TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JANUARY 31ST, 2022

The National Transportation Safety Board expects to have a preliminary report on the Pittsburgh bridge collapse in the next ten days.  Investigators spent Saturday at the scene of the collapse that left three people hospitalized the day earlier.  NTSB chairwoman Jennifer Homendy says she anticipates the agency’s investigation to be “long” and “technical.”  Homendy adds the agency’s mission isn’t just to figure out why the bridge collapsed, but “to prevent it from happening again.”

The New Castle News is reporting that a Scott Township man is accused of raping a child 13 years ago when she was 7 and he was 14. State Police have charged 27 year old Edward Natzic with two counts each of sexual assault and incest and three counts of indecent assault of a person younger than 13. The female told police Natzic had allegedly raped her on multiple occasions when she was younger.

Authorities are appealing Friday’s state court decision that struck down Pennsylvania’s election law as unconstitutional.  In the three-to-two decision, the court overturned Act 77, which reportedly permitted “no-excuse” absentee voting, created a permanent list of mail-in voters, extended the voter-registration deadline and provided almost 100-million-dollars in upgrades to the state’s elections infrastructure.  In its majority opinion, the court ruled that voting “requires the physical presence of the elector,” and ruled that any changes to state election law must be reflected by amendments to the state constitution.

Relief is coming for eligible homeowners in the Commonwealth who are struggling with their mortgage payments or other housing expenses because of COVID-19 pandemic-related financial hardships.  The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency says Tuesday will mark the statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund.  The 350-million-dollars comes from the American Rescue Plan Act funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasure. More information can be found online at p-a-h-a-f dot org.

Democratic lawmakers have been joined by one Republican in announcing a series of measures that deal with prison reform.  One includes  offering parole to elderly and terminally-ill inmates; others deal  with  support for veterans and other prisoners who are re-entering society.  The bills also offers alternatives to prison, particularly for minor offenses.  Lawmakers say four of the bills have bipartisan support.

The NFL foundation has given the Aliquippa High School football team 250-thousand dollars to build a new stadium.  The stadium will replace the school’s current facility — nicknamed The Pit — that was built in the 1930s.  Separately, the school secured three-and-a-half million dollars in financing for the project.   According to Trib-Live-dot-com, construction on the stadium could begin next month or March.  

Butler Memorial Hospital is due to receive more than one-million dollars in federal funding to help with its staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Governor Tom Wolf has signed into law a bill authorizing 210-million dollars in aid from the federal COVID relief fund for hospitals across the state.  The distribution is based on the number of beds in a hospital.  Butler Memorial Hospital will receive one-point-one million dollars.     

Pittsburgh-area Congressman Conor Lamb is coming out of the weekend without a highly-craved endorsement.  Committee members of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party met Saturday to consider candidates running to be the party’s nominee in this year’s U.S. Senate race.  With Lamb and Lt. Governor John Fetterman considered to be the leading contenders in the contest, support of two-thirds of committee members was required to win the endorsement.  Lamb collected more than 60-percent but not enough to carry the day.  In the end, no endorsement was issued.

State Attorney General Josh  Shapiro says all 67 counties in Pennsylvania have now signed on to join a global opioid settlement.  It will provide  up to $232 million this year to help people find treatment from substance abuse.  Pennsylvania has been one of the lead states in negotiating the 26-billion-dollar global settlement The settlement requires significant industry changes that will help prevent a future opioid crisis, in addition to the funds.