TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 18TH, 2021

The polls are opening today at 7 a.m. for Pennsylvania’s Primary Election. Pennsylvanians will be voting on candidates for municipal contests, school boards, county elections and judicial races along with some proposed changes to the state’s constitution. Polls will remain open until 8 p.m. today, and state health officials recommend that all poll workers and voters wear masks.

The New Castle News is reporting that two people were arrested after police raided a second story apartment on the city’s East Side. Police seized guns, cash and quantities of suspected heroin/fentanyl, crystal methamphetamine, crack cocaine and other drugs. 33 year old Julian Jackson and 33 year old Carly Jo Helena Margel were arrested and face a number of drug charges. Jackson faces an additional firearms charge. Both were arraigned and placed in the Lawrence County Jail on bond.

A Sharon man was arrested following a traffic stop in Butler County. 33 year old Reginald McKethan faces a number of charges after police found a loaded handgun along with suspected cocaine and crack cocaine, along with a number of Xanax pills and cash. The investigation is ongoing. McKethan was placed in Butler County Jail.

The president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association is demanding an apology from the governor over a letter that was sent to all employees regarding Juneteenth. Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter last Friday to all state employees saying that Juneteenth is a celebration of the progress we have made as a nation toward equality and justice for all. Wolf added that sadly, the continued death of African Americans at the hands of police and rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans are painful reminders that racism and intolerance exist today. President Dave Kennedy says that they support the Juneteenth holiday, but the governor using his platform to promote a false narrative that police are racist murderers only serves to further divide our nation.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gas in Western Pennsylvania jumped six cents to 3.15 a gallon. In New Castle the average price is at 3.13 and drivers in Mercer County are paying 3.17 a gallon. The national average is at 3.03 a gallon. On the week, the national average jumped eight cents. Drivers are seeing the highest prices since 2014.

Governor Tom Wolf is closer to being fully vaccinated from COVID-19 after receiving his second dose yesterday. Individuals aren’t considered fully vaccinated until at least two-weeks after receiving the final shot. Wolf thanked health care professionals for their service through the pandemic and urged those considering the vaccine to make the decision and schedule an appointment. He added that it is the only way to ensure that each of us and our loved ones are safe and healthy as the state continues to reopen.

In Westmoreland County on Monday, prosecutors began presenting their case against former Pirates player Felipe Vazquez.  Vazquez is facing charges including statutory sexual assault.  Yesterday, the court heard from a young woman who says that she was 13-years old when she engaged in sexual activity with Vazquez.  The encounter took place in 2017, weeks after the girl reached out to Vazquez on social media to wish him a happy birthday.  She is expected to retake the stand today.

Former Congressman Lou Barletta is planning on running for governor. The Republican candidate made the announcement on Twitter yesterday, saying that Pennsylvania needs bold leadership to get it back on track, students back in the classroom and businesses booming again. So far, Barletta is the first prominent figure in the state to make a bid for the 2022 governor’s race.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of 872 new cases, pushing it over one-million-187-thousand. About 17 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 26-thousand-833. Lawrence County has 7,458 cases and 208 deaths. Mercer County has 9,440 cases and 256 fatalities.