Airport security aide charged

A security officer for the Transportation Safety Administration at Philadelphia International Airport was charged by a federal grand jury yesterday with stealing from luggage that he was screening on March 31 or earlier.

Authorities said that Troy Davis, 36, of Willingboro, N.J., stole five laptop computers and a Sony Play Station portable game valued in excess of $2,000.

'Strep zoo' kills 9 dogs

Tests have determined that "strep zoo" (Streptococcus zooepidemicus), a bacterial infection, killed six dogs earlier this week at two city animal shelters. The illness had been believed to be canine influenza and prompted the quarantine of two shelters.

Kim Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania SPCA, which ran one of the shelters, said yesterday that she did not know when the quarantines would be lifted. Before the tests came back, an additional three dogs were euthanized after showing signs of the infection. The ailment is treated with penicillin, Wolf said.

One of Centralia's last leaves

One of the last people remaining in Centralia, Pa., a town largely abandoned due to a 46-year underground coal fire, has reluctantly moved out. Movers took John Comarnisky's possessions out of his home yesterday. Comarnisky said he'd rather stay for the rest of his life but was following orders from the state to leave.

The underground fire began in 1963, and is expected to keep burning for many more years. The state began buying homes in the Columbia County town in the 1980s and demolishing them.

Small biz health bill OK'd

Gov. Rendell plans to sign legislation extending health-insurance rights to employees of small businesses. The state Senate yesterday passed the bill and sent it to his desk as a way to help more people get or keep health insurance.

That type of insurance gives workers and their families the right to continue health-insurance coverage through the employer for some time after they leave employment.

But under current law, those rights don't extend to businesses employing fewer than 20 people.

More trains for bike race

Enhanced service on SEPTA's R6 Norristown train on Sunday will enable cycling fans to get to the famed "Manayunk Wall" without breaking a sweat.

SEPTA says that special R6 Norristown service will operate every half-hour for the International Cycling Championship in Manayunk beginning with Train 4207, which leaves Elm Street-Norristown at 7:48 a.m., and Train 6600, which departs from 30th Street Station at 7:20 a.m. The service will run until about 8:30 p.m., SEPTA says.

Union vote at Fair Acres

Employees at the county-run Fair Acres nursing home in Lima, Delaware County, have voted to unionize. The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals said the vote to represent 230 employees was 125 to 70, with 85 percent of eligible employees voting. *

- Staff and wire reports