TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 22ND, 2022

The driver of a pickup truck involved in a deadly Monday morning accident in Beaver County has been charged in the case.  Twenty-nine-year-old motorcyclist Jacob Watts of Beaver Falls was traveling north on State Route 18 in Koppel when the driver 51 year old Michelle Stevens of New Castle was heading south on 18 and turned in front of him.  Watts hit the truck and suffered fatal injuries.  State police say Stevens did not have proper clearance for the turn. 

A bill has been introduced in the state senate that would cut Pennsylvania’s gas tax. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman’s measure is called the Consumer Gas Prices Relief Act. It would cut the state’s gas tax by one-third through the end of the year.  The funds would be made up for with federal funds and a bond issue to make sure important infrastructure projects aren’t put on hold because of the gas tax cut.

Police in Sharon are investigating a shooting from Sunday. WFMJ-TV reports 26 year old Jarrett Samuels was arrested and arraigned on Aggravated Assault charges Monday morning in connection with the shooting. Samuels remains in the Mercer County Jail on a $75,000 bond. The shooting took place 200 block of Mesabi Street near the Shenango Valley Freeway. A 26 year old was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Cases from previously known variants of COVID-19 are finally beginning to decrease, but cases of a new type are beginning to be seen.  Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health say the stealth omicron variant is currently accounting for 20 percent of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania.  The other 80 percent are cases of the omicron variant. The subvariant has been present in the United States for a couple of months.

Governor Wolf is praising the work of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which Monday approved rule changes regarding charter schools.  The Wolf administration says the approved regulations set minimum requirements for information required in a charter school application. They also require charter schools to post their non-discriminatory enrollment and student selection policies. Currently, there are 179 charter schools in Pennsylvania that receive nearly three-billion dollars in taxpayer funding. 

Two Democrats hoping to become their party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate race this November are announcing they will meet to debate on April 21st.  The one-hour debate will be held at 8 p.m. in Harrisburg and feature all candidates on the ballot who meet eligibility criteria of five-percent support from a nonpartisan poll.  Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Congressman Conor Lamb have both confirmed they will attend the debate.  Topics expected to be discussed at the debate include infrastructure, the economy, foreign policy, and issues directly impacting Pennsylvanians.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission on Monday has given its approval to minimum wage regulations. The measures would change rules about how employers pay tipped workers and ensure that salaried employees with fluctuating schedules are appropriately paid for OT. The next step would be further approval from the Office of Attorney General (OAG) and once approved there, could become effective 90 days afterward.

The State Treasury says it will auction off unclaimed property sitting in its vault this week including valuable items like Rolex watches and a one-ounce gold bar.  Officials say the auction will be held on March 23rd and 24th through the Pook and Pook Incorporated auction site online at Pook-and-Pook-dot-com. The PA Treasury has around four-billion-dollars in unclaimed property which can be claimed by its rightful owners by visiting PA-Treasury-dot-gov.

The Butler County Sheriff’s office is making a donation to help protect troops in Ukraine.  Sheriff Mike Slupe has sent 43 bullet-resistant vests to people fighting with Russian forces.  Williamsport FOP Lodge 29 was organizing efforts to collect protective vests.  Commissioners in Butler County approved the donation of the equipment.