TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 4TH, 2022

A New Castle man has been sentenced in U.S. District court to 105 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release on his conviction related to a drug conspiracy. 28 year old  Nathaniel McKnight was sentenced on his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 40 grams of fentanyl.  The charges stem from an investigation by authorities that took place between December of 2019 and August of 2020.

A portion of Interstate 80 in Mercer County was closed yesterday following a multi-vehicle accident. The crash closed the westbound lanes from route 19 in Mercer to the I-376 interchange. No other details have been released.

State Police in Mercer County have accused a Sandy Lake man of seeking sex and explicit photos from someone he believed to be a fourteen-year-old girl.  Police say the person that 53-year-old Bryan Stutzman had allegedly contacted through social media was an officer from the Bridgeport, West Virginia Police department posing as a teen. Stutzman was charged with with two counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor. His next court hearing is set for February 16.

The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there are nearly eight and a half million people in Pennsylvania who are fully vaccinated from COVID.   That accounts for just under 66 percent of the population. Health officials say a little more than two million people still need to get their second shot. In all, about 82 percent of the state’s residents have had either their first or second shots.  

Weekly jobless claims are falling in most places around the country, especially in Pennsylvania.  The U.S. Labor Department says 238-thousand first-time claims were filed last week.  That’s a drop of 23-thousand from the previous week’s revised total. Only Alabama saw an increase in initial claims for the week ending January 22nd. In addition to Pennsylvania, the biggest drops also happened in California and New York.

Pennsylvanians can continue filing for mail-in ballots for the time being, following a ruling by the state Supreme Court.  The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently ruled the state’s voting laws that allow for mail-in ballots are unconstitutional because the issue should be a ballot question for a Constitutional amendment.  While Governor Tom Wolf’s office files an appeal of the ruling, the state Supreme Court ruled mail-in ballots are allowed. 
  

Pennsylvania officials say they’re determined to enforce a new consumer protection law involving medical bills.  “Surprise” medical bills are those that originate from doctors outside a patient’s health insurance network and they’re now illegal. State officials say the law means patients will no longer have to pay more than their health policies stipulate for care – regardless of who is providing the services – unless the patient agrees otherwise. State Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman says Pennsylvania will enforce the law through the state Insurance Department.

Governor Tom Wolf has now signed a bill into law that aims to aid in the handling of missing persons cases in Pittsburgh and around the commonwealth.  State police will now be required to enter DNA profiles of all missing individuals into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.  Profiles will also be entered when unidentified bodies are discovered.  Ten other states also have similar laws on the books.

A racist incident at a football game between Beaver County’s South Side Area High School and Steel Valley High School has been blamed on adult mistakes.  The Western Pennsylvania Intercollege Athletic League announced its review following its investigation of the mid-November incident last fall.  The incident involved racist name-calling and dirty play.  The WPIAL says adults on both sides should have handled the situation better.  It says students, coaches and administrators will be asked to take diversity training.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will give more than 20-million-dollars to Pennsylvania to help rebuild the Pittsburgh Bridge that recently collapsed.  Officials announced the funding Monday, and say it was made available quickly because of disaster declarations from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Governor Tom Wolf.  The money will be distributed to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which will work with designers and contractors to replace the bridge.  Investigators are still working to determine the cause of why it collapsed last week.