Kittatinny under fire

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Residential Kittatinny came under fire Monday afternoon after a distressed local resident fired a .22-caliber bolt-action rifle near the intersection of County Highway K and Cussville Road.

Several shots were heard by farmer and property owner Clem Kadiddlehopper who called 911. Responding Deputy Roland Smithers Jr. arrived on scene at 3:17 p.m.

Upon arrival, Smithers was informed by Kadiddlehopper that the gun-wielding suspect was in the field behind the barn. The suspect was later identified as Robert Worthington of 1322 E. Lexington Ave.

After calling for backup, he and Deputy Susan Smithers proceed to the rear of the house, both armed with shotguns, as more gunshots were heard.

Deputies asked Worthington to forfeit his weapon and come out with his hands up. Two more shots were fired before Worthington emerged from the field carrying a gun and a liquor bottle.

After being asked to drop his gun for the second time, Worthington cooperated. The man fell onto his knees while appearing to cry.

“I wasn’t gonna hurt no one,” Worthington said. “Shit, I was just all worked up over all this crap goin’ on, and I thought I might feel better if I shot up some bottles and shit. Now I gone and f$#%ed up everything.”

Worthington later explained that he had recently lost his job at Susquehanna Steel Corporation and was also distraught over a pending divorce.

When deputies attempted to subdue Worthington, he fought back.

At one point he held Susan Smithers in a choke hold. As she struggled with the suspect, Roland Smithers, her husband, pulled Worthington off her. The suspect then grabbed Roland Smithers by the neck.

According to Schuylkill County Sheriff Percival Quackenbush, the county normally prohibits the hiring of spouses. However, in this case, the state issued a waiver to help fulfill the 1996 Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Gender Equality Act, which encourages the hiring of more women as police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers.

“Mr. and Mrs. Smithers don’t usually work the same shift, and they told me this was the first time they had ever responded to an incident together,” Quackenbush said. “I’m just glad they were able to avoid having to use lethal force and that everything worked out OK.”

Susan Smithers used a Taser to subdue Worthington. He was arrested and taken to Schuylkill County Jail where he was booked and held overnight.

Worthington will face charges of public intoxication, trespassing, two counts of assaulting a law enforcement office and reckless use of a deadly weapon.

A bail hearing will be held on Tuesday.

 

Kittatinny mayor hit with a DUI charge

By ELLIE CHRISTENSEN

 Kittatinny Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz, 55, faces major legal trouble after a drunk-driving collision on Saturday afternoon.

A preliminary hearing will be held to determine whether Petykiewicz will face charges for a DUI and causing bodily harm.

According to the Schuylkill Country District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, the charges could result in a 10-year-sentence for Petykiewicz.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m. at the intersection of State Highway 117 and Fonebone Road in the town of Frontenac, Schuylkill County.

Responding Deputy Gordon Slivovitz noticed slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol when he pulled Petykiewicz over. After searching the car, deputies found an open, half-empty bottle of alcohol.

A test indicated Petykiewicz ‘s BAC to be 0.14 percent, nearly double Pennsylvania’s legal limit.

When asked if he had been drinking Petykiewicz said “You’d be drinking, too, if you were me.”

The mayor asked deputies to keep the situation quiet because of his mayoral status.

Petykiewicz, who approached from the west in his SUV, struck a local resident who was later identified as 41-year-old Robert Doane.

Both drivers were conscious at the scene; however Doane was flown to Northeast Pennsylvania Hospital and Trauma Center in Wilkes-Barre via Flight for Life helicopter.

According to a Wilkes-Barre hospital nursing supervisor, Doane is currently in satisfactory condition. He sustained several broken ribs, a broken jaw, and other minor injuries.

Doane was driving a 1997 Buick Le Sabre with no airbags at the time of the crash. Paramedics feared spinal injuries but none were found.

Petykiewicz’s 2006 Ford Explorer sustained heavy front-end damage and the driver side of the Buick was inoperable, according to police.

Alice Magarian, an eyewitness to the accident, told police that Doane was obeying the speed limit and all other traffic rules when his vehicle was struck by Petykiewicz. She said Petykiewicz paused before proceeding past the stop sign and striking the driver’s side of Doane’s vehicle.

Magarian said she was several car lengths behind Doane at the time of the collision. She said her distance from the crash was enough for her to “stop safely and pull over.”

Petykiewicz was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, however, his airbags deployed leaving him conscious but disoriented, according to police.

Petykiewicz was arrested and taken to the Schuylkill County Jail where he declined a lawyer.

His wife, Gloria Petykiewicz posted the $500 bail and he was released into her custody. She refused to comment on the incident.

The court hearing will be held at the Schuylkill County District Court on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

SEAL’s Battle of the Bands XVI winner announced

By ELLIE CHRISTENSEN

WHITEWATER, Wis. — After duking it out with five other acts in front of 75 boisterous onlookers, one band tasted sweet victory at the 16th annual Battle of the Bands competition. The event took place on Friday, Mar. 7, at the Hamilton Room in the James R. Connor University Center on the UW-Whitewater campus.

It was sponsored and hosted by the Student Entertainment Awareness League — more commonly known as SEAL.

***Atlas on Strike was named this year’s winner of the competition.

The competition featured local talent, comprised of mainly UW-Whitewater students.

Each act was awarded points based on content, time, musical ability, originality and crowd response. They were given 35 minutes total for set-up, performance and tear-down.

Those who attended were charged a $2 entry fee with a student ID and $4 without

The competition was judged by Brad Zwieg, Duane Charles and Travis Ziegler.

Zwieg is the owner of Studio Z Recording Studios in Milwaukee and is a musician, recording engineer and producer with over 20 years of experience. He has worked with 30 Seconds to Mars, Tyga and others.

 Charles, a music entrepreneur and producer, also assisted with judging. He is the CEO and founder of GiGhive Independent Artists in Kenosha, Wis.

The third judge, Ziegler, is an experienced musician, educator, recording engineer, DJ and self-employed business owner of his own company called Sound Mindset LLC. Ziegler was a stand-in for Ken Krei who was too ill to attend the event.

“It was something different this year to have judges who have musical background and are currently working in the music industry. The bands really benefited from their comments and were even able to network with them afterwards,” event coordinator Rachel Lee said.

The lineup began at 7 p.m. with Blue Dream, the second place prize winning act who received $200.

Next to take the stage was The Paths We Take followed by The Debasers.

The winning band, Atlas on Strike, performed fourth. The self-declared pop-punk band performed a set-list that included four original songs and a cover of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness.

Atlas on Strike is comprised of three group members — vocalist and guitarist Jack Sibilski, back-up vocalist and bassist Matt Trunk and drummer Erik Atwell.

The band formed in 2010, but didn’t gain momentum until 2013 according to Trunk.  He said the addition of Atwell allowed the band to transform and develop.

After meeting in high school, the group went on to tour four times at various venues across the United States. The group performed at several house shows and an ample amount of basements.

“When I’m onstage I feel nothing short of complete joy. At all times during my life, I am just anticipating when I’m going to be able to play music onstage next,” Sibilski said.

He described Atlas on Strike as being “weirder” than their competitors and said he felt surprised when they were announced as the winners.

Atwell described this win as a “good victory” for Atlas on Strike and went on to say that this would help advance the band’s career.

“When we won, I was excited, but mostly winded. I was jamming out to the DJ. He put on an amazing performance,” Trunk said.

In addition to being named the top band, Atlas on Strike collected a $500 grand prize which they hope to use to purchase a tour van or new merchandise.

Trunk said his goal for the band going forward is to play “loud, fast and often.” He spoke for the band saying they simply wish to “eat and play.”

The group is recording a new album and planning a tour for summer 2014.

“The Bands that performed all did a great job and were a pleasure to work with,” Lee said.

The last two acts to take the stage were The Friend Zone and DJ McCoy’s Boy.

The Friend Zone, placing third, received a $100 prize for their efforts.

“Right now our goal is just mainly having fun and hoping to put on shows people love watching and want to see again,” The Friend Zone vocalist Andrew Mindham said.

He went to say that any chance to share his music is helpful. Mindham said that his love for music keeps him going despite the difficulty of penetrating the music industry.

“One can only dream,” he concluded.

[***Photo by Alissa Reynolds]

https://www.facebook.com/atlasonstrike

Jobs encourages Stanford graduates to find what they love

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Steve Jobs, 50, spoke to Stanford graduates today in a commencement speech offering three key pieces of advice – trust that things will all work out, find what you love knowing meanwhile that life is unpredictable and live each day as if it were your last.

Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. and CEO of Apple Inc. used three stories to relay the importance of this advice.

The first story was about connecting the dots. Jobs spoke of his birth and subsequent adoption which was almost halted by his biological mother who wanted him to be adopted by college graduates.

His biological mother agreed to the adoption on the condition that Jobs would, one day, attend college.

After attending Reed College in Portland, Ore. for six months, Jobs came to the conclusion that he wanted to drop out. He believed college was too expensive and said he did not know how it would help him figure out what he wanted to do in life.

Jobs called this one of the best decisions he has ever made.

After dropping out, Jobs began to “drop in” on classes that captured his interest including a calligraphy course.

Jobs saw no hope of practical use for calligraphy in his future. However, it eventually became relevant when designing the first Macintosh computer – the first personal computer with multiple typefaces.

“(B)elieving that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference,” said Jobs.

Although he could not “connect the dots” looking forward, it was easy to see that this had happened for a reason when looking back.

Next, Jobs told his story of love and loss.

Jobs described how he and Steve Wozniak “Woz” started Apple Computer Inc. in his parents’ garage at age 20 and turned it into a $2 billion company with more than 4,000 employees in just 10 years.

John Sculley, former President of PepsiCo Inc., was later appointed CEO of Apple Computer Inc.

After clashing over differing visions for the company, Jobs was fired by Sculley at age 30.

“I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley,” Jobs said. “But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.”

He said although it was scary, the experience allowed him to begin again and enter a new period of creativity and love.

Within the next five years, Jobs created two companies – NeXT Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios.

Coincidentally, Apple Inc. later bought next which led to Jobs’ return to the company.

During this time, Jobs was also introduced to his second love, Laurene Powell, who he later married and started a family with.

Jobs said that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him.

“You’ve got to find what you love,” said Jobs. “… (T)he only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

He told the graduates that life is unpredictable but encouraged them not to lose faith or settle in life when it comes to careers and relationships.

Finally, Jobs addressed death.

He talked about his diagnosis with cancer one year prior.

Doctors found a tumor on his pancreas and told him it was likely that he only had three to six months left to live. They later discovered that he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that was curable with surgery.

Jobs underwent surgery successfully, but the experience caused him to re-evaluate life.

Jobs began to consider death in order to make concise, important decisions. He found it helpful because expectations, pride and fear become unimportant in the face of death.

Jobs asked himself daily, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

He went on to explain that if you are going to die soon, there is no reason not to follow your heart.

Jobs emphasized the importance of having the courage to forge your own path by following your heart and intuition because life is short.

Jobs cited the final edition of “The Whole Earth Catalog” which bore the words ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’. He said he has lived by this motto ever since and encouraged the graduates to do the same in the final words of his speech.

Kittatinny grapples with financial emergency

By ELLIE CHRISTENSEN

Today, Kittatinny Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz proposed a new city budget for 2015 featuring a tax increase of 7.5 percent and reduced spending citywide.

These changes came after the closure of Unit 1 at Susquehanna Steel Corp., the largest Schuylkill County employer.

“I come to you with a heavy heart; these are not actions I take lightly. The city is in trouble. We have lost 600 jobs and $100 million worth of taxable property at the Susquehanna Steel Corp.,” Petykiewicz said. “This is going to be a long term struggle.”

Most of the proposed budget changes would affect the Kittatinny police force which would face staff reductions and the elimination of the 4a.m. to noon police shift.

This shift would be covered by Schuylkill County sheriff’s deputies with an estimated response time of 15 minutes according to Chief of Police Roman Hruska.

The proposed budget would also result in changes such as an increase in parking meter fees on Main Street as well as the removal of garbage pickup from the tax levy and subsequent movement to the city water bills.

“I am outraged; I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection for a third of each day,” Hruska said.

The mayor admitted that these conditions are not ideal and that he would support a “spirit of shared sacrifice”.

“I will agree to take a 10 percent cut in salary if the other officials in town are willing to do the same,” Petykiewicz said.

The President of Kittatinny City Council, Denelda Penoyer, shared Hruska’s concerns with these cuts to the police force and said it is unlikely that the citizens of Kittatinny would stand for these cuts.

Hruska went on to say that these changes would put Kittatinny residents in danger.

He accepted the mayor’s challenge to take a 10 percent pay cut and offered an alternative solution to close the budget gap that would include raising taxes higher than the mayor’s proposed rates.

Hruska said if the city tax rate increased to five mills instead of 4.3 mills, it would be possible to balance the budget without these drastic changes.

Hruska stated his belief that the police department was being targeted.

“The chief and the mayor don’t really get along; they are not friends,” said Police Association Local 34 President Bjarne Westhoff. “This is a poor way of solving a personal dispute.”

Westhoff expressed his concern that the feud could put the city at risk and suggested that everyone share the responsibility and further discuss the budget outcome. Westhoff also agreed with Hruska’s proposal to raise taxes higher than the mayor’s proposed rate.

“Sometimes raising taxes is the responsible thing to do,” Westhoff said.

Further discussion on the Kittatinny budget will take place in the months to come.

City officials encouraged discussion among residents and said anyone is welcome to come to their meetings and suggest alternative options for the 2015 budget.

“We will do everything to save these jobs and we feel terrible,” said Martha Mittengrabben, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 644.

The final budget will be signed into law by the mayor by Dec. 1, 2014 but will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015.

 

 

 

Afghanistan veteran keeping you and yours safe

By ELLIE CHRISTENSEN

ZachAugustin

 

Zachary Augustin, a 22-year-old Army veteran, is no stranger to helping others cope with taxing situations; he plans on using what he learned in his future career as a financial advisor.

Born in Waukesha, Wis., Augustin decided to follow in his grandfathers’ footsteps and enlist in the U.S. Army on Aug. 23, 2010. He completed basic training and Airborne school before signing up for the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program [R.A.S.P.].

After completing three deployments to Afghanistan, he sustained a career-ending injury to his lower back.

“The biggest thing I learned to do in Ranger school was how to deal with people who are under stress,” Augustin said. “I gained a lot of leadership skills…it gave me a lot more confidence in myself and I learned how to follow before I could lead.”

Augustin, now a new student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, said he hopes to take over his father’s financial advising business after graduating with a major in finance.

He said he will use his social skills and business experience to help people who are under financial stress to manage their money and, in turn, make more for the future.

He explains that he developed a “Type A personality” while in the Army and learned how to deal with all types of people in any given situation.

Some veterans have trouble with the transition from military to civilian life because they don’t have a plan, Augustin said. They have to go from a job where everything is organized for them to being almost entirely independent.

“My experience taught me leadership and forced me to face my fears,” Augustin said.

In May of his senior year of high school, Augustin had to decide between college and the military. He chose the Army because he said he felt unready for college. In his words he was “stir crazy and didn’t want to waste the experience”

After getting out of the military, Augustin said he felt ready to take on college both mentally and financially.

“I had already thought about going back to school and I couldn’t really see myself starting a family while in [the army] but the injury was the final nail in the coffin,” Augustin said.

In grade school Augustin recalled being taken to work with his father who was working as a financial advisor for his business John R Augustin & Associates.  This was the first time he considered working in this field.

“I just remember enjoying going to meetings with him [my dad] and meeting his clients,” Augustin said.

Augustin said he learned how to deal with barriers like language, education and religion in order to properly communicate with others. He said all of his prior military experience has helped shape who he is today and will only help him in his future career as a financial advisor.