Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business and entertainment
Philly school leaders approve `doomsday' budget
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Faced with a huge deficit, education officials in Philadelphia have approved a bare-bones budget that even the district's chief executive says ``falls catastrophically short'' in providing an adequate education for its students.
The School Reform Commission approved a $2.4 billion spending plan that includes drastic cuts in art, music, athletics and other programs. The vote means thousands of layoff notices could begin going out next month to assistant principals, guidance counselors and other employees.
Parents, teachers, students and community members begged the panel to reconsider, but commission members said they had little choice given the district's $304 million deficit.
School officials say they will work to secure additional funding from the city and state to help reduce the impact of the cuts.
GAS DRILLING-LAWMAKER APOLOGY
Pa. legislator apologizes for gas drilling attack
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A Pennsylvania state legislator who has been a harsh critic of Marcellus Shale gas drilling has apologized for making anonymous attacks on constituents who support drilling.
Rep. Jesse White, D-Allegheny, issued the apology Thursday afternoon in response to a story from TV station KDKA that first reported his link to the online attacks.
White apologized to two western Pennsylvania residents including a grandmother he anonymously called an ``industry troll'' and ``dumber than a box of rocks.''
White says he'll seek to meet with the people and that the posts were ``an error in judgment that I regret.'' White says he didn't use government resources while posting the comments to the websites.
Pa. House GOP stance on road funding takes shape
LEMOYNE, Pa. (AP) _ The stance of top House Republicans on the push to increase funding for Pennsylvania's highways, bridges and mass transit agencies is beginning to take shape.
One top House Republican, Whip Stan Saylor, said Thursday that passage of a bill to privatize the state liquor store system will be crucial to some members before they vote on legislation to raise wholesale fuel taxes.
Meanwhile, House Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess says he's likely to support legislation that's smaller than a $2.5 billion bill advancing in the Senate, but bigger than Gov. Tom Corbett's $1.8 billion plan.
They spoke after appearing at a news conference with Corbett. The governor was using a new bridge across Interstate 83 in suburban Harrisburg as the backdrop for his latest plea for more transportation funding.
MISSING PITTSBURGH WOMAN
Police in new search for missing Pittsburgh woman
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Allegheny County police are searching a wooded area near the county airport for the body of Alivia Kail, a 19-year-old woman who disappeared in 2011.
Police said Thursday that information from cell phone records and interviews with witnesses led them to areas around the airport in West Mifflin.
Kail disappeared in March 2011. She was last seen after telling friends she was going to Florida with her boyfriend.
Kail's boyfriend was questioned by police and jailed for several weeks on unrelated drug charges, but he was never charged in connection with her disappearance.
Members of Kail's family have joined in the search and her mother, Christine DiDiano, appealed again to anyone who had information about her daughter's disappearance to come forward.
Feds: Woman stashes coke in shoes at Pa. airport
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Federal agents are hot on the heels of a New Jersey woman who allegedly tried to smuggle $140,000 worth of cocaine inside three pairs of cork wedge shoes.
Customs and Border Protection officers arrested 24-year-old Iveliza Perez of Camden, N.J., at Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday.
The agency says officers checking Perez's baggage after her arrival from Jamaica found the shoes to be unusually heavy, and an X-ray detected irregularities inside the sole and heel of all six. Officers say they found a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.
Perez was turned over to Philadelphia police and charged with drug offenses. She was jailed on $100,000 bail.
Online court records do not list an attorney for Perez.
Fire destroys NE Pa. school library
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) _ Fire has destroyed the library of a northeastern Pennsylvania elementary school.
It happened early Thursday at St. Nicholas Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre. A nun noticed smoke coming from a modular classroom that contains the library and called the fire department about 5:30 a.m.
Officials say fire doors prevented the flames from spreading into an attached computer lab and possibly to the main school building.
No one was hurt.
School was canceled Thursday and Friday.
Foxwoods taps Pa. casino exec. as marketing chief
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) _ Foxwoods Resort Casino has announced the appointment of a Pennsylvania casino executive as chief marketing officer.
The appointment of Gary DiBartolomeo was announced on Thursday. He will direct all aspects of Foxwoods' marketing, including promotions, special events, player development marketing and other programs.
DiBartolomeo was chief operation officer of gaming operations at Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pa., and worked in various management jobs in Atlantic City, N.J., in player development and other positions for Revel Entertainment, Harrah's/Caesars Entertainment, Bally's Casino Resort and Trump Taj Mahal.
Foxwoods, based in eastern Connecticut, is competing for a Massachusetts license with a $1 billion, 300,000-square foot resort off I-495 in Milford, Mass., about 40 miles southwest of Boston.
Woman confesses to cookie caper at Catholic church
PENNDEL, Pa. (AP) _ Police say a woman stole cookies from a Catholic church outside Philadelphia and choked on her own guilt.
The Bucks County Courier Times reports the 51-year-old suspect confessed to Penndel's police chief a week after she and a man broke into Our Lady of Grace and stole Oreos, coffee, bulk packets of sugar and other items belonging to the church's Alcoholics Anonymous program.
Chief Joseph Sciscio says he'd been speaking to the woman about an unrelated landlord-tenant issue when she told him that something was bothering her. The chief says she then confessed to the cookie caper and turned over some of the stolen items.
Police plan to charge her with burglary. They didn't release her name because she hasn't been formally charged.
Her alleged accomplice also faces charges.
Copyright © 2003-2013 Clear Channel. All rights reserved.