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Briefs: Man suffers injuries working on his car

| Friday, April 7, 2006

A North Side man was critically injured Thursday while working on his car in the Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood, city police Lt. Michael Piasecki said.

Charles Herring, 39, of Stonelea Street in Brighton Heights, was under his car at 3:05 p.m. at the intersection of Stayton and Highwood streets when the accident occurred, Piasecki said. It appears the vehicle started to drift, and the rear tires rolled onto Herring, Piasecki said.

Herring was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, with head, chest and pelvic injuries, Piasecki said.

Beechview Juvenile charged in arson case

Pittsburgh police arrested a boy suspected of setting a fire two months ago that destroyed a three-story Beechview building and shut down light rail service for hours.

Witnesses of the Feb. 22 fire at 1541 Fallowfield Ave. identified one of two teenagers they saw enter the building and then run away as the fire started, police said.

The fire in the vacant building near the light rail line's Fallowfield Station forced part of the transit service to close during evening rush hour. The building, which was destroyed by the fire, once housed apartments and a video store. The youth was charged Wednesday with arson, burglary and risking a catastrophe. He is being held at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

Oakland Shooting suspect arrested in tavern

A Wilkinsburg man accused of killing a man in Oakland two years ago was arrested Wednesday night while shooting pool at a Penn Hills tavern.

William Fielder, 23, initially was arrested on homicide charges two years ago and was in the Allegheny County Jail until June 23, 2005, when he was placed on house arrest to await trial. He escaped from house arrest on Jan. 19. Fielder is accused of gunning down Frank Winston, 32, at the Luna Bar on Centre Avenue on March 19, 2004.

Acting on a tip, Allegheny County Sheriff's deputies, and Pittsburgh and Penn Hills police arrested Fielder last night at Mane's Tavern. He was being held in the county jail and is scheduled to go on trial May 1.

Red chili pepper kills cancer cells

A new study by University of Pittsburgh researchers suggests that an ingredient in red chili pepper has cancer-fighting properties that prevent or slow the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors implanted in mice.

The study found that capsaicin, the "hot" ingredient in red chili pepper, caused pancreatic cancer cells to die through a process called apoptosis. Apoptosis, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted or unneeded cells, often is defective in cancer cells, causing them to continue to thrive. Results of the study were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

"In our study, we discovered that capsaicin fed orally to mice with human pancreatic tumors was an extremely effective inhibitor of the cancer process ...," said Sanjay K. Srivastava, lead investigator and an assistant professor of pharmacology at Pitt's School of Medicine.

Education helps diabetics manage illness

Educating people with diabetes in a primary-care setting with sustained, comprehensive intervention resulted in significant improvement in disease management and overall health, according to a recently published study by University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute researchers.

The study is in the current issue of Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association. In the study, researchers report the first evidence from a randomized, controlled clinical trial to show a clear association between a more comprehensive approach to diabetes management and improved health.

"Not everyone will be able to see a diabetes specialist," said Janice Zgibor, senior author of the study and director of evaluation at Pitt's Diabetes Institute. "Most people with diabetes, especially those in smaller communities, are managing their illness in the primary-care setting. The (tested) intervention gives them, and their providers, better tools with which to do this."

Rockefeller Foundation head to speak at Pitt

Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, will deliver the commencement address April 30 at the University of Pittsburgh.

She became president of the Rockefeller Foundation -- one of the largest private foundations in America, with more than $3 billion in assets -- in March 2005. She served as president of her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, from 1994 to 2004.

The commencement will begin at 1 p.m. in the Petersen Events Center, 3719 Terrace St., Oakland.

Fifth Avenue work zone moves eastward

Utility crews have moved the construction zone along Fifth Avenue in Oakland east, so it now is between Clyde Street and Morewood Avenue.

Work will take place there for the next few weeks as Duquesne Light Co. continues to rebuild an underground duct line in the area. The channeling of traffic to one lane in each direction begins just east of Morewood Avenue and continues to just west of Clyde Street, in what are normally the inbound lanes on Fifth Avenue. The scheduled work is part of the utility's more than $500 million investment in the region's electric infrastructure.

The lane restrictions are in effect around the clock. During work hours, Pittsburgh police will assist in directing traffic around the lane restrictions.

Downtown Blood bank to open new donor center

Central Blood Bank will open its newly relocated downtown Pittsburgh community donor center on Tuesday.

The new donor center is in Suite 520 in Two Chatham Center, which is across the street from the current location at 812 Fifth Ave. Center hours will remain the same as the current hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, noon to 7 p.m.; and Thursdays and Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The last day of collections at the current location will be Saturday.

Blood bank officials said the organization want to continue to accommodate its Downtown donors, although the corporate headquarters has moved to Green Tree.

South Side Lecture to cover latest on Alzheimer's

The Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh will offer the latest information on Alzheimer's disease as part of the Jay L. Foster Memorial Lecture Series on Tuesday.

Dr. Claudia Kawas, professor of neurology and neurobiology and behavior at the University of California at Irvine, will be this year's featured presenter. Known internationally for her research in the determinants of successful aging, Kawas is a specialist on the epidemiology of aging and Alzheimer's disease. At 1 p.m., she will lecture on "Factors that Promote Long Life," at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Conference Center, 5 Hot Metal St., South Side. After the talk, specialists on Alzheimer's disease and aging will answer questions on caregiver issues.

Allegheny Valley Brackenridge Allegheny Ludlum to fix pollution violations

The Allegheny County Health Department announced a consent agreement Thursday with Allegheny Ludlum to correct air pollution violations at its Brackenridge and Natrona steel plants.

Health department air pollution inspectors cited Allegheny Ludlum in early 2005 for nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emission violations at the Brackenridge plant and for excessive fugitive emissions and stack-testing deficiencies at its facility in Harrison.

Under the agreement, the company will implement an extensive pollution control program to bring the two plants into compliance and pay a $289,725 fine. The steelmaker also will complete a $250,000 supplemental environmental project to control roadway dust emissions at the Brackenridge plant.

The amount of the fine may be reduced if Allegheny Ludlum does other environmental projects.

Allegheny County Voter registration deadline April 17

Allegheny County residents who want to vote in the May 16 primary must be registered by April 17.

Voters who are registered but who have moved recently also must notify the elections division by the April 17 deadline.

Registration information is available at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/elect/ or by visiting the county registration office in room 609 of the county office building, 542 Forbes Ave., Downtown.

Mail-in forms are available at Carnegie libraries, Giant Eagle stores, military recruiting offices and many post offices.

For more information, call 412-350-4510.

2 suspended jail guards held for court

Two suspended Allegheny County Jail guards accused in a scheme to smuggle drugs into the jail were held for court Thursday.

Preliminary hearings before District Judge Charles McLaughlin for two other guards accused of similar charges were postponed.

Ronald L. Alford, 34, of Lincoln-Lemington, will face trial on charges of conspiracy and smuggling marijuana. Lamar Rivers, 33, of Penn Hills, will be tried on charges stemming from accusations that he conspired to smuggle and sell marijuana and cocaine at the Uptown lockup.

A hearing for guard Thomas J. Long, 41, of Shaler, is set for April 20 and one for guard Daniel K. Kovacs, 36, of Castle Shannon, is scheduled for April 27. They are accused of smuggling marijuana into the jail.

West Robinson Judge freezes assets of nursing home

A judge Thursday froze the assets of a closed Robinson nursing home, as well as three other nonprofits run by Martha Bell.

Allegheny County Orphans Court Judge Frank Lucchino agreed to the action sought by the state Attorney General's office against the former Ronald Reagan Atrium I Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Alzheimer's Disease Alliance of Western Pennsylvania, the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation and Geriatric Healthcare Associates Inc., as well as against Bell, 59, of West Mifflin; her husband, Charles C. Bell; and Warren Mason.

Martha Bell established the nursing home and ran it for nearly a decade. She and Atrium were convicted in federal court on charges of health care fraud and falsifying documents. She is awaiting sentencing and also is seeking a new trial. She also faces state criminal charges.

East Verona Sports official indicted on child porn charges

A Verona man who worked as a sports official in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of distribution, receipt of and possession of child pornography.

Harold James Stancliffe, 58, of Penn Street Rear, is accused of receiving and distributing child pornography on Sept. 6 and 7 in 2005, prosecutors said. Greensburg police said Stancliffe is accused of having 43 movies on his computer that depict children in sexual acts.

Greensburg police initially arrested Stancliffe but dropped the local charges when the federal charges were announced. Stancliffe worked as a baseball, football and basketball official in Westmoreland County, as well as in several communities in eastern Allegheny County.

Region Washington County Sentence reduced for death row inmate

A man sentenced to death for killing his wife's aunt has a history of mental illness and should be taken off death row, according to both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The attorneys told Washington County Senior Judge John F. Bell that they had met several times and concluded that Dino Martin Rucci should be given a sentence of life in prison. Bell must approve the agreement to take Rucci off death row.

Rucci, 46, was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery and other charges linked to the June 1989 death of 61-year-old Louise Fridley, who was found dead at her Lone Pine home after being stabbed 24 times.

Rucci's appellate attorneys argued that his trial lawyer had failed to get and present evidence of his mental health history.

Beaver County Mother gets probation for neglecting children

An Ambridge woman who let her children remain in cribs and rooms filled with human waste was sentenced this week to five years' probation after pleading guilty to charges of child endangerment.

A social worker discovered the three children of Shanene C. Wayne, 23, living in deplorable conditions in January.

For example, Wayne's 2-year-old son, covered in feces, was locked in a bedroom filled with his own waste, while her 10-month-old son, also covered in feces, was lying in a crib with urine-soaked sheets. Those children and a 5-year-old were removed from the home.

Beaver County Judge John P. Dohanich said some of the things that happened were the result of Wayne being sick, but others were inexcusable.

Blair County Homes will be bought to make way for road

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wants to buy 35 homes near Lakemont Park and the Blair County Ballpark as part of a plan to improve Park Avenue in Logan Township, Blair County.

A PennDOT official this week asked the county commissioners to approve a resolution that will let PennDOT pay extra money to residents who might not be able to find similar housing if their property is purchased to make room for the new road.

PennDOT can pay those residents under eminent domain laws. The extra payments won't cost the county anything, but under the law, an agency taking the land must let local officials know about the supplemental payments.

PennDOT expects to buy the affected homes in the next 18 months so the agency can start building the new road near the minor league baseball stadium and a neighboring amusement park.

Erie County Abortion clinic passes state inspection

Erie's only legal abortion clinic passed a state health inspection and can reopen at any time, a state Health Department official said.

The American Women's Services clinic will open without the services of Dr. Harvey Brookman. His medical license was suspended over allegations of unprofessional conduct and negligence, which led to the closing of the Erie clinic last April 19. Brookman has refused to comment on the allegations.

State Health Department spokesman Richard McGarvey said the facility has a credentialed physician on staff and is free to open at any time. McGarvey said it isn't clear when that will happen.

Clinic officials declined comment.

Catholic teacher faces pornography charges

A Catholic high school teacher was accused of having pictures on his home computer of people having sex with a toddler, among other images, and was arrested, police said.

Dennis Vickery, 61, of Millcreek Township, had worked as a chemistry teacher at Villa Maria Academy until his arrest Wednesday.

Detectives said they got a tip from America Online in July that Vickery was accused of e-mailing a child pornography image to another user.

Vickery didn't abuse any students at the school or involve them in online pornography, authorities said. Authorities said he is accused of downloading and trading child pornography, not creating it. He worked at the school only this year.

Vickery's attorney declined comment.

Man guilty of molesting Catholic school student

A former volunteer coach at a Catholic elementary school in Erie pleaded guilty this week in Erie County court to indecent assault and other charges involving a female student.

Kevin Kulhanek, 48, of Millcreek Township, was accused of molesting the girl, then 12, from June 2003 through May 2004 on the school campus, at a residence and at a local hotel.

The assaults happened while he was a volunteer girls' soccer and basketball coach, but it wasn't immediately clear from court records if the victim was a member of those teams. Kulhanek stopped coaching at the school in June. He faces up to 17 years in prison.

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