The National Transportation Safety Board says that this month’s train derailment in East Palestine Ohio was 100-percent preventable.  Those words came yesterday from NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy as the board released its preliminary report on the February incident that saw 38 rail cars, some loaded with dangerous chemicals, go off the tracks near the Ohio – Pennsylvania border.  According to the report, surveillance video from a local residence showed what appeared to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.

A former Jackson Township official has been sentenced to prison on embezzlement charges. 73 year old Linda Baun who now lives in Florida, was sentenced to 100 days in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, plus restitution of $150,000.  Baun was formerly employed as the Secretary/Treasurer for Jackson Township, in Mercer County. Between 2011 and 2019, she embezzled at least $150,000 from the Township by making unauthorized ATM withdrawals and by charging personal purchases on Amazon to the Township’s debit card.

In a visit to East Palestine Ohio on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg saluted the people of the community for their handling of the events surrounding this month’s train derailment.  Thirty-eighty cars, some containing hazardous chemicals, jumped the tracks in the Ohio community not far from the Beaver County line.  Buttigieg says the resilience, the resolve and the decency of the community as they have gone through both this disaster’s immediate impact and the swirl of national and international and political attention that’s come their way have been inspiring.

Members of Governor Josh Shapiro’s administration say the governor hasn’t violated his own gift ban. The fact that he and his top staff attended the Super Bowl as guests of a nonprofit has received scrutiny. The new policy says executive branch employees aren’t allowed to accept tickets from any “person or entity” that deals financially with the state.  Abby Smith of Team Pennsylvania tells Spotlight PA her group isn’t covered by the ban because it does not recommend policy.  The administration awarded the organization a new contract worth 100-thousand-dollars i to conduct a study on how to incorporate hydrogen technology into Pennsylvania’s energy system.  

A state lawmaker says she’ll introduce a measure soon that would require coaches to become CPR certified and to learn how to use a defibrillator.  Senator Katie Muth says the proposal would also apply to people who supervise after-school activities.  She says she knows some districts are concerned about the costs to pay for certification, but that she also believes those wouldn’t outweigh the benefit of helping someone in an emergency.  Walker leads the Peyton Walker Foundation, which is named after her daughter who lost her life after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. 

The Mohawk and Wilmington Area School Districts were awarded state grants that will help upgrade their facilities to continue to provide food service to students.  State Representative Marla Brown said the grants were awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The department awarded more than $2.7 million in competitive grants to 130 elementary, middle and high schools across the state for the purchase of new food service equipment for cafeterias. Funding for the grants is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The state has boosted the amount of funding farmers could receive in this cycle of Pennsylvania Farm Bill grants. The state agriculture secretary says the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center has boosted the amount of funds this round because there wasn’t enough money to fill the need during the previous cycle.  The grants can be used to fund planning to expand, diversify, or transition ownership of farms. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the nearly 53-thousand farmers in the state are eligible for up to 75-hundred dollars. The money can be used to cover up to 75 percent of planning costs.

A number of Pittsburgh groups looking to end gun violence are launching a citizen-led initiative.  Members of the Coalition Against Violence and the Black Political Empowerment Project held their first Community Peace Summit last night.  Organizers say the intention of the monthly gatherings is to give neighborhoods and families the opportunity to get to the root causes behind the ongoing conflicts. 

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