TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 17TH, 2021

A Mercer County man was found guilty Friday of murder in connection with the starvation of a 14 year old boy. 30 year old Paul Bacon was convicted on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, child endangering, along with several other charges in Mercer County Common Pleas Court. Bacon was the roommate of the boy’s father 34-year-old Antonio Gonzalez. He’s serving a life sentenced in the murder of his son Antonio Gonzalez Jr. Bacon faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sentencing is set for July 6th.

The Department of Labor and Industry is reporting that the Extended Benefits Program for those receiving unemployment benefits has ended. Officials say this is due to the declining unemployment rate in the state. They added that those who have been collecting the extended benefits will transition back to federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. This transfer will be automatic and will not impact the filing process or benefit amount for anyone.

The last day for Pennsylvanians to file taxes is today. Tax Day was pushed back by the federal government to May 17th due to the pandemic, and several states, including Pennsylvania, followed suit and pushed the state tax deadline to today. Pennsylvanians are urged to file their taxes today, and those who need more time to file can request for the deadline to be extended until October 15th.

In the Pine-Richland School District, administrators are facing a defamation of character lawsuit filed by fired high school football coach Eric Kasperowicz.  Kasperowicz and his attorney announced the action this past Friday.  The school board’s superintendent has said that the coach was terminated at the end of a three-month investigation looking into specific allegations of inappropriate student conduct and a broader allegation of misconduct with the football program that included hazing, bullying and intimidation.  Kasperowicz has said that no hazing and no hazing-type behavior occurred while he was coach.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reminding fully vaccinated individuals that businesses can still require face masks, despite the new CDC guidance. Last week, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks indoors or outdoors, except when in crowded transportation or sensitive environments like hospitals. They ask that Pennsylvanians continue to be kind and respectful of each other as the effort to vaccinate everyone and fight COVID-19 continues.

Live! Casino is going to be holding a hiring event today at the Westmoreland Mall.  People will be able to apply from ten-in-the-morning until one-in-the-afternoon and then again from three-to-seven-in-the-afternoon at the casino’s recruitment center inside the mall in Greensburg.  Officials say the casino is looking to hire employees for its new entertainment venue called PBR Pittsburgh.  Open positions include bartenders, cocktail servers, restaurant hosts, bussers, entertainers, line cooks, dishwashers and bull operators.

The trial of former Pittsburgh Pirate Felipe Vazquez is set to begin today.  Vazquez is charged with statutory sexual assault and ten counts of child pornography. The former baseball star has been locked up inside the Westmoreland County Jail since September of 2019.  Vazquez has denied all charges against him.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say over the weekend, the state total saw an increase of nearly five-thousand new cases, pushing it over one-million-186-thousand. About 119 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 26-thousand-816. Lawrence County has 7,453 Covid-19 cases and 207 deaths. Mercer County has recorded 9,438 cases and 256 fatalities.

With the state adopting the CDC’s updated guidelines on masks usage, Kennywood amusement park updated its COVID policy for guests over the weekend.  Visitors who are fully vaccinated are no longer required by the park to wear masks.  Guests who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a facial covering and practice social distancing.  More details on the theme park’s policies can be found at www.kennywood.com