Another Judge Palmer Story

Last week, I told you three Judge Palmer stories. I received a fourth one today from a trial attorney who threatened to murder me if I dime him.This lawyer was at one time an assistant District Attorney. He had worked out a deal with noted Allentown at…

NorCo Grand Jury to Investigate PSP Homicide

Five weeks ago, Pennsylvania State Police shot and killed Anthony Ardo at or near his mother’s farm in Lower Mount Bethel Township. The previous day, she obtained a temporary Protection from Abuse Act Order against him. A drug addict, he had threatened…

Judge finds 49-year-old guilty of sexually assaulting preteen

The assaults occurred over a few years, when the child was 10 to 13 years old.

A 49-year-old Pohatcong Township man was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting a preteen o…

Coordinated Health looks to expand in Pa.

The South Whitehall Township-based health care provider is acquiring a Lackawanna surgical practice.

Coordinated Health is setting its expansion sights up north.
The South Whiteh…

Woman breaks into ex’s home, falls down stairs, cops say

The woman was banned from the property previously, court records indicate.

A Carbon County woman is accused of kicking in the basement window of her ex-boyfriend’s home and then …

N.J. man rides off with motorcyle after test drive, cops say

The motorcycle was reported stolen out of Lopatcong Township.

A New Jersey man is accused of asking to test drive a motorcycle and then fleeing with the bike.
Charged is Arande B…

Time-served sentence for Easton stabber

Kevin Lamar Simon, 33, of Easton, stabbed Vincent King in the neck

An Easton man is now eligible for parole after taking a plea deal Thursday in a stabbing case.
Kevin Simon…

Morganelli orders independent probe of fatal state police shooting

In addition to a state police internal probe, an investigative grand jury will look into the homicide of Anthony Ardo.

Northampton County’s investigative grand jury will conduct …

Seen these window-smashers? Palmer cops want to make arrest

Police said the thieves fraudulently used the victim’s credit card after stealing her purse.

Palmer Township police are searching for two men they say broke into a car and made off with a purse.

The theft happened Monday in the Retro Fitness parking lot, 2417 Easton-Nazareth Highway. Detective Jim Alercia said the thieves used a rock to break the window of the parked vehicle.

Shortly after, the victim’s credit card was fraudulently used at several area businesses, police said.

Police obtained business surveillance footage of the pair believed to have committed the crime. One is seen wearing a blue T-shirt with a dark jacket over it and the other, shown wearing a white T-shirt.

Resident allegedly blasts neighbor over discarded weeds

Both also appear to have had facial hair during the theft. They appeared to have fled the scene in a white vehicle.

Those with information about the crime or those who can identify the suspects are asked to call Palmer Township police at 610-253-5844.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann. Find on Facebook.

Saucon Valley names veteran educator as new superintendent

Hazleton Area School District Superintendent Craig B. Butler will replace retiring Superintendent Monica McHale-Small.

Saucon Valley has tapped the leader of Hazleton Area S…

Pa. vo-tech students no longer need to worry about Keystone Exams

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a new law that allows the students to show they’re ready to graduate in alternative ways.

Pennsylvania high school students studying in career and technology education programs no longer have to pass the Keystone Exams to graduate.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 6, which allows those students to demonstrate proficiency through other ways.

The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and it garnered bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate, according to a news release.

“This law will ensure our career and technical education system is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of emerging industries, is accountable to ensure every child has a chance to succeed, and is providing robust support for our educators,” Turzai said in a press release. 

The new law allows career and technical students to demonstrate proficiency through their grades and alternative assessments or industry-based certifications.

Pennsylvania spent more than $70 million to develop the Keystone Exams, end-of-year tests in algebra, biology and english that students were supposed to start with the class of 2017.

If students did not pass the Keystones they had to take an online test, known as the project-based assessment, to earn their diplomas. Educators criticized that for taking students away from real learning.

High numbers of students were continuing to fail the exams, even after a retake, and districts had to offer remediation to failing students before they took the project-based assessment. 

Amid all of this, in 2016 lawmakers paused the Keystone Exam graduation requirement until the 2018-19 school year. It also required the Pennsylvania Department of Education to investigate alternative options for a state grad requirement and send recommendations to the state Legislature.

Act 6 implements one of four recommendations the department made about modifying the Keystones.

Local educator blasts Keystone Exams mandate in state hearing

Wolf believes Pennsylvania should not be relying on just a high school exit exam to demonstrate proficiency and career readiness.

“We are a commonwealth blessed with a wide variety of career opportunities and industries that our young people must enter if we want to stay competitive in the global economy,” Wolf said in a statement. “We want them to be prepared with the necessary skills that employers need in order to allow our industries to thrive, and enable young people to grow their own families right here in Pennsylvania.”

The Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, praised the new law for giving students an alternative to high-stakes testing.

Wolf and state lawmakers have now recognized what career and technical teachers have long been saying, PSEA President Jerry Oleksiak said in a statement.

“Graduation decisions should be based upon students’ entire academic records, rather than the results of a single standardized test,” Oleksiak said. “CTE students will now be able to demonstrate their skills and competency through their complete record, and not just a test score.”

The department also has laid out the following recommendations to determine high school graduation readiness:

  1. Achieve a composite score on all three Keystone Exams
  2. Achieve equivalent scores on one of the alternative assessments approved by the department.
  3. Demonstrate competency in a subject through course grades or assessment, plus demonstrating readiness to engage in post-secondary plans. 

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find on Facebook.


Cops: Frustrated wife fires gun near husband after lack of communication

The Allentown couple is separated but living together, police said.

A woman upset over a lack of communication from her estranged husband allegedly grabbed his gun and fired a ro…

DA will seek death penalty in Palmer Township homicide

Dekota Baptiste, of Easton, is charged with killing Terrance “Lex” Ferguson in Palmer Township.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an Easton man charged with homicide in Palmer Township.

Dekota Baptiste allegedly killed Terrance R. “Lex” Ferguson because of a dispute over Baptiste’s girlfriend at the time, Theresa Duarte.

Police say the 24-year-old Easton man followed Ferguson into the parking lot of the Auto Zone store on 25th Street on Feb. 23. Police say Duarte and an unidentified man were crouched down in the back seat of Ferguson’s car.

Baptiste allegedly argued with Ferguson, then emptied six bullets in a stolen revolver into Ferguson’s car. Ferguson, 36, of Bangor, was killed.

Court papers filed Thursday in Northampton County by Assistant District Attorneys Erika Farkas and Abraham Kassis say they plan to seek the death penalty against Baptiste because he committed murder while attempting to kill or seriously injure Duarte and while putting Duarte in grave risk for her life.

He committed murder while in possession of a stolen gun, the filing says. Even if the gun were legally purchased, Baptiste didn’t have permission to own a gun, the papers say.

Easton man named as gunman in Palmer Township killing

Farkas and Kassis say they plan to call Ferguson’s family and friends to testify during the death penalty phase of Baptiste’s trial.

Police captured Baptiste in the 1400 block of Lehigh Street in Easton after the shooting, police said. His discarded gun was found in Wilson Borough, police said.

Rudy Miller may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RudyMillerLV. Find Easton area news on Facebook.

Services set for 4-year-old who accidentally shot self

The boy’s mother, who has been a local firefighter, thanks all who offered kind words or donations.

Services are scheduled for Bentley Thomas Koch, the 4-year-old who fatally shot himself Sunday morning in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, according to a Monroe County funeral home.

Bentley Thomas KochBentley Thomas Koch, 4. (Yanac Funeral Home photo) 

A viewing is planned 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Yanac Funeral Home and Cremation Service Inc., 35 Sterling Road, Mount Pocono. It will resume 11 a.m. Friday and extend until a Catholic prayer service at 1 p.m. at the same location.

Burial will be at Buena Vista Cemetery on Route 209 in Brodheadsville, according to the boy’s obituary.

The child was fatally wounded Sunday morning and died a short time later at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono in East Stroudsburg, authorities have said.

The boy died from a gunshot would to the head and his death was ruled an accident, county Chief Deputy Coroner Michael Sak said Thursday. An autopsy was performed Tuesday.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Peters at Trooper N in West Hazleton said he hadn’t been given information to release on how the child got hold of the gun. A trooper at the Fern Ridge barracks, which responded to the original call at 11:11 a.m. Sunday, said she had nothing new to release.

Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso said Thursday morning by email that “the investigation into all the circumstances continues.”

Firefighter’s 4-year-old dies after shooting

Mancuso said he would not comment until the investigation is complete.

The boy is survived by his parents Ryan P. Koch, of Chestnuthill Township, and Alexis Antonini, of Palmerton, and numerous relatives, his obituary says. Antonini has been a volunteer firefighter with the Steel City and Freemansburg companies in the Bethlehem area.

Bentley, who was born June 5, 2013, in East Stroudsburg, enjoyed Matchbox cars, remote control cars, fidget spinners, four-wheelers, watching PAW Patrol, riding his bike and scooter, swimming and playing baseball, his obituary says.

In announcing her son’s services on Facebook, Antonini said, “Thank you to everyone for helping us through this time.”

An online fundraiser was attempting to collect $5,000 to pay for the boy’s funeral expenses. As of Thursday morning, it has raised more than $7,000.

“To everyone who has donated, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Antonini wrote Tuesday on Facebook. “… I personally want to thank everybody for all the kind words and all the donations. It has helped more than anybody knows. I can’t believe we have had so many people who cared and loved my son.

“He was such a bright young boy, who loved everybody. I will never forget all those who have helped and been there. To everyone who has messaged me, if I haven’t gotten back to you, just know you’re in my heart and I love you all. Bentley will be at peace and he will forever be in our hearts.”

Tony Rhodin may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyRhodin. Find on Facebook.

Woman admits she ran down ex-boyfriend in Easton

Bonnie Starner, 61, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and two counts of simple assault.

Bonnie Starner was driving in Easton when she saw her boyfriend walking down the str…