The News-Item’s cheers and jeers for the past week of news:
• Cheers, to state Sen. John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry counties) who has reintroduced legislation ensuring public officials and employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pensions.
This legislation, Senate Bill 113, closes the loophole used by unscrupulous public officials whereby they plead guilty to non-forfeiture crimes so they can keep a pension. This issue made headlines when the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) voted to restore the more than $245,000 annual public pension of admitted felon and former state Sen. Robert Mellow.
• Jeers, to the Kulpmont man who, armed with a loaded rifle, allegedly refused to release his 3-year-old daughter from his home Thursday afternoon before being taken into custody following a 40-minute standoff with police.
A search of the home by police uncovered several firearms, including an AR-15 assault rifle, all of which were confiscated by police. He was committed to Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.
• Cheers, to the efforts, commitment and generosity of Bose Corp. and its Shamokin native employee Bill Edmondson. The STEAM program at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School continues to grow with new equipment donated by the nationwide audio equipment company.
“Bringing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program to my alma mater was something that has been on my mind for years,” said Edmondson, a 1978 Lourdes graduate who serves as lead software architect for the consumer electronics division of the audio equipment corporation.
• Cheers, to a trio of local organizations who are planning to pursue a feasibility study that could entice a hotel developer in the Shamokin area. Ninety-five percent of riders who visit the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) seek lodging. However, among the drawbacks cited by hoteliers to building such a structure is the lull in activity during winter months.
• Cheers, to the report issued that said Pennsylvania should adopt changes to make its elections more secure — encouraging the replacement of older voting machines, enhanced security of voter rolls and better contingency planning for cyberattacks and other technological challenges.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security report urges the General Assembly to do more to help counties pay for machines that produce a voter-marked paper record.
About four in five voters use machines that lack an auditable paper trail, although state officials have directed counties to have the paper-record voting machines in place by next year’s primary.