TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JULY 22ND, 2020

COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania are continuing to rise throughout the state. Officials say yesterday saw an increase of one-thousand new cases, with the state total surpassing 102-thousand. About 20 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which sits at seven-thousand-38. Lawrence County saw eight additional cases bringing its total to 243 cases and nine deaths.

It will soon cost more to travel along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  The Turnpike Commission approved a six-percent toll hike yesterday with a 45-cent surcharge slapped onto Toll-by-Plate fees.  Officials say an E-Z Pass user will now pay one-dollar-60-cents while the camera-generated tolls will jump to three-dollars-90-cents.

Ninth District State Representative Chris Sainato announced an eight thousand dollar grant to the Hickory Township Volunteer Fire Department. The money will help guard against of wildfires and brush fires.  Sainato said the grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will fund key resources at a time when they are most needed.

A 36-year-old man is accused of being a serial rapist targeting Penn State students.  Jeffrey Fields of Port Matilda is accused of attacking for female students outdoors between 2010 and 2017.  Investigators say D-N-A evidence was collected following each incident and genetic screening was used to develop Fields as the suspect.  He’s facing multiple counts of felony rape, sexual assault, and other charges.

Students in the Hopewell Area schools will split their time between the classroom and their homes.  The school board approved a hybrid instruction model this week.  Groups of students will spend a few days in school then work online the rest of the week.  Officials say it’s the best plan to protect children and staff from COVID-19.

Former State Senator Mike Folmer is headed to prison after being sentenced on child pornography charges.  The 64-year-old will serve a minimum of one year minus a day after pleading guilty back in February.  He will register as a sex offender for 15 years as well.  Prosecutors say Folmer used his Tumblr account to upload a photo of a young girl engaging in a sexual act.

Beaver County is looking to hire a full-time assistant D-A.  On Tuesday, the county’s salary board created the full-time position that will replace two part-time spots.  One of those positions will open when Joe Spratt leaves the department at year’s end.  The Beaver County Times reports the new position will focus on juvenile cases.

Administrators with Butler Area School District say they will communicate with families in their district in early August about their plans to provide in-person instruction.  Superintendent Doctor Brian White says a communication will be sent out during the first week of the month describing how they will welcome students back into the classroom.  It’s believed students will have to wear a mask in school unless they are able to properly social distance.

A civil court case over a groundskeeper dying from chemical exposure is moving forward due to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Thomas Walsh’s job was maintaining golf course greens using powerful pesticides.  He died 12 years ago at age 56 of leukemia.  The family is suing several major chemical companies saying Walsh’s leukemia was caused by chemical exposure.