Today's News - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for 50-year-old Stephen Jablonski of Johnstown, the man accused of calling in a bomb threat to the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg last week. He used a fake Arab accent and the words “ahmad jihad.” Jablonski’s girlfriend was scheduled to be in court to be sentenced on a probation violation and a retail theft. He told police they had been doing drugs, and he didn’t want her to fail a drug test. Heroin and crack cocaine were seized from inside of his apartment. Charges are pending against Jablonski’s girlfriend.

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In Johnstown today, a project begins to repair or replace 20 retaining walls along a steep, narrow section of Frankstown Road in Conemaugh Township. The road will be closed through August between Adams Street to Whitetail Drive, then the upper section of the same hill will be shut down.

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Fire destroyed a house Monday morning in East Taylor Township, Cambria County. Crews were called to 432 Echo Road in the village of Echo just before 8 a.m. when a wood burning furnace malfunctioned. No injuries were reported. The house was not insured.

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State forestry officials now say the wildfire that burned for six days on Wills Mountain in Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, was intentionally set…and it has been ruled a case of arson. Approximately 1,000 acres of land was scorched after the blaze broke out around 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19. Anyone with information should call Bureau of Forestry Special Investigator Terry Smith at 717-362-1472.

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State police say Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was a success. Troopers collected 630 pounds of unwanted or expired drugs in six counties. The most was in Blair County with a total of 315 pounds.

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The nationwide average gas price is $3.65 per gallon, but here at home it’s more than 10 cents higher, averaging $3.76. Pennsylvania has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation and some people say Governor Tom Corbett’s new transportation plan made things even worse, raising the state’s gas tax from about 50 cents per gallon in 2013 to about 60 cents now. Motorist fees are also going up by about 40 percent over the next five years to raise money for highway and bridge improvements.

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State Senator Daylin Leach is planning a "sit-in" at Governor Tom Corbett's office. Leach made the announcement yesterday, saying he and a group of families need a meeting with the governor regarding medical marijuana. If Corbett does not respond by Friday, the group will wait at his office until he agrees to meet with them.  Leach says the families with him will be directly impacted if Corbett vetoes the compassionate use of medical cannabis act which would legalize the use of medical marijuana as recommended by attending physicians.

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The preliminary hearing for 16-year-old Alex Hribal was scheduled tomorrow, but it has been pushed back at the request of his attorney. The teen is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault for the April 9 stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville. Prosecutors added 17 additional attempted murder charges after detectives found a note in Hribal's locker saying he wanted to hurt his fellow students.  

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Last year’s tick season was rough, and experts believe this year it could be even more severe and last longer than normal due to the extremely cold winter. Doctors in our area have been reporting more cases of Lyme Disease over the past three to four years because of tick bites. Common symptoms include aches, chills and fever. Without treatment, there can be serious health problems. Doctors say you should check yourself or your pet for ticks once you return from being outside.

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At least eight people are dead following a tornado outbreak Monday in Mississippi and Alabama.  Emergency Management officials in Mississippi confirm six deaths from the raging twisters.  In Alabama, the Limestone County sheriff says two people are dead after a tornado touched down there Monday evening.  The line of severe storms will continue to push further into the South on Tuesday.

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The NBA is set to weigh in on the Donald Sterling controversy.  The league will hold a news conference today regarding its investigation into the racist remarks being attributed to the Los Angeles Clippers owner.  Sterling has been under fire since an audio recording surfaced over the weekend in which he allegedly tells his girlfriend not to associate with African-Americans or bring them to his games.

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The U.S. is still hopeful that Russia will change course on Ukraine.  Despite an increase in tensions in eastern Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday that Russia can turn things around at any time.  She insisted the U.S. and allies will continue imposing "targeted sanctions" if things don't change.  The latest round targets additional individuals and companies with close ties to the Russian government.

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The Supreme Court considers cell phone privacy on Tuesday.  The court will hear oral arguments in two cases about whether police can search the cell phones of people they arrest.  That would include call records, emails, texts, photos and videos. 

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The head of Spanish language cable TV network Univision says Comcast's plan to buy Time Warner Cable could be "bad for Hispanic audiences."  Univision President Randy Falco said Monday that merging the two biggest cable TV providers could hurt competitors, including Univision, who serve minority communities. 

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Republican Congressman Michael Grimm says he's stepping down from the House Financial Services Committee.  The announcement came hours after he was indicted on fraud charges.  Grimm pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of allegedly concealing more than a million dollars through a New York restaurant he ran.  

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A Connecticut teenager stabbed to death at school last week is being remembered.  About two thousand mourners came together for a candlelight vigil Monday night at Jonathan Law High School.  Sixteen-year-old Chris Plaskon is accused of killing Maren Sanchez last Friday.  Authorities are said to be looking into whether the high school junior was killed over her refusal to attend the prom with the suspect.

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President Obama says a new military pact with the Philippines shows that the U.S. has an "ironclad" commitment to defend the southeast Asian nation.  The military agreement was the centerpiece of Obama's first visit to the Philippines.  The pact is for ten years and includes a beefed-up rotation of U.S. troops, ships and aircraft through the islands.  

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The man behind what is said to be the worst mass killing in Orange County, California history plans to plead guilty.  Attorneys for Scott Dekraai announced in court Monday Dekraai will enter a guilty plea on Friday.  Dekraai is facing the death penalty after allegedly killing eight people when he opened fire inside a salon in Seal Beach in October of 2011. 

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First it was David Letterman, now Craig Ferguson is getting ready to jump from late night TV.  Ferguson told his audience during Monday's taping of "The Late Late Show" on CBS that after ten years as host he would step down in December.  Ferguson's exit comes just weeks after Letterman announced he would be retiring from his "Late Show" next year.

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The American literary classic "To Kill A Mockingbird" is coming to a Kindle near you.  Author Nelle Harper Lee has finally announced her decision to release the book electronically.  "To Kill A Mockingbird" has inspired millions of readers by exploring themes of racial injustice and lost innocence. 

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Netflix now has a deal with Verizon aimed at streaming movies and TV shows more quickly to Netflix subscribers.  Netflix announced a similar deal with Comcast two months ago.  The arrangement with Verizon will give Netflix a more direct connection between its servers and Verizon's Internet network to improve the delivery of Netflix streaming content.

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Trying to get things done at the Department of Motor Vehicles isn't that bad – in Ohio.  The Buckeye state is earning the top spot in DMV.com's "DMV Satisfaction Survey." Oregon takes last place for in-person customer service, telephone customer service, price of service, accessibility, and wait time.

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