You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Associated Press 

In this 2016 file photo, Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz and other players kneel in prayer after an NFL football game in Philadelphia.


Closer_look
top story
Over the Limit: DUI solutions that target drinking not driving

Most people who get a DUI do not get another.

Most people who get more than one DUI do not get arrested while awaiting the outcome of their first offense.

However, a small but persistent group of habitual offenders remain.

At least 1,400 people were charged with more than one DUI in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia in 2016, according to an analysis of court records conducted by The Sentinel.

Nearly 100 of those people were charged with more than two, The Sentinel found.

Each time they get behind the wheel intoxicated, the outcome can be catastrophic.

“It truly can cause some of the most horrific crashes and deaths,” said David Drumheller, traffic safety resource prosecutor for the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association. “You can be out with your family driving home from the movies completely law abiding, and next thing you know you’re hit by a drunk driver and your life is changed as you know it.”

In recent years, a new approach to dealing with intoxicated driving has begun to take hold.

Traditional methods focus on the driving aspect of intoxicated driving by doing things like revoking a person’s driver’s license or requiring the driver to install an ignition interlock that tests for alcohol on the driver’s breath before allowing the vehicle to start.

In some areas, the focus has shifted to the other part of the equation — drinking.

24/7 Sobriety

Around 2005, South Dakota implemented a pilot program for what is now known as its 24/7 Sobriety program.

The program targeted repeat DUI offenders and typically requires them to appear at the county sheriff’s office twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — to have a breathalyzer test done.

The purpose of the program is to more strongly enforce a defendant’s abstinence from alcohol that is typically a condition of release pretrial or a condition of probation or parole. Anyone who fails a breathalyzer test is immediately sent to county jail for a short stay, usually a day or two.

“The idea was to hold people accountable,” said Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “The idea was swift, certain and very modest sanctions.”

Kilmer said that before the 24/7 Sobriety program abstinence from alcohol was not easily enforced, and when it was enforced, it potentially resulted in long prison stays for the defendant.

“The program works because they create this credible deterrent threat,” Kilmer said. “People know there are going to be consequences for their actions.”

More than 30,000 people have gone through the now-statewide program since its inception.

Kilmer said more than 99 percent of all the breathalyzer tests are passed, and roughly half of the participants make it through the program without every failing or missing a breathalyzer test. Another 15 to 20 percent fail only once during their time in the program, Kilmer said.

With these defendants no longer using alcohol, alcohol-related offenses were reduced.

A RAND study found county-level repeat DUI offenses dropped 12 percent after the implementation of the program, and there was a roughly 9 percent drop in domestic violence, which has a high correlation to alcohol use.

“Most of the participants were men between the ages of 18 and 40, and if you can keep them from drinking for even six months at a time, you can expect there to be spillover effects,” Kilmer said.

The program was also associated with a roughly 4 percent reduction in overall mortality, Kilmer’s group found.

The 24/7 Sobriety program has expanded to several other states including South Dakota and is under consideration in others.

Target 25

Faced with the same concern about repeat DUI offenders, York County instituted a program that monitors defendant’s alcohol use using a relatively new piece of technology.

Beginning in 2012, repeat DUI defendants were equipped with SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitor as a condition of their release on bail. The alcohol monitor is similar to a traditional ankle monitor but has skin-contact sensors that detect alcohol consumption.

“They target those individuals who are second-time offenders,” Drumheller said. “So, once they start second subsequent offenses they are put on pretrial alcohol monitoring. While these folks may not be sitting in jail pending trial with monetary bail, part of their release requirement is they are on this alcohol monitor.”

York County has won awards for the program and touts that defendants remain alcohol free 99 percent of the time and that the county saw a 90 percent reduction in repeat DUI offenses in the first year.

The Sentinel was unable to fully match the 90 percent reduction, but did find significant drops in repeat DUI offenses through an analysis of charging data.

In 2011, The Sentinel identified 44 defendants who were charged with multiple alcohol-related DUIs in York County. Of those defendants, 21 were either charged with more than two DUIs that year or had a prior history of DUI, according to court records.

By 2016, the overall number dropped by nearly 60 percent to 18 defendants charged with more than one alcohol-related DUI in York County.

For comparison, that same year in Cumberland County had 24 defendants charged with multiple alcohol-related DUIs, according to court records. York County's population is roughly 80 larger than Cumberland County.

Only five defendants with more than one DUI in York County in 2016 had a prior history of DUI, and none received more than two DUIs in the year, The Sentinel found.

This is a more than 76 percent reduction from 2011 and a third of the number of similar defendants in Cumberland County, court records showed.

Lancaster County recently instituted a similar program and saw half as many defendants charged with multiple alcohol-related DUIs who had a prior history of DUI in 2016 than Cumberland County, despite Lancaster County’s population being twice that of Cumberland County.

SCRAM alcohol monitors are also being used for some in the 24/7 Sobriety program.

While York County’s program shows promise, it has limitations.

Like the 24/7 Sobriety program in North Dakota, defendants in the in the Target 25 program are expected to pay to participate. However, the cost is much more for the Target 25 program.

Participants in the North Dakota program pay $2 per day for the breathalyzer tests, while participants in Target 25 are expected to pay $12 per day.

A study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration of programs using the SCRAM monitors in Nebraska and Wisconsin found the programs may not reduce long-term repeat offending.

The NHTSA tracked defendants for several years and found participation in the SCRAM program in both states did not prevent people from being arrested for a new DUI offense in the long term.

The study did, however, find that participation increased the time between arrests by three to four months and roughly 98 percent of the people did not re-offend while in the program.


Local
top story
Mount Holly Springs
Dickinson College students may use radar to survey church burial grounds in Mount Holly

A team of Dickinson College students could visit Mount Holly Springs this April to conduct a field survey of burial grounds tied to the Mount Tabor AME Church on Cedar Street.

Three to five students enrolled in the Environmental Geophysics course could take the lead on a project that may use ground-penetrating radar to pinpoint the locations of unmarked graves, said Jorden Hayes, an assistant professor of earth science at the college.

A volunteer effort is underway to preserve the long-abandoned church that had served as the spiritual hub of a black community that once thrived in a town that has already lost a lot of its history.

“We are absolutely happy to contribute where we can,” Hayes said about a survey that will be offered at no cost to Mount Holly Springs.

“This is a real opportunity for our students to be engaged in the community and to have that cultural relevance,” she added. “It’s important to understand our past to look towards our present and future.”

The student-led survey would analyze subsurface conditions at two locations: the main African-American cemetery just down the street from the church and a suspected cemetery on private property behind the church building.

The church and its main cemetery have been listed on the Cumberland County register of historic places, said Lindsay Varner, community outreach director for the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle.

A goal this year is to file an application with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to have a state marker put up in recognition of the significance of the church and its main cemetery, Varner said. “We want to start working towards a national historic designation for it.”

The more information the effort has, the greater the likelihood that the state and federal applications would be approved, Varner said. But there is also the chance the field survey could be inconclusive.

The first step in a field survey would be to gauge the extent of clay deposits in the subsurface soil of both burial grounds, Hayes said. “If there is too much clay, it could be a challenge to get anything reliable.”

Ground-penetrating radar works by emitting radio waves into the soil, Hayes said. Clay deposits act as a barrier for these waves to penetrate and provide an accurate read on the subsurface conditions.

“We are not going to see individual bones,” Hayes said. Instead the waves may detect the absence of natural soil layers beneath the surface that could indicate the ground had been disturbed by the burial of a body.

The students will also be looking for slight depressions at the surface that could indicate void spaces in the subsurface caused by the natural settling that takes place once the coffin and its contents have deteriorated and rotted away.

“If we can tie evidence from a subsurface scan with surface observation, then we can start to paint a picture,” Hayes said. The students could chart the locations of the disturbances to determine if there is a pattern.

The main cemetery is larger than it looks, Varner said. That burial ground includes a small family plot along with a number of military-style headstones for African-American men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

“Beyond that we really don’t have an idea of how many people are buried there,” Varner said. “We are missing headstones and we don’t have a burial plot map.” Research on obituaries turned up some prospects on who could be buried there.

There is reason to believe a second cemetery exists behind the church on land that is overgrown with brambles. That cemetery predates the church, which was built in the 1870s.

Local residents said that decades ago there were grave markers located behind the church. Those markers may have been taken for paving stones or lost within the brambles, Varner said. She added the private landowner has given permission for the students to conduct a ground-penetrating radar scan to verify whether the land is a cemetery.

“If we do manage to find out where those burials are, it gives us an opportunity to do something like what we did in the main cemetery,” Varner said. “Mark the boundaries of where those burials are and try not to get the land overgrown again.

“You don’t always get the answer you are looking for,” Varner said. “But we figured it is worth trying and is worth seeing if we can find evidence.”


Michael Bupp, Sentinel file  

Mount Tabor Church cemetery in Mount Holly Springs is pictured.


Teen_of_the_week
Teen of the Week
Teen of the Week: Trinity senior finds her voice

Kirby Povilaitis found her passion in life as a green ogre on the Camp Hill Summer Stage.

“I came in as the dark horse,” the Hampden Township youth said, recalling her first real experience in theater. “I came in knowing my Shrek knowledge.”

It was the summer before her sophomore year at Trinity High School and Povilaitis was the newbie in a seasonlong camp that taught students how to act and perform.

While many of her fellow campers had attended the camp every year since the fourth grade, Povilaitis was at the upper limit of the age range for a youth to participate.

Yet somehow she landed the part of Princess Fiona, the lead female role in “Shrek: The Musical.” Her good fortune earned her some temporary enemies among the girls she barreled past, but now they are good friends.

From an early age, she was used to performing. “The minute I was taking, I was singing,” Povilaitis said. “I started singing with my choir in school in the third grade.”

Love for acting

Now 18 and a senior, she was part of the ensemble cast for the musical “Aida” her freshman year at Trinity High School. But it was as Fiona that her true gift entered the limelight.

“It really taught me that I love acting,” Povilaitis said. “I love to broadcast my talent solely to make people happy. It has become the main thing in my life.”

The role of Fiona and theme of “Shrek” made her realize that it’s completely OK to be yourself.

“All the things that make you different make you unique and strong,” Povilaitis said. “Do not try to hide the things that make you different. Embrace the person you are and show it to the world. I have never turned back.”

In her sophomore year, she played the role of Frenchy in the Trinity High School production of “Grease.” That was also the year she first became a Shamrock ambassador.

As an ambassador, her role is to represent Trinity to seventh- and eighth-graders on visits to the parochial schools that send students to the high school.

Her involvement stepped up in her junior year when Povilaitis became a leader in PALS — the Peers Actively Listening program at Trinity. PALS is the only activity at the school where students are allowed to be in a room without adult supervision.

PALS

As a leader, she is in charge of helping a group of freshmen adjust to life as a high school student. This involves meeting with the group once a cycle to allow the freshmen to confide with upperclassmen in a setting where they can be free to vent or discuss whatever is troubling them.

“My favorite part is watching the freshmen open up,” Povilaitis said. “When they start up, they are very tense, nervous and anxious.” But by the end of the year, the freshmen have learned to relax and love their time in school.

In her junior year, Povilaitis landed the role of Smitty in the musical “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Over the years, her singing opened up opportunities for her to perform during school Masses, community Masses, in nursing homes and the Cumberland County Prison.

Though raised a Catholic, Povilaitis was not particularly interested in her faith. That all changed when she went on a youth retreat during her junior year in high school.

“It opened my eyes to the importance of faith and God in my life,” she said. “My church youth group has been my foundation since I have come back into my faith life.”

Every Sunday after Mass, Povilaitis said she attends the Lifeteen youth group at the Saint Patrick Church in South Middleton Township. The youth group went on a mission trip last August where they helped to repair a church roof in a rural community in Kentucky.

While there, Povilaitis was in a group of teens that had the opportunity to visit a 90-year-old woman who lived alone in a trailer out in the middle of the woods.

“She told us she lost all of her family,” Povilaitis said. “She ended up in the trailer. She still had so much faith in God and her religion. For someone who had nothing, she had everything because she was so joyful.”

Despite her circumstances, the old woman had a big smile and no problem sharing the poetry and songs she wrote to praise God. Povilaitis joined other youths in singing some songs with her accompanied by a ukulele.

After high school

Since starting her senior year, Povilaitis has continued her work as a Shamrock ambassador, a PALS leader and as a member of chorus. She landed the role of Cogsworth in the musical production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Her plan after graduation is to go to college and pursue a degree in speech pathology. That field combines her love for helping people with her love for singing and voice.

“I have seen what speech pathology can do,” said Povilaitis who has two brothers with autism. “It’s the best way I can utilize my talent. There are a bunch of paths that I could take.” She could, for example, help victims of stroke and other ailments regain their ability to speak.

“I truly believe God gave me the gift of my voice,” she said. “If I can give that back to others, I will do it any way I can.” Though a theater major is out, Povilaitis plans to participate in acting clubs in college.


Govt-and-politics
Republicans seeing lion's share of turnover in Legislature

HARRISBURG — Retirements and other departures are poised to hit Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature particularly hard this year, as most of those who have already announced they are leaving belong to the GOP.

The party that has wielded broad power in the General Assembly in recent years, thanks to strong majorities in both chambers, looks to also have far more open seats to defend in 2018.

At least eight state House Republicans are running for Congress or state Senate, and the party is also losing several veteran committee chairs to retirement. In all, 15 of the 16 representatives who have said for certain they are not seeking re-election this year are Republicans.

In the state Senate, all four who are definitely leaving are Republicans.

Some may return to the House or Senate if they lose or drop out of races for other elective positions. But it’s entirely possible that more than 30 newcomers will take legislative seats early next year.

Republicans currently control the Senate 34-16, and the House 120-81 with two vacancies, one from each party.

Pending court challenges to the state’s congressional map could have a domino effect, as candidates who want to run for Congress might change their minds, depending on what map is in eventually in place for the May 15 primary.

Openings at the top

The state House’s two highest ranking members, Speaker Mike Turzai, of Allegheny County, and Majority Leader Dave Reed, of Indiana County, both Republicans, are running for other offices. Turzai is a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and he’s said that if he wins the primary he won’t also try to retain his House seat. Reed, seeking the nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, has ruled out returning to the state House.

Changes in Senate

Among Turzai’s primary opponents in the governor’s race this year is York County Republican Sen. Scott Wagner, who is giving up his seat in the Senate. Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, is not seeking re-election as he pursues the nomination for Shuster’s congressional seat. Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, is not running for a fourth term. Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, has said he may run for Congress in the Philadelphia suburbs but has not decided — his Senate seat is not up until 2020. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, is retiring.

Ambitious members

Rep. Judy Ward, R-Blair, wants Eichelberger’s spot in the Senate. Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, is running to succeed Wagner. Both have said they don’t plan to run for House and Senate at the same time.

Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, has said he is not seeking re-election as he pursues the nomination for the congressional seat opening with the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, is part of a crowded field running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Dean is simultaneously running to keep her House seat. Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, is running in the March 13 special election for a vacant congressional seat, held most recently by Republican Tim Murphy. Saccone is not seeking another state House term.

Rep. Steve Bloom, R-Cumberland, wants the seat that Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta is giving up as he runs for U.S. Senate. Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, is battling with Barletta for the Senate nomination and is not simultaneously running for another state House term. Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, has announced plans to run against Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks, while seeking re-election to the House at the same time.

House retirees

This year’s retirements include 18-term state Rep. Bob Godshall, R-Montgomery; Rep. Harry Lewis, R-Chester; Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Westmoreland; Rep. John McGinnis, R-Blair; Rep. Ron Marsico; R-Dauphin, Rep. Will Tallman, R-York; Rep. C. Adam Harris, R-Juniata; and Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks. Another notable retirement is 17-term Rep. John Taylor, one of only two remaining Republicans in the Philadelphia delegation and chairman of the Transportation Committee. Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny, is seriously considering retiring and plans to announce a decision in the coming days.

Absenteeism

A state representative under fire for missing many session days and votes told the Scranton Times-Tribune this week he is not seeking another term. Rep. Kevin Haggerty, a Democrat, had explained his poor attendance record by saying he needed to be with his children as he and his wife were divorcing.