TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 24TH, 2021

The New Castle News is reporting a firefighter in Union Township is facing felony charges, accused of stealing funds from the department while he was treasurer. 67 year old Carmen A. Merolillo is accused of taking nearly forty thousand dollars in fire department money for his own personal use, through credit and debit card purchases and by check, between January 2017, and December 2018. Merolillo is charged with two counts each of theft and receiving stolen property. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

State Police in Lawrence County continue to investigate the officer involved shooting of 33 year old Juan Carter Hernandez, who was shot and killed by police while beating a woman to death. Police said they do not believe the killing of 24 year old Chynna Cardena was a hate crime. The incident took place last Tuesday in New Wilmington.

State lawmakers in Harrisburg on Tuesday took PennDot to task over an announced plan to charge tolls on nine bridges across the state.  PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian fielded questions and concerns about the plan which promises to raise funds to replace the bridges, including the I-79 bridge near the Bridgeville exit.  Many lawmakers questioned the timing of the move saying that tough economic times during a pandemic is not when such a plan should be put in place.  Gramian says that the state must plan for the future now.  Federal approval would be required to put the tolls in place.

Pennsylvania is reaching a positive milestone during the pandemic as the state’s vaccination effort continues to grow.  Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday that all residents and staff members enrolled in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.  Governor Wolf says the milestone is a huge victory as he continues to make the vaccine available for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

State Police in Butler County report a one vehicle accident in Muddy Creek Township. According to police, 20 year old Alicia Harper of Portersville was traveling south on Interstate 79 when she lost control of her vehicle, drove into an embankment causing the vehicle to roll onto its roof. Police said Harper suffered minor injuries.

Pennsylvania is seeing another rise of new COVID-19 cases.  The state’s Department of Health reported more than 28-hundred new positive cases yesterday.  There have now been over 917-thousand confirmed positive cases in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.  The statewide positivity rate stood at six-and-a-half-percent last week. Lawrence County is reporting 15 additional cases of the virus, with 5,944 cases so far and 181 deaths. Mercer County has 23 additional covid cases in the last day, with 7,958 total cases, and 237 fatalities.

Officials in Beaver County are offering more details on Tuesday’s fatal double shooting.  Krisinda Bright is charged with two counts of criminal homicide in the shooting deaths of her two children.  The county coroner has positively identified the victims as 16-year-old Jeffrey Bright and 22-year-old Jasmine Cannady.  According to the district attorney, Krisinda Bright killed one of her children in their bed in the upstairs of the home and then went to the basement to find the other.  She reportedly told police that the victims pleaded for their life, but that she shot them anyway.  Bright says that when she realized they weren’t dead, she retrieved another gun and shot them again.  Authorities have offered no motive in the case.

Kennywood is continuing to make preparations before its scheduled reopening this year.  The theme park announced yesterday that it has replaced more than 500 feet of track on its popular Racer rollercoaster.  Officials say the replacement work was done as a part of its annual routine maintenance.  The park is expected to open for the season on May 8th.

Republican Party committee members in Pennsylvania expect to meet this evening to decide whether to censure U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey amid a GOP backlash over his vote to convict Donald Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial. Toomey was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump of “incitement of insurrection.