East Palestine Ohio was paid a visit Thursday by the CEO of Norfolk Southern.  It was on Norfolk Southern’s railway where a train derailed last month in the Columbiana County community with a number of cars containing hazardous chemicals.  Clean-up in the area continues as a number of local residents are complaining of things like rashes and headaches.  CEO Alan Shaw promised to continue standing with the community in the days and years to come.  Shaw also used the opportunity to point to EPA findings that show air and water in East Palestine to be uncontaminated.

Beaver County residents are getting the opportunity to speak with officials involved in the recovery efforts following the East Palestine train derailment.  Property owners were invited to speak with agencies and planners working on the toxic spill clean up yesterday.  Beaver County Emergency Services Director Eric Brewer says many in the state feel left out of the processes taken to address the crash and chemical release so far.  He says that’s why the information fair held yesterday was for Pennsylvania residents only, giving them a chance to share their specific concerns.

An Aliquippa woman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges of bank fraud and conspiracy.  44 year old Lee Ann Benninghoff owned and operated Complete Escrow and Bella Casa Realty. From February 2014 through March 2017, Benninghoff used her position and connections in real estate financing, and conspired with others in the industry, to submit fraudulent gift letters in support of mortgage loan applications . The gift letters misrepresented the source of the funds and their purported purpose. Sentencing is set for July 12th.  Benninghoff faces not more than 30 years in prison and a fine not more than  one million dollars, or both.

Police are investigating after a Butler mall security guard was dragged by a vehicle Wednesday.  The guard was attempting to stop suspects who had taken items from an Easter display at Clearview Mall.  He began chasing the suspects who fled to a pickup truck.  When he tried to open one of the truck doors, he ended up being dragged for a quarter of a mile while the truck was moving at 35-miles-per-hour.  The investigation is ongoing by State police.  The security guard did not sustain any injuries.

Governor Josh Shapiro is proposing giving new teachers tax breaks of up to 25-hundred dollars. Speaking in Philadelphia Wednesday, he says the incentive will help draw more professionals to fill what’s seen as a dire need for teachers in the state.  The governor also said that Republican leaders have indicated they won’t appeal a recent state court decision, which found that Pennsylvania’s school funding formula is unconstitutional.

A review of state records shows anxiety disorders are the leading reason Pennsylvanians get a medical marijuana card. Spotlight PA’s analysis of more than a million certification records shows doctors created more than 385-thousand medical marijuana certifications in 2021 and anxiety disorders were a factor in 60 percent of them. For now, state doctors are the only ones who can determine who can legally use marijuana – it’s not legal yet in Pennsylvania for recreational use.

A state Senate bill to allow certain SUV drivers to take their doors off their vehicles is closer to becoming a law. Senate Bill 298 by Senator Devlin Robinson passed in the Senate Tuesday. Similar proposals for allowing doorless driving for vehicles like Jeeps and Broncos have become law in all other states. Those laws still require drivers to have side view mirrors and seatbelt protections, however. Currently, it is illegal to drive without doors on Pennsylvania roads, except for off-roading. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. 

Vice President Kamala Harris has returned to the Senate to cast deciding votes at least three times this week.  The vice president’s tiebreakers were related to judicial appointments. Her serving as president pro temp was needed due to the on-going absence of both Senators John Fetterman from Pennsylvania and Dianne Feinstein from California. Fetterman, who is still recovering from a stroke last year, was hospitalized two weeks ago for clinical depression and may be absent for several weeks. The 94-year-old Feinstein had been hospitalized with shingles. 

 Dairy groups in Pennsylvania are upset about a federal plan to reduce milk benefits in a federal nutrition program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it plans to reduce the amount of milk covered in its WIC programs down to 71 percent of the daily recommended amount.  Under the proposed rules, mothers would receive four gallons a month, down from nearly six gallons. Children would also get up to a gallon less than they now receive now. The USDA officials say they’ll proceed one way or another on the proposals after reviewing more than 15-thousand public comments, which they finished accepting last month.

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