Tri County Report For March 28th, 2019

A man will spend up to 50 years in prison after being convicted of setting fire to a Rochester apartment building.  Donald Thomas was sentenced Wednesday after being found guilty in January to the fire on the 200-block of West Madison Street in July 2017.  After initially denying any involvement, Thomas admitted to starting the fire after threatening to burn one of the resident’s belongings, according to investigators.

Authorities in Beaver County have charged a Baden man with holding up a Speedway convenience store in Harmony Township this week.  Darryl Foster was charged Monday night after the robbery on Route 65.  The 46-year-old suspect is in Beaver County Jail in lieu of 250-thousand-dollars bail.

A Beaver County woman says her son who has autism was left alone on a school bus for hours.  Teresa Salvatore tells WTAE-TV that her son, 16-year-old Payton, was put on the bus Friday morning but the boy didn’t make it to New Horizon School, where he attends as a special-needs student.  Salvatore told the news station that Payton was stuck on the bus in a garage all day because he was unable to alert the driver that he was still on it.  A statement from the New Brighton Area School District says it is working with its bus contractor and the school to figure out what happened.

Volunteer fire companies would get to keep more of the money they bring in through fundraisers under a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Scott Martin, says exempting volunteer fire companies from the sales tax on food and beverages sold at fundraisers would provide them with more money to purchase new equipment, pay for training and make contributions to the statewide insurance fund.

A bill allowing volunteer fire companies to keep more money brought in through fundraisers is moving out of a state Senate committee.  Senate Bill 83, which allows companies to forgo paying sales tax on food and beverages sold during a fundraiser, passed the Finance Committee unanimously Wednesday.  Next would be a potential full vote in the Senate.

New Brighton Police have charged a borough man with using a fake Skype account to ask a 12-year-old for nude photos. According to the Ellwood City Ledger 24-year-old Cody Mengel was charged with solicitation of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors. He was released after posting bond. The alleged incident took place in September of 2016.

Pennsylvania is setting up a $15 million pilot program to give support services and housing help for state residents fighting opioid addiction. Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday the federal grants aim to encourage treatment and recovery and reduce overdose deaths. Housing aid could include temporary rent assistance. The administration estimates that drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania fell from about 5,600 in 2017 to about 4,300 last year.

A visitor to the SCI Mercer prison was arrested after she was found to have drugs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. WKBN-TV is reporting The suspect was not named, but the Department of Corrections says she was found with drugs testing positive for THC as well as paraphernalia. They were found during random searches of visitors’ vehicles on March 23. The investigation is ongoing.

A single winning ticket in last night’s Powerball drawing was sold in Wisconsin.  The grand prize was a whopping 768-million dollars, topping the previous third-place jackpot of 758-million set in August 2017.  The one-time cash payout option is over 465-million dollars.  The next drawing is set for Saturday, with the jackpot reset to 40 million bucks.