LANCASTER – Be on the lookout for slick spots this morning as black ice is being reported around the region. A number of accidents are being reported as a result. Give yourself a little extra time for your morning commute and slow down as you could come upon slippery roadway conditions. Be alert on bridges, overpasses, and exit ramps.
PUNXSUTAWNEY/QUARRYVILLE – The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog are set to predict whether we’ll have an early spring or have to suffer through the end of winter. Members of Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle plan to reveal their forecast at sunrise today. Locally, Octorara Orphie will make his prediction as well. If the furry rodents sees their shadow today, winter will last an additional six weeks. If not, spring comes early.
YORK HAVEN (AP) – About 1,200 fish are dead after an operational glitch at an area power plant caused cold water to be sent into the Susquehanna River. Talen Energy said the glitch happened early Saturday at the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in York Haven. The plant had been powering down a unit when the it unexpectedly shut down and sent cold water into the river which shocked the fish to death. State environmental regulators say Talen Energy will receive a violation notice and an investigation will determine if further actions are needed. The company says it is working to prevent the glitch from happening again.
LANCASTER (AP) – A federal judge has rejected the appeal of a Lancaster County man serving a life term in the death of his girlfriend. 30-year-old Micah Stewart was convicted in Lancaster County in the July 2004 murder of 19-year-old Cortney Fry. Stewart argued that jurors should have been told that he was high on drugs that may have made him incapable of forming the intent to kill required for a first-degree murder conviction. The judge in Philadelphia said no testimony was presented at trial to support such a defense.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A former Reading city council president has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for taking a bribe in exchange for efforts to repeal the city’s campaign finance law. Francis Acosta apologized Monday in federal court in Philadelphia, saying what he did was “wrong, despicable and a dishonor for the people who elected me.” Acosta pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy in accepting $1,800 to help the campaign of a political ally, identified by his lawyer as Acosta’s wife. She ran unsuccessfully for district judge. She was not charged.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – A proposed bill in Maryland would make poultry companies responsible for chicken manure, which environmentalists cite as a major pollutant in the Chesapeake Bay. Supporters have scheduled a news conference for today in Annapolis to talk about the legislation called the Poultry Litter Management Act. The bill will seek to protect Maryland farmers and taxpayers from the costs that advocates say should be paid by large poultry companies.
DOVER, DE (AP) – A Delaware Superior Court judge halted all trials and penalty hearings in capital murder cases while the state‘s Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty law. Last week, the Supreme Court accepted several questions submitted by a Superior Court judge regarding the roles of judges and juries in Delaware death penalty cases. Those questions were prompted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling which said Florida’s death sentencing was unconstitutional. Delaware’s sentencing is similar to Florida’s. Meanwhile, a bill to abolish Delaware’s death penalty was defeated in the state House last week.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland Democrats have outlined plans to help people save for college and retirement. The initiatives were highlighted today as priorities this session for Democrats, who control the House and Senate in Maryland. They are backing a measure to create a matching program to encourage thousands of families to begin saving early for college. The state would provide a $250 match for money put in a college savings plan. The measure also would create a tax credit program to help middle class workers with student debt exceeding $20,000.
HAZLETON (AP) – Congressman Lou Barletta is seeking a fourth term in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. The Republican says he has made significant progress fighting against illegal immigration, saving taxpayer dollars, and strengthening national security. Barletta is the former mayor of Hazleton and was elected to Congress in 2010. The 11th District encompasses parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A drop in natural gas prices is now also affecting the state of Pennsylvania’s coffers. The state forests department says that lease payments and royalty income from natural gas drilling on state forests dropped by 46%. That’s over the first six months of the current fiscal year, compared to the same period a year earlier. The department says royalty and rent income was $68.3 million in the July through December period of 2014. Income dropped to $36.7 million over the same six months in 2015. The money has been used in recent years to both operate and improve the state-owned parks and forests, although its diversion to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is the subject of a court challenge.