TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 20TH, 2021

Pennsylvania State Police are asking the public for help with finding a suspect who is being accused of killing a man in Butler County earlier this week.  David A. Hines of New Castle was found shot dead in his vehicle on Portersville Road near Route 422 and I-79 in Muddy Creek Township on Monday.  Police say no suspects have been identified yet.  Anyone with any information is being asked to contact the State Police’s Butler Barracks or the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers.

State Police in Lawrence County report a one vehicle accident in New Beaver Boro. According to police the accident took place on route 168 just before 2 am. Police found a pickup on its roof. The driver had fled the scene of the accident. The investigation is ongoing.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week is reporting that revenue from the state’s casinos was more than 400-million dollars in April, the second consecutive month that numbers crossed that threshold.  In Western PA, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh had revenue of nearly 30-million, the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County topped 20-million, and the new Live! Casino Pittsburgh was close to eight-million.

Officials are encouraging more Pennsylvania seniors to sign up for a supplemental food program. While more than 300,000 PA seniors are eligible for the Senior Food Box program only about 35,000are enrolled this year. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding commented on the age and income requirements for the program.  Officials have made it easier to apply for the program by requiring only a statement of income instead of proof of income.

Pennsylvania voters are choosing to strip away some of the Governor’s emergency powers.  Two ballot questions concerning legislative power over disaster declarations and expiring an emergency declaration after 21 days are being passed by voters with more than 90-percent of precincts reporting.  Republican state lawmakers proposed the amendments because they were upset with the way Governor Tom Wolf handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week’s hearing on the proposed integration of six of the 14 state-owned universities examined the potential economic impact. The proposal would merge six universities into two entities. PA Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier testified that plans to cut more than 800 faculty positions across the 14 universities by 2023would result in additional indirect job loss to area businesses. Stier called the proposal a band-aid and said the one real option was to restore state funding to the system.

Former Pittsburgh Pirates star Felipe Vazquez took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.  Vazquez is facing a list of charges including statutory sexual assault for allegedly having sexual relations with a young teen girl.  The one-time baseball star told the court on Wednesday that the girl had reached out to him on Instagram in 2017 and had claimed to be 17 at first, later sending him a picture of a Pennsylvania driver’s license showing her to be 18-years old.  In truth, the girl was 13- and 14-years old when they had their alleged encounters.  Vazquez is expected to continue his testimony today.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials say yesterday, the state total saw an increase of more than 12-hundred new cases, pushing it over one-million-190-thousand. About 54 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 26-thousand-925. Lawrence County reported 7,492 Covid-19 cases and 209 deaths. Mercer County has 9,475 and 256 fatalities.

Governor Tom Wolf is revealing a plan that holds underperforming charter schools accountable to provide a quality education. Wolf says the state’s charter school law is among the worst in the country. He added that some charter schools are giving students an excellent education, but there is no guarantee that every one is putting students ahead of profits. The plan would fund charter school special education the same way it is in public schools, mandate a statewide cyber charter school tuition rate, and hold charter schools accountable through performance standards.