TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR APRIL 15TH, 2022

Governor Tom Wolf continues to push for his proposed PA Opportunity Plan. It would send nearly two million dollars in direct payments to state residents and would be funded by the American Rescue Plan. Wolf said Thursday the money would go toward helping families with child care and job training and could also be used for after-school programs. He’d also like to see some of it used to enhance broadband internet access and to support transportation initiatives.

Colleges in Pittsburgh are reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases.  The CDC has now upgraded the transmission rate to “substantial” in Allegheny County after nine-hundred-six new infections were reported over the last week, compared to four-hundred-87 cases the week before.  Pitt has reported 68 new cases, a jump from the prior week’s 21.  Carnegie Mellon also reported a significant rise in cases with 55 between April 5th and April 11th.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is placing a temporary ban on poultry and egg exhibitions at fairs and other agriculture events.  The move is an effort to minimize the spread of a new outbreak of avian flu.  Cases of the illness have recently been found in commercial and backyard poultry in 26 states including Ohio.  The ban is in place for 60 day or until the department deems it safe to once again display birds.

Pennsylvania State Police seized more than $23 million in illegal substances during the first quarter of 2022. State Police announced Thursday that troopers have confiscated over 23 million dollars worth of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and other substances during the quarter. State Police also collected nearly 900 pounds of prescription medicine as part of their drug take-back program. Currently, 65 drug take-back boxes are positioned at state police stations.

The Executive Director of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League is stepping down after 16 years.  On Wednesday, WPIAL Executive Director Amy Scheuneman announced she would be leaving her position at the end of May.  Scheuneman confirmed she’s leaving the WPIAL for a new job, saying she would discuss details on that position next week.

The Board of Governors for the state’s higher education system is approving a tuition freeze for the fourth straight year.  Officials say tuition for in-state undergraduate students attending universities in the system will remain at just over 77-hundred-dollars.  The State System also announced cuts of 173-million-dollars in operating costs and a 100-million-dollar investment in student aid. 

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection will be providing just over two-million-dollars in Alternative Fuel Incentive grants this year.  Officials say the grant money is going to municipalities and businesses for close to 100 electric and clean fuel transportation projects.  Funding will go to purchase electric vehicles, charger installation, and other transportation upgrades.  The projects are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Pennsylvania by nearly 27-hundred metric tons per year. 

A state lawmaker is proposing a plan to add fees on property sales to fund volunteer fire departments.  State Representative Anita Kulik is proposing a fee of 25 dollars each for buyers and sellers with property transactions.  Kulik says the additional funds are a good way to raise money to support small emergency services agencies.  She says she hopes to introduce a bill in the Pennsylvania House sometime in May.

A 10-year-long reforestation project at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville will come to a close this month. The “Plant a Tree at Flight 93” project has endeavored to plant 150-thousand native American Chestnut trees at the site.  This year, the last of the planting will take place April 22nd and 23rd.  A total of over 42-hundred volunteers have helped plant the seedlings.