According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report Gas prices are a penny lower in Western Pennsylvania this week at $3.81 a gallon. In New Castle drivers are paying 3.72 a gallon while the average price in Sharon is 3.78.  The recent increases in oil costs took a break this past week, with the price of oil falling into the upper $70’s per barrel. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose less than a nickel to hit $3.66. The national average is 22 cents more than a month ago but 46 cents less than a year ago.

Authorities in Butler County say a local teen is safe after leaving home with alleged predators he met online.  District Attorney Rich Goldinger says the 15-year-old was picked up near his Adams Township residence Friday night by two individuals from Arkansas.  The boy’s parents contacted police the next day after finding a note he left, telling them he was running away.  Investigators say the teen later became scared and contacted 911.  He was found at an Econo Lodge in a small town in Missouri.  Local police are looking into the incident with assistance from the FBI. 

A New Castle woman has been charged in connection with firing a gun outside a business on North Mercer Street on Saturday. The New Castle News reports 25 year old Bobbie Lynn Grove is charged with carrying a gun without a license, recklessly endangering other people, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. No injuries were reported.  She was arraigned and placed in the Lawrence County Jail. Bond was set at 80 thousand dollars.

Pennsylvania lawmakers have unveiled several bills relating to cannabis use. Officials say the four bills focus on de-regulation, education requirements and protections for medical cannabis users and stakeholders. Lawmakers say one of the proposals would allow clinical registrants to continue hands-on work with cannabis plants to aid research universities and state physicians. Another separate measure relays 10 lawmakers’ agreement that the federal government needs to remove cannabis from Schedule One classification. Such a bill would de-schedule cannabis for recreational use.

In Beaver County, leaders of the Shell cracker plant in Potter Township will answer questions from the public as part of a virtual community meeting tonight.  Plant leadership is expected to address concerns over flaring at the facility and a recent issue involving a strange odor.  A member of the Beaver County Emergency Response Department is also expected to take part in the forum.

State Police in Mercer County report a two vehicle accident in Springfield Township. Police said 32 year old Cody Kelly of Mercer pulled onto route 208 and struck a vehicle operated by 18 year old Emma Santom of Grove City.  Santom then struck a utility pole. Neither driver was hurt. Police arrested Kelly and charged him with DUI.

Attorneys are hearing from prospective jurors as the federal trial for accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers gets underway.  Fifteen potential panel members were questioned before the court yesterday, with motions for dismissal based on cause made for eleven of them.  The reasons for dismissal motions ranged from their stated feelings on the death penalty to their descriptions of personal hardship circumstances.  Bowers is accused of entering the Squirrel Hill neighborhood synagogue armed with multiple weapons in October of 2018, opening fire and killing eleven people.  Jury selection is slated to continue this morning.

The Ambridge Area School district has filed a federal lawsuit against Norfolk Southern related to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Ambridge joins the Blackhawk and Western Beaver school districts in Beaver County suing Norfolk Southern.  The District claims that the company was negligent and exposed it buildings and residents to a highly toxic mix of dangerous chemicals.

A state House committee has advanced a bill that  would require insurance companies to cover genetic testing and counseling for women at high risk of breast cancer.  It would also eliminate cost sharing for MRIs for those women.  The bill, sponsored by state Senator Kim Ward, has already passed the Senate.  It now goes to the full House for consideration.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is looking to take a new approach in its economic development efforts. DCED Acting Secretary Rick Siger says the state needs to be more competitive when it comes to
retaining and attracting new businesses. To do that Siger says the department needs to take a look at how it does this work. Siger says the state needs to double down on innovation, noting the state has a set of powerful assets in the innovation economy.

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