TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JULY 1ST, 2022

Lawmakers in Harrisburg have not been able to reach a decision on a state budget before Thursday’s deadline.  State officials say the budget talks have been deadlocked on several spending issues, most notably on the amount of new aid to be spent on public schools. Without new budget legislation signed into law by Friday, the state will lose the authority to make some payments. However, officials say the impasse can last several weeks before any effect on services is felt.

An Ellwood City man was sentenced earlier this week to 18-36 months in state prison, for two child pornography charges. The Ellwood City Ledger reports 37 year old Cecil E. Roof Jr. was sentenced at the Lawrence County Courthouse. He previously pled guilty in March to two out of 50 counts of child pornography. Police found dozens of images of child pornography on a cell phone belonging to Roof.  He was also sentenced to one year of probation following his release from prison and to be registered as a sexual offender for 15 years.

Some residents in Beaver County are reporting incorrect information in property value reassessment mailers they have been receiving.  County officials contracted with Tyler Technologies to conduct the property surveys after losing a lawsuit from a developer in 2016.  A spokesperson with Tyler says the recent mailers are not official assessment results, and property owners are asked to make corrections and submit them back to the company for processing.  County Commission Chair Daniel Camp says a campaign will be launched to help property owners understand values and make corrections prior to taxes being affected in 2024.

A plan to add tolls to bridges on nine major Pennsylvania interstates has come to a halt. A state court on Thursday said PennDOT and state officials did not properly follow the law to establish the controversial plan. Judge Ellen Ceisler of the Commonwealth Court wrote in her decision that officials didn’t consult with potentially affected cities before they approved adding tolling to all state bridges, and not just a set list.

The federal judge overseeing the trial of the accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter wants the trial to begin as early as next spring.  Judge Robert Colville instructed the defense team for Robert Bowers and federal prosecutors to prepare to discuss a trial date during their next meeting.  Bowers is accused of murdering 11 people at the synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood back in 2018.  If convicted of federal hate crimes, Bowers faces the death penalty. 

A bill to simplify hiring police officers for Pennsylvania’s college campuses has passed through state House of Representatives. House Bill 1988 would allow a campus officer to be immediately employed by a state campus police force rather than having to go through the long process of getting a commission from the governor via the state Department of Education. The bill would also let  state campus police officers wear body cameras.  It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

A Westmoreland County man will serve at least 10 years in prison after being convicted of raping a child.  Forty-two-year-old Ted Brown of Hempfield Township was sentenced after pleading guilty Thursday to two counts of felony rape for crimes that prosecutors say began in 2015 and continued for six years.  In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped eight other charges.

Prosecutors have filed DUI charges against a Uniontown state representative who they say was responsible for a vehicle accident last month in Fayette County.  Reports say that Republican Matthew Dowling had a blood-alcohol level that was well over the legal limit when he rear-ended another vehicle twice in South Union Township.  No injuries were reported.  Dowling later released a statement saying that he would be seeking treatment for alcohol abuse.