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3-year-old beating victim clings to life

SHAMOKIN — A 3-year-old girl is fighting for her life after being brutally beaten Thursday night at 725 W. Shamokin St., Trevorton.

Jahrid Josef Burgess, 19, of Trevorton, is accused of beating the girl and his 23-year-old girlfriend during an incident that left the toddler with a brain injury, multiple broken ribs, hemorrhaging from the vagina and multiple bruises on the face and body.

Burgess was arraigned Saturday morning by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic and remanded to the Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $200,000 cash bail along with the requirement that he not make contact with either of the victims or witnesses.

State police at Stonington charged him with three counts of aggravated assault and single counts of strangulation, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and endangering the welfare of children.

According to Gembic, Burgess showed no remorse at the arraignment, despite police stating he admitted to his involvement in the case, and instead told the judge that he needed to be with the 3-year-old child.

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz said the child has been given a 10% chance of survival by doctors at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

He said the beating is one of the most disgraceful crimes he has seen since being elected.

“It was heinous. This girl is literally destroyed,” he said. “I see things like this all the time and you’re supposed to be numb to it, but this physically affected me. When I looked at the photographs I physically got disgusted. This is the first case that got to me like that.”

He said if the child passes away, the commonwealth will withdraw the current charges and refile criminal homicide charges against Burgess.

According to Matulewicz, Thursday’s incident is not the first time Burgess has been involved with an investigation regarding abuse of the child.

“There was an incident that involved a broken leg in the past,” Matulewicz said, adding that Children and Youth Services were involved in the previous investigation.

Burgess’ 23-year-old girlfriend told police he has assaulted her at least 10 times and the child at least four times since July.

His girlfriend told police she believes Burgess broke her ribs and hand or wrist during Thursday’s assault, which included him pushing her into a tub, causing her to fall on the child, before dragging her by the hair into a living room where he punched her arms and chest.

The adult victim also stated Burgess grabbed the child by the throat, picked her off the ground and pushed her into a living room wall. The child then began to walk away, but Burgess shoved her, causing her to fall on her hands and knees, before having seizures, police said.

On Oct. 6, Burgess allegedly smacked the child in the face, kicked and punched her in the back and also stomped on her stomach, which his girlfriend believes broke the child’s collarbone, police said.

During the arraignment, Burgess stated he plans to contact his mother in an attempt to have her use property to bail him out of jail through a bail bondsman, Gembic said.

Matulewicz, who participated in the arraignment through phone, said he is pleased that Gembic recognized the gravity of the offense and set an appropriate bail.

“My argument to him was that there are two first-degree felony counts of aggravated assault on a 3-year-old girl and I asked he set bail to assure his appearance at trial,” Matulewicz said, noting Burgess had a separate robbery charge he is facing from an unrelated incident.

Gembic said at one point during the arraignment, Burgess asked Matulewicz and Gembic to put themselves in his shoes.

“I told (Burgess) the only person I’m concerned for is that little girl,” Gembic said.

Matulewicz said state police activated its major case team to investigate the beating Thursday.

“They all immediately got into their own area and did what they needed to do. It was so fast and they did a phenomenal job. There were 14 people involved in the investigation last night.”

Trevorton Halloween Parade attracts record crowd

TREVORTON — The 12th edition of Trevorton’s Halloween Parade Saturday morning may have set a record for the number of participants, according to organizers.

Despite the threat of a late-morning rainstorm, more than 100 residents, bands, floats, marching groups and special attractions appeared at the event held in connection with the community’s annual Fall Festival.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Donald Bulchie, a member of the Fall Festival committee and one of the organizers of the parade.

“Considering the heavy overcast and the threat of rain, I would say the number who came and took part represented a record. We thank all of them, including families and friends from, not only Trevorton, but the entire region,” he said.

Selected as grand marshal for the parade this year was Donald Zech, a resident of Bloomsburg and former band director of the Trevorton High School Band before the school’s merger to form the Line Mountain School District. Zech and his wife, Joan, rode at the head of the long parade in a Jeep.

The honored guest was a band director for many years before his retirement, serving schools in Berwick and Bloomsburg in addition to Trevorton. His career as a high school music director spanned more than 36 years. He retired in 1999.

Many of the entries in the procession were family members, including young children dressed in a variety of costumes and representing a number of local, regional, state and national characters of prominence.

Among the special attractions were the Line Mountain High School Band, Knoebels float, High Wheelers, Zembo Shrine Cars and Clowns, Keep Out Brass Band and a number of fire and other emergency apparatus.

The parade formed on the eastern end of Shamokin Street and the line of march encompassed a number of streets, ending at the Foundry, where activity in the Fall Festival continued throughout the day, with activity ending with a grand finale fireworks display Saturday night.

Chris Grego / C. J. GREGO/STAFF PHOTO  

The Victoria’s ornate grand dome contained a large chandelier at its center, surrounded by 12 smaller ones. Each chandelier, as well as the dome itself, also contained lights which rotated colors.

Officers, firefighters square off in bowling competition

SHAMOKIN — It was “guns” versus “hoses” during a friendly bowling competition Saturday night at Moose Lodge 1149.

About 16 local law enforcement officers and firefighters participated in the inaugural event. Although a plethora of pins were missed throughout the night, it was the amount of money raised that counted the most.

Each participant paid a $10 entry fee, with at least one person making an considerable donation after the fact. The groups will split the proceeds and determine how best to use it.

Bowlers of various skill levels included Northumberland County Sheriff Robert Wolfe, Shamokin Police Chief Darwin Tobias III, Mayor John Brown, Rescue Fire Co. President Scott Roughton and Rescue Fire Co. First Lieutenant Bill Smoogen.

Smoogen, a firefighter for 20-plus years, said the event increased morale and helped build the relationship between firefighters and officers.

“This is the first time I remember something like this,” he commented. “I really enjoy helping our community and volunteering. It’s nice to spend quality time, like this, and not being in the middle of a fire.”

Deputy Sheriff Edward Griffiths said the event was a great way to relax while supporting a good cause.

The former Shamokin Police Chief then proceeded to take a few practice throws during which he knocked down a total of four pins.

“I am not a bowler,” he said with a smile.

Wolfe, who is also a past fire chief for the Shamokin Fire Bureau, said it was a troubling decision whether to join the “guns” or “hoses.”

“I am proud to be a member of the law enforcement team, even though I am a retired fire chief. It was a tough decision to make, but I had to choose a side,” he jokingly said prior to bowling a far from perfect game.

Turkey Trot set for Thanksgiving; searching for sponsors

SHAMOKIN — Those who have prepared Thanksgiving dinner know just how important an early start to the day can be.

From preparing turkey to mashing potatoes, the day is assuredly one of the busiest of the year for the cooks of the family — but the Shamokin Rotary Club has spent the last seven years convincing area residents to try and find room for just one more task to complete on the busy day.

Enter the annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk, the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year, which aims to get families together at the crack of dawn to make for an early start to Thanksgiving and provide an opportunity to burn some calories before breaking almost every nutritional guideline in existence.

Rotarian Sherri Shebelsky, President of Bader’s Furniture Co. in Shamokin, has seen the event grow from its modest beginnings to become one of the marquee running events in the lower anthracite region.

“I see a lot of families doing the run,” she said. “Not the very little ones, but we see mom, dad and the older children all participate and I like that because they come in for the holidays and make it a true family event.”

Rotarian Angela Kuhns added, “Some even dress up when they come and have a great, fun time. And, even if only some of the family is interested in running, you still have a built-in cheering section because the whole family comes to the event to be a part of it.”

Organizers have taken care to make sure the event runs smoothly each year, putting an emphasis on quickly completing the run so that families can get home in time for Thanksgiving festivities.

“If you’re registering on the day of the run, you should be there by 8 a.m., the race starts promptly at 9 a.m., and we’re typically packing up by 10:30,” Shebelsky said.

Rotary secretary Matthew Atchison said the club is making a push to reach new sponsors this year, which includes the addition of “Title Sponsors,” which allows businesses to promote themselves during the day of the event with a table near where runners register.

“We’ve re-upped all of the sponsors from previous years that were willing to donate and we’ve added a whole new bunch of potentials,” he said.

The deadline to preregister for the event is Oct. 31 at the following cost: 19-and-under with no T-shirt, $10, or with T-shirt, $20; adult with no T-shirt, $20, or with T-shirt, $25. After Oct. 31, the cost anyone to register is $25 with no T-shirt included. Additional T-shirts cost $20 each.

Awards will be given to the first and second place finishers in each age group for both men and women. The overall fastest time for men and women will each win $100.

Registration can be completed by mailing to Shamokin Rotary Club, PO Box 199, Shamokin 17872; or visiting Bader’s Fine Furniture, 704 N. Liberty St., Shamokin, during business hours.

Interested sponsors can select one of three options, title sponsor ($250), gold sponsor ($100), or silver sponsor ($50). Questions can be directed to Atchison at 570-644-3004 or email the club, ShamokinRotaryPA@gmail.com.

Man, daughter escape injury in Strong blaze

STRONG — A grease fire caused by a pan of unattended pierogies is the likely cause of a fire that heavily damaged a home Saturday night.

Gary Hixson, a firefighter with Mount Carmel Area Rescue Squad, and his young daughter escaped injury when the fire started in a one-story addition of 122 Third St., two blocks south of Route 61. A dog, however, perished in the blaze.

Mount Carmel Township Fire Marshal Brian Hollenbush called a second alarm within minutes of the 8:38 p.m. dispatch due to the heavy flames that were showing upon arrival.

The kitchen sustained heavy exterior and interior damage, but firefighters kept the flames from extending into the two-story portion of the home. The living area did sustain some water and smoke damage, according to Hollenbush.

The fire was marked under control within 30 minutes of crews being dispatched.

“Firefighters did an excellent job with suppression,” he commented.

A Strong resident sustained what appeared to be minor injuries when a 5-inch hose line blew out, causing the person to fall to the ground. The woman was alert and responding to EMS crews before being transported from the scene in an ambulance.

Hollenbush was assisted at the scene by Mount Carmel Township Fire Chief Charles Gasperetti and Atlas Fire Chief Michael Minnig.


Shamokin’s Sarah Hoover (2) defends Mount Carmel’s Mia Chapman in the second half of the annual Coal Shovel game Saturday night in Coal Township.