SHAMOKIN — A correctional officer at the Northumberland County Jail who allegedly fled the prison Monday as an investigation into possible drug violations was taking place was arraigned Thursday morning on four charges after turning herself in.
Holly N. Olvany, 48, of Spruce Road, Sunbury, was released on $20,000 unsecured supervised bail by Magisterial Judge John Gembic III after a debate about bail conditions.
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz recommended cash bail for Olvany, stating her failure to comply with alleged requests to remain at the prison during Monday’s investigation. He said he asked for cash bail to assure her appearance at court proceedings and also asked for bail supervision.
Olvany’s attorney, Michael Rudinski, of Williamsport, told Gembic the charges are only misdemeanors and that she has no cause to run. He requested ROR (released on own recognizance) bail, stating Olvany has a disabled child at home who requires her care.
To further emphasize his client isn’t a flight risk, Rudinski said she appeared at every court appearance after charges for allegedly delivering marijuana to a county inmate at the former prison in Sunbury were filed against her in 2004. Olvany was acquitted at a trial in September 2005.
He also noted Olvany turned herself into the sheriff’s department Thursday morning.
If Olvany fails to appear for her preliminary hearing, her bail could be revoked and she could be committed to prison in addition to being ordered to pay up to $20,000.
Olvany was charged with misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person, obstructing administration of the law and disorderly conduct, and summaries of reckless driving and careless driving. She has not been charged in relation to the drug investigation.
Olvany is accused to getting into her vehicle and leaving the prison on Monday after realizing she was the focus of a police investigation into an unidentified substance found in a locker. The substance was found by Watsontown Patrolman Tim Kiefaber, a certified drug K-9 officer, and his K-9, Mariska, who were called to the prison after Warden Bruce Kovach contacted the district attorney’s office with evidence suggesting inmates may be using illegal drugs in the jail.
The criminal complaint said that, prior to her fleeing, Olvany told Northumberland County Detective Degg Stark the small vial of clear liquid found in her locker was a crystallized urine sample that was going to be delivered to her daughter’s doctor later in the day.
Degg told Deputy Warden Jim Smink to attempt to stop the vehicle Olvany was driving, but she left anyway. Authorities said it is clear on video footage that Olvany placed people standing near her vehicle at risk of being seriously injured.
SHAMOKIN — The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way (GSVUW) plans to continue expanding its outreach in the Shamokin-Mount Carmel region as it wraps up its annual fund drive at the end of the month.
GSVUW merged with the former Lower Anthracite Region United Way (LARUW) chapter on July 1 and has been working to identify and target problem areas specific to each community, President and CEO Joanne Troutman said this week.
An example of a successful community outreach is an afterschool program involving Mount Carmel Area middle school-aged students. The program helps mentor those identified as “at-risk.”
“GSVUW provides funding for the program. There is a designated lead mentor who is a school district employee,” Troutman said. “Our staff works together with them to help facilitate the afterschool program.”
She said GSVUW is exploring a similar program at Shamokin Area School District.
GSVUW promoted its new lower anthracite affiliation by launching its annual fundraiser at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) in September. As of this week, $900,000 has been raised toward a goal of $1.1 million.
A solicitation for contributions was recently sent to some 500 businesses in the eastern end of the county, and 1,500 to 2,000 more throughout the rest of Northumberland as well as Snyder and Union counties. Troutman said many individual donations come from workplace campaigns, and employee contribution options are provided by participating employers.
Troutman noted in an accompanying letter that she is a native of Kulpmont and a graduate of Mount Carmel Area.
“I’m committed to leading our team and partners to address the serious social needs that exist in the lower anthracite area,” she wrote.
GSVUW has hundreds of nonprofit community partners, including school districts, government agencies, health care providers, child care and transportation entities and private businesses.
It works with them to identify areas of critical need. Areas of focus include teenagers, early childhood education, financial stability, diversity and inclusion, transportation and behavioral health and addiction.
Grants are awarded to address issues.
“We provide $20,000 to $25,000 per year in grant monies to our lower anthracite community partners,” Troutman said.
Those partners include Manna for the Many, The Avenues, Central Susquehanna Sight Services (CSSS), Shamokin-Coal Township Public Library, Court Appointed Special Advocate (COSA), American Red Cross and others.
Troutman said GSVUW hopes to continue expanding its outreach efforts.
“We’re currently working on developing initiatives in the areas of substance abuse and mental health, in order to help prevent and resolve addictions and other detrimental issues in their early stages,” she said.
The former LARUW covered Shamokin, Coal Township, Trevorton, Kulpmont, Mount Carmel and Elysburg. Seventy percent of its funded partners in 2017 were also GSVUW partners.
(For more information or to donate, contact Troutman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 570-988-0993.)
SHAMOKIN — Northumberland County Commissioner Kym Best believes Northumberland County Correctional Officer Holly N. Olvany, who was charged Wednesday with multiple offenses including recklessly endangering another person, should be terminated rather than placed on administrative paid leave.
In an email sent to The News-Item Thursday, Best states, “This officer should have absolutely been fired in 2017. The majority of the prison board ignored my warnings and the verdict of a federal jury. I will continue to call out bad employees like Ms. Olvany. Ms. Olvany does not deserve to work shoulder to shoulder with respectable COs. I am re-calling for Ms. Olvany’s termination, effective immediately. Paid leave is unacceptable for these circumstances.”
Northumberland County Court Administrator Kevin O’Hearn said Warden Bruce Kovach made the decision to place Olvany on administrative paid leave after conferring with county Human Resources Director Joseph Picarelli.
O’Hearn and Picarelli said the prison board, which meets Wednesday afternoon at Northumberland County Jail in Coal Township, is expected to vote on whether to suspend Olvany with or without pay, or terminate her.
Efforts to contact Kovach on Thursday were unsuccessful.
County Commissioner Sam Schiccatano reserved comment about the charges and a pending investigation involving possible drug violations uncovered at the prison Monday.
Authorities reported Olvany fled from the prison in her car after apparently realizing the focus of the drug investigation.
Deputy Warden Jim Smink attempted to stop the vehicle, but Olvany accelerated from the scene and was able to elude authorities.
Best’s reference to 2017 involves the awarding of $7,500 by a jury to former inmate Stephanie Olin, of Selinsgrove, in her lawsuit filed against the county.
Olin, who was seeking $3 million in the case heard in the federal courthouse in Harrisburg, was successful in her claim that Olvany entered her cell in May 2013, wrapped a blanket around her neck and choked her. The jury also found corrections employees punished Olin for making the claim by denying her the ability to contact her attorney and confining her naked in a maximum security cell, which was a violation of her Eighth Amendment rights.
Best and her husband, attorney Timothy Bowers, represented Olin in the lawsuit. Best said she called for Olvany to be fired after Olin won the suit.
The county’s insurance company was responsible for paying the cost of the lawsuit and award.
Following the awarding of the suit, no disciplinary action was taken against Olvany, who has been a county prison guard for many years.
After a fire that destroyed the prison in Sunbury in January 2015, Olvany was moved to an administrative position within the prison system.
Olvany, 48, of Spruce Road, Sunbury, was one of seven former or current guards at the county prison in Sunbury who were charged on April 14, 2004, following a two-year grand jury investigation into offenses allegedly committed between 2000 and 2002 at the prison.
She was acquitted at a trial in September 2005 of delivering marijuana to an inmate and returned to her job as a correctional officer in December 2005.
Olvany, who is represented by attorney Michael Rudinski, of Williamsport, is charged with misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person, obstructing administration of the law and disorderly conduct, and summaries of reckless driving and careless driving. She has not been charged in relation to the drug investigation.
The charges were filed by Northumberland County Detective Degg Stark and Deputy Sheriff Todd Owens, a field supervisor with the Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force.
MOUNT CARMEL — Several arrests are pending in Mount Carmel regarding three aggressive dogs that bit at least two people on Monday and Tuesday in the borough, police Chief Christopher Buhay said Thursday.
The police department received numerous calls Monday and Tuesday regarding the loose dogs believed to be pitbull mixes in the area of Seventh and Vine streets.
An officer fired one round at the dogs after they charged at officers during an attempt to catch them Tuesday, Buhay said. Officers were able to catch one of the dogs and transport it to the Sunbury Animal Hospital, where staff volunteered to quarantine it for 10 days.
The other two dogs fled into the woods but were caught Tuesday night and returned to the home they were living in to be quarantined for 10 days.
Buhay said they’ve identified the owner of the dogs as well as the residence the dogs were living at, which is separate from the owner.
Charges for dangerous dogs and dogs running at large are pending, and several arrests will be made in the case, Buhay said.
COAL TOWNSHIP — Coal Township commissioners received complaints Thursday night from a longtime First Street resident regarding blighted properties in his neighborhood.
John Lyash, of 36 S. First St., said a blighted property owned by House Flex LLC (George Atiyeh) at 22-24 S. First St. next to the former Reed’s Dairy is infested with rats and black mold.
He reported a blighted structure at 38 S. First St. owned by Howard A. Christy Sr. and Paul W. Wilson, of East Greenville, also contains rats.
Board President Craig Fetterman told Lyash if the township can gain ownership of the properties, money may be available from the Northumberland County Housing Authority Blight Task Force to raze them.
Fetterman said the township recycling center, which is approximately 15 years old, set a record last month by collecting 288,591 pounds of materials.
Commissioner Gene Welsh said an aggressive campaign will be mounted to go after residents and business owners in the township who don’t pay their taxes.
Commissioner Matt Schiccatano said all the equipment has been installed at a playground recently renovated on West Arch Street in front of the newly-constructed recreation facility. Only landscaping work remains at the site.
“It looks really good and I noticed it was crowded with kids during the recent warm weather we had,” he said.
Blue Ridge Excavating was the contractor for the playground.
Fetterman said he met with Northumberland County Commissioner Kym Best on Thursday and plans to meet with county Commissioner Sam Schiccatano next week in an attempt to settle a lawsuit filed against the township by Schiccatano and fellow Commissioner Rick Shoch over building permit fees involving the new county prison.
Schiccatano and Shoch believe the county was overcharged for the building permits and third-party inspection involving the new prison in Coal Township.
Township Manager Rob Slaby previously reported the township has spent an estimated $45,000 on attorney fees in defending the lawsuit.
Although Fetterman and Commissioner George Zalar maintain the building permit fee structure is correct and that the county wasn’t overcharged, they are willing to negotiate for everyone’s benefit.
Commissioner Bernie Rumberger was absent from the meeting.