TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JUNE 9TH, 2021

Investigators are examining the scene of a Tuesday morning fire in New Castle that destroyed a bar and an upstairs apartment.  Authorities believe the fire started inside the apartment above Buzz and Rich’s on Hamilton Street.  Four people inside the building were able to escape.  No injuries were reported.  The bar is owned by the former fire chief of New Castle Mark Panella, and his family.

The Pennsylvania House is moving to end Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID emergency disaster declaration. The governor initiated the disaster declaration in March of last year and has renewed it five times since then. House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff says it’s clear to the Caucus that this emergency is over, that COVID mitigation orders have ended, and the mask mandate will be lifted in days. Wolf says the disaster declaration was critical to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and allowed for waivers and extensions to provide for Pennsylvanians and businesses. The resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.

The family of a Beaver County teen who escaped from a behavioral treatment facility in Ohio says that the girl has been found safe.  Laci Mays and three other girls ran away from the Belmont Pines Hospital in Youngstown over the weekend.  Her mother says that Mays was found Monday at a hotel near the hospital.  The 13-year-old reportedly told her mother that the hospital was not helping her.

Startup commercial electric vehicle maker Lordstown Motors says it may not be in business a year from now as it tries to secure funding to start full production of an electric pickup truck. In a quarterly regulatory filing Tuesday, Lordstown said the $587 million it had on hand as of March 31 isn’t enough to start commercial production and begin selling the full-size pickup, called the Endurance. The company is set up in the former General Motors Lordstown assembly plant .

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is up seven cents this week to 3.24 a gallon. In New Castle drivers are paying 3.23 a gallon while the average price in Sharon is at 3.24. Even though the average national gas price only increased by a penny over the past week to $3.05, crude oil has jumped to the highest price in two and a half years. AAA expects decreasing demand and high refinery utilization to mostly stabilize gas prices until oil declines.

Governor Tom Wolf yesterday joined Democratic lawmakers in calling for the fair funding of education in Pennsylvania. The governor says it’s not right that 89 percent of school funding is still based on student population counts from 1992. As a result the governor says the time has come for running all current basic education funding through the fair funding formula he signed in 2016 which applies only to new investments (CUT 6) The governor says the current education funding system forces school districts which don’t receive enough state funding to meet the needs of students to raise property taxes to try to close the gap.

State Senator Scott Martin is considering a run for governor in P-A.  The Republican who represents Lancaster County says he’s formed an exploratory committee to look into a run in 2022.  So far, former Congressman Lou Barletta announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination while no Democrats have declared as of now.

State officials are clarifying masking guidelines for children currently not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Department of Human Services officials say children between the ages of two and 12 must continue to wear masks anywhere where they will be around other people outside of their household. This includes public settings, events and gatherings. Officials also urge everyone over the age of 12 to get vaccinated.

State Senator Katie Muth is suing the Pennsylvania Public Employees’ Retirement System for not turning over financial records to her. This comes after speculation over PSERS’ investments including a grand jury probe and allegations of bribery. Muth says her requests for financial records in the past were met with claims that it could not be released due to ongoing investigations involving the FBI. She added that if PSERS has nothing to hide, then why not share the information.

The state’s Department of Health reported 450 new positive Covid-19 cases yesterday.  There are currently more than 750 people hospitalized with the coronavirus, and of those cases, 173 patients are being treated at the hospital.  Officials say there have been almost eleven-million doses of the vaccine administered so far.