The NTSB today will begin a two-day session of public hearings into February’s train derailment in East Palestine [[ PAL-ess-TEEN ]] Ohio.  Dozens of rail cars, some containing hazardous chemicals, went off the tracks in the accident on the Buckeye side of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.  Many local residents have complained of health ailments since the derailment.  The hearings, today and tomorrow, will be held at East Palestine High School.  Among those expected to testify are representatives of Norfolk Southern, East Palestine police and fire, Beaver County Emergency Services and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

TSA agents on Wednesday stopped a traveler trying to get through security with a loaded firearm.  Reports say the man was found to have a loaded 9-millimeter handgun in his carry-on yesterday morning at Pittsburgh International.  Police were called to the scene and confiscated the weapon.  The traveler is facing the potential of a federal fine as high as 15-thousand dollars.

Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania’s State House have passed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. Tuesday’s vote passed 103-to-100. If it gets final approval in the state Senate and is signed by the governor, the resulting new law will set the minimum wage at 11-dollars-per-hour for all businesses beginning in 2024. The pay rate would increase to 13-an-hour by 2025 and 15-an-hour by 2026. The bill also requires tipped wages to be 60-percent of the minimum wage.  The General Assembly hasn’t raised the minimum wage in nearly 20 years.

The State’s Fire Marshall’s Office has been called in to investigate a house fire in Mercer County.  The fire broke out at a home on Sharon Bedford Road in Shenango Township just after 2:30 yesterday afternoon.  According to the Sharon-Herald no one was hurt and damage was estimated at 30-40 thousand dollars.

Gambling revenue in Pennsylvania last month was over $479 million  That’s an increase of 7% compared to a year ago. It is also a decrease from $500 million reported in March. Slot machines are the king with people pumping $210 million into them. Online slot machine play generated $100 million. Revenue from sports wagering was a distant fourth, producing $41 million.

A Beaver County man is facing DUI charges following a fatal accident earlier this month in Rochester. The Beaver County Times is reporting 49 year old Alexander Anskate of Industry was driving his motorcycle through Rochester when he struck 40-year-old Destiny Lute along Brighton Avenue.  The Rochester woman died from her injuries. Police said Anskate’s blood alcohol was at 0.11 percent.

The House Education Committee has passed a bill that would invest in school buildings. Representative Peter Schweyer says the bill would allow school districts to apply to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for a maintenance grant for 75 percent of the cost of a project up to 5 million dollars. He says there are schools filled with mold, lead paint and asbestos and ones which don’t have access to the internet. Schweyer notes that school construction was part of the school court case in which the funding of public education in Pennsylvania was declared unconstitutional.

UPMC Children’s is on a short list of the best pediatric hospitals in the country.  U.S. News & World Report is placing the Pittsburgh facility at number eight on this year’s list.  Researchers used the results of clinical surveys that looked at statistics, patient outcomes, and care-related resources in order to determine the “honor roll” rankings.  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital knocked Boston Children’s out of the top spot for the first time in three years.

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