Judge in news again

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He only occasionally makes news, but when he does, it is typically associated with an important story.

I write of Coal Township's Barry Feudale, a senior judge with the Commonwealth Court. Feudale oversaw the grand jury that found three former Penn State administrators had covered up abuse complaints about Jerry Sandusky.

Feudale was quoted in an Associated Press story published Wednesday that discussed his denial of the request by the administrators- Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and Graham Spanier - to throw out the grand jury report.

Feudale - known for his adventurous side for piloting Cessna airplanes and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles - was frank in the analysis of his own actions regarding the administrators' request that the testimony of Penn State's former general counsel Cynthia Baldwin be thrown out. They claimed her actions violated their right to legal counsel.

"In hindsight, perhaps I erred in not asking follow-up questions about the role of corporate counsel Baldwin," Feudale wrote in his ruling, as reported by AP. "I regret and perhaps committed error in not asking any follow-up questions, but ... I fail to discern how such would persuade me at this state why presentments should be dismissed."

Feudale's ruling allows the criminal cases to proceed.

Playing such a pivotal role in high-profile cases is not strange territory for Feudale since he began duties as a senior judge in the mid-1990s. He was president judge in Northumberland County prior to that.

In 1997, when Feudale was a candidate for state Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Judicial Evaluation Committee described him as "forthright, compassionate and dedicated to carrying out the law in a fair and impartial manner."

We're not sure the trio of Penn State administrators would agree, but Feudale's reputation for being forthright seems solidified in his latest ruling.

News highlight

A bunch of kids playing Wiffle ball may not seem like a major news story, but it is among our favorites from this past week.

"Wiffle Mania," published in Sunday's edition, featured the efforts by 12-year-old Tommy Reisinger of Mount Carmel and his father, Tom, to support the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Tommy had a Wiffle ball tournament last year as a unique way to celebrate his birthday, but this year's event turned into a fundraiser that will help the Sandy Hook community. Sixty-six people participated in the event at West End Playground in Atlas, and Tommy raised $250 that was matched by Ken Shedleski from Shamokin-based Wealth Professionals. Academy Sports, the Bull Penn and Bumper's Beverage, all of Mount Carmel, kicked in contributions of food, beverages, trophies and cash.

What made this more than just a feel-good local story is that the Reisingers also had support from Wiffle Ball Inc., a company based just a half-hour from Newtown. Wiffle Ball donated bat-and-ball sets for every child expected to participate. And, the Reisingers had wrist bands bearing the words "Angels of Sandy Hook" and "Hope Faith Love" provided by Ken Schwartz, a TV producer for ESPN.

A salute to all involved in this unique effort, which shines such a bright light on the compassion of local people.

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In New" for each Saturday edition.)

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