TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 1ST, 2022

Lawrence and Mercer Counties are under a Winter Storm watch that’s in effect starting late Wednesday night and continuing through Friday morning. A heavy mixed precipitation is possible. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches and ice accumulations around one tenth to a quarter of an inch possible. .The National Weather Service says plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the Thursday morning and evening commutes.

Several Fire companies were called out to battle a house fire yesterday afternoon in Shenango Township. The fire broke out just before 2pm at a home on Schenley Avenue. The New Castle News reports firemen from Shenango Township and three other fire companies were called to the scene. Fire officials said the home had extensive smoke and fire damage to the living room and there was extensive smoke damage throughout the home. No injuries were reported.

A podiatrist with offices in Mercer County and four other Western Pennsylvania counties is accused of committing sex offenses. WFMJ-TV reports 48 year old Dr.Matthew Sabo of Chicora has been charged with two counts of engaging in sexual conduct and two counts of indecent assault.  State Police in Kittanning says Sabo is accused of inappropriately touching a victim or victims during doctors’ visits at the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center of Western Pennsylvania office in Ford City in April 2020.  In addition to the Ford City location, the business has offices in Grove City, Butler, Moon Township, and Monaca. During a hearing before a district magistrate, Sabo’s bond was set at $15,000.

Onlookers will likely remember for quite some time the scene of a Port Authority bus flying through the air on Monday.  A crane was brought in yesterday to remove vehicles, including that bus, from the site of the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse.  The structure fell Friday morning injuring ten people.  The NTSB is continuing their investigation of the collapse and is asking anyone with photos or videos of the incident to forward them to witness@ntsb.gov.

Following last week’s collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh,  bridges across the region are coming under closer scrutiny.  In Butler County, state transportation records show 37 bridges are considered in poor condition — which means the bridges are in an advanced stage of deterioration.  Another 191 spans are in fair condition.  Only 127 state-owned Butler County bridges — or 36 percent — are in good condition.

The Biden administration is sending more than one-billion dollars to states to plug abandoned oil and gas wells.  The wells emit methane, which accounts for ten percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The money for the projects is provided by the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed last year.  Funding will be given to Texas, Pennsylvania and 24 other states that provided notices of intent to the Department of Interior.

Many lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of bills setting minimum, statewide nurse-to-patient ratios amid high vacancy rates for state nurses leaving their positions. At least two bills, one sponsored by Dauphin County Representative Tom Mehaffie and the other by Montgomery County Democratic Senator Maria Collett, would set nurse-to-patient ratios. Both Collett’s and Mehaffie’s bills are awaiting action in legislative committees.

Pennsylvania college graduates have among the highest student loan debt in the U.S., according to a survey by a national organization.  The Institute for College Access and Success says the commonwealth ranks third, with an average student loan debt at just over 39-thousand-dollars.  The debt amount is also up a little bit — by about three-hundred-and-fifty-dollars over a year ago.  Nationally, state averages for debt at graduation in 2020 ranged from 18-thousand-350-dollars in Utah to a high of 39-thousand-950-dollars in New Hampshire.

Three people are hospitalized today with critical injuries after an explosion at a propane company in Erie.  The incident at Lowbucs Propane in Venango Township happened at around 9:30 a.m. yesterday.  Reports say the victims were employees of the company.  There has been no word on the cause of the blast.