Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, August 7, 2014, 3:47 PM
U.S. Rep Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), left, and Democratic challenger Kevin Strouse

Two non-partisan political forecasting services released reports in the last week now saying that U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) is likely to win re-election over his Democratic challenger in Bucks County this fall.

The two agencies, the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, had previously said the race “leaned” Republican, but now say Fitzpatrick is “likely” to stave off Democrat Kevin Strouse, a first-time candidate who previously worked for the CIA and served as an Army Ranger.

No independent public poll has been conducted on the race thus far. The election is just under three months away.

Chris Palmer @ 3:47 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 3:46 PM

A federal judge has ruled that a Bucks County school district did not violate a high school teacher’s free speech when it fired her in 2012 after discovering her personal blog, which disparaged some students as “frightfully dim,” “utterly loathsome” and “whiny.”

In a Friday judgment that blocked the teacher’s lawsuit from going to trial, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe wrote that the blog failed a long-standing judicial test that balances a teacher’s free speech rights against the interests of a school district to operate efficiently.

Rufe wrote that Natalie Munroe’s blog focused mainly on her personal life, sometimes mentioning unnamed students, their parents and coworkers at Central Bucks High School East. But Munroe rarely addressed issues of greater public concern that are typically protected in free speech cases involving teachers, such as a proposed tax increase or academic integrity, Rufe wrote.

Ben Finley @ 3:46 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 5:11 PM

Two men injured in a tandem skydiving accident in Perkasie on Tuesday are expected to survive.

Skydiving instructor Robert Mandic, 41, of Hilltown, Bucks County, suffered broken ankles, broken ribs and a collapsed lung, among other injuries, his mother Katherine Mandic said.   

“His spirits are good,” she told The Inquirer by phone on Wednesday. “His main concern was his passenger.”

Ben Finley @ 5:11 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, June 20, 2014, 11:16 AM

Bensalem police are looking for the driver in a fatal hit-and-run crash the occurred Thursday on Bristol Pike (Route 13) sometime between 6:35 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

The crash killed a pedestrian, identified as Vincent Peary of Philadelphia. He was found about 6:45 p.m. on the 4100 block of Bristol Pike.  

The vehicle fled the scene before police arrived. But it should have damage to its frontend and possibly to its windshield,

Ben Finley @ 11:16 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 12:25 AM

At Tuesday night's Neshaminy School Board meeting, superintendent Robert Copeland delivered a statement about the dispute over whether the student editors of the Playwickian can enforce a ban on the word Redskin in the school newspaper.

In it, he confirmed that Neshaminy High School Rob McGee had confiscated copies of the Playwickian last week after the student editors printed the paper without approval, and said the confiscation was proper given the circumstances. Copeland, who praised the students passion and maturity, also said district administrators expect "respect for school district authority and the rules that govern," and that the students' decision to print the paper is being investigated.

The editors of the paper unanimously agreed to send the school year's final edition to the printer, according to editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick, because McGee had told the students the issue would only be approved if they reversed their decision to edit the word Redskin out of an op-ed that had been submitted by another student. The editors responded by removing the op-ed altogether, replacing it with a note explaining the situation, and sending the issue to print, McGoldrick said.

Chris Palmer @ 12:25 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Monday, June 9, 2014, 6:07 PM

Jury selection began Monday for the trial of a man accused of beating to death a Bucks County native last year near the university he attended in West Virginia.

Kevin Figaniak, 21, who grew up in Perkasie and attended Pennridge High School, was a business major at Wheeling Jesuit University. In September, he and a friend were walking near the school when they encountered a group of other men and a fight ensued, police said.

Figaniak, who was a senior at the university, later died at a nearby hospital. Prosecutors charged Craig Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and Jarrett Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., in the death.

Ben Finley @ 6:07 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 12:39 PM
PHOTO COURTESY OF DENISE KENT Bear spotted in the back yard of a Montgomery County home eating out of a bird feeder.

The black bear that was euthanized in Horsham last week after wandering through Bucks County apparently encountered some unfriendly residents in the suburbs.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reported Tuesday that a wildlife conservation officer determined during a postmortem examination that the bear had been shot with a shotgun and a BB gun.

"There were hundreds of pellets from shotgun wounds under its skin," officer Chris Heil said in a statement.

Chris Palmer @ 12:39 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, May 30, 2014, 6:56 PM

Even in the 1980s, there was still an Italian-speaking priest at St. Ann parish in Bristol, Father John DiMatteo, who made house calls to the elderly, offering confession in their native language.

And even now, parishioners tell stories of discrimination against their ancestors in the borough at the turn of the century.

Back then, the borough's Catholics only had St. Mark, a church built by Irish and German immigrants, groups well established by the time the Italians started to arrive. And at least one anecdote has the Italians forced to stand outside the church in bad weather during Mass.    

Ben Finley @ 6:56 PM  Permalink | 0
About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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