The passenger on the plane during last Wednesday’s crash in Mercer County has died. WKBN-TV reports  The Allegheny County Medical Examiner said 55-year-old Keith Vanover from Parma Ohio, died at a Pittsburgh hospital Saturday morning. His cause of death was confirmed as thermal burns and inhalation injuries due to the plane crash. The pilot of the plane, Richard Briggs from Cuyahoga Falls, also died in the crash. The plane went down in a wooded area near Tri County Industries in Pine Township.

New Castle City Hall remained closed yesterday following an inside water main break on Friday that flooded the basement with about five feet of water. The New Castle News reports that Mayor Chris Frye said Central Heating and Plumbing was in the building yesterday making repairs to the water main and the boiler. The mayor said the building will remain closed until it’s safe to re-enter.

Pittsburgh Health Care leaders are preparing for a new wave of COVID-19 cases due to the recently discovered Omicron [[ ahm-ih-cron ]] variant.  Dr. Arvind Venkat with the Allegheny Health Network said yesterday that health care systems should be prepared but not panic over the new mutation of the virus.  Omicron was discovered in South Africa earlier this month and has also been found in Europe and Canada.  Doctors are urging those who have not been vaccinated to get a COVID-19 shot to help stop the spread of the new variant.

A state Senator wants to bring back toll collectors on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at high volume exits like Monroeville.  On Monday, State Senator Marty Flynn said he has a three-measure plan to fix uncollected tolls on the turnpike, which totaled over 100-million-dollars from June 2020 to May 2021.  Senator Flynn says the problem started with the removal of human collectors in favor of all-electric tolling.  The Senator wants to bring back collectors, trigger suspension of a vehicle’s registration after four uncollected tolls and require the Turnpike Commission to produce an annual report on collection successes and failures.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is down a penny this week to at 3.57 a gallon. In New Castle motorists are paying 3.52 a gallon while the price in Sharon is at 3.49. The national average is at 3.39 a gallon which is a penny less than last week at $1.27 more than a year ago.

While the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend has ended, Pennsylvania
motorists are urged to drive sober throughout the remainder of the holiday season. PennDOT says law enforcement will be on the lookout for impaired drivers during the holiday season, whether impairment is caused by alcohol or illegal or legal drugs. While PennDOT says impaired driver crashes and fatalities are 100 percent preventable, there were a thousand crashes involving impaired drivers in PA last holiday season which resulted in 26 fatalities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports nearly 12-thousand additional cases of coronavirus have been reported for both Thanksgiving and the Friday following. Just under six-thousand cases were reported Thursday and some 61 hundred on Friday, making for a two-day total of 12-thousand-72. The state Department said Monday that over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period Pennsylvania averaged 5,325 new cases of COVID-19 per day. To date, there have been one-point-72 million infections statewide.

Eight Pennsylvania electric utilities are set to increase their energy prices Wednesday, reflecting the higher cost to produce electricity.  Energy charges account for about half of a residential bill. Energy executives say their costs are increasing because fuel prices for power generators are going up and that’s driven mostly by natural gas. The change is also pushing up electricity prices in wholesale power markets.

Nonprofits and charitable organizations in Western Pennsylvania and around the country are hoping to see beneficial returns for Giving Tuesday.  The organic event, following the retail-focused frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is a day that many Americans have marked for financial donations to their favorite charities and organizations.