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County commissioners extend purchase agreement for medical marijuana facility until Dec. 31

SUNBURY — During a brief special meeting Thursday morning, Northumberland County commissioners granted another extension to MNK 03 Holdings, LLC, to execute a purchase agreement for 10 acres of land near the county jail in Coal Township to develop a medical marijuana growing facility.

Republican Commissioners Rick Shoch and Sam Schiccatano voted in favor of extending the purchase agreement until Dec. 31, while Democrat Kym Best voted against the motion.

The extension is the fourth one granted by the commissioners.

Per terms of the extension, MNK 03 Holdings must pay the county $10,000 before Nov. 11 and is required to make additional payments of $10,000 to the county every Monday until the purchase agreement is closed.

To date, MNK 03 Holdings has made payments of $131,000 that are non-refundable. That money and any additional payments made by MNK 03 Holdings for future extensions of the purchase agreement will be deducted from the $1.5 million purchase price for the land. If MNK 03 defaults on the project, the county will retain all the money paid by the company.

Schiccatano said the state reportedly has given MNK 03 Holdings until the end of the year to finalize the purchase agreement or default on the purchase.

After the meeting, county solicitor Frank Garrigan said the county can terminate the purchase agreement five days after MNK 03 Holdings fails to make its $10,000 payment to the county every week until Dec. 31.

The extension allows MNK 03 Holdings, at its own expense, to access the property to make improvements prior to the closing.

Schiccatano previously said the company needed the extensions due to some reorganization taking place on its board of directors.

Best has voted against the extensions because she doesn’t believe a marijuana-growing facility should be located near a county prison and questions the legality of growing marijuana on publicly-owned land.

AOAA routes topic of discussion at Wednesday's city council meeting

SHAMOKIN — A map of proposed routes for Saturday’s Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) ride in the city was shown on a projector and discussed by those in attendance at Wednesday’s city council workshop.

The map displayed showed an expanded route to potentially drive further tourism dollars, but ultimately, it was decided to stay with the existing route that was most recently used for an AOAA ride.

This Saturday’s route will include the downtown business area, Lincoln Street to Turkey Hill and from the AOAA trail to James’ Pizza in the Fifth Ward.

Council had options to expand across Market Street to the businesses there and in Coal Township to Brewser’s SportsGrille, but after much discussion it was decided to keep the ride to a familiar route and not cross Market Street, a state highway.

Not overburdening members of the fire police who have aided in the rides was another reason given to not expand the ride further.

Councilman and Director of Public Works Charlie Verano said that while he is all for supporting area businesses, he felt expanding the route for the ride at this juncture would be an error.

“I think we are looking at expanding this thing too fast,” said Verano. I just want the ride to be safe for all in this community.”

In other business, discussion regarding damage done to Shamokin Street near the former Shroyer Dress Co. building, which was torn down in late 2018, was also prompted by Verano.

Verano noted that council was happy to award the bid to contractor Lycoming Supply to demolish the building late last year and that they did a “terrific” job. However, since then, the issues, primarily a pothole on the east side of the lot, needs to be rectified. Verano asked city administrator Robert Slaby, “Where do we stand on this issue?”

Slaby then informed Verano that there would be an answer to that question within the next 72 hours.

“This needs to be corrected, as with the winter season on the way, it will only make it worse,” Verano told the News-Item after the meeting.

In other news

• It was noted that a new website for the city is slated to be rolled out Jan. 1 and that it will be under the control of city administrative accountant Doreen Annis, who has been honing her coding skills in recent months.

• A discussion regarding meters in town during the holidays took place, concluding with a motion put on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting to suspend meter enforcement in Shamokin from Nov. 30 (Small Business Saturday) to Jan. 2. This will also allow for the meter clerk to have the ability to perform front desk duties at city hall throughout the month of December.

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Tractor-trailer accident closes Route 901 for three hours

LOCUST SUMMIT — A tractor-trailer driver from Ohio suffered minor injuries Thursday morning when he swerved his rig off Route 901 to avoid a car in front of him and crashed into a wooded area, with a section of the trailer coming to rest across the northbound lane.

Mount Carmel Township Chief of Police Brian Hollenbush reported the 11:30 a.m. accident occurred between the “S” Curve at Locust Gap and Patterson Hardscape.

He said Muhammad Shabbir, 45, of Columbus, Ohio, was driving a 2015 Freightliner south on Route 901 toward Locust Summit during a steady rain when the driver of a car in front of him suddenly applied the brakes, causing him to brake and jackknife the rig to the left. The tractor-trailer then traveled into a wooded area, where it struck trees and brush, causing extensive damage to the cab and trailer.

Hollenbush said the rig remained upright the entire time, with a section of the trailer coming to rest across the northbound lane of Route 901, causing the highway to be shut down to traffic until 2:30 p.m.

The accident caused the rig’s fuel tank to rupture and spill into the woods and along the berm of the highway. Hollenbush said approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled, prompting personnel from Northridge Environmental Services to clean up the scene.

The police chief said Shabbir complained of neck pain and was transported by AREA Services Ambulance to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. He underwent emergency room treatment before being released.

Employees from A&F Towing, of Lavelle, used heavy equipment to tow the tractor and trailer from the scene.

Hollenbush said the trailer, which is owned by American Cargo Inc., of Liberty Township, Ohio, was empty.

The accident remains under investigation.

New officer hired in Coal Township

COAL TOWNSHIP — Coal Township Commissioners approved the hiring of Kevin E. Malukas as a full-time patrolman with the Coal Township Police Department at Thursday’s meeting.

Malukas’ hiring was approved via a 5-0 vote.

“He’ll do very well,” said Commissioner George Zalar.

“We wish him well,” added Chairman Craig Fetterman.

The township announced it is still accepting applications for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation grants in the east end of the municipality. Fetterman encouraged citizens to take advantage of the money if they qualify, explaining that it is “no-strings-attached.

Fetterman noted Coal Township is planning to step up efforts regarding blight by working with the Northumberland County Housing Authority when dealing with problem properties.

“We’ve had some success with conservatorship programs before, so we are going to take a direct approach again with (it) on some of the blighted properties,” said Fetterman.

“If the court awards (a blighted property) to Coal Township, we make the repairs and then petition to the court to have the properties either sold or put up for auction and we can get back the money that’s ours,” said solicitor Vince Rovito.

The board approved a motion via a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, to allow limited street access for ATVs from the AOAA during the Nov. 9 Takin’ it to the Streets ride on Walnut Street from First to Owl Street; Owl from Walnut to Cliff and Cliff and Arch streets from Owl to Oak.

Gene Welsh abstained from voting due to his son’s business, Brewser’s SportsGrille.

At Wednesday’s Shamokin City workshop, it was agreed to not expand the route to Brewser’s SportsGrille. City officials agreed after much discussion to keep a familiar route and not cross Market Street.

“We received a letter from the AOAA and acted on it,” said Zalar after the meeting, noting the township acted on the measure regardless of whether the decision was made to use the route or not.

In other news, the board approved the following unanimously:

• A $1,501 bid from James Moore and Daniel Worhach for a property on 501 Main St., Ranshaw, and the $200 bid of Kyle Laubach for a property on 556 N. First Street.

• Adoption of the resolution authorizing the filing of the upcoming year’s Community Development Block Grant application.

• A proposal of M&T Bank to provide the township with a tax anticipation note in the amount of $250,000 for a fixed rate to be set on the date of closing.

• Authorization of the advertisement of a request for proposals for diesel fuel and heating oil for 2020.

Hallmark Channel filming today in Den-Mar Gardens

KULPMONT — The Hallmark Channel will be filming today starting at 3:30 p.m. in Den-Mar Gardens for their Home and Family television series.

The Shedleski’s are among the final four entrants remaining in the Hallmark Channel’s Home Holiday Decoration Sweepstakes. The family who wins the sweepstakes will see their home receive a spectacular Christmas decoration makeover unveiling.

“We’re very excited,” said Brian Shedleski. “The community really has supported us throughout this entire process and we thank them.”

The Mount Carmel Township Board of Supervisors have proclaimed Friday as “Shedleski Hallmark Day” in Mount Carmel Township. The board of supervisors wished the Shedleski’s the best of luck as they compete for the Hallmark crown.

“It’s great to see such a positive event become part of our community. Only one house in the United States will be this year’s winner and having a finalist right here in our township is beyond cool. We are all definitely rooting for the Shedleskis,” said chairman Aaron Domanski.

Hallmark invites the community to take part in the reveal, taking place at approximately 5 p.m. at 202 Montana Drive in Kulpmont.

Festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. and there will be an area set up near the home for guests and a small street fair starting at 4 p.m. The front of the house and the surrounding area will be blocked off from street traffic, but street parking will be available. Production assistants will be on-site to help direct traffic as well.

Snacks will be available and activities will be held prior to the reveal.

The Hallmark Channel asks everyone attending to park a block away from the home in order to not impede filming.


Southern Columbia’s Gavin Garcia follows his blockers while on the way to the end zone during action against Wyoming Friday night at Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium in West Pittston.

Suspicious package found outside Sheetz

ELYSBURG — A large briefcase left in the parking lot of Sheetz Thursday morning raised concerns and resulted in a temporary closure of the store by local first responders before being declared a false alarm.

After crews deemed there was no threat to public safety, the store was reopened.

The initial call for a suspicious package was received by the Northumberland County 9-1-1 Center at 9:44 a.m. and by 11:30 a.m. crews were still at the scene while the store remained closed.

The store later reopened after a thorough investigation, which included a bomb squad from Reading responding to the scene, according to Northumberland County Public Safety Director Stephen Jeffery

The incident began when Sheetz employees reportedly found a briefcase in the parking lot but were unaware of its origins.

Ralpho Township Police Department responded and began investigating the object as a suspicious package, which subsequently led to the store’s evacuation and closure.

Calls to the Ralpho Township Police Department for more information about the incident were not returned.