A New Castle woman is in the Lawrence County Jail on attempted homicide charges. According to the New Castle News 51 year old Stacey Rice is also being charged with  two counts of aggravated assault, three counts of robbery, and one count each of unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and simple assault. Rice is accused of allegedly cutting a woman with a knife that was a passenger in her car as she was trying to rob the woman. The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 53-hundred new cases, pushing it over 726-thousand. About 83 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 17-thousand-853. Lawrence County has 4,826 cases and 140 deaths. Mercer County has 6,662 cases and 170 fatalities.

Security at the Pennsylvania State Capitol is growing stronger because of last week’s riots in D.C.  The Department of General Services announced yesterday it is teaming up with local, state and federal law enforcement to increase security at the state Capitol.  Witnesses say officers were carrying long guns on the steps of the building yesterday.  The state Capitol is still closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, but House Speaker Bryan Cutler says the Bipartisan Management Committee is going to work with Capitol Police to go over new safety policies soon.

The federal judge hearing the challenge regarding Pennsylvania’s 45th District Senate seat says to expect a ruling today.  The district includes portions of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.  Democratic incumbent Jim Brewster was declared and certified as the winner by just 69 votes over Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli.  Ziccarelli has challenged the results due to a difference in the criteria used by Allegheny County to count some mail-in ballots and the criteria used by Westmoreland County.  Ziccarelli says that if Allegheny County had gone with the Westmoreland standard, she would be the winner of the race.  Brewster was declined the right to be sworn in to office in Harrisburg pending the outcome of the challenge.

State health officials say the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan could start sooner than expected. Some health systems have reported vaccinating all of their interested, eligible employees and will start administering them to those in Phase 1-B. Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says she doesn’t want to put a vaccine back on the shelf or waste any doses, so any providers that don’t have someone from Phase 1-A, but have someone from 1-B, should vaccinate them. This means that first responders and essential workers may start receiving their first doses of the vaccine.

A Pittsburgh man is going to be serving a good amount of time behind bars.  Thirty-four-year-old Jeffrey Porch pleaded guilty to production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor yesterday.  Prosecutors say Porch admitted to sexually abusing two minors over the course of about two years.  His sentencing is going to be held later this year, and he is expected to serve at least 15 years in prison when convicted.

PPG Paints Arena is going to be a lot quieter than usual during the four Penguins home games scheduled for this month.  The team announced yesterday that no fans will be allowed to attend the home games because of the state’s indoor gathering restrictions.  The restrictions only allow 500 people inside the arena and the overall attendance will include coaches, players and staff members.

The average price of gasoline across Western Pennsylvania is nine cents higher this week at $2.605 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. In New Castle the average price is at 2.39 a gallon while in Sharon the price is at 2.52.  At $2.31, the national gas price average is at its highest in 10 months. A year ago drivers in Western Pennsylvania were paying 2.89 a gallon.

A Beaver County nonprofit organization is launching a new memorial program at Bradys Run Park.  Bags-and-Blessings announced yesterday that it is launching a program called Tree Memorial Program.  The new program is inviting residents to buy a tree to be planted in Bradys Run Park to honor loved ones who have passed away.  The trees will be planted every spring and fall and there will be a map put up in the park that is going to show the locations of each of the memorial trees.  For more information on the program, people are being asked to visit the Bags-and-Blessings’ website.