Tri-County Report For December 20th, 2017

Ellwood City residents won’t see an increase in their local real estate taxes next year. According to the Ellwood City Ledger Council on Monday approved the 15.6 million dollar budget for 2018. This is the first year in five years that council has not voted to raise taxes. The borough also will see an influx in revenue for the first time in a while because of the sale of the Ellwood City Hospital. The building is no longer owned by a nonprofit, so its new owners will be responsible for taxes on its assessed value of $9.4 million, which could bring in about 82 thousand dollars in taxes.

A former Greenville police officer has been charged in connection with sending nude photos of himself to two teenage girls. According to the New Castle News Greenville police Sgt.Paul Molton said the department received allegations against patrolman Andrew Thompson back on October 21st. Molton said Thompson was suspended and the case was turned over to state police. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation charged Thompson Monday with unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and criminal us of a communications facility. A preliminary hearing is set for January 17th.

A Butler man accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl is due in court today.  Twenty-year-old Lee James Rapsinski will be in a Saxonburg court on charges of aggravated indecent assault, interference with the custody of children, corruption of minors and two counts of indecent assault.  The 13-year-old alleged victim told police that Rapsinski assaulted her last month in his car and tried to keep her from getting out when her mother’s friend showed up to stop him.

The Trump administration is launching a special task force to help fight violent crimes in the Greater Pittsburgh area.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the government’s plans to reduce the crime rate.  The Pittsburgh Violent Crime Task Force is being created to focus on “proliferation of violent crimes” that includes , Lawrence, Beaver, Butler,  Mercer counties.”

New Castle City Police report an East Side man is recovering after being shot in the forearm on Monday. 24 year old Dondi Lawson of Butler Avenue was taken to St.Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown. According to the New Castle News, police chief Bobby Salem said police believe that Lawson shot himself as the investigation is continuing.

State Police in Lawrence County report a two vehicle accident in Neshannock Township. According to police, 38 year old Blaine Cox Jr., of New Castle was eastbound on Interstate 376 and struck a car from behind operated by 69 year old Patricia Smolnik of Sharon. After the impact, both vehicle left the roadway and struck a guard rail. Both drivers suffered injuries.  Two passengers in the Smolnik vehicle were not hurt.

A man is facing drug charges following an incident in Aliquippa.  Officers allegedly saw Daryl Adamson engaging in a “hand-to-hand” drug transaction last week at the intersection of Griffith and Wykes streets.  They say when they approached him, he began to run, but slipped and fell in the snow.  Officers say they found four individually packaged pieces of crack cocaine in his possession.

Sheetz is giving customers a holiday gift.  The convenience store chain announced this week that it will give out free coffee on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  Customers can take advantage of the offer from midnight to noon on Christmas Day and from 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

Two newspapers are claiming that Pennsylvania House Democrats spent almost a quarter-million in taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim.  The Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette say the complaint was lodged against Representative Thomas Caltagirone in 2015.  Reports indicate the victim got 165-thousand dollars and her lawyer got 82-thousand.

The fisherman who died after falling through ice at Butler County’s Moraine State Park is being identified.  Seventy-one-year-old Pierre Niesen, Jr. was a retired North Catholic High School math teacher living in Dormont.  He died on scene Monday morning after falling through ice at Lake Arthur.  The Butler County coroner says Niesen died of drowning and hypothermia and ruled the death an accident.