TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR OCTOBER 1ST, 2021

A New Castle woman was sentenced to 11 ½ to 23 months in jail after pleading guilty to aggravated assault by vehicle while under the influence along with two counts each of drunk driving and recklessly endangering other persons. The New Castle News reports 29 year old Leah Piccione was the driver of a vehicle that crossed the center line in Scott Township and collided with a vehicle head on operated by then 17 year old Isis Whisel back on August 30th of 2019. Whisel and her sister Irie, suffered life-threatening injuries. Piccione will also have to serve 48 months probation along with community service.

The main campus of Butler County Community College will reopen today after an online threat led to its evacuation on Thursday.  Officials say the threat appeared in the form of an image posted to social media showing a message written on a white concrete block wall.  The college has not revealed the contents of the message.  Police searched all of BC3’s classrooms and facilities and have found the campus to be safe. 

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state.  Yesterday, the state added nearly 49-hundred new cases, pushing the total over one-million-429-thousand.  About 77 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 29-thousand-400.

The state is not planning on issuing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers. State health officials say right now, they’re really focused on having students be able to access the vaccine and not mandate it. They also emphasized that schools can offer testing and vaccine clinics that the federal government would pay for, but masks must be mandated.

State lawmakers are criticizing a proposal from the Department of Transportation to toll nine bridges in the state. Funds generated from the tolls would go to maintaining and repairing those bridges, and it would allow for PennDOT to expand its current funding to use for other maintenance and repair projects. Some Democrat state lawmakers say project after project in county after county will not get done if the proposal isn’t passed. Some Republican lawmakers say the people that voted for them do not support the proposal, and people are going to lose jobs and revenue.

Western Pennsylvania residents could begin seeing a slow down in deliveries as the postal service implements changes in the handling of first class mail beginning today.  The previous standard of three-day delivery for first class mail in the U.S. is now a five-day standard.  For many Americans, that will mean a longer delivery process for items like bills, checks, cards and letters to get from sender to recipient.  The move is part of a plan put in place by the postmaster general to cut costs within the USPS.

The Transportation Security Administration is sending a special team to Pittsburgh to crack down on travelers carrying guns.  Officials confirmed yesterday that the team would arrive from Washington on October 6th to conduct gun-check demonstrations on properly packing a gun for travel.  The TSA says there is a gun epidemic in Pittsburgh following the discovery of 27 guns in checked baggage this year, including five-times in six-days last month. 

The state is looking to help schools across the commonwealth with their bus driver shortage. State officials say school districts can use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to reimburse parents or guardians for driving their students to and from school. They added that they plan on reaching out to the more than 300-thousand drivers in the state with a commercial driver’s license to inform them about the need for bus drivers and how to become one.

Pennsylvania doctors are urging pregnant people to get vaccinated from COVID-19. Earlier this week, the CDC issued an urgent advisory for pregnant people to get vaccinated as over 150 pregnant women have died from the virus. An OB-GYN with UPMC, Dr. Sharee Livingston, says getting infected with COVID is more risky than getting the vaccine as it is safe and effective.