Washington Building Ruled Uninhabitable
The building containing apartments 149 and 149 1/2 Hall Avenue was ruled "unfit for human inhabitation" by Washington city officials on Friday. The building was owned by Mark Russo, who also owned the building that collapsed on North Main Street, and his sister, Melissa. The reasons for such notice include "foundation/outer wall unsafe," "plumbing system hazard," "interior structure unsafe," and "mechanical appliances inop" among additional violations. This is the second time in a week that a property owned by Russo was deemed "unfit for human inhabitation," which also includes the apartment complex on 350 Duncan Avenue, which was deemed "unfit for human inhabitation" on Wednesday.
One Hospitalized In "Shots Fired" Incident
Washington County 911 has confirmed that a female has been hospitalized after an incident involving gunshots occurred on Fayette Street in Washington. The altercation occurred around 1:30 Friday afternoon. WJPA will have updates as soon as they are available.
County Hotel Tax Increase Coming
Washington County Commissioners are joining other surrounding counties and moving forward with a two-percent increase in the hotel occupancy tax. Commission chairman Larry Maggi says it's an important move in light of decreased state funding. He points out the fee is paid by out-of-town visitors and not local residents. A three-percent hotel tax has been levied since 2001. Maggi says Commissioners will vote on the increase to five-percent August 17 and it will take effect 60-days later.
A Working Weekend For House Members
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is scheduled to return to session this weekend, amid a three-week stalemate with the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf over how to resolve state government's deficit. House Republican aides said Thursday that votes could be held on a revenue package that leans heavily on borrowing and tapping off-budget programs. Wolf views a tax increase as necessary to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating. House Speaker Mike Turzai opposes a tax increase, amid other disagreements. Wolf last week let a nearly $32 billion budget bill become law without his signature, even though budget negotiators say it is about $1.5 billion out of balance. Held up in the Legislature is $600 million in aid to Penn State, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and Penn.
Midway Man Accused Of Rape
25-year-old Justin Richards, of Midway, was arrested early Friday morning after being accused of choking and raping a woman on the Fourth of July. The woman, who was intoxicated, was invited to Richards' home and had consensual sex with him. After she told him to stop, Richards forced himself on her, and that was then he allegedly grabbed her by her necklace and pulled it around her throat, punched her in the back of the head several times, and choked her with his hands until she could not breathe. The woman showed police bruises she suffered on her throat and leg, and she also had hemorrhages on her face and eyes. Richards is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on August 10.
PSU Board Votes New Chair, Approves Tuition Increase
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (AP) - A real estate company president is the new chairman of Penn State's board, which also is hitting incoming students with higher tuition rates for the coming school year. The board of trustees voted 21 to 12 on Friday to elect Mark Dambly as chairman. He's currently vice chair and has been a trustee since 2010. The new tuition rates vary, but the average in-state tuition will rise 2.45 percent. In-state students who want to live on campus in State College for their freshman year will see an increase of 2.74 percent. Dambly is president of Pennrose Properties in Philadelphia. The new vice chairman is Matthew Schuyler, the chief human resources officer for Hilton Worldwide. The board met in Middletown, Pennsylvania, on the campus of Penn State Harrisburg.
Sessions Talks 'Sanctuary Cities' In Philly
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing the federal fight over so-called sanctuary cities to Philadelphia. Sessions on Friday will visit the city that has said its local law enforcement will not act as immigration agents - a stance Sessions has challenged as unconstitutional. A federal judge last week said he's not likely to reinstate President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. Sessions recently singled out Philadelphia in speaking with law enforcement officials in Las Vegas, saying the city is "advertising" its policy and "protecting criminals." Sessions' trip comes on the heels of a New York Times interview published this week in which Trump expressed frustration with Sessions for recusing himself from the FBI probe into Russian election tampering.
Secretary Sean Spicer Resigns
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House press secretary Sean Spicer is resigning his position, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. One of those people said Spicer is quitting because of objections over the appointment of a new White House communications director, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci. The people with knowledge of the decision insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter publicly.
Travel To North Korea to be Banned
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. officials say the Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of university student Otto Warmbier, who passed away after falling into a coma into a North Korean prison. The officials said Friday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had determined to implement a "geographical travel restriction" for North Korea, which would make the use of U.S. passports to enter the country illegal. They said the restriction would go into effect 30 days after a notice is published in the Federal Register, but it was not immediately clear when that would be. There was no announcement in Friday's editions of the government publication. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision before it is announced and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Vote On Health Care Bill Could Come Early Next Week
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican leaders say they're pushing toward a Senate vote next Tuesday on resurrecting their troubled health care bill. But they still face an uphill battle for their top-flight legislative priority because of unhappy GOP senators. And now they face two new complications. The possible absence of ailing Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain means the measure would fail if just two GOP senators vote against it. More than that have already publicly threatened to do so. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says a revised GOP bill would produce 22 million added uninsured people by 2026. That's a huge number that helped scare away Republican support for an initial version of the legislation. The bill would repeal much of President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.
Israeli Minister: Palestinians Must Ask For Calm
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's deputy minister for public diplomacy says Palestinian leaders must call for calm as tensions soar over security measures at a major Jerusalem shrine. Michael Oren, who works in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke a day after a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis to death in their home and three Palestinians were killed during clashes over metal detectors Israel set at the entrance to the shrine following a deadly Palestinian attack there. Oren said Saturday that the Islamic militant Hamas and other groups are exploiting the tensions to incite to violence. He said their claims that Israel is changing the delicate arrangement at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews, are "emphatically untrue." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he is freezing ties with Israel until the devices are removed. Oren said Abbas' declaration may serve a political need but it "cuts off the limb on which he sits."
Two Tourists Killed In Earthquake
KOS, Greece (AP) - A powerful earthquake shook resorts in Greece and Turkey, killing two tourists in the Greek island of Kos and injuring nearly 500 other people across the Aegean Sea region. The U.S. Geological survey measured the quake as magnitude 6.7, with Greek and Turkish estimates a fraction lower. Only a few miles apart, Kos and the Turkish resort of Bodrum were hit hours before dawn by the shallow undersea quake that caused a two-foot (0.6-meter) sea swell and havoc among residents and vacationers.
Republicans embrace tax hikes targeting Democratic states
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans aren't usually big on raising taxes, but they are really eager to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Why? A look at the states that benefit the most from the tax break helps explain it - they are all Democratic strongholds. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and California top the list of states that benefit the most. Not a single Republican-leaning state ranks in the top 10. Proposals by House GOP leaders and President Donald Trump would repeal the tax break as part of their package to overhaul the U.S. tax code. They are getting a lot of pushback from Republican lawmakers in Democratic-controlled states. The standoff illustrates how hard it is for Congress to eliminate any popular tax break.