December 28, 20225:19 am

Authorities in Beaver County are investigating a Tuesday evening shooting in Aliquippa.  The incident happened at around 6 p.m. at the Valley Terrace Apartments.  There has been no word on the condition of the victim and no suspect information has been released.

A former Seneca Valley School District employee is facing child pornography charges.  Matthew Cowan was a security guard with the district and was fired after accusations surfaced that he had sexually assaulted a teenager on school grounds last year.  Cowan is now accused of sending pornographic images of children through the Instagram and Snapchat social media apps.  He’s been charged with more than 50 varying counts including possessing child porn, disseminating child porn and criminal use of a communication facility.

Pennsylvania State Police are reporting results of their stepped-up efforts during the Christmas holiday period.  Between December 23rd and 25th, troopers reported 661 vehicle crashes in the commonwealth that resulted in seven fatalities and 113 deaths.  Thirty-six of the accidents involved alcohol and two of those crashes resulted in deaths.  Crash numbers during the period saw an increase from last year when 173 fewer accidents were reported.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan is apologizing after thousands of canceled flights left angry travelers stranded or scrambling around the country again on Tuesday.  More than 40 scheduled Southwest flights out of Pittsburgh International were canceled yesterday.  Winter storms and huge operational challenges have sent Southwest into a meltdown in recent days.  Jordan says he is in communication with the Department of Transportation which is investigating the problems.

In what’s seen as one of the largest population declines in the country, federal officials say Pennsylvania has lost 40-thousand residents over the past year. U.S. Census Bureau data shows the loss happened between July first of 2021 and July of 2022. As of July 1st, Pennsylvania has just under 13-million residents, making it the fifth most populous state. The Census Bureau says the states with the most growth are Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona. 

Pennsylvania will be increasing the state gas tax by a few cents starting January first. The tax for regular will go up to 61 cents a gallon and will increase nearly 79 cents for diesel. State lawmaker Joe D’Orsie of Manchester says he’ll introduce a measure that would cap the tax, especially since hikes in diesel fuel directly affect the price of trucking goods to consumers.  A Senate lawmaker is also calling for relief.  He wants electric vehicles to pay a mileage-based user fee as a way to offset the tax. Pennsylvania reportedly has the third-highest gas tax in the country.

A Republican lawmaker says he’ll introduce a bill that would amend the state constitution to require voters to show ID at the polls. State Senator Dan Laughlin, who is from Erie, says a state poll shows nearly three-quarters of those responding in favor of a voter ID requirement.  Amending the state constitution requires a bill to pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly before an idea is put before the voters.  Since lawmakers backed a similar bill last session, you could see the question on ballots as soon as the May primary.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas Price Report, the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is eight cents lower this week to 3.71 a gallon. In New Castle motorists are paying 3.49 while the average price is Sharon is 3.69. Gas prices are lower again this week as the national average is four cents cheaper at $3.10. This is 45 cents less than a month ago and 18 cents less than a year ago.

Support for a new sewage treatment plant in Freeport is included in next year’s federal spending bill.  The borough is getting one-point-five-million dollars through the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The majority of the project’s nearly 17-million-dollar-budget is coming from a state PennVEST grant.  The federal bill includes money earmarked for more than a dozen southwestern Pennsylvania projects.  It is awaiting a signature from President Biden.

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