TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 26TH, 2021

Energy company Chesapeake Energy Corp has agreed this week to pay nearly two-million dollars in damages for actions that caused harm to Pennsylvania waterways and wetlands.  The company first disclosed in 2014 that it may have violated environmental laws in Beaver, Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.  Those actions included damming streams and filling in wetlands without necessary permits.  In addition to the fine, Chesapeake Energy will work to repair damage done and, where that can’t be done, they will improve other areas.

Both the Neshannock and Mohawk girls basketball teams came up short in their quests for state championships yesterday. Neshannock lost 54-43 to Mount Carmel while West Catholic was a 67-56 winner over Mohawk. The Hickory Boys lost the Class 4A championship to Allentown Central Catholic 41-40.

Pennsylvania is receiving fewer doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine than what was estimated by the federal government. Officials say as they’ve learned throughout the rollout, projections are never promised as the state is getting about 66-thousand doses of the J-and-J vaccine next week, instead of 200-thousand. They added that this may change some distribution plans, but they don’t think it will disrupt the accelerated pace in getting shots into arms.

On Thursday, state health officials took steps to help elderly folks who have been unable to get an appointment find a place in line.  Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam yesterday ordered vaccine providers to work with organizations that serve residents 65 years of age and over to help those people secure appointments for the vaccine.  The state says that only about 35-percent of Pennsylvania seniors are fully-vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The state House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow municipal police to use radar. It also would give state police the ability to use radar while moving, rather than just while stopped along the road. Opponents cite concerns that the effort will be used as a money-maker and sometimes produce false readings. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that doesn’t allow municipal police to use radar. If the state House approves the change, it will still need approval from the state Senate and governor.

Republicans have their nominee to replace retired state Representative Jeff Pyle.  Pyle, who represented portions of Armstrong, Indiana and Butler counties for more than 16 years, stepped down last week to focus on his health.  GOP committee members this week have nominated Pyle’s chief of staff, Abby Major, to be their candidate in a May 18th special election to fill the seat.

An announcement from Governor Tom Wolf’s office yesterday means more than 120 full-time jobs coming to the Pittsburgh area.  Alabama-based Filterbuy is setting up a local production facility in Arnold.  Filterbuy produces air conditioning and furnace filters for homes and businesses.  The company hopes to have the local facility opened later this year.  Plans are to fill more than 60 positions by the end of this year with more by the end of 2022.

Pennsylvania is now the eighth state in the country to surpass one-million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Health officials reported more than 36-hundred new cases yesterday. About 41 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 24-thousand-917. Lawrence County has 6,471 cases and 194 deaths. In Mercer County, there are 8,447 cases and 246 deaths in total.

A state lawmaker is looking to withhold money from schools that don’t reopen. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor says they appropriate over 16-billion-dollars from the state’s General Fund to support Pre-K through higher education. He added that if they don’t reopen to full-time, in-person learning, then he will push to ensure the School Code prohibits them from accessing these funds. Officials from the governor’s administration say many schools are open, and the state is already working to help more schools reopen. They added that Saylor’s unproductive threats are a distraction from that process.