State Police have charged a Rochester man with child rape and indecent assault that involved three juveniles in Little Beaver Township. According to the New Castle News 31 year old Eric Prothero is being charged with one count of rape of a child, one count of involuntary sexual intercourse with a child, along with three counts each of indecent assault of a person under the age of 13, and corruption of minors. The charges stem following an investigation that began earlier this month. As of yesterday afternoon Prothero was not yet in custody.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health say Thursday has been another record-breaking day for the number of COVID cases reported in the state.  Over 19-thousand additional coronavirus cases were recorded on Thursday, almost 2-thousand more than Wednesday’s record-setting report.  The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was 12-thousand-664 cases per day – also a new pandemic record – up nearly 50-percent from a week ago.  To date, there have been over two million infections statewide.

Ninth District State Representative Chris Sainato announced a Lawrence County park is about to receive multiple renovations thanks to a Pennsylvania grant. Sainato said that the Mahoning Township Park has been given a state grant worth $70,000 in order to fund multiple improvements. The money was given by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Improvements to the park, include renovation of the pavilion, construction of a pedestrian walkway and parking area, and installation of playground equipment with required safety surfacing.

Weekly jobless claims are on the decline again, but not necessarily in the Keystone State. The U.S. Labor Department says Pennsylvania registered the largest increases in applications for unemployment last week, along with the state of New Jersey.  Overall, the number of claims nationally is down eight-thousand from the previous week’s revised total.  The four-week moving average of claims is now just below 200-thousand, a rate that hasn’t been that low since October 1969.

Officials say state workers have one more day to get inoculated from COVID and to take advantage of an incentive offered by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. They’re being offered  five days of paid leave to  get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end-of-year deadline.  The five days of “verification leave” can be used until  March 31st. The administration said employees who don’t use the days by then will be paid for them. Also, an employee who has verified their fully vaccinated status will automatically receive the days. 

State gaming officials say Pennsylvania casinos and sports book betting have broken revenue records for November.  Total gaming and fantasy contest revenue hit nearly 433-million dollars, which was about a one and a half percent increase in October.  Meanwhile, total revenue from the state’s online and retail sports books almost reached 64-million-dollars, more than 70-percent higher than the previous record achieved in November of  2020. Overall, Pennsylvania bettors wagered 776-million-dollars in October.

UPMC doctors have begun a limited distribution of a new therapy they say will help some of the more vulnerable COVID-19 patients.  UPMC hospitals yesterday began distribution of a therapy made by Astra Zeneca that’s the first antibody for prevention of the coronavirus prior to exposure.  The FDA has approved the therapy.  People who are eligible for the therapy must be at least 12 years old and have compromised immune systems.    

Drivers in the Commonwealth will begin seeing the impacts of a new turnpike toll increase starting this weekend.  Toll prices will go up at a 5% rate beginning on January 2. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said that the increase will impact all drivers regardless if they pay their rates by E-ZPass or Toll by Plate. Passenger vehicle rates will increase from $1.60 to $1.70 for E-ZPass customers and from $3.90 to $4.10 for Toll By Plate customers.

Lottery players in Pennsylvania, 43 other states and the District of Columbia are resolving to start the new year with a big win.  The top prize in tomorrow night’s Powerball drawing is a reported 500-million dollars.  Those wanting to try their luck at the Mega Millions Lottery can always pick up a ticket and try to win that game’s 221-million dollar jackpot tonight.

Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday told members of the media that he doesn’t speak in definites or guarantees but that this coming Monday’s home game against the Browns could be his last regular season home game.  Big Ben has been the Steelers’ quarterback since 2004 leading the team to a pair of Super Bowl wins.  Many have long suspected that Roethlisberger will retire at the end of this season.