TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 8TH, 2022

Governor Tom Wolf is set to give his budget address on Tuesday and it will be his final one as his term nears its end.  Political watchdogs say it will be different from years past because it will likely focus on his legacy, instead of the usual goals for the state.  One of the issues almost sure to not come up will be taxes as the state is having its first budget surplus in 35 years.  Much of that is thanks to pandemic relief from the federal government and higher-than-expected sales revenue.  Schools and public health, as well as voting rights are expected 

A man involved in a standoff with police in Boardman Ohio earlier this month was found dead in New Castle yesterday. WKBN-TV reports New Castle City Police found James Brumley at Cascade Park. Brumley was a suspect in a standoff with police in Boardman back on February 2nd. Authorities said Brumley was recovering from injuries he suffered at Mercy Health in Boardman when he escaped from the hospital on Saturday. Police Chief Bobby Salem said foul play in not suspected as Brumley was not dressed for the elements.  

State lawmaker Mike Regan wants to change current prohibitions where adults can buy marijuana legally in the state, as well as to make it more regulated and watched.  Regan hopes to convince fellow Republicans to back a bill he’s drafting with Representative Amen Brown.  Brown told lawmakers at a Senate Law & Justice Committee meeting Monday that pot bought on the black market could be laced with other drugs or contaminated.  Governor Tom Wolf supports legalizing the drug, but Republican leadership says it’s not a priority.  Monday’s hearing was the first step in the process to bring the issue to a more structured vote in the state. 

Two Oklahoma City men were arrested by State Police in Mercer County . 23 year old Arturo Gutierrez and 19 year old Julian Espanosa-Garcia face a number of charges following a traffic stop on Interstate 80 in Wolf Creek Township. During an investigation police found suspected heroin along with a firearm. Police said the drugs had a street value of 600 thousand dollars. Both men were placed in the Mercer County Jail.

Last month’s collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge began on the span’s western end closest to Squirrel Hill.  That finding came in the NTSB’s preliminary report into the incident released on Monday.  As the investigation continues, investigators will comb through all of the evidence gathered including footage from seven cameras on a Port Authority that dropped with the bridge on January 28th.  Ten people were hurt in the incident.

The Pennsylvania House recently approved a measure to prevent municipalities from enacting ordinances to prohibit the use of natural gas as a utility. House Bill 1947 also would prohibit discrimination against a utility service provider based upon the source of the utility service provided to a consumer. The bill was introduced in response to actions taken by some major U.S. cities that have enacted or proposed laws to ban or curb the use of fossil fuels in new homes and buildings.  The measure is now pending action in the Senate.

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 the state has launched the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund.  The 350-million-dollars comes from the American Rescue Plan Act through the U.S. Department of the Treasurer.  The money can be used for eligible households to prevent or ease delinquent mortgages, defaults, foreclosures and utility disconnection.  More information can be found online at p-a-h-a-f.org.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has put out its 2022 adult trout stocking schedule.  Brian Wisner, who is the Director of Hatcheries, says the schedule is a roadmap for stocking millions of trout into hundreds of waterways across the state before and during trout season. The Commission is also asking for volunteers to help with the stocking efforts.  Over three million adult trout, primarily rainbow trout, will be stocked in nearly 700 streams and 128 lakes for public fishing.  The 2022 adult trout stocking schedule is now available on the FishBoatPA app and on fishandboat dot com.

Budget airlines Frontier and Spirit are planning to become one.  The carriers on Monday announced a merger worth more than six-point-six-billion dollars.  Both airlines offer service out of Pittsburgh International Airport.  Federal regulators must first give their approval to the merger which would then create the 5th largest airline in America.