TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JANUARY 20TH, 2021

A Mercer County man is facing federal charges in connection with the riots at the nation’s capital building on January 6th. According to the New Castle News Matthew Perna was charged Tuesday in United States District Court for the District of Columbia with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The office of U.S. Attorney Scott Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania identified Perna as a Sharon resident.  Each of the charges carry a potential 10-year maximum prison sentence.

President-elect Joe Biden is nominating an openly transgender doctor to serve as assistant health secretary.  Dr. Rachel Levine is currently the secretary of health for Pennsylvania and is leading the state’s coronavirus response.  Biden said Levine would bring the steady leadership and essential expertise to get the country through this pandemic regardless of zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation and more.  If confirmed by the Senate, Levine would be the first openly transgender federal official in a Senate-confirmed role.

Governor Tom Wolf says he expects to name a replacement for outgoing P-A Secretary of Health Doctor Rachel Levine.  Levine is being nominated by President-Elect Joe Biden to be assistant health secretary.  Wolf said Tuesday Levine’s work for the commonwealth has been transformational, and he appreciates it more than he could say.

The Commonwealth of P-A’s new Treasurer is on the job.  Stacy Garrity was sworn in yesterday as the 78th treasurer in the history of Pennsylvania, becoming the fourth woman to hold the position.  The Republican and Bradford County native has said her priorities include eliminating waste and unnecessary fees and helping families in the commonwealth safe for education.

State Police in Mercer County have charged a Jackson Township man in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place back in 2005. 45 year old Tom Wheaton allegedly provided alcohol to a 13 year old female then sexually assaulted her. The incident is said to have taken place in Perry Township between October and November of 2005. Wheaton has been charged with indecent assault. The investigation is ongoing.

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 777-thousand. About 77 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 19-thousand-467. Lawrence County added 40 new cases yesterday bringing its total to 5,128 and 150 deaths.

Pennsylvania is expanding its first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Anyone over the age of 65 and those between the ages of 16 and 64 with health conditions that put them of higher risk of the virus are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Pregnant women are also eligible now. People can determine their eligibility for the vaccine online at pa.gov.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gas in Western Pennsylvania jumped 10 cents in the past week to 2.70 a gallon. In New Castle motorists are paying 2.50 a gallon while in Sharon the price is at 2.67. Since the beginning of the year, the national gas price average has increased 13 cents. Today’s average is $2.38. That is a nickel more than last week. However, still cheaper year-over-year by 17 cents. The last time the nation saw a substantial January pump price increase was in 2009. That year, the national gas price average jumped 23 cents inside of the first 3 weeks of the year.

A Harrisburg woman is under police custody for stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the riot at the nation’s capital on January 6th. Officials say Riley June Williams was captured on video taking a laptop or computer hard drive from Pelosi’s office, and she intended to sell the device to a friend in Russia, who planned to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. Those plans reportedly fell through. Williams is facing charges of violent entry, disorderly conduct, aiding or abetting the theft of government property and more.

Students at Carnegie Mellon University are going to be staying at home for a little longer due to the recent spike of new COVID-19 cases.  The university announced yesterday that it is delaying its in-person instructions for this semester until at least February 15th.  Officials say the decision for the postponement is because of the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in the region.  Classes are still set to begin February 1st, but students will be remote-learning for the first two weeks of the spring semester.