The New Castle News is reporting that 47 year old Keith Burley, formerly of Edinburg will represent himself on criminal homicide charges.  Burly is accused in the brutal stabbing of 8 year old Markie Mason.   Opening statements are schedule to take place today in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.  Burley faces life in prison if he’s convicted.  Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa is prosecuting the case for the commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Department of State will soon require counties to publicly report voting machine malfunctions. The mandate will begin with the November elections. The news organization Votebeat reports the requirements are outlined in a settlement of a lawsuit filed four years ago by various election groups. They’d sued the state after a few counties adopted new touch-screen voting machines that the groups said were flawed. The new requirements will also direct those counties to upgrade their voting system software by March of next year. 

State Police continue to investigate a fatal motorcycle crash from Saturday that killed a Hermitage man.  According to police the accident happened along Route 322 in West Fallowfield Township in Crawford County Saturday afternoon.  A vehicle pulled out into the path of a motorcycle operated by 62 year old Jed Davis.  Police said Davis was taken to UPMC Horizon where he later died.  The driver of the vehicle 80 year old Lawrence Aymar Jr., and his 77-year-old passenger Trudy Aymar, both of Pittsburgh, were hospitalized with minor injuries.

A Bronx, New York man was arrested by State Police in Mercer County on drug charges after police found 17 pounds of suspected heroin.  Police say they pulled over a car being driven by 31-year-old Jose Baez Cabrera last week on Interstate 80 in Findley Township, for excessive window tinting.  The officer conducted a search of the car and reported finding 17.6 pounds of suspected heroin concealed in a hidden compartment.  Cabrera faces a number of charges and was being held in the Mercer County Jail on 100 thousand dollars bond.

  Homeless people and veterans in Pennsylvania will be exempt from changes in SNAP eligibility that will take effect soon. The SNAP system used to be called the Food Stamp Program. Over the next year, small changes to eligibility will take effect as a result of the debt ceiling bill signed by President Biden in June. The changes mostly affect adults who don’t have dependents and those now include people over 50. The federal program requires people to prove that they are working at least 80 hours a month, are getting an education or doing a training program. Others who are now exempt include people aged 18 to 24 who have aged out of the foster care system.

–  Pennsylvania is among two-dozen states where the number of new COVID hospitalizations is going up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Commonwealth saw a nearly 24-percent increase over the past week.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is down two cents this week to 3.87 a gallon.  In New Castle the average price is at 3.69 a gallon while drivers in Sharon are paying 3.60.  The national average for a gallon of gas is up a penny over the past week to $3.86, despite lower demand and the price of oil falling several dollars per barrel.  The national average is 28 cents more than a month ago and four cents more than a year ago.

– A new gas station and convenience store is opening up on Route 228 in Cranberry Township this week.  A grand opening ceremony is planned at the new Sheetz location on Thursday.  Company officials say the event will include prizes and free coffee and soda will be available for guests all day.  They are also planning to make donations to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania in commemoration of the store launch.

The Pennsylvania Senate will reconvene next week to get back to work on the state’s 2024 budget. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman says the voting session will begin Wednesday, August 30th at 1 p.m.  The Senate was scheduled to return September 18th until the new session day was called. The House is still set to re-convene September 26th.  The nearly 45-billion-dollar budget was adopted in early July but wasn’t signed into law by Governor Josh Shapiro until early August. Legislative authorization is still needed to approve spending on about 400-million dollars in both new and previous state programs.

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