TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 9TH, 2022

The Lawrence County Commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday with Wish Development for the new office location for District Judge Rick Russo. The Ellwood City Ledger reports the new location will be on Wilmington Road, at the site of the former Tuscany Square Ristorante. The new location is essentially across the street from the current one. The deal for the new office is described as a partnership between Wish and the county, as Wish will be paying to acquire the property, and for all the planning and renovation work that will occur, while the county will pay for the monthly rent.

Governor Tom Wolf is unveiling the final budget proposal of his term with billions going towards education, wage increases, and mental health care.  Wolf spoke on Tuesday morning in a joint session of the General Assembly asking for a generational investment in education.  Wolf’s plan would put almost two-billion dollars into public school education as part of an overall four-and-half-billion-dollar spending hike.  The budget proposal also increases funding for Health and Human Services and raising both the state minimum wage and teacher salaries.

Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Longietti of Mercer County announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection at the end of this term, bringing an end the his nearly 16 years in office. Longietti has served Pennsylvania’s 7th District since 2007. He will serve the remainder of this term, which ends on November 30th of 2022.

The state’s acting health secretary says new COVID-19 infections have been averaging fewer than six-thousand per day in Pennsylvania, down from days of well over 25-thousand just a few weeks ago. Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said in a news release that the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has fallen by 26-percent since the end of January. As of early Tuesday, Pennsylvania hospitals were caring for just over 33-hundred people with COVID-19, including nearly five-hundred-60 in intensive care. Hospitals were caring for about 75-hundred  patients with COVID-19 a few weeks ago.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is 11 cents higher this week to 3.58 a gallon. That’s the highest average price since 2014. In New Castle the average price is at 3.52 a gallon while drivers in Sharon are paying 2.61. Blustery winter weather and geopolitical tensions are helping to drive the price of oil higher, which is in the low-$90s per barrel, nearly $30 more than in August. The national average for a gallon of gas has surged to $3.44, eight cents more than a week ago.

The race to replace Conor Lamb in the House of Representatives has a new candidate today.  Republican Jeremy Shaffer on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the state’s 17th Congressional district.  Shaffer, a former Ross Township commissioner, says he’s running to preserve the American dream from attacks by members of both parties.  Conor Lamb, a Democratic, is now running for the U.S. Senate.

With the recent ice and heavy rains across the state, officials say it’s likely more potholes will soon be opening up.  They say you should be especially cautious when driving…to try not to hit the holes. If it’s unavoidable, you can check for damage that could include a bulge on a tire’s sidewall, feeling your car pulling  to one side or the other or feeling unusual vibrations in the steering, seat or floor.  PennDOT is asking you to report road and pothole issues in your area by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD or by heading to PennDOT dot gov.

The National Transportation Safety Board is finalizing its report on a deadly crash that occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike two years ago.  The NTSB held a virtual meeting today to review investigators’ findings and recommendations before drafting a final report.  The crash happened on January 5th, 2020 near Mount Pleasant Township, when a motorcoach hit an embankment causing a chain reaction that took the lives of five people and injured 49 others.  Officials did not say when the final report would be released to the public. 

Baden community members are stepping in to save a local elementary school.  Baden School Board will vote on whether to hold a public hearing this month to discuss permanently closing State Street Elementary.  Parents in the district have already begun to circulate a petition to save the school.  The school board says no final decision on the building will be made without research and community input.