TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR OCTOBER 6TH, 2021

A former New Castle resident was sentenced in a federal court on a charge of fraud in Pittsburgh yesterday. 24 year old Tyler Huddleston was sentenced to six months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Huddleston conspired with another individual to commit mail fraud in order to obtain nearly 14 thousand dollars in connection with pandemic unemployment assistant benefits while he was in the Lawrence County Jail awaiting trial on state charges.

A state Republican and a Democrat are teaming up to push for recreational marijuana. On Monday, Republican state Senator Mike Regan started circulating a memo to his colleagues to gain support for recreational cannabis, and yesterday, Democrat state Representative Amen Brown did the same. Brown says legalizing and regulating cannabis is simply the right thing to do as well as ensuring that an equity lens is applied and that injustices caused by the enforcement of drug laws are redressed. This is the state’s first bipartisan effort for such legislation.

Ninth District State Representative Chris Saniato announced a state grant of nearly 300 thousand dollars that will expand access to pregnancy and postpartum support services for Lawrence County women recovering from substance use disorder. Sainato said the grant to the Center for Community Resources Inc. – administered by the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs – will help the center provide services and make referrals for outpatient treatment. The funding is part of a package of more than $12 million in grants announced today to help Pennsylvanians in recovery..

UPMC is expecting a worse seasonal flu season this year and plans to offer flu shots at some locations providing COVID-19 vaccines.  Officials said yesterday that the flu season in 2020 was mild because of lockdowns, but almost all of those have been lifted, so 2021 will see an increase in infections.  UPMC professor Dr. Richard Zimmerman says that since fewer people contracted seasonal flu last year, fewer people are immune now, so the flu shot is very important.  Health authorities say it is safe to receive the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine simultaneously.

A Butler County family is offering a one-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who shot their dog.  The family announced the reward yesterday to help find whoever used a shotgun to injure Wilson, their four-year-old St. Bernard.  Wilson is recovering, and Harrisville Police say he was shot in the head and neck along Porter Road on September 30th.  Anyone with additional information on the shooting is asked to call the police.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Yesterday, the state added over four-thousand new cases, pushing the total over one-million-453-thousand.  About 80 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 29-thousand-611.

The fate of hundreds of Pennsylvania nursing homes is up in the air as many did not reach the state’s vaccination goal. In August, the state Department of Health asked nursing homes to have at least 80-percent of their staff fully vaccinated from COVID-19 by October 1st. Those who do not reach the goal must implement regular testing of staff, and if they don’t, then appropriate regulatory action will be taken. Data shows that only one in five facilities were on pace to reach this goal.

Authority officials and folks in search of a good deal are gearing up for the 2021 Pittsburgh Airport Auction.  The October 23rd event at the airport’s Heavy Equipment Building on Cargo Road will feature a large collection of items left behind at Pittsburgh International.  Last year’s limited event was held online due to COVID so some pieces have been waiting a long while to find a buyer.  Organizers say that shoppers will be able to find everything from clothing and electronics to jewelry and more.  Proceeds from many items sold at the event will go to charity.

Sentencing has been scheduled for February for a psychiatrist who pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of healthcare fraud.  Kentucky psychiatrist Varanise Booker appeared in Pittsburgh federal court to admit to taking kickbacks for sending her patients to a drug-testing lab in Greensburg.  Booker directed patients to the lab over a nearly two-year period from 2011 to 2013 with no legitimate reason to do so.