TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 29TH, 2021

Lawrence County Commissioners Tuesday officially adopted the 2022 county budget, which calls for no increase in real estate taxes. The Ellwood City Ledger reports,  Chairman Morgan Boyd said there were minor changes to the budget since it was first revealed on Dec. 7th, but none of them affected the budget to change the outlook on taxes. He added there was no public input on the budget.

A Rochester man faces charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.  The man — 48-year-old Christian Winterthalter — waived his right to a preliminary hearing at the Beaver County Courthouse.  He’s charged with using a social media site to solicit and distribute images of child pornography.  Winterthalter is also charged with talking with someone he believed to be a 12-year-old girl.  The girl was actually an undercover agent.  He’s in the Beaver County Jail on 125-thousand dollars bond.  

State Police are out with the results of its latest holiday enforcement effort.  PSP investigated nearly 490 vehicle crashes this past weekend.  Six of them were fatal and 90 involved injuries.  Over four-thousand traffic citations were issued and 181 DUI arrests were made.  State police will be out again this weekend looking for drunk and aggressive drivers.

Liquor sales are up in Pennsylvnaia. The “Philadelphia Business Journal” reports two-point-91-billion dollars’ worth of spirits and wine were purchased in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.  Allegheny County topped the list with 347-million dollars in sales, which is 20-percent higher than the year before. 

Governor Tom Wolf’s administration says he’s asking for help from FEMA to staff hospitals overwhelmed with the latest COVID-19 omicron strain.  Officials have not given details about how many people will be in the federal “strike teams” or when they could arrive at hospitals or skilled nursing facilities.  In a statement, Wolf’s acting secretary of health Keara Klinepeter says Pennsylvania also asked FEMA for one-million rapid at-home coronavirus tests.

The swearing-in of Pittsburgh’s first mayor of color will be a virtual event.  Mayor-elect Ed Gainey’s team yesterday announced that members of the public wanting to watch the Monday inauguration will be able to see it through a number of outlets including the city’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  The move to a virtual event is an effort to comply with guidance provided by public health officials.

Low income Pennsylvania residents struggling with water bills will soon be able to apply for assistance from the state.  The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is advising folks with past due water bills or whose service has been terminated that grants will soon be available to help.  The application process for the water assistance program opens next week.  More details can be found by going to dhs.pa.gov/services and searching for keyword WATER.

Emergency crews are reporting the rescue this week of a one-year-old child who fell into a hotel swimming pool.  The incident happened Monday night at a Holiday Inn in Mahoning County.  Reports say the child went into the water during a birthday party.  Bystanders pulled the one-year-old from the water and performed CPR until first responders arrived.  The child was later reported to be alert and in good health. 

Police are accusing an East Vandergrift man of stealing close to 43-thousand-dollars from an elderly man.  According to reports, the victim entrusted John Ebner with access to his credit cards and financial accounts before he temporarily checked into a nursing home.  They say Ebner took the opportunity to run up credit card bills, withdraw cash and empty an IRA all for his own personal use.  Ebner is scheduled to answer to felony charges in court next week.