Today's News - February, January 17, 2014

When a fire and ambulance crew was called yesterday to a mobile home on Loraine Road in Jackson Township, Cambria County, they found more than 60 marijuana plants, large bags of packaged pot, and an 18-gallon storage container filled with pot. An arrest warrant has been issued for the apparent owner of the trailer, 53-year-old Richard Wiedenhoeft. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the county’s non-emergency number.

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A Cambria County judge yesterday sentenced 47-year-old Stephen Goniea to 50 to 100 years in a state prison on 15 counts of rape of a child. “The Tribune Democrat” says the Johnstown-area man is currently doing 30 years at a federal prison in North Carolina for videotaping the acts and producing child pornography that he made available on the internet. Doctors have diagnosed Goniea with a form of cancer and say his life expectancy is probably less than 10 years.

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In Cambria County Court yesterday, 34-year-old Benejamin Schoenfeld of Portage pleaded no contest to aggravated assault and prosecutors withdrew a count of attempted murder. Schoenfeld shot Donald Lewis III at his home in Portage back in December of 2012. Police call is a drug-related incident. Schoenfeld was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in the county prison.

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Ten to 20 years in a state prison is the sentence for 45-year-old Sherman Holes of Cherry Tree who pleaded guilty to third degree murder in the 2010 death of 79-year-old Arthur Henry. He was found badly beaten at his Northern Cambria home on June 30. He died three days later. Holes says he was on drugs when he hit Henry with a wooden plank.

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A state judge dismissed Governor Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane as defendants in a court challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriage. According to the Associated Press, other state officials will remain defendants in a case filed by multiple same sex couples who were married based on licenses issued in Montgomery County.

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“Fortune” magazine says Sheetz is on the list of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S. The Altoona-based convenience store chain comes in at number 87. Sheetz employs 15 thousand people at 467 buildings in six states. “Fortune” based a majority of its assessment on employee surveys.

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A new report is claiming that 1.5 million Pennsylvanians live near hazardous amounts of ammonia. The PublicSource, a Pittsburgh news organization, released the report earlier this week and says large ammonia leaks can be deadly. The group cites the Hershey Creamery in Harrisburg as an example, saying a leak at the facility could affect 58 thousand people. PublicSource has put together an online database to show people where "dangerous stockpiles of ammonia" are kept. Visit: www.publicsource.org for more information.

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President Obama will lay out proposed reforms of the government's surveillance activities in a highly-anticipated speech set for today. The extent of NSA eavesdropping and data mining prompted a firestorm of controversy last year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden released classified data.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not among those issued subpoenas Thursday in the bridge traffic scandal. Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski says about 20 subpoenas were issued in the investigation into lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

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The Senate is handing off a more than one-trillion-dollar budget to the White House. Final approval came yesterday on a 72-26 vote. The budget removes the prospect of another bitter spending dispute and government shutdown. The compromise budget fully funds the federal government through the current fiscal year.

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The water ban in nine West Virginia counties is still in the process of being lifted. West Virginia American Water yesterday announced that tap water was good to use for 1,800 more customers, bringing the total to 71 thousand customers or about two-thirds of those affected.

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The NYPD is investigating a possible link between human remains discovered on a Queens beach and an autistic teenager who has been missing for months. An arm and leg bones were found Thursday night along with a pair of sneakers.

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Firefighters are taking advantage of calm winds as they battle a wildfire in the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles. The blaze known as the Colby fire has scorched 1,700 acres, destroyed five homes, and forced hundreds of people in the communities of Glendora and Azusa to evacuate.

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The outcome of an Ohio execution has the family of the convicted killer considering a lawsuit. Dennis McGuire was executed yesterday with a controversial, untested two-drug combination that apparently caused him to gasp for air while taking more than 15 minutes to die.

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The FAA is investigating after a United Airlines flight on its way to China was forced to return to Newark Liberty Airport less than an hour into flight. United Flight 89 reportedly experienced severe turbulence after it left New Jersey Thursday afternoon. Five crew members suffered minor injuries.

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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been on the short list of potential GOP presidential candidates since his brother left office but his mother isn't keen on the idea. In an interview on C-SPAN, Barbara Bush says that while her son Jeb is unquestionably the best qualified to run, she hopes he doesn't.

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Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that regulates and taxes marijuana. Opponents say legalizing marijuana would lead young people to stronger drugs. They also point out the governor is against it as well.

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The homepage of Facebook users is offering something new. The social media giant is adding a list of trending topics to the right of users' news feeds. The topics are going to be personalized to the users' tastes. It'll take their likes into account along with the topics' popularity across all of Facebook.

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The public will be introduced to the Smithsonian National Zoo's latest attraction this weekend. The Zoo will be open for extended hours to see the giant panda cub named Bao Bao. She'll make her formal debut tomorrow.

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The First Lady is celebrating her 50th birthday today. Washington is buzzing with rumors about the famous faces expected to turn up at her party Saturday night. Speculation is particularly rampant about Beyonce and Jay Z making an appearance at the White House event.

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The city of Chicago leads the nation in a pesty distinction. For the second year in a row, Chicago leads the U.S. in bedbug infestations. The pest control company Orkin ranks Los Angeles second and Columbus, Ohio third in its annual ranking of bedbug infestations.

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