Homicide charges in infant's death top headlines
Homicide charges filed in the death of an infant and the closing of a bingo game that became an institution in Harrison are among the events that topped the news during the past week.
• City officials in financially-strapped Arnold cannot apply for state aid available to financially-stressed communities. Relief under Act 47, the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, can include additional taxes as well as spending cuts and layoffs. Solicitor John Pallone said Arnold does not yet meet the criteria for Act 47 status.
• The Armstrong Trail led the list of trails in the Alle-Kiski Valley to receive state grants totalling about $537,000. The Armstrong Trail received about $295,000, or about half the total amount. Others receiving grants were in Cheswick, Allegheny Township and Murrysville.
• More than 200 people turned out for a spaghetti dinner in Oklahoma Borough to benefit the family of Sophia Ludwiczak. Sophia, was a 2-month-old infant who suffered brain injuries after allegedly being shaken violently by her father, Matthew Milisits, on Nov. 15 when she would not stop crying. She died four days later. The benefit was organized by friends of Sophia's mother, Samantha Ludwiczak, to help her defray medical and funeral costs.
• A late-morning fire destroyed the Burrell Township home of Leland Rearick at 1653 Rearick Road on Sunday while the Rearick family was at church. Firefighters said the fire was well underway when they arrived at the isolated location, but there were no injuries. The cause was being investigated by the state police fire marshal.
• After accommodating area bingo players for more than 50 years, the bingo at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrison held its final games Monday. Church officials said the bulwark for church fundraising was drawing fewer players and was losing money.
• Jonathan Zachary Ferguson, 19, of Freeport is charged in a Saturday incident in which he threw a 9-inch screwdriver at his mother during an argument and embedded it in her leg up to the handle. Ferguson fled his home after the incident but surrendered to state police Monday.
• Matthew Milisits, 30, of Sherman Avenue, Vandergrift, is charged with criminal homicide in the death of his infant daughter, Sophia Ludwiczak. Milisits is jailed without bond by District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec. He also faces charges of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children. Police said Milisits admitted to shaking the child to get her to stop crying.
• The commander of the Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh said the Corps will have to justify the escalating costs of removing nuclear and other hazardous wastes from a Parks Township nuclear waste dump site before it can resume the project. Col. Butch Graham said Superfund regulations require a review process when a project exceeds its original estimates by 50 percent. In 2007, the project's cost was estimated at $45 million but is now estimated at close to $500 million because of the complexity of the materials found.
• A contractor is preparing to begin a $1.2 million project to fill in mine voids that threaten up to 68 properties in Leechburg with subsidence. The project, which involves pumping in a concrete, fly ash, sand and water mixture, is expected to be completed in eight weeks, according to project manager Joe Bonetti.
• Residents of the Ridge Avenue Senior Housing complex in New Kensington are wondering when their lives will return to normal since their apartments were invaded by bedbugs in October. Although exterminators treated her apartment and two others the previous week, Shirley DeBerry said she found more of the bedbugs and suffered three more bites. Residents said they want additional treatments but claim NDC Real Estate, the owners of the complex, said that would not happen.
• Freeport residents learned they have to face life without a bank in town as PNC announced it would close its branch at High and Fifth streets, the only bank in town, on Feb. 22. PNC said it will transfer all the banks accounts to its branch along Route 356 in Buffalo Township and will keep an automatic teller machine at the Freeport location for at least six months.
• Apollo council voted to hire two part-time police officers, doubling the size of the force. The two were hired to complement the two officers already on the force as council tries to rebuild the force following a shakeup that led to the recent firing of police Chief Paul Breznican.
• New Kensington police charged Jacob Kromka, 18, of Arnold, and Jesse Makowski, 20, of New Kensington, with a home burglary that occurred on Knollwood Road in November. Those charges were filed after Makowski and Gregory Ausk of West Leechburg were arrested Friday by Lower Burrell police while in a neighborhood, allegedly acting suspiciously, and charged with trespassing and possessing instruments of crime. Makowski was charged with receiving stolen property, and Kromka was arrested and charged with burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.