Three area high school basketball teams will be playing for State Championships later this week in Hershey. The Mohawk and Neshannock girls teams along with the Hickory boys were all winners last night to advance to the title games. Mohawk defeated Forest Hills 74-58 and will now take on West Catholic and 5pm at the Giant Center in Hershey. Neshannock was a 39-36 overtime winner over Penns Manor and will play District 4’s Mount Carmel at noon Thursday. Hickory advanced to the state title game by defeating Lincoln Park 68-61 for their first trip to the title game since 1961.

The mask mandate in Pennsylvania is not going to be enforced on those who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  The state’s Department of Health announced yesterday that it will be amending the mask order for fully vaccinated people this year.  Officials are still encouraging fully vaccinated people to follow COVID-19 safety precautions while out in public to protect those who are still unvaccinated.  Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam says the decision to amend the mask mandate follows recommendations recently released by the C-D-C.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to close a ‘ghost gun’ loophole in the federal Gun Control Act. Shapiro says these DIY kits should be subject to the same background checks and qualifications as fully functioning firearms. He added that this will prevent criminals who are not legally able to purchase or possess guns from getting their hands on these deadly, untraceable weapons. The Pennsylvania Attorney General is joining with attorneys general from 17 other states in this call to action.

The state House is passing a bill that is intended to help school districts with substitute teacher shortages. The bill would amend a law to allow teachers with day-to-day substitute permits to work as a substitute at a school for up to 20-days for multiple instructors. It will extend the limit of employment for individuals with an inactive teaching certification working as substitutes from 90-days to 180-days and more. The bill is now heading to the state Senate for consideration.

Governor Tom Wolf is planning to launch a project that is the largest solar energy commitment done by any government in the country.  Governor Wolf announced yesterday that the initiative in Pennsylvania called Project to Utilize Light and Solar Energy, or PULSE, will start operating at the beginning of 2023.  The project’s plans include solar arrays being constructed in six different counties. The governor says nearly 50-percent of the state government’s electricity will be produced through the new solar arrays.

Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino has announced an information event to take place this week as the venue prepares to staff up for spring.  A virtual event to take place this Thursday will provide potential job seekers with information about upcoming openings for workers in the casino’s food and beverage, security, slots and table games departments.  Pre-registration for the session is recommended.  Those interested in attending should call 412-904-4710.

Triple-A says this winter’s temperature intense conditions have taken an early toll on the areas roads. Each year Americans spend $3 billion on pothole damage repairs. Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services at AAA East Central says “The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels to more extortionate repairs like suspension replacements.” AAA says to look ahead, try to avoid puddles that could actually be potholes and to recognize noises and vibrations if you do hit a pothole.

A 22-year-old Wisconsin man was arrested early Monday morning in Westmoreland County, with police saying that he had driven to Pennsylvania to meet-up with a 15-year-old boy.  The man was pulled over for driving without headlights just before 12:30 a.m.  The teen was in the passenger seat and told officers that he had first met Ethan Haley on Snapchat, and that Haley had sent him sexually graphic photos.  Haley reportedly told officers that he came to Pennsylvania to tell the boy that they could not have a relationship. He is being held on 100-thousand dollars bail.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout Pennsylvania. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 15-hundred new cases, pushing it over 988-thousand. One new death related to the virus was added to the death toll, which is at 24-thousand-789. Lawrence County has 6,386 total cases and 193 deaths. Mercer County has 8,411 cases and 245 fatalities.