this off the streets."
As we wait to see if more charges are filed when the toxicology results come back, the three charged are currently out on bail and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week.
Strawberry Picking Fun In Brodheadsville
Thursday June 11th 2015
Strawberry picking is in full-swing at a farm in Monroe County's West End. Customer's helping the local economy are getting even more of a treat than anticipated. There's much more red berries and they're sweeter than years prior.
Picking strawberries at Gould's Farm in Brodheadsville in a special treat. Not only for the ones going in your belly right from the patch, but for the plans you have for the basket you'll bring home.
Effort Resident David Campbell says, "We pick usually two big bowls like this each and then we go back to her house and usually make a batch of jelly right away and package the rest away in the freezer for the rest of the year."
Campbell has been coming to Gould's with his aunt every year for the heart-shaped berries since he was a kid. It's a favorite tradition and one he looks forward to.
Campbell, "DavidHis aunt tells us supporting the local farmers has always been important to her and her taste buds are grateful.
Betty Furler says, "These taste a lot better and they're more fresh. I love picking them right off the strawberry patch."
Everyone we talk to say the strawberries are sweeter, bigger and better than ever before, and we're told it's because of the weather.
Jamie Gould explains, "There's a lot of them, the fields are full, they're loaded. May was although dry, it was hot, humid and that pushed the strawberries."
The family owned business prides itself on great quality but a crop like this means the most.
Gould says, "It's our biggest and earliest. It gets us going because all winter long there's nothing so it really gets us going for the rest of the summer. A bad strawberry crop doesn't bode well for us."
Mother Nature finally came through after such a rough winter, and you can experience her fruits from Gould's Produce Stand in the West End, or they'll be at Stroudsburg's Farmers Market every Saturday morning on Ann Street.
Last Goodbye At Stroudsburg Area School District
Wednesday June 10th 2015
This week Stroudsburg Area School District students and staff will experience a one-two-punch. They're losing their superintendent and an elementary school is closing.
First graders from Morey Elementary School held a special farewell presentation today for their Superintendent Dr. John Toleno.
Toleno says, "Very thankful. I'm humbled and honored to have been a part of this Stroudsburg family."
And we heard loud and clear how much he'll be missed when a student read, "A word of advice for your next job is to the same you did for us."
Toleno's desk is the neatest we've ever seen it. He's packed everything up for his last day this Friday after being the district's leader since 2007.
Toleno says, "It's been a great run. It's been eight years of excitement. It's been eight years of making wonderful friends and meeting some wonderful professional people."
The school board voted five to four in January not to extend Toleno's contract after June. Toleno says he'll miss being a Mountie but is excited about his new superintendent role at Upper Merion School District located near King of Prussia. He starts July 20th.
Toleno says, "I leave with no regrets whatsoever. My only wish is that there's some human decency prevails and that we all begin to see eye to eye on what's best and why we're here, we're here for kids."
Toleno is proud of many things as he leaves, including the staff, growing the district academically, building changes like the high school project and his connection with the community and students.
Toleno adds, "The kids, I would hope that they leave here treating each other better and knowing that you can have an impact to change the world, you know that's been a hashtag that I've used on social media and have enjoyed very much."
His advice for the next Stroudsburg superintendent is to be a part of the Mountie nation and stay connected.
Not only do students and staff have to say goodbye to Dr. Toleno, but Friday they'll also say goodbye to Clearview Elementary School. Last year, the board voted five to four to close it and Ramsey Elementary, which closed last June.
Parent Stacey Beebe of a second grader at Clearview says, "I'm sad about the school closing actually. It's been a great school, four of my six kids have gone here so it's a shame."
We caught up with parents picking up their kids today at Clearview and some are already worried what next year will be like.
Parent Madelene Vargas of a first grader at Clearview says, "I get emotional because I don't know how it's going to be over there. Over here I can call up the nurse and she's going to check up on him."
Other parents feel better that the teachers at Clearview will be moving with the students to the different buildings, but it's still a difficult change.
Historic Amount Spent On Poconos Summer Advertising
Tuesday June 9th 2015
Tourism officials are letting out-of-towners know the Pocono Mountains is the perfect vacation spot. And in a big way- this summer they've spent the most money ever on advertising in the New York market. We've discovered it's already paying off.
Kids are already having fun at Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark. That's just one of the new places upping the advertising value in the Poconos this summer. Officials from Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau say the combined advertising dollars from them, the new resorts and known attractions is the most ever spent.
President/CEO Carl Wilgus says, "In the neighborhood of 18 to 20 million dollars that will be spent in the New York market and that's with TV, billboards in transit, web based marketing efforts as well."
Wilgus believes the historic amount is a third to a half more spent than in previous years, and the timing couldn't be better.
Wilgus explains, "Pent up demand and enthusiasm for travel, long winter time that we've had, people want to get out and lower gas prices, and we just need to let people know that the Pocono Mountains are here and it's a great place to come."
Plus, it's a must with new mega resorts opening up. There's plenty of rooms to fill up with vacationers.
Wilgus adds, "We have 25.5 million visitors a year that come into our four counties. Just to keep everybody where it is and fill up the rooms that we have coming online, we need to move that number up to 27 and half million visitors."
Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark recently opened and just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. Officials there say the advertising is already paying off.
Marketing Manager Kelly Joffe says, "Memorial Day Weekend we were pretty much sold out and we had sneak peek tickets available and we sold way more than we thought we would so yeah we were at capacity."
If those types of results continue happening all over the Poconos this summer, the Visitors Bureau intends to also put more money into the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets this fall, winter and next summer.
Child Wasn't Properly Seat Belted
Monday June 8th 2015
A Monroe County community is mourning the loss of a six-year-old from East Stroudsburg.
A crisis response team is in place today at J. M. Hill Elementary School in East Stroudsburg after a kindergarten student was killed in a crash Saturday afternoon. Six-year-old Sophia Willis died when the vehicle she was riding in hit another on Business Route 209 near Stroudsburg. Now school staff is providing whatever tools they can to help students and teachers deal with such a tragic loss.
East Stroudsburg School District Superintendent Sharon Laverdure explains, "We have guidance counselors from both our high school and our J.T. Lambert Intermediate School. We also have two specially trained counselors from the flight team from Intermediate Unit 20 that have come up to also act as a resource."
A state police report says the vehicle Wills' mother Rebecca was driving crossed into the opposite lane and collided with another. The two drivers were transported by helicopter to hospitals. Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen pronounced Willis dead at the scene. He found her in a booster seat on the back passenger side with only the lap belt on.
Allen adds, "She did not have the harness over her chest and that she had taken the belt and apparently put it behind her back."
An autopsy this morning revealed the child died due to blunt force injuries to her head and neck. Allen says Willis probably wouldn't have died if she had been properly seat belted. And the forensic pathologist agrees the injuries wouldn't have been as severe.
Allen adds, "This is the first fatal accident, and I've been to many, that I've seen that with a child. I know adults tend to do that because they find it too confining to wear that particular part of the seat belt, but that's the purpose of it- saving you life."
Allen says it's important to take the time before you even start driving that all passengers have their seat belt on and it's positioned the right way. It's also important to teach your kids what could happen if they don't use both harnesses.
Police say it's still under investigation what caused Willis' mother to cross into oncoming traffic.
Blooming Grove Shooting Video Stays Sealed
Friday June 5th 2015
A judge has ruled that security footage from outside the blooming grove police barracks on Sept 12th remained sealed from the public. Pike County District attorney Ray Tonkin filed the motion a couple months ago, to keep it off social media along with other news outlets. Tonkin says there are two primary reasons for keeping this surveillance footage sealed, the first, to prevent the victims families from having to relive that horrific day. The second, to keep it out of the hands of groups that are looking to entice violence against law enforcement. Though the footage is sealed, Tonkin says it still remains a integral part of the case and will be used as evidence during the trial.
Poconos' Economy Revvvs Up!
Friday June 5th 2015
Monroe County is revving up for the big NASCAR race this weekend.
The "green light" is already turned on for the economic boom the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event will bring to the area.
Forget stars- fans had checkered flags in their eyes as they got autographs from some of their favorite NASCAR drivers this morning at Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport. The private jets bringing in their idols are also exciting for the host and beneficial to their bottom line.
Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport Board of Directors Member Greg Christine says, "Economically we make a lot of money from them, selling a lot of fuel and stuff to them so for the airport it's a lifeline for us because we get them twice a year, and now with the added Indy Race that's at the end of August, a lot of fuel sales."
That's not the only economic boost the NASCAR event this weekend at Pocono Raceway waves in. Fans aren't just planning on going to the track. The ones driving the stock cars have other plans too. Number 15 Clint Bowyer tells us he's thinking about more than just the red, yellow and green lights.
Bowyer says, "More so at the casino with the NASCAR community than anywhere. I seem to donate to those bright lights quite a bit."
In all seriousness, Bowyer says he's proud to leave a lasting impression on the economy everywhere the sport takes them. He and his wife are planning on showing their baby what they love about the Poconos.
Number 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. also says it's a family affair. He started coming to the Poconos with his father Dale Sr., when he was a kid back in 1986.
Earnhardt says, "There's some nice places to go, great places to eat so we do move around a little bit. We get a little bit of time on Saturday so we get out and take things in."
NASCAR means big business in Monroe County this weekend.
Help Bring Transitional Housing To Tobyhanna Township
Thursday June 4th 2015
Volunteers for Monroe County's Habitat for Humanity are busy working in Tobyhanna Township. They've already provided their skills to transform the former Lake House Restaurant in Pocono Pines into a food pantry called Five Loaf House. Now they're asking for you help to fulfill another great need in the community- transitional housing.
Over 240 qualifying families are currently getting food the second Monday and Tuesday of every month at Five Loaf House. Pocono Lake Wesleyan Church purchased the foreclosed Lake House Restaurant two and a half years ago to be a permanent home for Top of the Mountain Ecumenical Council Food Pantry. Bill Snell with Monroe County's Habitat for Humanity helped make that transformation happen.
Snell says, "Since they've opened it up, they've actually almost tripled the amount of families that they've serving. Three to four people to a family, that is a lot."
With that success, volunteers can't wait to see what their work upstairs will mean. Church officials have envisioned using the extra space for transitional housing from the beginning.
Snell explains, "Someone coming in that has lost their house for some reason and they need a place to stay for a period of time."
There's a great need in Monroe County. Agencies helping people regain a home currently move them from church to church for shelter, and members drop off food daily. Five Loaf House would have everything in one place to go along with their services.
Snell adds, "Partnering with the agencies, they already have the programs in progress."
Rehabbing the second floor started last August. Snell took us on a tour of the planned four bedrooms, one common room, two bathrooms and a kitchen. Snell says there should be enough space for 11 to 12 people, but they still have a lot of work to do.
The construction manager says the project should take another year, but it could be completed much sooner with your help.
If you'd like to donate, just send a check to Monroe County Habitat for Humanity and write "for Five Loaf House renovations" in the memo. For more information, just go to their website at http://www.habitatmc.org.
Three Dead After Morning Crash On I-380
Wednesday June 3rd 2015
Three people are dead after a crash this morning between a tour bus and tractor trailer on I-380.
The interstate was shut down today, backing up traffic for miles and driver sitting for hours.
Multiple agencies responded to the accident.
Five people were injured were transported by helicopter and nine others were taken by EMS to Pocono medical center. Eight required minor to moderate treatment. The ninth had to be transported to the Lehigh Valley Health Network trauma center, along with the five medivaced. Four of the eight patients sent to PMC were released by 3pm.
Passengers were trapped in the bus and firefighters used the jaws of life to get them out.
Authorities say the truck was driving southbound crossed over into northbound hitting the tour bus head on.
The coroner tells us the passengers from Italy and the deceased are males. Autopsies are scheduled tomorrow. We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.
Sheep At Pocono Raceway?
Tuesday June 2nd 2015
Unlike race cars, sheep always have the "green light" at Pocono Raceway. Drivers speed around the Tricky Triangle, while the sheep feed in the solar farm. The hired herd is all about being environmentally friendly.
Pocono Raceway employees are gearing up for the Sprint Cup Series starting this weekend. All except one group- the track means nothing to the sheep. The nearby 25-acre solar farm field is their edible duty.
Vice President Bob Pleban explains, "To cut the grass so we're not using any carbon-based lawn mowers."
50 sheep from a Carbon County farm just arrived this past Saturday. Pleban says this is the third year a hired herd will call the fenced in area their home for the next few months. And it looks like they've got a lot of work ahead- good thing grass is their favorite food.
Pleban agrees, "They really do quite a good job. If you came back in a couple of weeks from now, the high growth that we have here would be down to a very manageable height."
It's the ultimate green pairing to the nearly 40 thousand solar panels that were built in 2010. They provide all the energy for the raceway, plus electricity to a couple hundred nearby houses.
Long Pond residents tell us they appreciate Pocono Raceway's environmental friendly initiative and enjoy seeing the sheep as they drive by.
We've been chasing the sheep around all day but we could only get within 200 feet of them. We're told early in the season they have stage fright.
Pleban explains, "This is basically a new playground for them, but they'll get use to this area and later on, if you come back, they'd be posing for you."
You have until November to come check them out. Then their job will be done and they'll be taken back to their warm farm for the winter.
Pike Unemployment Rate Drops
Monday June 1st 2015
It was only ten years ago, Pike County had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 12.7 percent. Fast forward to 2015, those numbers have dropped to 6.4 percent. Over the next few months, a new shopping center, firearms manufacturer, and even an indoor hydroponic production and packaging operation will be moving into the county. Director of Economic Development, Mike Sullivan says "when you start adding all these jobs up, that's a lot of new positions that will be opening within the next year. With these new businesses in the area, Sullivan is confident that by 2016, Pike County could boast some of the lowest unemployment numbers in the state. " I don't see any reason we can't be in the low fives possibly even fours. Sullivan says those are numbers the county hasn't seen in well over a decade.
Scuffle at Blue Mountain Health System
Monday June 1st 2015
Two Monroe county men are behind bars after they allegedly made threats to blow up a local hospital. The incident happened Saturday afternoon at Blue Mountain Health System in Lehighton. According to court records 71-year old Daniel Engler and 38-year old Kevin Engler of Kunkletown became violent when they were denied entry into a secure area of the hospital. According to court papers, the men wanted to visit a relative at the hospital after visiting hours. The father and son face several charges including terroristic threats. The Englers were unable to post bail and are in Carbon County Prison.
Interest In Former Fernwood Hotel and Convention Center
Monday June 1st 2015
Potential buyers are lining up to purchase the former Fernwood Hotel and Convention Center. The Middle Smithfield Township property was sold at a judicial sale about a month ago to the Bushkill Group. A little over a year ago it closed abruptly. It's owner E Hotels stopped paying the taxes that quickly added up to over 800 thousand dollars. Middle Smithfield Township lost out on about 40 thousand dollars. Supervisor Annette Atkinson says they're glad it's back on the tax rolls and they now have a responsive owner. Now it's owner is looking forward to someone taking it over and giving it new life.
Band Promotes Suicide Prevention to Students
Monday June 1st 2015
The local Flintface band is using music to promote suicide prevention. They're touring schools around the country to connect with students and today they stopped by Pleasant Valley Intermediate School.
Pocono Medical Center sponsored the performances today and brought gifts for students.
PMC Representatives hope to sponsor more events at schools in Monroe County in the future.