TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 15TH, 2022

The New Castle News reports a buildup of natural gas inside a home on New Castle’s East Side caused of a fire and an explosion on Sunday. The homeowners George and Cindy McNary escaped injury.  Firemen were called to the scene just before 8pm when the McNary’s reporting the blast that blew multiple windows out of their home. Fire officials said the house is uninhabitable and the Red Cross is accommodating the couple with a place to stay.

Two Republican state lawmakers are hoping to fight rising gas prices in the state with a proposal to roll back energy regulations.  State Senators Scott Hutchinson and Doug Mastriano say their bill would stabilize energy costs by offering energy providers tax incentives, new state lands for production, and exemption from some state EPA rules.  The bill would also make it so any coal or natural gas extracted from Pennsylvania can only be regulated by commonwealth authorities.  The Senators say Pennsylvania has enough resources to be largely immune from energy cost volatility. 

A federal survey Pennsylvania has exported more electricity than any other state in the country. “The Pittsburgh Business Times” relays the commonwealth exported 85 point five million megawatt hours during 2021. The U.S. Energy Information Administration also says the state also is the top generator of natural gas and nuclear energy,  as well as third in coal-fired generated energy. 

PennDOT announced slide repair work began this week on Route 588 in North Sewickly Township. The Ellwood City Ledger reports during the repairs and drainage improvements, around-the-clock closures will take place between River Road and Seventh Street through mid-May. Detours are posted.    

The number of COVID cases in Pennsylvania continues to drop every day. As of Monday, March 15th,  the state health department says there were just under 225 new cases reported on Sunday – down from 365 Sunday and nearly three times that Saturday. The statewide  positivity rate for the week ending March 10 was three point six percent,  which was a whole percent lower than the previous week’s rate.

Leaders at local hospitals are reporting fewer COVID-19 admissions.  UPMC officials say one-hundred-40 patients are hospitalized with the virus at the organization’s 40 hospitals.  Allegheny Health reports only 28 admissions at 13 facilities.  UPMC Chief Medical Officer Doctor Donald Yealy says those numbers would have been over one-thousand around two months ago.

Area residents who use Uber for transportation or to order food are going to see higher prices for the service starting this week.  The company says it will add gas surcharges to their standard fee to help drivers deal with soaring gasoline prices.  Uber says the cost will be around 55-cents per ride and 45-cents per food delivery, with 100-percent of the new surcharge going directly to drivers.  The new fee is expected to go into effect on March 16th and last at least 60 days.  

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been arrested. State police say she was taken into custody over the weekend for driving under the influence following a crash in Scranton. Authorities have not released her blood alcohol level and it was unclear if a test was done for her.  Kane, who is 55, served as the state’s attorney general for three years, until she was convicted of perjury and other crimes.

The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission has issued new regulations at its six tracks.  Officials say the measures stem from wanting to control illegal or unethical practices that have risen in recent years, such as jockeys betting on others’ horses and using drugs to enhance horses’ performances. The regulations include a new hotline where tips can be given  anonymously  to report suspected behavior.