Tri County Report For October 17th, 2018

New Castle police are talking to persons of interest as they investigate a triple-murder.  Police say the bodies of 31-year-old Nichole Pumphrey, ten-year-old Amariah Emery and 30-year-old Lawrence Cannon were found yesterday in a West North Street home.  The victims were apparently shot to death.  There’s no word yet on a motive for the murders.

The New Castle Area School Board hired Debra DeBlasio as its’ new Superintendent last night. DeBlasio had been acting Superintendent after John Sarandrea retired in July. The board voted 7-1-1 in favor of hiring DeBlasio with a four year eight month contract that will pay her 148 thousand dollars annually. The board also voted 9-0 to abolish the assistant superintendent’s position at an annually salary of 145 thousand dollars.

A man is badly hurt after a bar fight in Monaca Saturday night.  Police were called to Whiskey Rhythm Bar on the 11-hundred block of Pennsylvania Avenue for a man unconscious on the bathroom floor.  The man had to be flown to the hospital in an unknown condition after the fight.  Surveillance video caught 26-year-old Steven Spencer and 22-year-old Skyler Huskins following the man into the bathroom before the altercation.  The two are in Beaver County Jail in lieu of 75-thousand-dollars bail.

Troop B State Police barracks in Washington is adding ten recent graduates of the State Police Academy in Hershey.  The cadets are joining Troop B following 27 weeks of training.  The academy graduated 99 cadets Friday.

The penalties for anyone buying or selling EBT cards is likely going up.  The state House passed a Senate bill Tuesday that increases the penalties for anyone selling more than 25-hundred dollars in SNAP benefits to a second-degree felony.  That would mean up to 10 years in prison if convicted.  Also, anyone convicted would have to pay restitution of up to three-times the amount of fraud committed.  The bill is off to Governor Wolf’s desk.

A town hall meeting in Armstrong County will give VA hospital officials feedback from the people they serve.  VA Butler Healthcare officials say the meeting in East Franklin will cover several topics, including access, performance and current events.  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Armstrong County Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

The state House is advancing a plan to allow Harrisburg to exit Act 47 distressed city status while keeping some of its additional taxing authority.  The proposal allows Harrisburg to charge a local services tax of 156-dollars for those who work in the city along with an earned income tax of up to two-percent for city residents for an additional five years.  The measure is now off to the state Senate.

The lead prosecutor in the case against former Penn State President Graham Spanier has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 55.  Authorities say Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka died on Monday.  Ditka gained notoriety last year for successfully prosecuting Spanier for his role in covering up child abuse allegations involving former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.  She also served 25 years in the Allegheny County District Attorney Office, where she established the child abuse unit and drafted the county’s first protocol to prosecute child abuse suspects.

The state House of Representatives has voted to give first-time homebuyers a tax deduction for money saved toward the purchase. The proposal would allow first-time homebuyers to open special saving accounts and claim state deductions for savings toward the purchase of a single-family home. People who have not owned or purchased a home within the three years leading up to the purchase could also qualify. Account holders would be permitted to contribute up to $50,000 over a 10-year period. Annual contributions would be capped at $5,000 for single taxpayers and $10,000 for those filing a joint return.