TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MAY 26TH, 2021

A New Castle couple who is being accused of taking part in the U.S. Capitol riot is asking for a plea deal.  Philip Vogel and Debra Maimone are being charged with theft, knowingly entering a restricted building and violent entry for their actions on January 6th.  If they are found guilty, they could face more than a year in a prison and a fine of over 105-thousand-dollars.  Attorneys for both Vogel and Maimone confirmed yesterday that they have asked for a 90-day continuance to work on plea negotiations.

Authorities are investigating a shooting in Beaver County that left two people injured.  The shooting took place last night near the Valley Terrace Apartments in Aliquippa.  Police say two people were taken to the hospital, but their conditions are unknown at this time.

Just after Pennsylvanians voted to limit the governor’s powers, lawmakers are already moving to dismantle the governor’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. Yesterday, a House committee passed a resolution that would end the governor’s ability to mandate occupancy limits, business closures and stay-at-home orders. They’re also looking to reinstate the work search requirement for unemployment benefits, which already has a set date to return in July.

The New Castle News is reporting a Florida man was arrested following a traffic stop on Saturday. 48 year old James Burnett was charged with possession and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, along with several other charges. Burnett was a passenger in a car that was stopped by police on Park Avenue. A search found methamphetamine and cash. Burnett was arraigned and placed in the Lawrence County Jail on bond.

Pittsburgh International Airport is expecting to see a large increase in travelers in the coming days with the Memorial Day weekend.  TSA is advising folks this week that the travel experience may be different than what they’re used to, especially if they haven’t flown since the start of the pandemic.  To speed up the security process, officials advise folks to put items like watches and phones into their carry-ons for screening as opposed to using those loose-item bins.  Officials say that about 10-thousand people are traveling through Pittsburgh International each day as the flying public returns to the nation’s airports.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price for gasoline in Western Pennsylvania increased two cents this week and is now at 3.17 a gallon. In New Castle the average price is 3.14 while in Mercer County drivers are paying 3.17. Even though the average national gas price dropped by a penny over the past week to $3.03, this is still the most expensive gas has been heading into Memorial Day weekend for seven years. Triple-A expects pump prices to fluctuate as a result of a decline in crude oil prices.

Governor Tom Wolf yesterday ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the late Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala Sr.  Zappala, a former Allegheny County judge, passed away last week at the age of 88.  He was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1981.  Zappala was a fixture on the court for more than 20 years, retiring as the court’s leader in 2002.

More COVID-19 cases are slightly increasing in Pennsylvania.  The state’s Department of Health reported over 900 new positive cases yesterday.  There have now been more than one-million-197-thousand confirmed positive cases in the Keystone State since the beginning of the pandemic. In Lawrence County, there were 11 new cases reported for a total of 7,544 cases and deaths remain at 210. Mercer County, has reported 9,550 cases and 257 deaths.

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats and Attorney General Josh Shapiro are planning to propose a set of bills that would impose more regulations on fracking. Shapiro says for far too long fracking companies and regulators have turned a blind eye to the health and safety impact of this industry on hardworking Pennsylvanians, their communities and their families. Eight bills will be presented which will aim to regulate pipelines, assess air quality, disclose fracking chemicals, expand no drill sites and more. Lawmakers say these bills are recommendations from a grand jury report that was released last year.