Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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Local News

Talks Begin On Regional Health Department

BUTLER, Pa. — (WPXI) – County commissioners feeling left out as though they didn’t get a seat at the table when the COVID-19 pandemic began are proposing creating a regional health department. They’re not happy with the decisions the state Department of Health is making in terms of COVID-19 testing and the vaccine rollout. Leaders from seven counties are talking about creating a new agency: Washington County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, Greene County, and Lawrence County. “We would be able to have more local control where we would be able to make decisions closest to the local level,” said Butler County Commissioner Kim Geyer. Washington County Commissioner Diana Vaughan kick-started the idea and organized the first formal meeting Tuesday. “The first step we decided to take as a seven-county group is to find out from the state what components the Department of Health we would be required to take under a regional umbrella,” Vaughan said. She said the group doesn’t expect to strictly adhere to everything the state department recommends, including restaurant safety or environmental issues. “The second step is each county is going back and compiling their own list of all of the issues with the state health department throughout the pandemic,” Vaughan said. The discussion is still in its very early stages. If the state replies and requires too much, Vaughan said some or all of the counties may drop out. If that happens, county leaders said they may end up taking their concerns and frustrations to state health officials.

Community Bank Plans Consolidation

Community Bank says it is planning to consolidate some of its branch offices. President and CEO John Montgomery says the consolidation plan is in response to the rapidly changing banking and financial services business. Montgomery says there will be jobs lost, but says they are unsure at this time, of the exact number. Under the consolidation plan, Southpointe will be consolidated into McMurray;  Monongahela will be consolidated into Rostraver; Pioneer will be consolidated into Waynesburg;  Perryopolis will be consolidated into Uniontown and Rostraver;  Bellaire, Ohio will be consolidated into Moundsville, West Virginia and Wellsburg, West Virginia will be consolidated into Warwood, West Virginia.   Montgomery says they hope to have the changes completed by June 30th.  Community Bank was founded in Carmichaels, Pa., but now operates out of Washington.

North Strabane Hires Two Police Officers

North Strabane Supervisors ended February by getting ready for the spring and summer paving projects and hiring two new police officers. At the beginning of the meeting supervisors looked back to 2020 and Township Manager Andrew Walz presented final budget numbers for 2020. Walz said that measures taken by the township to protect against any shortfalls paid off with all township accounts finishing 2020 in the black. Both the general fund and the capital fund finished the year with amounts in excess of $1 million dollars. Supervisors approved a paving program of $930,000 and according to Walz that number came in roughly $70,000 under budget. Two police officers were hired to fill a spot left open due to retirement and a spot open due to an officer leaving. Walz points out that one of the candidates is female and will become the second female police officer in the township.

COVID Cases In Pennsylvania Total More Than 920,000

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Wednesday that over the past twenty-four-hours, there were 2,786 new cases of the coronavirus reported, bringing the statewide total to 920,634.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.  Pennsylvania reported 76 new deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 23,787.  In licensed nursing and personal care homes, there are 66,237 resident cases of COVID-19, and 12,879 cases among employees, for a total of 79,116 at 1,566 distinct facilities in all 67 counties. Out of total deaths reported, 12,338 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. Approximately 24,531 of our total cases are among health care workers.  Washington County added 30 new infections for a total of 13,607 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19. The county’s death toll remains at 257.  Allegheny County added 250 new cases for a total of 75,500 confirmed and probable infections. The county recorded 24 new deaths, bringing their death toll to 1,652.  Greene County added 10 new coronavirus cases for a total of 2,648 confirmed and probable cases.  The county’s death toll remains at 32.  Across the United States, COVID-19 cases have now surpassed twenty-eight-point-two-million and more than five-hundred-and-two-thousand people have died.  The state has mandated that mask wearing is REQUIRED in all businesses.  Consistent mask-wearing and hand-washing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

World News

Woods Car Crash Appears To Be An Accident

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Authorities say golf star Tiger Woods car crash was purely an accident, although they are waiting to see if a black box that is included in some SUV’s can shed any light on the crash, if his vehicle was equipped with one.  Woods was seriously injured when his SUV crashed into a median and rolled over several times on a steep road in suburban Los Angeles. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center’s chief medical officer says Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in multiple locations, with additional injuries in the ankle and foot. A statement on his Twitter account says he was awake, responsive and recovering.  Authorities had to extricate Woods through the front windshield. They say he’s fortunate to be alive.  The accident left him with a shattered ankle and multiple broken bones in his leg. The injuries were repaired with rods, pins and screws.  Woods is 45 and had back surgery back in December. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of road.

GOP Against Proposed Plan For Capitol Investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) – Republican leaders in the House and Senate say a proposed plan for an independent commission to study the Capitol insurrection is overly tilted toward Democrats. They say the panel should be an even party split in the mold of a similar panel formed more than 15 years ago to study the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A draft proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would create an 11-member commission with four Republicans and seven Democrats, three of whom would be chosen by President Joe Biden. That’s according an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details, which have not yet been publicly released.

Tech Firms; Little Doubt Russia Behind Major Hack

WASHINGTON (AP) – Leading technology companies say a monthslong breach of corporate and government networks was so sophisticated, focused and labor-intensive that a nation had to be behind it and the evidence points to Russia. On Tuesday, in the first congressional hearing on the breach, representatives of technology companies involved in the response described a hack of almost breathtaking precision, ambition and scope, with the perpetrators stealthily scooping up specific emails and documents on a target list from the U.S. and at least seven other countries. It comes as the U.S. weighs punitive measures against Russia that the White House says will occur in “weeks, not months.”

DUI Charges Dropped Against Bruce Springsteen

(AP) – The government dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges against Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday stemming from an incident in November, admitting that the rocker’s blood-alcohol level was so low that it didn’t warrant the charges. Springsteen pleaded guilty to a third charge, consuming alcohol in a closed area. That references the Gateway National Recreation Area, better known as Sandy Hook, an Atlantic Ocean peninsula with views of the New York City skyline. The judge fined him $500 plus $40 in court costs.

Ten Auto Insurance Companies Face Lawsuits

LAS VEGAS (AP)- Class action lawsuits were filed in Nevada against 10 major auto insurance companies on Tuesday, contending that the companies charged excessive insurance premiums during the pandemic by failing to account for a drop in driving and crashes. The lawsuits acknowledge that some insurers provided discounts over the emptier roads and drop in accidents and claims, but the discounts did not offer “any meaningful relief that actually reflects the reduction in cars on the road and reduced driving during the pandemic.” The lawsuits were filed against State Farm, USAA, Geico, Acuity, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, Progressive, Travelers, Nationwide and Allstate.