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Newport News - 2019
5/23/2019
Police: Man cut face in scheme to implicate girlfriend
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Newport Twp. man beat and choked his girlfriend while in a drunken rage, then cut his own face with a razor as part of a scheme to get her thrown into jail, according to police.
Police said the trouble began when Patrick M. Kulina, 31, of 143 Old Newport St., took a bus to his girlfriend's work, drinking alcohol from a travel cup with her 4-year-old daughter in tow. Security officers denied entry to Kulina, who was drunk, and his girlfriend, Sally Atkins, subsequently gave him a ride home, the charges allege.
When police responded to Kulina's apartment around 6:10 p.m. Tuesday, Kulina claimed Atkins attacked him with a rolling pin that was on the kitchen counter.
Kulina claimed he had not been drinking, but police said he smelled of alcohol and they observed an empty vodka bottle on the floor of the apartment, which was in a state of disarray and appeared to have been the scene of a struggle.
Officers also observed multiple bruises on Atkins' head, neck and chest, police said.
Atkins reported when they got to the apartment she told Kulina to leave but he pushed his way inside. Kulina then began throwing Atkins around the apartment, hitting her head on the kitchen counter and squeezing her neck so she could not breathe, according to police.
At one point during the struggle, Atkins punched Kulina in the face, causing a cut near his right eye with a ring, the complaint said.
Police said as Atkins was leaving the apartment, Kulina occupied himself by "throwing himself face first onto the floor."
After speaking with Atkins in another apartment, police noticed a razor that had been on the counter of Kulina's apartment had been moved and the rolling pin was gone. Kulina also had new injuries and was bleeding from his forehead and the right side of his face, police said.
Kulina claimed all the injuries on his face were the result of being attacked by Atkins, according to the complaint. However, Patrolman Thomas Nalbone had taken pictures of Kulina when he first arrived on scene, and the pictures showed Kulina sustained additional injuries while he was alone in the apartment, police said.
Confronted with the pictures, Kulina admitted he cut himself with the razor in an effort to have Atkins arrested so he could stay in the apartment, the complaint said.
Police charged Kulina with aggravated assault, strangulation, simple assault, making a false report and harassment. Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. arraigned him on the charges Wednesday morning and set bail at $100,000.
Kulina was being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing set for June 5.

5/7/2019
Bureau of Forestry probes wildfires around Nanticoke
Staff Report - Citizens Voice

The Bureau of Forestry is investigating wildfires that were intentionally set around Nanticoke.
The bureau is offering a $1,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
According to a news release:
Several wildfires were set the evening of April 3 in Newport Twp. and Hanover Twp. outside of Nanticoke.
At the time the fires were set, eastern Pennsylvania was under a "red flag warning," a warning issued by the National Weather Service to indicate increased wildfire danger.
The fires burned dozens of acres.
"Circumstances around all of these fires have led us to the conclusion that the fires have been intentionally set. Some of the fires have put public and firefighter lives and property at risk, which is of great concern," said Michael Kern, chief of the bureau's Division of Forest Fire Protection, in the press release. "Intentionally setting a wildfire is arson and we take that very seriously. We are asking for anyone who may have information to come forward."
Information can be forwarded to bureau Special Investigator Terry Smith at 717-362-1472 or at terrsmith@pa.gov. Anonymous tips also will be accepted but do not qualify for the reward.

4/25/2019
Newport Twp. man charged with cruelty to animals
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

A Newport Twp. man failed to provide veterinary care for his injured pit bull after it was attacked by another dog last month, authorities allege.
Burton Steltz, 52, is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, cruelty to animals and neglect of animals in connection with the incident.
According to an affidavit filed by a humane society police officer for the SPCA of Luzerne County:
An officer responded to Steltz’s Center Street home on March 16, after the SPCA received a call about an incident the previous evening in which a dog was allegedly hurt.
Steltz told the officer his dog Dusty had been attacked by another of his dogs and had a broken leg. Steltz allowed the officer to see the injured dog, which was lying on its side and unable to get up, with blood coming from its ears. The dog had visible puncture wounds, the officer observed.
The officer told Steltz the dog needed immediate veterinary treatment, but Steltz said he would not have the money until he got paid. He agreed to sign the dog over to the SPCA so it could receive immediate care.
The dog was taken to Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital, where a veterinarian determined it had severe soft tissue injuries. After the dog was released to the SPCA, an examination revealed puncture wounds to its chest, neck and legs and other injuries.
Steltz was arraigned Wednesday and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15.

4/6/2019
Glen Lyon man sentenced for child pornography
elewis@timesleader.com

As a first time offender, a Glen Lyon man was eligible for a probationary sentence on charges he downloaded and viewed child pornography.
Instead, Kyle Christian Kazmierski will spend several months in jail.
Kazmierski, 28, appeared Friday before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough to be sentenced on 13 counts of child pornography and a single count of dissemination of children engaged in sex acts. He pleaded guilty to the charges in January.
Kazmierski’s attorney, Vito DeLuca, told Vough his client was eligible for the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program for first time offenders. Kazmierski also has been attending counseling since his arrest by state police in July.
Vough asked Kazmierski if he was employed.
“I haven’t been able to find a job,” Kazmierski replied.
“How do you support yourself?” Vough asked.
DeLuca said Kazmierski resides with his parents.
Vough sentenced Kazmierski to nine-to-23 months in the county correctional facility followed by three years probation. He also must register his address with authorities for 25 years under the state’s Megan’s Law.
State police said they found 13 videos of children engaged in sex acts on a computer inside Kazmierski’s home on Engle Street. Kazmierski told troopers he had been viewing child pornography for four to five years, court records say.
Kazmierski had been free on $100,000 bail, and was sent to jail after the sentencing hearing.

3/21/2019
Glen Lyon’s enduring miracle
By William C. Kashatus, Citizens' Voice correspondent / Published: December 14, 2014
Newport Webdesign found this article (enjoy)

What would December be like without a brand new Christmas film? Since the 1930s, Hollywood has given us a long list of yuletide movies, including: “A Christmas Carol,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “White Christmas,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “The Santa Clause,” and, of course, this year’s black comedy, “A Merry Friggin’ Christmas,” coming to theaters soon.
Few local residents realize, however, that “The Miracle of the Bells” was a popular TV re-run every Christmas for nearly a decade in many parts of the nation. Although the movie received mixed reviews after it premiered in 1948, later audiences came to appreciate the film’s simple but enduring message of “faith, hope and renewal.”
For those who live in the Wyoming Valley, “The Miracle of the Bells” represents a culture and a time we will never see again. It also continues to spark the interest of the movie-going current generation because of its fascinating — if not controversial — backstory.
Based on the best-selling novel by Russell Janney, “The Miracle of the Bells” told the life story of Olga Treskoff, an aspiring local actress and native of Glen Lyon, a once-bustling coal town in Newport Township. Some scenes were shot on location with as many as 600 residents being used as “extras” at $10 each. Also featured are several of the town’s prominent structures, including St. Michael’s Church and the once imposing coal breaker.
“Miracle of the Bells” is a touching story about an aspiring actress named Olga Treskovna (played in the film by Alida Valli) who escapes the sooty environment of Coaltown, Pennsylvania, for Hollywood. Through a series of incredible circumstances, Olga manages to land the highly coveted role of Joan of Arc in a film about the French heroine’s life. Tragically, Olga dies suddenly after wrapping up the film’s final scene.
Marcus Hook, a hard-nosed movie producer (Lee J. Cobb) wants to reshoot the film with another, better-known actress, rather than risk losing a fortune on an “unknown” who he can no longer groom for stardom. But press agent Bill Dunnigan (Fred MacMurray), who has journeyed to Coaltown to learn Olga’s life story, tries to persuade Harris to release “Joan of Arc” as originally filmed.
To create a national demand for the release of the movie, Dunnigan enlists the aid of Father Paul (Frank Sinatra), the priest of a poor parish named “St. Michael the Archangel,” and purchases a day’s worth of bell ringing from the local churches. In the middle of the publicity stunt, a miracle occurs at St. Michael’s when mine subsidence beneath the church causes the statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Michael to turn seeming to stare at Olga’s casket. As a result, the bells continue to ring for three full days.
This “miracle,” originating in the simple goodness of a young movie actress born and raised in Coaltown, not only convinces Harris to change his mind, but transforms the community from spiritual poverty to faith, hope and love for each other.
The inspiration for Janney’s novel was Olga Treskoff, who was born Anna Trotzski on May 7, 1892 in Glen Lyon. Her family lived at 66 E. Main St. and her father, Jan, and some of her brothers worked in the coal mines. After elementary school, Anna worked as a domestic servant for a wealthy family in Wilkes-Barre. By 1913, she had moved to New York City, changed her name to Olga Treskoff (after the title role of a 1913 film starring Helen Gardner), and appeared in several silent films.
In 1920, Olga met Russell Janney, a Broadway producer. They became business partners as well as lovers. Between 1921 and 1934 the couple co-produced several plays and musicals on Broadway and in London. The most successful of these was a 1925 musical titled, The Vagabond King, in which Olga had the role of Lady Mary. In mid-1937, Olga became ill with cancer and died a year later on April 21, 1938.
Devastated by her untimely death, Janney, at age 46, accompanied her body to Glen Lyon. Her funeral was held at St. Michael the Archangel Church and she was buried in the parish cemetery. Though he continued to produce plays, Janney often returned to Newport Township to visit Olga’s grave site. During one of these visits he was inspired to write the novel, “Miracle of the Bells.” Published in 1946, the novel became an immediate best seller.
In October 1946, Janney sold the rights to Jesse L. Lasky and Walker MacEwen, producers for RKO Pictures, which released the film two years later in 1948. The novelist netted $100,000 plus five percent of the producers’ gross up to the first $4 million. After $4 million, Janney was to receive 10 percent of the producers’ gross, with no maximum limit set.
Interestingly, Irving Pichel, who directed the film, did not want to shoot any of the scenes in Glen Lyon. The town’s well-constructed houses, paved streets and bustling business district did not meet his expectations of what a dilapidated mining town should be. Instead, he tried to convince producers Lasky and MacEwen that a sound stage with unpainted shacks, muddy streets and culm banks would make the scenery more realistic to the expectations of moviegoers.
Ultimately, a compromise was reached. While most of the filming would be completed at a reproduction movie set of a Pennsylvania mining town at RKO’s Forty Acres ranch in Culver City, Calif., some of the scenes would be shot on location in Glen Lyon.
Film location wasn’t the only sticking point, either. Frank Sinatra’s ties to organized crime almost prevented him from securing the role of Father Paul. Producer Jesse Lasky had to ask the Catholic Church for its approval before signing the star to the part. In return, Sinatra, who was born and raised a Catholic, donated his salary to the church.
The crooner actively pursued the role hoping to steal the spotlight from Bing Crosby, who also played a singing priest in the film, “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” three years earlier. To be sure, the two actors were competing for top billing at the box office in the 1940s. Although Sinatra insisted on having several songs written into his role, the only one the producers agreed to was “Ever Homeward,” a popular Polish folk song.
Casting presented other problems, too. Clark Gable and Cary Grant were considered favorites for the lead male role of Bill Dunnigan. Either heart throb would have been a much better choice than Fred MacMurray, who eventually landed the role. Gable and Grant were more suave and debonair than MacMurray, who is best remembered as the father-figure from the 1960s TV sitcom, “My Three Sons.” But neither of those leading men was available at the time of the filming.
Several actresses were also considered for the part of “Olga,” including Ingrid Bergman, who played opposite Crosby in “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” But she was filming her own Technicolor version of “Joan of Arc.” Thus, Alida Valli, an Italian actress who resembled Bergman, was given the part of Olga. Just 26 years old, Valli was already widely regarded as the “most beautiful woman in the World” by the motion picture industry.
Perhaps the most damning obstacle to the film’s success was the employment of three different screenwriters. Originally, Janney was given sole responsibility for the screenplay. But producers Lasky and MacEwen reconsidered because of the novelist’s lack of experience with the silver screen.
Instead, Ben Hecht, one of Hollywood’s most popular screenwriters, was hired. But Hecht only agreed to the assignment if he didn’t have to read Janney’s novel. Insisting that reading the book would “interfere with his creative genius,” Hecht’s resistance was probably due to laziness.
To appease Janney, Quentin Reynolds, a good friend and editor of “Collier’s” magazine, was hired to read the novel and report the contents to Hecht. Further complicating matters, playwright DeWitt Bodeen was assigned to produce the screenplay for the role of Father Paul.
“The Miracle of the Bells” premiered in New York City on March 16, 1948. But “The Hollywood Reporter,” one of two national rags devoted exclusively to the movies, announced the previous October that the film was to be shown in Los Angeles in December 1947 in order to qualify for the 1947 Academy Awards.
Despite the finagling, the movie received mixed reviews and failed to receive a single Academy Award nomination. “New York Times” film critic Bosley Crowther attributed the failure to the mediocre screenplay produced by three different writers who “conspicuously overlooked several of the morally-salvaged characteristics of Janney’s novel.”
The film lost approximately $500,000 at the box office; a debt that was never repaid to the Bank of America. Instead, the Bank assumed the copyright of the film and joined with Paramount Pictures to find a television audience to recoup their losses. Nor did the controversy end there.
According to the American Film Institute, Raymond Polniaszek, Glen Lyon’s sole undertaker, sued RKO for $500,000 in damages in August 1948. Polniaszek claimed that he had been negatively caricaturized as “Nick Orloff” in the film and that he participated in a number of real-life events that were depicted, including the burial of a woman named Olga Trotski. The disposition of that suit was never disclosed.
The film’s success finally arrived in the mid-1950s, when “The Miracle of the Bells” was shown in southern California at Christmas time for nearly a decade – a holiday tradition that was replicated by many television stations nationwide — and scored the highest viewer numbers of any television program.
Sadly, Glen Lyon, the bustling coal town of the 1940s, no longer exists. Its anthracite industry is long gone and with it went some of the most prominent structures in town, including the breaker and St. Michael’s Church.
But thanks to Russell Janney’s novel and the re-release of the film in 2013 by Olive Productions in DVD and Blu Ray formats, future generations have the opportunity re-live “The Miracle of the Bells,” and discover a mining town that, for a brief moment, captured the hearts and imaginations of moviegoers across the nation.
William Kashatus teaches history at Luzerne County Community College. Email him at Bkashatus@luzerne.edu. The author wishes to thank Elaine Slabinski for the inspiration for and assistance with this column.
For further reading: Russell Janney, “The Miracle of the Bells” (1946)

2/8/2019
Newport Township man charged with child pornography
elewis@timesleader.com

State police arrested a man who allegedly downloaded child pornography on a computer.
Michael Vincent Rokosz, 28, of West Main Street, Wanamie, admitted he began viewing child pornography for personal gratification because mainstream pornography would not "work" for him, according to arrest records.
Rokosz was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre on 17 counts each of dissemination of photos or videos of children engaged in sex acts and child pornography plus a single count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $50,000 bail.
According to a criminal complaint:
State police with the Computer Crime Task Force learned in early December that a computer was being used to share child pornography.
Investigators tracked the computer to Rokosz's address where a search warrant was served Wednesday.
Rokosz admitted to investigators he views pornography for gratification. He claimed there was a point in time when mainstream pornography would not "work" for him and began viewing child pornography.
Rokosz alleged he has been viewing child pornography for about five years using certain search words. He would search for child pornography every four or five months and delete the images or videos from his computer.
Investigators allege they found 12 images or videos of child pornography on Rokosz's computer.

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