TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR SEPTEMBER 22ND, 2020

Over a dozen people are soon going to face charges after a human trafficking investigation in Center Township. The Beaver County DA’s office says police focused this weekend’s operation on several hotels in the community. All told, 16 people were taken into custody and many of them were from outside the area. The potential trafficking victims have been referred to support services. Anyone who sees anything suspicious in the area is asked to dial 911 or contact the FBI.

New Castle City Police have charged a south side man of hitting two children with a belt. According to the New Castle News 49 year Mark McNight faces two counts each of simple assault and harassment. Police said that they were sent to the home of McKnight on South Jefferson Street, where two chidren, ages 11 and 9, had welts on their bodies. The police contacted Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, who turned the children over to a family member.

Governor Tom Wolf is vetoing a bill that would have given local officials the power to set attendance limits for high school sports amid the pandemic.  Wolf added that schools can already decide if they want to play despite his recommendation to wait until January.  A vote in the state legislature could come soon to attempt to override his veto.  He added that the health department should maintain power to make decisions that limit the spread of COVID-19 and that lawmakers should focus on funding schools for educational purposes instead of unnecessary legislation.

The Ellwood City School District is still planning to allow up to one-thousand fans at the homecoming football game Friday night.  The move comes despite recommendations that the district follow Governor Tom Wolf’s guidance limiting outdoor gatherings to 250 people.  The game between Lincoln High School and Beaver Falls is scheduled for Friday night at Helling Stadium.  The decision to allow so many fans could be revisited before Friday’s game.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting 234 new COVID-19 cases Monday, in addition to 733 new cases reported Sunday, for a two-day total of 967 additional positive cases. The statewide total is 150,812. There were 23 new deaths reported for Monday,  for a total of 8,004 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Lawrence County has 432 confirmed cases, with 67 probable cases and 22 virus-related deaths.

The governor and the health department are expected to announce a new app designed to alert users if they were exposed to COVID-19 today. The mobile app is called COVID Alert PA. It is said to use Bluetooth technology to notify users of their COVID-19 exposure without compromising their identity or location. The app will also allow users to communicate with the health department to discuss symptoms if they have any.

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette makes a stop in Beaver County to discuss what he called the future of the American economy. Brouillette was at the Shell Chemicals facility in Potter Township yesterday, which will be the site of a six-billion-dollar ethane cracker plant. Workers will be responsible for converting gas and oil into ethylene, which is used to manufacture plastics. The facility is going to provide a boost to the local economy by creating hundreds of jobs.

State transportation officials say they’re continuing with line painting and seal coating along various interstates and roads in area counties this week.  The work is underway in Lawrence and Beaver counties.  Motorists are urged to drive with caution around road painting equipment and avoid passing the paint vehicles.

Officials at Slippery Rock University and California University say enrollment on campus has increased this fall. Enrollment at Slippery Rock increased by point-eight-percent over last fall, and enrollment rose by point-63-percent at California University over the same period.  Officials had worried that the pandemic would hurt enrollment this year.