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Bellefonte Residents Prepare For Sandusky Trial

(Reporters and photographers outside the Centre County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Credit: Tony Romeo)

(Reporters and photographers outside the Centre County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Credit: Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBS) – The preliminary hearing for accused child molester Jerry Sandusky will begin Tuesday morning in a small town outside of State College after weeks of extraordinary preparation.

In his 30 years with state government, including eight years with the courts, Jim Koval, spokesman for the Pennsylvania court system, says he has never seen anything like it.

“It is unprecedented. Myself and those who work with me have never actually done anything like this. But we weren’t completely unprepared,” Koval said.

By that, Koval says during the disputed 2000 presidential election, Pennsylvania court officials drew up a plan to handle a possible court proceeding that might have drawn international media attention. That plan was not needed but was dusted off and used as a template to prepare for the media invasion of Bellefonte, the seat of Centre County, with a population of just over 6,000 residents.

“Bellefonte is a borough. It’s a small town so it was challenging. The courthouse itself is built into a hillside so that was a particular challenge,” Koval said.

One resident, Carol Walker, owns a gift shop just a block away from the courthouse.

“We preserve our town. It’s very cozy and quiet and I think this is going to change it. It’s going to be known all over the world,” Walker said. “If people didn’t know where we were, they will now. That could be a good thing but it’s just a sad situation that brings it here.”

Also nearby the courthouse on Monday was Bellefonte area resident Jeff Mundwiler. He was taking photographs of the TV satellite trucks that had taken over Allegheny Street, which is less than a block from the courthouse.

“I want to show people all the goofballs lined up and all of their big vehicles. I would just love to know how much money they spent to bring all this equipment here,” Mundwiler explained. “I think irritated is probably just how most people feel about it.”

It is here that Jerry Sandusky will face his accusers in a courtroom for the first time. His lawyer told the Associated Press Monday there have been no plea negotiations and that Sandusky looked forward to the hearing.

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