Thursday, October 21, 2021

  IF YOU SEE NEWS HAPPENING, CALL THE WJPA NEWSROOM DIRECT: (724) 222-3522

Local News

Damage & Power Outages After Tornado Warnings

Multiple tornado warnings were allowed to expire Thursday night for the Southwestern Pennsylvania area, including Washington County.  The National Weather Service has not yet confirmed whether any tornadoes actually touched down, but there were multiple reports of widespread power outages, damaged roofs and downed trees.  As of late Thursday, there were no reported injuries.  West Penn Power reported that at the height of the storm in Washington County, there were more than sixteen-hundred customers without power.  Much of the damage reported in Washington County appeared to be in the Peters Township and Canonsburg areas, close to the Allegheny County line.

Bomb Threat At Red Roof Inn

Washington County 911 has confirmed that there was a bomb threat at the Red Roof Inn on West Chestnut Street in North Franklin Township Thursday evening around six-thirty.  Multiple emergency responders were called out and several streets in the area were closed off.  Emergency dispatchers tell WJPA News that the threat appeared to be unfounded.  There were no injuries and no further details were available.

County’s COVID-19 Cases Approaching 25,000

Washington County’s COVID-19 caseload is approaching the 25,000 mark, with the addition, over the past twenty-four hours, of 170 new coronavirus infections.  The current number of COVID-19 infections in Washington County now stands at 24,995.  State health officials say there were no new deaths reported over that time period, leaving the death toll at 382.  In Allegheny County, over the same time period, there were 477 new COVID infections and 28 new deaths.  Across Pennsylvania, there were 4,998 new COVID cases and 94 new deaths.  The number of individuals hospitalized from COVID is down slightly, with 2,929 people in a healthcare facility – and out of that number – 668 are in the intensive care unit.  As COVID cases continue to climb across the state, Pennsylvania officials say seventy-one-percent of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.

Panel Upholds School Mask Order After GOP Sought Review

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The statewide mask order for Pennsylvania schools does not need to be enacted through the state’s system of passing governmental regulations, as state House Republicans had sought, a panel decided Thursday.  The Joint Committee on Documents, an obscure entity that includes of members of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, other executive branch officials and legislative leaders, voted 7-4 that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam’s Aug. 31 order did not have to be enacted as a regulation.  The committee meeting was required after the House Health Committee voted along party lines to request the review and asked the committee to take it up in a Sept. 14 letter from its Republican chair, Rep. Kathy Rapp of Warren County.  The hearing came a day after a state court heard argument in a pair of lawsuits challenging the order, including one filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican. The status of Beam’s order as a regulation is also an issue in those cases.  Opponents of leaving Beam’s order in place as it is said they were concerned about the fact that the order does not have an end date and said they doubted existing law gives Beam the authority she exercised.  The committee’s decision can be appealed to Commonwealth Court. House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, who voted to make it go through the regulatory process, said a decision about the appeal has not been made.

Wolf Announces Plan To Protect Workers & Raise Wages

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – In a stalemate with lawmakers over raising the minimum wage or requiring companies to have paid sick leave, Gov. Tom Wolf will impose those requirements on companies getting financial incentives from the state. Wolf signed an executive order requiring companies receiving incentives to pay at least $13.50 an hour, rising to $15 an hour in 2024. State contractors already must pay that amount, under a prior executive order Wolf signed in 2016. The sick pay requirement has no required time frame attached to it. The state annually budgets for tens of millions of dollars in grants, loans and tax breaks for companies that make certain promises to expand in Pennsylvania.

West Virginia Hospital Workers Threaten Strike

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) – Maintenance and service union workers at a West Virginia hospital have given notice that they intend to strike if a new contract isn’t reached soon. News outlets report the Service Employees International Union voted Wednesday in favor of giving a 10-day strike notice to Cabell Huntington Hospital. Union officials said in a statement that “workers are fighting for quality care, safe staffing, wages that allow them to provide for their families and health insurance coverage.” Cabell Huntington Human Resources Director Molly Frick says the hospital will continue “good faith negotiations in order to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

President Of West Liberty University Facing Discipline

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. (AP) – The board of a small college in West Virginia will take unspecified discipline against its president on allegations that he plagiarized some speeches. West Liberty University’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the disciplinary approach Wednesday after a vote to fire President W. Franklin Evans narrowly failed. The university says the board will meet and decide all disciplinary actions. In January Evans became the first Black president in West Liberty’s 183-year history. Evans was accused of using quotes from several sources without attributing them during several speeches. Evans apologized earlier this month in a letter to the university.

World News

House Votes To Hold Former Trump Aide In Contempt

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House voted Thursday to hold Steve Bannon, a longtime ally and aide to former President Donald Trump, in contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Now the U.S. attorney’s office must decide whether to prosecute. The congressional committee has vowed to move swiftly and forcefully to punish anyone who won’t cooperate with the probe. The vote was mostly along party lines, with almost all Republicans voting against the contempt measure. The partisan debate is emblematic of the raw tensions that are still lingering in Congress nine months after the Capitol attack.

Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Point Since Pandemic Start

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a new low point since the pandemic erupted, evidence that layoffs are declining as companies hold onto workers. The Labor Department says unemployment claims dropped 6,000 to 290,000 last week, the third straight drop. That’s the fewest people to apply for benefits since March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily from about 900,000 in January.

Big Changes In White House Ideas To Pay For $2T Plan

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The White House is floating new plans for ways to pay for President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion proposal for expanding social services and tackling climate change. The ideas include shelving a proposed big increase in corporate tax rates though also adding a new billionaires’ tax on the investment gains of the very richest Americans. The abrupt changes in suggested “pay-fors” on Wednesday came as Biden returned to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to highlight what he says are the middle class values in the plan. Democrats are racing to finish it up but Biden has faced resistance from key holdouts not on board with plans to get rid of Trump-era tax breaks to help pay for it.

Haiti Gang Leader Threatens To Kill Kidnapped Group

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that Haitian police say kidnapped 17 members of a missionary group is seen in a new video saying he will kill them if he doesn’t get what he is demanding. The video posted Thursday on social media shows Wilson Joseph dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck. He also threatens Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police while speaking in front of coffins holding several members of his gang who were recently killed. Authorities have said the gang is demanding $1 million per person in the kidnapped group, though it wasn’t immediately clear that included the five children among the 16 Americans and one Canadian.

Cargo Backlog Creates Headaches On Land & Sea

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Bottlenecks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have spilled over into a neighborhood where cargo trucks are clogging residential streets.. Last week the White House allowed the ports complex to become a 24-hour operation in an effort to break the logjam of container ships at the ports and reduce shipping delays that have interrupted the global supply chain. Since then, residents of the Wilmington area just north of the ports have complained that trucks are backed up in streets at all hours. On Tuesday, a container rolled off a truck making a turn on a narrow street, pancaking a parked car. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday issued an executive order that aims to ease the backlog.

Memorial Service Scheduled For Colin Powell

WASHINGTON (AP) – A memorial service for Colin L. Powell, the retired Army general and former secretary of state, will be held Nov. 5 at Washington National Cathedral. A spokeswoman, Peggy Cifrino, said Thursday there will be limited seating and the service will be by invitation only. Powell died Monday of complications from COVID-19 at age 84. He had been vaccinated, but a family spokeswoman said his immune system had been compromised by multiple myeloma, a blood cancer for which he had been undergoing treatment.