TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JANUARY 4TH, 2021

State Police in Mercer County have charged a man in connection with an alleged rape from last year. 51 year old Albert Shollenberger of Mercer faces numerous sexual offenses. The victim is a 15 year old female. Authorities said the alleged incidents took place between March and July of last year. The investigation is ongoing.

Positive COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in the commonwealth.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced over 45-hundred new cases of the coronavirus yesterday.  There are currently over 55-hundred people across the state who are hospitalized with COVID-19.  The statewide positivity rate was at 15-percent in the later half of last month.  Lawrence County reported 145 new cases during the Friday through Sunday period bringing its total number of cases to 4,390. The death toll now stands at 129 and three more county residents have died from Covid-19.

The state’s temporary shutdown order for indoor dining, casinos, indoor gyms and youth sports is ending today. Restaurants can reopen indoor dining at 50-percent capacity starting at 8 a.m., but owners must complete an online self-certification process before doing so. Restaurants that have not completed the self-certification process can only operate at 25-percent capacity today. Officials say certification proves a business is committed to protecting employees and providing patrons a safe dining experience. Also, bars and restaurants serving alcohol must end alcohol sales by 11 p.m. and all beverages must be removed from patrons by midnight.

Pennsylvania Turnpike prices are up again. During the summer, the Turnpike Commission voted to increase tolls in 2021 and now EZ pass users can expect a 6-percent increase. Tolls are nearly double what they were last year for drivers without the EZ pass who choose the pay by plate option.

State Representative Mike Reese passed away over the weekend.  He reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm and died a short time later at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital.  Reese, who was recently elected to a fifth term in office, represented parts of Westmoreland and Somerset Counties.  He leaves behind his wife and three children.  Mike Reese was 42-years-old.

Republican state senate candidate Nicole Ziccarelli announced over the weekend that she is asking the GOP-controlled body to overturn the reelection of incumbent Democrat Jim Brewster and seat her instead.  Brewster was declared the winner of November’s race by a narrow margin.  Ziccarelli claims votes that should not have been counted were counted and that she otherwise would have won the race.  The senate district includes parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.  Brewster is set to be sworn in for his new term on Tuesday.

Beaver County’s Salvation Army is celebrating a special victory to bring in the new year.  The Salvation Army announced on New Year’s Day that it has exceeded its goal of raising 60-thousand dollars in its Give-A-Christmas campaign.  It has so far collected over 60-thousand-and-five-hundred-dollars.  Give-A-Christmas is a holiday fundraising campaign that provides Beaver County residents in need with food baskets, clothes and toys.

There won’t be the traditional pomp-and-circumstance tomorrow for the state House and Senate’s Swearing-In Day.  Pennlive reports the event will be closed to visitors and just a limited number of guests will be allowed into the Capitol.  There are 30 freshmen in the state House and Senate taking the oath Tuesday.