A Mercer County man indicted on charges that he threatened the lives of FBI agents in a series of social media posts has pleaded guilty to federal charges. 47 year old  Adam Bies’ threats were made last year in response to agents executing a search warrant on the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump.  Bies pleaded guilty this week to 14 counts including making interstate threats.  He could receive up to 10 years in prison at sentencing this fall. 

  PennDOT officials say they’re now accepting options other than a Social Security card when residents need to get a Real ID. Those new options announced Wednesday include presenting a W-2 form, an SSA-1099 form, a non-SSA-1099 form or a pay stub with the applicant’s name and full Social Security number on it. A so-called Real ID is needed to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

An air quality alert is in effect for Western Pennsylvania again today.  The state EPA has declared a Code Orange Action Day due to the lingering smoke from Canadian wildfires that has spread across much of the northeastern U.S.  Air-now-dot-gov predicts an air quality index that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups in the area today.  Those groups include young children who are active outdoors, the elderly, and anyone who suffers from a chronic respiratory condition.  A shifting weather pattern early next week will likely move particulate matter out of the area and bring some needed rain.

An advocacy group is calling for changes at the Shell Cracker Plant in Monaca.  Around 50 people who are part of the Shell Accountability Campaign held a rally in opposition to the plant at Irvine Park in Beaver yesterday.  The group also presented a petition to Beaver County commissioners, demanding that the corporation make various safety and environmental improvements.  Officials with Shell have not publicly responded to the demonstration.

A Pride Month mass that was planned at the Duquesne University chapel is now cancelled.  Organizers called off the gathering due to pressure from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.  Bishop David Zubik contacted the university’s president to ask that it be cancelled, saying the diocese has received hundreds of messages from people who were opposed to the service, including some threats.  The group Catholics for Change in our Church put plans together for the Pride Month mass, saying it was intended to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

The number of Pennsylvanians worried about getting hooked on gambling is growing.
The state has just signed up the 20,000th person who wants to be excluded from gambling.

Twelve-thousand men and 7,000 women are on the list.  Over 4,000, or 20%, have chosen a lifetime ban. There are bans that last one year or five years.  The casino self-exclusion program has been around since 2006. Casinos must refuse their wagers, but if they sneak through and place a bet, it could lead to criminal charges and having any winnings confiscated.

A principle in Butler County who is facing charges after state troopers say he knew about child sexual abuse and did not report it is retiring.  The principle, 50-year-old Gregory Mandalas, works at Knoch Primary School in the Knoch School District.  Officials say the abuse has nothing to do with a student in one of the district’s schools but instead is related to his 19-year-old son allegedly sexually abusing a six-year-old girl.  Under state law, being a principle means Mandalas is a mandated reporter and he broke the law by not reporting the abuse.  The abused child’s parents allege they reached out to Mandalas several times about the abuse and he never reported it.  The Knock School District School Board voted last night to approve the retirement of Mandalas.  He is due in court on June 27th.

Agriculture and environmental officials from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the federal government are checking up on farms near the East Palestine train derailment site.  EPA and other agency representatives travelled to food production operations in the area yesterday to speak with farmers about their experiences since February’s toxic chemical release.  Rachel Wagoner with Tall Pines Farms, in Darlington Township, says she sells pasture-raised beef and lamb directly to consumers, so she has fielded a lot of questions about whether her products remain safe.  She is requesting resources for farmers like herself who may experience future problems. EPA officials say they have not found any concerning results during ongoing soil testing and are continuing to monitor.

A Pennsylvania House committee recently approved a new package of anti-blight bills. The Housing and Community Development panel approved five bills last week to advance the measures. They now go to the floor for a vote. Over the past 15 years, state lawmakers have added many laws to the books to help local officials fight blight and to redevelop or demolish deteriorated areas. An informal bipartisan coalition in both chambers has tackled many issues including foreclosure procedures and dealing with absentee landlords. 

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