LANCASTER – An arrest has been made in the death of 32-year-old Lancaster County school teacher, Nicole Mathewson. 16-year-old Marcus Rutter of Lancaster was taken into custody without incident shortly after 10 p.m. Monday in the 600 block of E. Marion Street and is charged with criminal homicide, burglary, criminal conspiracy to commit burglary, and robbery. Authorities say the investigation into the homicide is continuing, as well as the possible involvement of other suspects after Rutter claimed in a police affidavit he and an unnamed co-conspirator applied force to Mathewson while stealing multiple items from her home. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact Lancaster Police at 735-3300 or Lancaster City-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-322-1913. Shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday, Lancaster Police responded to the 700 block of N. Franklin Street and found Mathewson unresponsive with visible traumatic injuries. Her car which was reported missing has been located by police. Mathewson taught sixth grade at Brownstown Elementary School in the Conestoga Valley School District. Guidance counselors are available to provide support to students and staff at Brownstown, as well as other school buildings.
HARRISBURG – When the General Assembly begins its new two-year legislative session in January, Berks County Sen. Judy Schwank plans again to introduce legislation reducing the size of the PA Senate from 50 to 40 members and the House from 203 to 121 members. Schwank introduced similar legislation in the previous session and although she had 14 cosponsors – both Democrat and Republican – on the bill, the Senate State Government Committee declined to bring it up for a vote. She says says with an influx of new Senate and House members she’s optimistic a new effort to reduce the size of the legislature will gain momentum and pass both chambers. The proposal would amend the state constitution. It would have to pass the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and then go on the ballot for voters to approve or reject.
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvanians can now purchase 2015 dog licenses from their county treasurers. State law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. An annual dog license is $8.50 or $6.50 if the animal is spayed or neutered. Lifetime licenses are available for dogs that have permanent identification like a microchip or tattoo. Older adults and people with disabilities may be eligible for discounts. The dog license application is simple and only requests owner contact information and details about the dog being licensed, like name, age, breed, and color. Owners who fail to license their dogs could face a fine of up to $300 for each unlicensed dog. The annual fee you pay to license your dog helps keep shelters running and supports the work of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of dogs, regulating dangerous dogs and overseeing annual licensing and rabies vaccinations. For more information, including a list of county treasurers, visit www.LicenseYourDogPA.com or call the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement Office at 717-787-3062.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – A projected two-year budget shortfall in Maryland has grown to nearly $1.2 billion. The Board of Revenue Estimates projected that revenues are falling short of previous projections. The board projected revenue will be $123 million short this fiscal year, which ends in June. The board projects revenue will be $148 million lower than expected the following year. The revised projections increase the expected budget gaps of $300 million this year and $600 million next year. In a statement, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan says the latest numbers are “no surprise,” but he says the growing deficit adds to the challenges he faces when taking office in January.
COATESVILLE (AP) – Two former officials of a Chester County school district who resigned following a text message scandal have now been charged with having stolen money from the district. Former Coatesville Area School District superintendent Richard Como and athletic director James Donato are charged with theft of school district funds and violations of the state’s ethics act for public employees. Both resigned in September of last year amid allegations that they had exchanged racist and sexist text messages on their district cellphones. Chester County prosecutors said material in the messages also prompted an investigation into possible financial improprieties. Donato’s attorney said allegations that his client committed crimes to support a lavish lifestyle “couldn’t be further from the truth.” Como’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
MECHANICSBURG (AP) – Someone is spreading holiday cheer by covering $50,000 worth of layaway accounts at a Cumberland County store. Manager Steve Myers said the benefactor showed up at the Wal-Mart in Mechanicsburg before noon Monday with a cashier’s check that barely covered the balances on about 100 accounts. Monday was the deadline to pay off layaways. The store was about to cancel the accounts and refund the partial payments. Instead, store associates called customers to give them the good news, although some suspected it was a joke. The donor describes himself as a successful businessman. Similar gestures include one last week at a Toys R Us in Bellingham, Massachusetts, where a woman paid $20,000 to cover 150 layaway accounts.
LANCASTER – The Rescue Mission Food Drive, a partnership between Water Street, Bethesda, York, and Lebanon Rescue Missions has been going on since October 19 and continues through this Saturday, December 20th. Last year, the four area missions served almost 500,000 meals to the hungry and homeless. The goal is 300,000 pounds of food. They are currently at 182,507 pounds of food. Folks can fill a box or grocery bag with non-perishable food items (no glass containers please), and then drop it off at your local rescue mission, any Turkey Hill Minit Market or any M&T Bank in Lancaster, York, Lebanon, Dauphin or Cumberland Counties. Donations can also be dropped off at The Sharp Shopper in Ephrata, Leola, and Middletown; Fulton Bank at Annville/Cleona, Lebanon, Myerstown, and Schaefferstown; York Newspaper Company in York County; and Karn’s Foods in Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties. Your donation will go to the Mission that serves your county. Visit RescueMissionFoodDrive.org for more information. Another way to help is send a financial gift to your local rescue mission.
HARRISBURG – The Legislative Government Reform Caucus consists of about 40 PA state senators and representatives from both political parties. Since its inception in March 2013, the Caucus has met regularly to develop and promote legislation to reform state government. Caucus Co-Chair, Dauphin County Sen. Rob Teplitz says he will be introducing a number of good government bills when the new legislative session starts in January. One measure would ban January “Interregnum” sessions between the period of time between the swearing in of state lawmakers and the governor. Some Republicans are considering whether to have an “Interregnum” session with the new Legislature and outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett in order to address certain issues such as public pension reform and liquor privatization. Teplitz said a two week session next month doesn’t make sense. Other reform measures include suspending compensation for the governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet officers, and the General Assembly if a budget bill is not passed by the June 30th deadline; prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars by all three branches of state government to hire lobbyists to lobby a sister agency; and requiring the Governor to report political contributions, in-kind donations or political expenditures made by an appointee that has been nominated to a cabinet office within 10 days of the nomination.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvanians seeking health insurance through the federally run exchange are bumping up against a deadline if they want coverage by Jan. 1. If they miss Monday’s deadline, they can still enroll through the exchange through Feb. 15. New enrollment figures in Pennsylvania aren’t available through the federal government. Non-profit health care advocates are trying to help people sign up and say they’re strengthening their focus on harder-to-reach populations, including those in more rural areas and immigrants. More than 317,000 Pennsylvanians signed up for coverage through a policy sold on the exchange during the first enrollment period from October 2013 through March.
HARRISBURG – Legislation will be reintroduced in the new legislative session to privatize and regulate Pennsylvania’s bail bondsman industry. The measure is intended to provide accountability, professionalism, and transparency to the practice of providing bail for those awaiting trial. The bill passed the state Senate unanimously in the prior session, and prime sponsor, Sen. Rich Alloway of Adams & York Counties, said that the industry is aware that changes are needed. He added that the bill provides a uniform collection of rules to regulate the bail bondsman industry along with criminal penalties for those who violate the law.