A 24-year-old man was arrested late last month after police say he tried to strangle a woman in New Castle. State Police in Lawrence County report the incident happened about 3:50 a.m. on Oct. 23 at a home on E. Elizabeth Street.  Police say Devaughn Smith got into a verbal argument with a 21-year-old woman that turned violent.  Smith was charged with strangulation, simple assault, theft by unlawful taking and harassment.  Smith was arraigned on Oct. 26 when bond was set at $2,000. He is due back in court Nov. 9.

Decisions regarding mask mandates for Western Pennsylvania school students will soon be back in the hands of district officials.  Governor Tom Wolf yesterday announced the state will hand control of those issues back to local leaders on January 17th.  A current statewide mandate dictates that students, staffers and visitors to K through 12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks indoors.  In making his announcement, Wolf said that we must take the next step forward in our recovery.

Commuters who use the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge regularly will need to find a detour to use for the next several weeks.  PennDOT has closed the bridge for a month-long renovation project.  Crews will perform maintenance work on the bridge, and repair surfaces used by vehicles.  The closure will remain in place through December 3rd. 

Some ideas from Senator Bob Casey to invest in the state’s children have made their way into the framework of President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal.  The aspects involve concepts from Senator Casey’s Five Freedoms bill and include expanding the Child Tax Credit, school meals and high-quality early childhood education. Though the infrastructure part of the president’s act already has received approval, other remaining parts of the proposal on social and environmental issues will be decided upon in the coming weeks.

A federal court ordered a gas station in Monaca to pay nearly 300-thousand dollars in back wages to two employees.  Investigators for the Department of Labor found the owners of the Sunoco on Broadhead Road failed to pay minimum wage and did not pay overtime rates to a husband and wife who lived and worked at the convenience store.  According to records, the woman often worked 70 hours per week without any pay, while the man worked unpaid hours after his shift ended.

A Beaver County farmer is facing federal charges this week related to the killing of protected birds.  Robert Yost and his employee, Jacob Reese, are accused of applying a restricted-use pesticide to crops owned by Yost.  According to prosecutors, the use of that pesticide led to the deaths of 17 Canada geese, ten red-winged blackbirds and a mallard duck.  If convicted, Yost and Reese face the possibility of fines and jail time.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says Pennsylvania is set to receive billions in federal funding from a recently passed infrastructure deal.  Granholm spoke yesterday about the deal saying Pennsylvania can use the money on over 35-hundred bridges and 75-hundred miles of roadway.  The state is expected to receive around one-point-six billion dollars for projects, including capping abandoned oil and gas wells and lead pipe repairs. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports a little over 31-hundred new cases of COVID-19. The statewide total now stands at more than one and a half million cases.  State officials say currently, there are just over 27-hundred  people hospitalized with the virus, with more than six-hundred in intensive care. There have also been over 70 more deaths, bringing the statewide total to just under 32-thousand since the pandemic began.

Governor Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that’s geared to help give more flexibility to those businesses that have a liquor license. House Bill 425 will allow restaurants and other licensees to extend the area in which they are licensed to serve alcohol to a seating area within one-thousand feet of their main location. It also gives the state liquor-licensing board the ability to issue eligible licensees unlimited off-premises catering permits and allows a licensee that closes permanently to sell their liquor and wine to another business with a liquor license.