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Dave Fegley/For The News-Item  

Southern Columbia’s Julian Fleming gets ready minutes before his team took the field for their opening game against Hammond in Columbia, South Carolina.


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Alleged rapist attacked in Northumberland County Jail

COAL TOWNSHIP — A Mount Carmel man accused of rape and incest was attacked by a fellow inmate at the Northumberland County Jail on Monday, Oct. 7, according to a press release from the Northumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

Joseph Scott Krum has been charged with two counts of disorderly conduct after he allegedly initiated a physical altercation with 23-year-old Patrick Gurdak at the prison last week.

Police said Krum used his hands to slam Gurdak’s head onto a nearby kiosk while Gurdak was fully restrained and unable to defend himself. The attack caused Gurdak to suffer two lacerations, which caused substantial bleeding from his head and required stitches, the press release states.

Gurdak allegedly declined to pursue charges of assault against Krum, which prompted the district attorney’s office to file two counts of disorderly conduct against Krum because his actions caused other inmates to participate in the incident, police said.

Two other inmates received minor scrapes and abrasions, the press release states.

Charges are pending at the office of Magisterial District Judge John Gembic and a preliminary hearing is expected to be held within the next few weeks.


Chris Grego / C. J. GREGO/STAFF PHOTO  

Mid-October fall foliage is on full display behind this cupola at 148 S. Sheridan St. in the Springfield section of Coal Township Wednesday afternoon.


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White House Christmas tree selected from Pitman farm

PITMAN — Pennsylvania’s $28.9 million Christmas tree industry was highlighted on Tuesday when the state’s Agriculture Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer joined the National Christmas Tree Association at Mahantongo Valley Farms in Northumberland County, where a tree was chosen for the White House.

With more than 1,400 tree farms in the commonwealth and nearly 31,000 acres of trees, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for Christmas tree production.

As grand champion winner of the National Christmas Tree Contest, Mahantongo Valley Farms owner Larry Snyder had the honor of providing this year’s Blue Room Christmas tree. Since 1929, the Blue Room tree has been known as the White House’s official tree and is traditionally trimmed by the first lady.

“Tuesday was a wonderful experience for us personally. It’s important to our family and state to have one of our own trees selected for display at the blue room as this year’s White House Christmas Tree,” said Snyder.

“It’s a great honor to be representing the National Tree Growers Association and Pennsylvania Tree Growers Association, on both a national and state level. White House staff included the chief usher and superintendent of the grounds, who viewed the four finalist trees that we presented and made their final selection from that group.”

The tree will be cut and transported in November, when Pennsylvania’s tree-buying season is just beginning. It will be officially presented to the first lady on Monday, Nov. 25, at the White House.

“We’re proud to have a piece of Pennsylvania on display at our nation’s capital through the holidays,” Strathmeyer added. “I hope Pennsylvanians will make the same choice to buy a local, renewable tree this season. Pennsylvania Christmas tree growers have a big impact on the state’s economy and now, a Pennsylvania tree is making its way to America’s living room.”


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Sunbury man accused of grabbing and throwing 2-year-old girl onto couch

SUNBURY — An 18-year-old Sunbury man is in Northumberland County Jail after allegedly grabbing and throwing his 2-year-old daughter onto a couch at their home Wednesday morning.

Jeremy Krumbine, of 244 Lenker Ave., was arraigned at 1:50 p.m. Wednesday by Magisterial District Judge Michael Toomey on a felony of endangering the welfare of a child and misdemeanors of simple assault and harassment filed by Patrolman Terry Ketchem Jr.

According to a criminal complaint, Ketchem and Cpl. Travis Bremigen responded to the Lenker residence for a family disturbance shorly after 11 a.m.

Upon speaking with Krumbine, Ketchem said the defendant told him that he and Alysia Hendricks got into an argument earlier in the morning after being accused by Hendricks of shoving their 2-year-old daughter, Laylee Krumbine, while they were in bed.

Krumbine told Ketchem that the child had her legs in his face, so he pushed her legs down. He denied abusing his daughter in any way.

Hendricks told police Krumbine grabbed their daughter’s legs while they were in bed and forcefully shoved her legs away from his face while stating, “Get the f--- away from me.” Hendricks said Krumbine’s actions caused the toddler to cry and almost fall off the bed.

While they were in the dining room later, Hendricks said she asked Krumbine to change the child’s diaper. At that point, Hendricks said Krumbine picked up the girl by one arm and threw her onto a couch cushion, causing the child to cry.

Hendricks said she then told the defendant she wasn’t going to stand for his behavior and that she was going to take the child and leave. Police said Krumbine allegedly told Hendricks she could leave the home, but not with their daughter, at which point Hendricks called the police.

He was incarcerated in lieu of $150,000 cash bail and is scheduled to face a preliminary hearing at 9:15 a.m. Oct. 29.


Local
breaking
One injured in rollover accident on Route 901

COAL TOWNSHIP — Firefighters extracted the driver of a Ford Explorer that crashed Wednesday night into several trees along Route 901 east of Excelsior.

First responders were dispatched at 8:50 p.m. on a report of a one-vehicle accident with entrapment and ejection just feet from the Mount Carmel Township line.

As firefighters from Shamokin and Coal Township worked to remove the driver, Sonya Wyland, of Ranshaw, a land search was conducted to locate a second victim. Wyland had indicated that a child had been thrown from the vehicle as it rolled over.

As additional units were responding to assist in the search, Coal Township Patrolman Cody Rebuck made contact with a male family member, who learned the child was safe at his home. The search was then terminated.

Wyland was placed onto a stretcher 18 minutes after initial dispatch and transported by AREA Services to a hospital. The extent of her injuries were not immediately known.

According to police, the Explorer was traveling west on Route 901 when, for unknown reason, it entered the shoulder of the westbound lane. The vehicle hit a large tree and rolled at least one time before coming to a rest on its passenger side. An investigation continues into the cause of the crash.

The state highway was shut down between Industrial Park Road and the former Boylan’s Garage until 9:53 p.m.


Local
Former city cops testify in federal case

WILLIAMSPORT — Day two of the federal court case Donna Deitrick vs. former Shamokin police officers Mark Costa and William Miner saw the continued testimony of Deitrick, as well as that of both retired officers and the former secretary of the police station, Lisa White.

Though U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle, of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, originally believed the closing arguments and jury instructions would take place prior to the end of the work day, those items will be completed today and the jury will then be sent to deliberations.

In his continued cross-examination of Deitrick, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Frank Lavery, asked Deitrick whether she had struck her shoulder in a scuffle with then-Vanessa Long, her estranged husband’s girlfriend. When Deitrick denied the statement, Lavery indicated an exhibit from a doctor named Covalesky, whom Deitrick had identified as her family doctor.

The exhibit, reportedly from the physician, read in part that the patient had hit her right shoulder on the water cooler. Lavery indicated that the word “shoulder” was misspelled.

“She wrote that down, but I didn’t tell her that,” Deitrick said.

Lavery also questioned her about other bodily injuries she’d allegedly sustained and when and what may have caused them.

Much of the testimony from Costa centered around the evening of Friday, Aug. 13, 2004, and the police dispatch call that eventually led to the altercation the following Monday at the Shamokin police station. Costa said he had investigated a reported robbery, which was found to be Deitrick searching for particular items in a warehouse owned by her estranged husband, Robert “Bobby” Yoncuski.

A discussion eventually ensued between Costa, another officer and Yoncuski, who told the policemen that a van Deitrick was driving did not have insurance, Costa said. He said he decided to take the van to the police station for safekeeping and until the question of insurance could be confirmed or denied.

“I took the van with her consent,” he said. “I do not recall saying that” only Deitrick would be able to claim the keys on Monday.

“I was trying to get this over with,” Costa said. “Bad things happen between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Friday night, and I didn’t want to be held up.”

“You knew about the PFA (protection from abuse) order” that Deitrick had against Yoncuski, asked Timothy Bowers, Deitrick’s attorney.

“That’s what she said,” Costa agreed.

“And you made a decision to bring these people together,” Bowers asked.

“They didn’t have to come,” Costa replied.

When the five in question did arrive, Lisa White, then the police department’s secretary, testified she heard the “noise in the lobby” and “called the officers who were working the day shift to come in.”

“I don’t know if Bob showed up first or if (Donna Deitrick and her brother, Ken) did. I was kind of out of it,” Costa said. Donna and her brother “were in the lobby ... so I brought Bob in (to a different) room to separate them.”

That left Donna Deitrick and Long together in the lobby, he said.

“I think (Deitrick) was sitting and I think Vanessa was standing,” Costa said, but when Bowers said, “Everyone else testified it was the opposite,” Costa said, “maybe it was.”

Nor did he know which of the women instigated the ensuing scuffle.

“I don’t know who pushed who first,” Costa said. “I was interviewing Bob and he ran out ahead of me. He was in the lobby before I made it out the first door.”

After Yoncuskie threw Ken Deitrick to the floor, according to testimony, Yoncuskie allowed Costa to take him back to the room and agreed to stay there.

Meanwhile, Costa said, Donna Deitrick “was giving him (former police chief Richard Nichols) all she could handle. She was just throwing him everywhere. Vanessa wasn’t fighting anymore.”

Bowers clarified: “So a 51-year-old woman was engaged with a 20-something (female) in front of her and fighting off a trained police officer behind her — is that your testimony?”

Costa replied that it was.

Long and Yoncuskie soon left the station, and Donna Deitrick said in a chair in the lobby, Costa testified.

“Do you recall that Donna Deitrick was asking for an ambulance,” Bowers asked.

“I recall that she was screaming,” Costa said. “She gets up out of the chair and walked through the door.”

Miner testified that Deitrick was “initially compliant. She got up, said ‘I can walk.’ She was quiet at first.”

Upon Nichols’ orders, Costa earlier had said he and Miner took ahold of Deitrick “under the arms” and moved her toward a hallway. Nichols said she was to be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Halfway down the hall, Deitrick allegedly turned and tried to run past the three men who had followed her — Costa, Miner and Nichols. Costa reaffirmed that it was at this point that he and Miner took her arms to bodily escort her down the hallway.

“She couldn’t run. We were standing right in front of her,” Costa said.

“She spins around,” Miner agreed. “She says, ‘No, I’m not going. We keep walking toward her. She stands firm.”

He said he and Costa took Deitrick by her mid-upper arms and “ushered her back. She locks down, pulls her arm away (and) sits down on her butt.”

“Midway through the hallway, she ended up on the floor,” Costa said. “We asked her to stand up. She just kind of dropped. We set her down, just on her butt, and had to slide her ...”

“Isn’t slide another word for drag,” Bowers asked, but Costa denied that.

“She was never thrown, dropped or grabbed by the wrists,” he testified.

Miner added, “She was never dragged by her wrists, facedown. We did not do that. That did not happen. I didn’t want to hurt her.”

“We took her into the room where the cells were,” Costa continued. “She still wouldn’t stand up. Then she did the passing-out thing. I went to wash my hands. They were sweaty.”

Both officers allege that Dietrick faked passing out.

Bowers asked Costa why he didn’t “just release her” as Yoncuskie and Long had been released “and file the citation the next day?”

“I don’t think anybody acts like that in a police station, then walks out and has something mailed to her,” Costa said. “She didn’t heed anything we suggested. The chief wasn’t allowing her to leave. As long as it didn’t go against the oath I swore ... I would have taken any directive he gave me.”


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Region fast approaching best color for fall foliage

SHAMOKIN — The times, they are a-changin’.

The region this week is fast approaching the best color for fall foliage, according to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

DCNR stated that the recent temperature drop across the commonwealth has pushed the most substantial and widespread transition to fall forest colors so far this season. Notable changes, the state agency reported, have occurred throughout the Appalachians and Allegheny Plateau.

Northern hardwood species, like maple, birch and cherries, are displaying “fantastic” color this week in widespread areas, DCNR wrote in a social media post.

Areas showing early color last week appear primed for peak, which could be a few days away in significant parts of the state.

Leaves in Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, Monore and Pike counties are already at best color as Susquehanna and Wayne counties are starting to fade.

Staff from Bald Eagle State Forest, between Lewisburg and State College, reported yellow, red and orange colors in the valleys and on most, but not all, ridges. Hickories in the state forest are bright yellow and sugar maples and birches are changing. White oak and red maple are turning red while most other oaks are holding green.

DCNR recommended a scenic drive along Route 443 in Lebanon, Schuylkill and Carbon counties as a prime viewing area. Other promising areas include Lehigh Gorge in Jim Thorpe and the Roaring Creek Tract of the Weiser State Forest near Bear Gap.

Pennsylvania’s location and its varied topography, from sea level on the coastal plain to over 3,000 feet in the Laurel Highlands, supports 134 species of trees and many more shrubs and vines that contribute to the display of autumn color, DCNR said.

Three factors influence autumn color: Leaf pigments, length of night and weather. The timing of color change and leaf fall are primarily regulated by the increasing length of night.

As days grow shorter, and the nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in a leaf cause chlorophyll, a pigment that absorbs red and blue light and reflects green, to slow and then eventually stop. Carotenoid (yellow) and anthocyanin (red) pigments in the leaf are then unmasked.

Following a rainy Wednesday that drenched anyone outside to the bone, chilly air and gusty winds will impact the area today. High temperatures in the low to mid 50s today and Friday will rebound into the 60s from Saturday through at least Tuesday.

The normal low and high for today is 44 and 64 degrees, respectively. The clock will change when daylight saving time ends 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3.