Murderer Caleb Fairley Continues To Seek New Trial

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Just throw the key away!

NORRISTOWN – Despite his court-appointed lawyer and a Montgomery County judge determining his latest appeal has “no merit,” a former Upper Merion man convicted of the 1995 murders of a Limerick mother and her toddler daughter is continuing his quest for a new trial.

Convicted double murderer Caleb Bradley Fairley has filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Superior Court, appealing county Judge William R. Carpenter’s Oct. 23 order that dismissed Fairley’s latest attempt to overturn his convictions in connection with the September 1995 strangulation deaths of Lisa Marie Manderach, 29, of Limerick, and her 19-month-old daughter Devon, in Collegeville.

Fairley, according to his notice of appeal filed in county court, appears to be representing himself in the Superior Court action.  In his latest appeal, filed under the state’s Post Conviction Relief Act, Fairley asked the judge to vacate his two life prison sentences and to grant him a new trial, or in the alternative, a new sentencing hearing.

In September, county Assistant Public Defender Timothy Peter Wile, who was appointed by Carpenter to represent Fairley after Fairley filed the original appeal on Sept. 17, indicated in a letter to the judge that his “conscientious review” of Fairley’s claims revealed no “issue of arguable merit” and therefore it is “legally without merit and frivolous.”  Wile, chief of the public defender’s appellate division, maintained Fairley’s petition for a new trial “lacks any basis in either law or fact and is, therefore, frivolous.”

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Union Head: Wilkes-Barre Cutting 11 Firefighters

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wilkes-Barre city will lay off 11 firefighters effective this Saturday, the president of the Wilkes-Barre Firefighters Association said today.

“It feels like I got hit by a truck,” said President Mike Bilski.

Bilski met today with Mayor Tom Leighton, who informed Bilski of the city’s decision.  Bilski said he notified all of his union members.

Leighton has warned of layoffs since October when he asked the city’s nearly 290 employees for voluntary furloughs and retirements.

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Hershey Restaurants Roll Out Savory Food And Good Beer

Chocolate Kiss streetlight on Chocolate Avenue...

Chocolate Kiss streetlight on Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Great publicity for Hershey, Pennsylvania from the Philadelphia Inquirer!

A giant Hershey bar brushed past me, waved, and stepped onto the escalator – and I’ll admit I did a double take.  It was morning.  Hadn’t had my coffee.  And the prospect of breakfasting with a cast of human-sized Kit Kat bars and York Peppermint Patties at the Hershey Lodge was only just coming into focus.

Of course there were walking Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups here: Central Pennsylvania’s cocoa capital, a playland of amusement rides, endless sweets, and candy-themed attractions that run straight through the holidays, is where every kid’s chocolate fantasies can almost come to life.

The possibility, though, that there might now be something just as wonderful for the grown-ups to eat and drink around Hershey – Craft beer!  Artisanal charcuterie! Genuine country cooking! – would be my most enduring double take from this family trip.

Never would I have guessed such a thing possible from our last visit eight years ago, when we found little more than a soulless gallery of national chains.

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Camden Takes First Step In Laying Off Entire Police Department

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poor...

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other social issues. Much of the city of Camden, New Jersey suffers from urban decay. 日本語: ニュージャージー州カムデンのスラム. Svenska: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Kiswahili: Camden, New Jersey ni moja ya mataifa maskini zaidi katika miji ya Marekani. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd submitted a plan this afternoon to the state Civil Service Commission to lay off the city’s entire police department, paving the way for a county-run force.

A source knowledgeable about the matter said no layoffs would occur until the new department has at least 250 officers patrolling the streets of Camden.

Once fully operational, the county force is expected to number about 400 – about 140 more officers than are on the present city police force.

Camden County officials, citing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, yesterday extended their deadline for receiving applications for the new force by six weeks to Jan. 15.  They have said they would only rehire up to 49 percent of the current roster so that the terms of the existing union contract do not extend to the new department.

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Pending Home Sales Surge In Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pending sales of homes in Lancaster County soared 27.1 percent in October, a new report says.

Pending sales numbered 413 last month, up from 325 in October 2011, according to the Lancaster County Association of Realtors.

With the October figure, pending sales here have increased for 13 consecutive months.

The tally also marked the highest October pending sales since October 2006.

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UGI Cutting Residential Gas Rates 3.8 Percent

Maybe now you can afford to turn the thermostat up a hair.

UGI Utilities said Thursday that it will cut its residential rates another 3.8 percent, effective Saturday.

The reduction reflects UGI’s lower costs to buy natural gas on the wholesale market.

With the latest cut, the average residential heating customer’s bill will slide to $86.17 per month from $89.55.

UGI has roughly 70,000 customers in Lancaster County, about 90 percent of which are residential.

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Lancaster County Budget Plan Splits Board

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

County property taxes would increase for the first time under the current county administration with a plan Commissioner Dennis Stuckey offered Wednesday.

His plan would increase taxes by about 9.3 percent and would include raises for employees of 2.75 percent, along with departmental cuts of about 2.75 percent.

For a home assessed at the county average of $148,000, a property owner would pay about $553, or about $48 more, next year. The millage rate would increase from 3.416 to 3.741 under Stuckey’s plan.

“I don’t throw this out or offer it up lightly,” he said. “It’s not something I particularly want to do or take pleasure in, but I feel like the best course of action is a little more even approach going in to next year, offering something to our employees … and trying to get some value that will assist us in protecting our cash reserve.”

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Twin Valley Considers Shorter School Day

Faced with a projected shortfall of $1.2 million for 2013-14, Twin Valley School District officials met with residents Wednesday to explore trimming costs in ways that students wouldn’t notice.

But administrators acknowledged there was one exception to that goal: a compacted school day.

“This is why you’re all here,” acknowledged Dr. Robert F. Pleis, superintendent.

More than 50 district residents attended the town hall-style meeting at Twin Valley Elementary Center, where a team of administrators detailed cost-cutting options that emerged from focus groups earlier this year.

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Joanna Furnace Cooks Up A 19th Century Christmas

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of the 200 volunteers it takes to put together the Christmas celebration taking place Friday through Sunday evenings at Historic Joanna Furnace, Lisa and Marissa Martin have one of the more enviable jobs.

They’re coordinating the kitchen portion of the event’s living-history demonstrations, which means the mother-daughter team spent a good portion of last week testing out 19th century cookie recipes – you know, for authenticity’s sake.

With the cookies available for visitors to sample, the stakes were high – but Lisa Martin said the 19th century recipes she found online should please modern palates.

“My kitchen all approved it,” she said.

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Pottsgrove Manor By Candlelight – December 9th‏

Pottstown, PA – Revel in the spirit of the season at historic Pottsgrove Manor with the annual “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight” open-house on Sunday, December 9 from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The public is invited to take a self-guided tour of the 1752 manor house, where costumed interpreters will portray the colonial residents of Pottsgrove Manor. As visitors make their way through the house, they will hear the strains of music played on historical instruments, see English country dancing, catch a whiff of the delicious smells in the kitchen as historical cook, Deborah Peterson, prepares a colonial feast, play traditional tavern games, and enjoy the beauty of the mansion lit by candlelight and bedecked with greenery.

After touring the house, guests will want to visit Pottsgrove Manor’s museum shop for unique, historically-oriented gifts like locally-made redware pottery and ornaments, reproduction glassware, handcrafted candles and soaps, books, toys, games, and more.

Next door to the mansion in the Miller’s House, young visitors can make free colonial crafts to take home, and complimentary seasonal refreshments of hot spiced cider and cookies will be served. Outside in the manor’s courtyard, visitors will be able to warm themselves by a bonfire (weather permitting) and enjoy historic carols sung by the Colonial Revelers singing group between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

A donation of $2 per person is suggested for this event. Visitors are asked to park at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street; a shuttle will transport visitors to and from Pottsgrove Manor throughout the event. Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.

Can’t make it to the open house? Visitors can enjoy the spirit of the season at Pottsgrove Manor now through January 6, 2013 with a guided tour of the mansion, decorated for the holidays. Tours are offered during regular museum hours, and the museum shop will also be open for holiday shopping. Regular museum hours are: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tours are given on the hour. The last tour of the day begins as 3:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more should pre-register by calling (610) 326-4014. The museum is closed Mondays, as well as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Pottsgrove Manor, home of John Potts, colonial ironmaster and founder of Pottstown, is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by MontgomeryCounty under the direction of the Parks and Heritage Services Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. For more information and a full calendar of events, visit the website at or follow Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at