TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR OCTOBER 7TH, 2021

State Police say they are investigating the discovery of a body in Chippewa Township in Beaver County as a homicide.  According to reports, the body of 46-year-old Sharon Benyo was found Wednesday morning in an area off Route 51 Constitution Boulevard by a gas worker.  Officials say Benyo had been released from prison a few weeks ago and was last seen over the weekend.  A coroner’s report lists Benyo’s cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head.

State officials are reminding Pennsylvanians that they can vote early in-person by mail ballot for the upcoming municipal election. Officials say voting in-person by mail ballot before Election Day is an easy and convenient option for voters who do not want to return their ballot by mail and who cannot or do not want to go to the polls on November 2nd. Voters can visit their county election office or satellite election office to apply for a mail ballot, and officials will check their eligibility and give them a ballot once verified. Voters can then fill their ballots and cast it in one visit. The deadline to apply for a mail ballot and vote by mail in person is October 26th.

Pittsburgh International Airport, the TSA and the Allegheny County Police Department are reminding gun owners to check their bags for firearms before they arrive at the airport.  TSA agents have found 27 guns so far this year, including five within a six-day timeframe last month.  Federal officials say they will start asking local law enforcement agencies to revoke concealed carry permits for any travelers caught at a security checkpoint with a firearm.

Governor Tom Wolf is not planning on lifting the school mask mandate anytime soon. Wolf previously stated he would reevaluate the order early this month, but the COVID-19 vaccine has yet to be approved for younger children. Wolf says he thinks the key is not so much the date as when the vaccine becomes available to all school children and how fast we can get them vaccinated.

A Beaver County man pleaded guilty this week to fraud charges. 35 year old Danel Cordero of Midland,  pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of access device fraud and identity theft. Authorities say that Cordero purchased stolen credit card numbers through the dark web and encoded them onto the magnetic strips of gift cards, which he then used to make unauthorized purchases from businesses in and around Western Pennsylvania. Sentencing is set for January 16th. Cordero faces up to twelve years in prison and a 500 thousand dollar fine.

PennDOT this week is reminding drivers to be mindful about the potential of deer in and along the roadway.  More than 55-hundred deer-related crashes were reported statewide last year, many in Western Pennsylvania.  Officials recommend allowing extra stopping distance between vehicles.  They also say that drivers should be alert at all times and especially in areas where deer crossing signs are posted.  PennDot adds that it’s important to stay aware while driving, particularly in the months when deer are most active.

Gas prices have reached their highest since 2014. According to Triple-A, the average U.S. price for a gallon of gas is currently $3.20 per gallon. AAA said this is a level that hasn’t been seen since October 2014. The probable causes for the increase are a slight uptick in demand and the high price of crude oil, which has been holding at above $73 per barrel. The average price in Western Pennsylvania is at 3.38 a gallon.

The former police chief in Leechburg is once again finding himself in court.  Former Armstrong County lawman Michael Diebold pleaded guilty yesterday to charges that he failed to properly register as a sex offender.  Diebold is required to register as part of his sentence after being caught trying to solicit sex from a teenager online three years ago. 

Yesterday, the state department of health added over five-thousand new Covid-19 cases, pushing the total over one-million-458-thousand.  About 111 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 29-thousand-722.

A bill that would give parents online access to a school’s curriculum is advancing. State Representative Andrew Lewis says the bill simply brings the state into the 21st century by making sure that, especially in an environment of remote learning, parents can access the information they’re entitled to online. Critics of the bill say it will drag education right into the middle of the culture wars. They added that parents can already ask for this information, and it would only further strain school districts. The bill passed the state House yesterday and now heads to the Senate.