Fire destroyed a home in the city of New Castle yesterday afternoon. According to the New Castle News the blaze broke out at a home on West Chartes Street around 2:30. Six people were in the home at the time of the fire and all got out safely. When firemen arrived the second floor of home was fully involved and had spread to the first floor. The American Red Cross was called in to assist the family.

A Butler County man is being held on 10-thousand dollars bond on charges of assault and strangulation.  Bradley Borg reportedly took the female victim to a clinic for treatment on New Year’s Eve after trying to convince her to lie about how she was injured.  A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next week.

A pair of Beaver County men who walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol and smoked pot inside the building during last year’s insurrection are going to jail.  Mitchell Vukich and Nicholas Perretta pleaded guilty in September to charges of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.  On Wednesday, the men were each sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Governor Tom Wolf is heading into his last budget presentation with a financial surplus and unspent money from federal COVID relief funds.  Governor Wolf said Wednesday the healthy account balances mean higher taxes or spending cuts won’t be required this year.  His annual budget address will take place February 8th and will be followed by weeks of hearings by the appropriations committees in the House and Senate.  The deadline to for all sides to agree on the budget is July 1st.

A Mercer County man was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for illegal gun possession in federal court yesterday. 28 year old Diquan Crowder of Farrel was sentenced to 100 months in prison for possessing a firearm after a prior felony conviction. Crowder was also ordered to three years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Authorities said the weapon was found as part of a drug trafficking investigation in November of 2020.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry says it has detected an increase in attempts to steal unemployment compensation benefits through more sophisticated schemes.  A news release from L and I says in order to try to prevent that, a two-step process will be added for claimants to offer another level of protection.  The agency encourages people to remain vigilant about guarding their personal and confidential information and to monitor for signs that their information is being used fraudulently.

Dominion Voting Systems wants to restrict any inspection of its voting machines as part of what Republican lawmakers call a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election to a laboratory that has specific credentials.  The Denver-based voting-system manufacturer filed paperwork in court Monday.  Republican lawmakers say they are planning to inspect Dominion’s machines and software in southern Pennsylvania’s sparsely populated Fulton County.  The company’s equipment has been at the center of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.

A Christmas tree is believed to be the cause of a deadly rowhome fire in Philadelphia that broke out Wednesday.  At least 12 people, including eight children, were killed when their duplex in Philly’s Fairmount neighborhood went up in flames.  Two others were critically injured.  The Fire Marshal’s Office is looking into reports that someone lit the Christmas tree on fire. 

Some 28-thousand additional COVID cases have been reported in Pennsylvania. State health officials say that’s broken another record as childhood hospitalizations have tripled within a months’ time. The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was just under 22-thousand cases per day, almost double the rate from a week ago, and almost triple the average daily cases recorded a month ago. To date, there have been two point-15-million infections statewide. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed that children aged 12 years old and over are now eligible for a Pfizer vaccine booster dose five months after completing their primary series. The five-month booster interval was updated from the previous authorization of six months, and is applicable to anyone aged 12 years old and over who received the Pfizer vaccine for their primary series.