TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 1ST, 2022

A Mercer County man was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiring to distribute cocaine. 44 year old Harold Hooten of Hermitage pled guilty to the drug charges back in October of 2021. He will spend three years under supervised release after completing his prison sentence. Hooten was one of 25 people arrested in June of 2021 in Mercer and Lawrence Counties following a year-long investigation into the trafficking of heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

46 year old Deia Eggelston of New Castle pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Pittsburgh to her connection to a cocaine trafficking organization. Federal Authorities said Eggleston allowed, Dondi Searcy Jr., another individual in the organization, among others to use her home to manufacture and store illegal narcotics and firearms.  In addition, Eggleston assisted Searcy with a kilogram of cocaine that was arranged to have mailed from California to the home next door to Eggleston’s residence. The package was intercepted by law enforcement. Sentencing was set for June the 21st.

A boil advisory remains in effect today for all customers serviced by the Ambridge Water Authority.  An equipment failure at the water plant last week has left thousands of residents without access to clean running water at homes and businesses for days.   Officials report that repairs have been made and that the plant is once again operating at full capacity.  Two clean water samples must be taken and confirmed 24 hours apart before the boil advisory can be lifted.  That order is expected to come tomorrow.

The state Department of Transportation is arguing in favor of a new program for adding tolls to several bridges to fund bridge and road upgrades.  The plan, as talked about recently in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing  would add user fees to nine bridges across Pennsylvania, but not all of them. Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian says the bridges are called ‘candidate bridges’ because PennDOT is still waiting for environmental approval and expects all bridges to be approved by mid-August 2022 .

Drivers are again paying more at the pump than the national average as gas prices remain high across the country.  According to today’s data from Triple-A, the average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in Pennsylvania is three-dollars-and-75-cents, up two-cents from this time last week. In Lawrence County motorists are paying 3.66 a gallon while in Mercer County the average price is at 3.72.

One member of the state House wants to introduce new legislation that would separate any interests the commonwealth might have in Russia. Pennsylvania House Republican Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff says he plans to start proceedings on a measure to divest any Russian financial assets in which the state may be invested.  According to a co-sponsorship memo released Monday, Benninghoff’s legislation would divest the Commonwealth’s holdings in the state treasury and pension funds from any that are connected to the Russian government and its critical supporters.

A former Excela Health Westmoreland nurse anesthetist is accused of stealing painkillers from the hospital’s operating rooms.  State narcotics agents arrested 59-year-old Todd Hrtyanki [[ Here-tine-ski ]] Friday following an investigation by the attorney general’s office.  Officials say Hrtyanki [[ Here-tine-ski ]] admitted to taking fentanyl and hydromorphine for personal use.  Hrtyanki [[ Here-tine-ski ]] is charged with illegal acquisition of controlled substances and other charges and is free on 50-thousand dollars bond.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is urging residents to file their taxes as soon as possible to protect themselves from tax refund fraud and identity thieves.  Officials say tax filing season is a prime time for criminals to target Pennsylvanians and steal their personal information.  Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell says tax refund fraud often may involve threatening phone calls, deceptive letters sent through the mail and realistic-looking phishing emails or texts.  The Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers who self-file to electronically use the department’s state-only filing system available at mypath.pa.gov.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is seeking volunteers to adopt a highway.  PennDOT has put out the call this week for folks willing to help clear litter from along state-owned roadsides in Western Pennsylvania.  The department says that more than five-thousand groups and more than 100-thousand volunteers took part in the Adopt-A-Highway program last year.  More details are available online at www.adoptahighway.penndot.gov.