TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JUNE 30TH, 2021

The New Castle News report the New Castle Area School district adopted its 2021-2022 school year budget yesterday. For the 18th straight year the district is not raising taxes. The 57.8 million dollar budget includes a three-percent increase in expenditures from last year, which can be attributed to the areas of salaries, benefits and tuition. The school budget is set up using last year’s state allocations

A man accused of strangling his wife at his mother’s Mercer County trailer remains jailed without bond as his case is sent on for trial in common pleas court. WFMJ-TV reports 44 year old Eric George was held for court on a charge of criminal homicide. George admitted to a 9-1-1 dispatcher that he strangled 41-year-old Serena Anne Schoeder in the Pine Grove Mobile Home Park in Coolspring Township on the night of June 14th. George, who is a registered sex offender, is scheduled for a formal arraignment on August 31st.

A new program is being launched by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to help fund schools and close the digital divide. Officials say the Emergency Connectivity Fund is a temporary program with more than seven-billion-dollars to help cover the costs for laptops, wi-fi hotspots, routers, tablets and more. Schools and libraries have until August 13th of this year to apply for these funds, and applications can be completed online at emergencyconnectivityfund-dot-org.

Giant Eagle stores announced plans yesterday to become carbon neutral by the year 2040.  Among the steps planned by the grocery chain are the conversion of their truck fleet to alternative energy, an emphasis on smart lighting solutions and investments in negative emissions technologies within the next ten years.  Giant Eagle expects to see a 50-percent reduction in their carbon emissions by 2030 and to be net-zero within the following ten years.

A 61-year-old man died in a West Aliquippa motorcycle accident this weekend.  The Beaver County Time reports  Richard Nolte, of Coraopolis, died of blunt force trauma to the head on June 27, according to authorities. Beaver County emergency responders found the man underneath a motorcycle around 7:30 p.m. on the railroad tracks near the 600 block of McKee Avenue. The crash’s cause is still under investigation.

Pennsylvania is seeing a slight increase of more COVID-19 cases.  The state’s Department of Health announced 162 new positive cases yesterday.  There are currently 341 people hospitalized with the coronavirus, and of those cases, 57 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit. Lawrence County has 7,688 cases and 216 deaths. Mercer County has 9,721 cases and 266 fatalities.

PennDOT will be closing all driver’s license and photo centers this weekend in observance of Independence Day.  The centers will be closed from July 3rd through July 5th.  Officials say customers can still access driver and vehicle products and services online by going to dmv.pa.gov.

A Washington County man yesterday was sentenced to prison following convictions on child porn charges.  Forty-eight-year-old Sean Houston pleaded guilty in 2020 to charges of producing and possessing pornographic materials featuring minors.  Houston entered the pleas as part of a deal with federal prosecutors and has been sentenced to 28 years in prison.  The time will be added to any sentence he may receive pending the outcome of molestation charges in a state criminal case.

Initial filings for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania rose last week compared with the week prior, according to  the U.S. Department of Labor . New jobless claims  increased to 44,112 in the week ending June 19, up from 29,589 the week before. There were 42,577 new claims in Pennsylvania at the same time last year.