TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 19TH, 2021

Voter turnout in Lawrence County was just shy of 30% for yesterday primary election. Democrats nominated Andrew W. Henley for the office of register and recorder. Henley defeated Eduardo Bogaert by just 14 votes. Henley will take on Republican Tammy Crawford who defeated Stacy Fleo. Crawford has worked in the Register and Recorder office for 27 years. Current office holder Janet Kaljainen is retiring. The New Castle News is reporting that the Home Rule Charter question for the city of New Castle passed last night. District Judge Jennifer Nicholson won another six year term winning the nomination on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.

State Police have launched a homicide investigation after a shooting victim was discovered in Butler County Tuesday night.  Police were called out to East Portersville Road in Muddy Creek Township around 8 p.m.  A man was found dead in an SUV down an embankment along the entrance to a mining facility.   No other details about the victim or a potential suspect have been released.

Giant Eagle supermarkets on Tuesday announced plans to drop face mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees beginning next week.  The grocer operates more than a dozen stores in Western Pennsylvania.  The policy change goes into effect next Monday at all stores in the chain as well as at their Get Go mini-markets.  Giant Eagle cites recently updated guidance from the CDC as reason for the policy update.

The trial of former Pittsburgh Pirate Felipe Vazquez continued yesterday with testimony from an investigator in the case.  Vazquez is facing charges including statutory sexual assault.  A Pennsylvania State Police officer on Tuesday told the Westmoreland County court that during questioning, the former MLB star admitted to knowing that the girl that he had sex with in 2017 was no more than 16-years old.  She was actually 13 at the time.  The victim says that Vazquez referred to her in text messages as “kid.”  Testimony in the trial continues today.

The City of Pittsburgh is going to have a new mayor.  Incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto announced on his Twitter page last night that he has conceded the Democratic primary race to state Representative Ed Gainey.  In the most recent election update, Gainey was leading by more than seven-percent of the votes.

Voters were presented with four ballot questions yesterday, three of which involved constitutional amendments to how state leaders handle emergencies like the pandemic. As of early this morning, proposed constitutional amendment one, which would allow the state legislature to end a disaster declaration with a two-thirds majority vote, has nearly 54-percent of Pennsylvanians saying yes and 46-percent no. The proposed amendment that would end state of emergency declarations after 21 days unless the governor consults the Legislature has about the same results as the first amendment. And, the third proposed constitutional amendment that would ban discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity has over 70-percent votes for yes.

Initial results are in for Democrat and Republican candidates for the state Supreme Court, Superior Court and Commonwealth Court. Democrat Maria McLaughlin was uncontested in her party and will run for Justice of the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Republican Kevin Brobson leads his party with more than 50-percent of the votes while Patricia McCullough and Paula Patrick trail behind. Republican Megan Sullivan was uncontested in her party and will run for Judge of the Superior Court. Democrat Timika Lane leads her party with nearly 48-percent of the votes, Jill Beck with about 41-percent and Bryan Neft trailing with almost 12-percent. For the Commonwealth Court, Democrat David Lee Spurgeon currently leads his party with nearly 27-percent of the votes while Republican Stacy Marie Wallace holds a narrow lead of less than one-percent over Drew Compton.

Plans are being put together to turn the former Kmart site in Moon Township into a vast 336-unit apartment development.  It was announced recently that the Burns Scalo real estate firm sold the site to Watermark Residential.  A proposal has been introduced that would turn the location into a 67-hundred square-foot complex that would include ten three-story buildings, a clubhouse, office, fitness center and a two-thousand square-foot swimming pool.  It could be brought in front of the township’s board of supervisors as early as July.