LANCASTER – Many area folks are packing shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for a child affected by war, disease, poverty or natural disasters. Such a shoebox may be the only gift that child receives. Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse distributes millions of shoebox gifts to needy children in Jesus’ name. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 113 million children in more than 100 countries. In 2014, they hope to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children with 40,000 of those boxes coming from the Lancaster, York, and Lebanon areas. Shoeboxes will be collected during National Collection Week, Nov. 17-24, when shoeboxes can be dropped off at one of 19 locations in our region. A link to the area drop off locations can be found by CLICKING HERE. For more information about Operation Christmas Child and what goes into a shoebox, visit www.samaritanspurse.org or call 1-800-353-5949.
MEMPHIS – A former Lebanon County United Methodist pastor who was disciplined for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding will soon find out whether he can remain an ordained minister. Rev. Frank Schaefer was suspended and then defrocked last year after refusing to promise to refrain from conducting same-sex marriages. The action against Schaefer was taken after a church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania. An appeals panel restored Schaefer’s pastoral credentials in June, but that decision is being challenged. The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council, the denomination’s highest judicial body, heard arguments in the case Wednesday and could issue its ruling next week. Its decisions are final. The United Methodist Church rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The United Methodist Book of Discipline bans clergy from performing same-sex marriages.
HARRISBURG – This is School Bus Safety Week. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch joined other school bus safety advocates to honor twelve students for communicating important school bus safety messages and six school bus drivers for their superior driving skills during a ceremony at the Governor’s residence. The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were recognized for their winning entries in the 2014 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year’s contest, “Be Smart – Be Seen, I wait in a safe place!” stressed the need for students to wait in a safe area for the bus to arrive. State Police also presented certificates and Governor’s citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2014 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Pennsylvania is developing protocols to monitor travelers who’ve recently been to Ebola-stricken West Africa. A health department spokeswoman says they’ll have a plan in place within days after the Centers for Disease Control said that the Commonwealth and five other states will begin monitoring next week. Pennsylvania was chosen because it’s close to international airports where checks are underway. Beginning Monday, travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and New Guinea will be given information cards and a thermometer to measure their body temperatures twice a day for three weeks. The state says it’s determining how travelers report results each day. The CDC says that could be in person, by phone or video chat or through employers. New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia will also be monitoring.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s legal community is torn over the suspension of state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery by four fellow justices. Lynn Marks of the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts said most lawyers she’s talked to felt that it was important to act quickly. However, West Chester lawyer Samuel Stretton says the process lacks fairness because no rules dictate how and when justices can take such action. He says the constitution meant for such situations to be handled by independent panels. Stretton often represents judges accused of wrongdoing. In one recent case, McCaffery and other justices ruled that their authority allows them to make such decisions to protect the public. The four justices also asked judicial conduct investigators to look into McCaffery’s alleged role in a pornographic email scandal.
HARRISBURG – Opportunity awaits Pennsylvania hunters with Saturday opener of small-game season. With small-game hunting seasons set to kick off this weekend, Pennsylvania’s state game lands are being stocked with pheasants in a year what Game Commission officials describe as an excellent year for pheasant production. Nearly 220,000 pheasants will be produced this year by the Game Commission’s game farms to be stocked on game lands and other public lands to provide hunting opportunities for Pennsylvania hunters. Pennsylvania’s small-game season, which includes pheasant and rabbit seasons, kicks off on Saturday. Game Commission Executive Director Matthew Hough said pheasant hunting is a great way to introduce young people to hunting.
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would deter local governments from establishing their own firearms laws is now before the Governor for his signature. In passing House Bill 80, state lawmakers agreed that local laws and ordinances regarding gun ownership threaten Second Amendment rights. The bill allows an individual to sue, to block or to overturn a local ordinance. If successful, the individual would be able to recover all expenses, including attorney’s fees and lost income from employment. State firearms preemption was originally enacted by the PA Legislature to avoid the possibility of thousands of different firearm laws statewide. Over 50 localities have enacted gun control ordinances in violation of the current state firearms preemption law, creating a myriad of local gun laws that make compliance difficult for responsible gun owners. Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The NCAA has dropped Gov. Tom Corbett from its lawsuit challenging a state law that limits where $60 million in Penn State fine money can be spent. It also dropped Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. It reached a deal with lawyers for the officials saying they’re not important to the case. The lawsuit stems from a 2013 law requiring fines levied after the Jerry Sandusky scandal to be spent on Pennsylvania child abuse programs. The dismissals leave state Treasurer Rob McCord and the Crime and Delinquency Commission’s chairman as the lone defendants. McCord has defended the law. Penn State accepted the fine two years ago as part of a consent decree.
EAST BERLIN (AP) – Authorities say a York County house fire that killed scores of snakes does not appear suspicious in origin. The blaze was reported shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday in the 100 block of Bentz Mill Road in the Washington Township home of a snake breeder. Chief Larry Anderson of the Wellsville Fire Company said the heat and smoke killed three-quarters of the nonvenomous snakes that were kept in cages in the basement. He said the total number of animals was “a three-digit number” but crews “stopped counting after 200-something.” Anderson said smoke detectors alerted the two people inside and they and a dog were able to escape. He said the fire marshal is expected to issue a cause today, but nothing points to the blaze being suspicious.
HARRISBURG – Harrisburg’s Bethesda Mission announced the launch of a campaign that makes clear their commitment to changing lives of men, women, and children in need. The “Inspire Hope” Campaign will break the long-held perception of the mission as just a homeless shelter and food line and will illuminate facilities and programs that were built to turn around the lives of men, women, and children in need due to problems with drug addiction, abuse and violence, and family disintegration. Executive Director Chuck Wingate said, “If people truly knew all that we do here, they would get involved without question. It is our intent to show the community what we’re doing rather than just talking about it.” The announcement comes as Bethesda Mission prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in December.