Authorities had their hands full Monday dealing with bombs threats made against schools in Washington County and, separately, the Beaver Valley Mall.  Both threats were investigated and no explosives were found.  The FBI’s Pittsburgh office released a statement saying that they are assisting in the investigation of the threats as needed and that they urge the public to remain vigilant and to report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.

  Majority control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will again come down to a special election. The balloting  today in Allegheny County pits a former Democratic congressional staffer against the daughter of two local officials who were politically active. Democrat Lindsay Powell, who is 32, and Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith, who is 65, are facing off for the 21st District House seat. The voting tomorrow comes one week before the House will return to floor sessions in Harrisburg.

State Police in Butler County report a two vehicle crash in Connoquenessing Township.  According to police 53 year old John Heck of Renfrew failed to stop at the intersection of Evans City Road and Eagle Mills road and struck a vehicle driven by 50 year old Robert Craig of Karns City.  Heck was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.  Craig was transported to Butler Memorial Hospital for treatment.

U.S. Attorney Eric Olshan announced a Sharon man has been convicted on drug and gun charges.  38 year old Raymond Briskey was convicted of committing cocaine and crack trafficking and firearm crimes in October of 2021.  The Mercer County Drug Task Force, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General along with the FBI and ATF assisted in the investigation.  Sentencing has been scheduled for April 18 of 2024.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is up six cents this week to 3.89 a gallon.  In New Castle 3.73 a gallon while motorists in Sharon are paying 3.80.  The national average for a gallon of gas rose by a nickel since last week to hit $3.88. The primary reason is the surge in oil costs, which have jumped several dollars to hover around $90 per barrel. Today’s national average is a penny higher than a month ago and 21 cents more than a year ago.  

A couple of school districts in Butler County say they are having trouble filling open paraprofessional positions.  Butler Area Schools Superintendent Brian White says they need to find more teacher’s assistants and aides.  Administrators with Seneca Valley Schools are looking for around 30 workers to help students in the cafeteria, in tech labs, and to assist school nurses.  Both districts say they have posted the open jobs.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey has asked the Department of Education to restore federal funding for hunter safety and archery courses in schools. The plea came in a letter sent by Casey and a group of bipartisan lawmakers, as well as a separate one sent with Senator John Fetterman.  Senator Casey says he’s trying to restore funding that was taken out of the federal schools budget after what he calls “misinterpreted language” in the Safer Communities Act. That measure was signed into law after mass school shootings in Texas and New York.  Casey says hunting is a way of life in Pennsylvania and learning to do hunt safely is crucial for young people. 

The former CEO of Automated Health Systems is spending months behind bars over a tax fraud scheme involving his Bell Acres mansion.  A federal judge has sentenced Joseph Nocito to one year and one day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  Investigators say Nocito falsely filed millions of dollars worth of personal expenses as tax-deductible business payouts, including some of the costs involved in building the 30-million-dollar, 51-thousand-square-foot home he called “Villa Nocci”.  In addition to the prison time, he is ordered to pay nearly 16-million dollars in restitution.

A Butler man was flown to a Pittsburgh Hospital following a motorcycle accident in Washington Township. State Police report 56 year old Larry Dittmer was traveling at a high rate of speed on route 38 and struck a vehicle operated by 26 year old Samantha Snyder of Hillards.  Dittmer was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital with serious injuries.  Snyder was not hurt.

Norfolk Southern is revealing details of a plan to compensate Ohio residents whose properties have lost value due to a February derailment.   A train carrying hazardous materials derailed in the community of East Palestine  [[  PAL ESS TEEN  ]]  not far from the Buckeye State’s border with Pennsylvania.  The rail company says they will compensate homeowners in East Palestine and the surrounding area for the difference between the appraised market value of their homes and the homes’ eventual sale price. 

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