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Mark Makela 

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby reacts while being notified a verdict was in in his sexual assault retrial, Thursday, April, 26, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. A jury convicted the "Cosby Show" star of three counts of aggravated indecent assault on Thursday. The guilty verdict came less than a year after another jury deadlocked on the charges. (Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP)

AAA: Hit-and-run deaths hit record high

Hit-and-run crashes resulted in 2,049 deaths in the country in 2016 — the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

Researchers found that a hit-and-run crash occurs every minute in the country, and that nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists. Hit-and-run deaths in the country have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem.”

Though the states with the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes per capita are New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida, Pennsylvania has also seen an increase in the number of fatal crashes.

According to AAA data, Pennsylvania had 50 fatal hit-and-run crashes in 2016, the highest number in AAA’s study that included information from 2006. The state has seen higher numbers before, with the number of deaths in the upper 40s in 2007, 2008 and 2012, but Pennsylvania’s numbers usually stay in the upper 20s or 30s.

According to PennDOT data, which does not specify hit-and-run crashes, fatal crashes involving pedestrians in the state did go down in 2017, a year after AAA’s last year of data. In 2017, there were 148 pedestrians who died in crashes, while there were 174 pedestrian deaths in the state in 2016.

Though AAA said pedestrians and bicyclists together make up the highest percentage of victims, pedestrian deaths far outnumbered other types of hit-and-run deaths.

The study found that 1,129 pedestrians died in hit-and-run incidents in 2016, almost 60 percent of the total 2,049 deaths that year in the country. Drivers made up 18.5 percent of the deaths (380 fatalities), passengers were 11.2 percent of the deaths (229 fatalities), and bicyclists made up 8.2 percent of the deaths (169 fatalities).

Though bicyclists did not make up a large percentage of the hit-and-run deaths, the number of bicyclists killed in such crashes has vastly increased. There was a span from 2009 and 2010 in which deaths did not reach 100, but from 2011 to 2015, the number of bicyclist deaths in the country ranged from 112 to 131.

AAA data did not break down the deaths in Pennsylvania by the type of victim, but it did provide a review of every state’s policy and law regarding duties and penalties after crashes.

In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to remain on the scene, provide information, render aid and notify police after a crash, hitting all four of the requirements AAA studied. Some states do not require drivers to render aid or notify police.

In terms of penalties for hit-and-run crashes, those causing damage can be a third-degree misdemeanor carrying a sentence of one year in jail or $2,500 in fines; crashes resulting in injury can be a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony with serious injury and carry 90 days in jail and more than $1,000 in fines; and crashes involving a fatality can be a second-degree felony that can result in three years in jail and more than $2,500 in fines.

In addition to noting the severe consequences of leaving the scene of a crash, AAA also recommended that drivers do more to prevent hit-and-run crashes, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists. The organization said drivers should be aware of pedestrians who may act unpredictably or walk into the path of the vehicle, be alert for children in the area of school zones and intersections, be patient when trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist and be vigilant and yield to pedestrians, even if they cross the road at locations other than a crosswalk.

“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers, whether they caused the crash or not.”

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Carlisle High School student Erin Keating helps unwrap a section of a Color Carlisle mural Thursday at St. Paul Evangelical Church in Carlisle.

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Color Carlisle mural reflects town's heritage and future

The project began as a checklist of the places and objects that Carlisle High School students considered important to the town’s past, present and future.

That checklist became images.

Those images were revealed to the public Thursday as Color Carlisle’s first mural was installed on the northern wall of Stock Hall at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at the corner of West Louther and North West streets.

The mural project is a collaboration between Color Carlisle and the Carlisle Area School District. Artist Ophelia Chambliss was the artist in residence for the project, working with portfolio-level art students at the high school since last September and supervising the installation.

“It’s very exciting. This has been a long time coming,” Ashley Gogoj said.

As the art teacher who led the students through the project, Gogoj knows the wait between finishing the mural and installing it has been difficult.

The students finished painting the mural at the end of October with plans to install it in early November. Cold weather set in the week they planned to install it and didn’t release it’s grip until recently.

Students didn’t forget about the project, Gogoj said, but their interest waned a little as they watched weather reports through November without seeing conditions favorable to installing the mural.

That changed when they started checking the weather reports again in March.

“Since the weather started turning, we’ve been building and building and building with excitement for them,” she said.

The mural was created on parachute paper, which was then carefully rolled and placed in plastic. Numbers written on the plastic told the installation team where to place each of the six panels. Students slathered their gloved hands with a special glue, which they spread all over the back of the mural panel. The panel was then handed up to a team of adults on scaffolding who lined up the images and smoothed out the panel.

Chambliss had told the students the process would take two to three hours at most once they got started. By just a little after noon, the main panels had been installed and “flyout” add-on pieces were being added to cover uneven edges.

Greg Guenther, president of the Color Carlisle advisory board, was thankful the wait was over, noting that the timing worked out well with the Amani Festival coming up next week and another potential project on the wall at Sadler Health Center in the first block of West Louther Street in early discussions.

“Exhilarating is the best word to describe this just because there are so many aspects to it. It’s so bright. It’s finally spring. It’s this piece of art going into the community right at the perfect time. It’s exhilarating to see all these students be a part of it and feel passionate about putting it up,” he said.

As Chambliss was preparing the students for the installation, she told them it would be up for 30 years, which Gogoj said made a lot of the students proud of what they had accomplished.

“It’s cool to know, as high schoolers, that we did something that’s going to be around forever,” junior Hannah Aust said.

The mural features images of landmarks like the Carlisle Theatre and the Old Courthouse, as well as images symbolic of the area’s agricultural heritage and the iconic red Adirondack chairs at Dickinson College.

As they sketched out the mural, Chambliss talked to them about the need to tie the objects together in the mural. She drew an infinity symbol that became that tying factor as a shaded overlay on the mural.

Now and in the future, the students will be able to point out their favorite parts of the mural, including those parts they painted.

“I really like the hands holding the tomato. I think that turned out so well,” junior Hailey Myers said. “That’s really symbolic of the community and Project SHARE.”

Early on in the process, Chambliss said she took photos of the wall from different points along the block. The decision was made to position the mural closer to the street-side edge of the wall for maximum visibility to passersby.

Guenther said the mural will require little maintenance. The color may fade, but it will not peel as would a mural painted directly on the brick.

Prints of the mural will also be for sale. Chambliss will touch up the drawing, and the prints will be made by the Dickinson College print program. The details of how and when they will be for sale have not been finalized.

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Arooga's pays $750k in back wages, damages after settlement with Department of Labor

In a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar agreed to pay current and former servers, cooks and assistant kitchen managers in the area $750,007 in back wages and liquidated damages, according to the department.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation into the payment of employees in Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, York, Lower Paxton, Hanover and Harrisburg regarding minimum wages and overtime not paid to them over a 30-month period.

Arooga’s said in a statement that the “amicable resolution” of the investigation was in regard to pay practices during the early years of the business’ operation. The inquiry was into pay practices between 2010 and 2013.

“Arooga’s fully cooperated with the Department of Labor in its investigation and immediately upon learning of the agency’s concerns in 2013, more than five years ago, Arooga’s took steps to ensure its compliance with applicable wage and hour laws,” a statement from the business said. “The Department of Labor concluded that Arooga’s did not intentionally violate any laws.”

The 1,039 employees of Arooga’s will receive $375,003 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, the department said in a news release.

“We will vigorously enforce the law to level the playing field for companies that play by the rules and to safeguard employees’ hard-earned wages,” said department Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III. “We are hopeful that settlements like this one will call attention to such violations and remind other employers that they must comply with the law.”

Investigators with the division’s Wilkes-Barre district office found that Arooga’s failed to pay tipped employees the federal minimum wage when deductions, walk outs and order mistakes reduced their wages to less than $7.25 per hour; pay employees for all of the hours worked, resulting in overtime violations for servers who worked an estimated 65 to 70 hours per week; pay cooks overtime when they worked an estimated 65 hours per week; and pay assistant kitchen managers overtime after erroneously categorizing them as exempt from overtime, the department said.

“Arooga’s disagrees with many of the findings of the investigation, yet in good faith entered into a settlement with the agency that resulted in payments to certain of its former and current employees,” the business said.

“Arooga’s is committed to full compliance with wage and hour laws and regulations,” it said in the release. “Arooga’s has always valued its employees and their important contributions to delivering the outstanding food, service and atmosphere Arooga’s is known for, and is focused on moving forward in continuing to grow and serve the Arooga Nation.”

Bill Tracker
Bill Tracker: Lead testing for all Pennsylvania youths

Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

A 2015 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Report published by the Pennsylvania Department of Health found that more than 4,000 Pennsylvania children tested positive for elevated lead levels in their blood.

About 28 percent of the state’s youths were tested, meaning if that sample is indicative of all children in the state, the number would be closer to 16,000 with elevated lead levels in their blood.

Elevated levels of lead can lead to a host of neurological and nervous system disorders and has been associated with reduced IQ, developmental disorders, juvenile delinquency and even criminal behavior.

One state legislator hopes to get a better handle on the situation by expanding lead testing.

Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Philadelphia, has introduced a bill that would require all children have their lead levels tested.

“Lead exposure often does not manifest itself in physical symptoms, but may result in long-term neurological damages, especially if the exposure occurs during the critical stages of brain development in early childhood,” O’Brien wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “The only way to accurately determine an individual’s lead status is with a simple blood test.”

Under House Bill 1994, all children would be required to have their lead levels tested between 9 and 12 months old and again around their second birthday.

If a child tests positive for elevated lead levels in their blood, the child would be required to have a follow-up test to confirm.

Some of the stated goals of the bill are to “promote the elimination of childhood lead poisoning,” “substantially reduce, and eventually eliminate, the incidents of childhood lead poisoning” in the state and “increase the supply of lead-safe housing” in Pennsylvania.