Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Local News

Washington Woman Arrested In Fatal Hit & Run

State Police say they have arrested a Washington woman on multiple charges in connection with a fatal hit and run early Wednesday morning in Canton Township.  Troopers say 40-year-old Jessica Renee Vanderlee was arraigned on charges of accidents involving death or personal injury and failing to stop and give information or render aid.  Troopers say Vanderlee was the operator of a vehicle that struck and killed nineteen-year-old Justin Gilbert of Tionesta around four o’clock on West Chestnut Street in front of the Foodland.   Authorities say Gilbert was walking in the road when he was hit,  Vanderlee’s bail has been set at 250-thousand-dollars.

Southern Beltway From Airport To I-79 Set To Open

The Southern Beltway that connects the airport to Interstate 79 at the Wash/Allegh County line will officially open October 15th.  There may be some parts of the interchange that lag behind, but the opening is set for the 15th.   The 19 mile beltway  will be a toll road and will allow traffic to flow from 79 to the airport or vice versa without having to use the parkway west. Ezpass toll for the entire length for a car will be $3.90.

‘Food Helpers’ Names New CEO

There is new leadership at the former Greater Washington County Food Bank, now known as Food Helpers. The Board of Directors has selected George Omiros as Chief Executive Officer. He takes over for Connie Burd who will officially retire at the end of the month. She had informed the board of her retirement plan back in October of last year. Omiros is described as a “nationally recognized leader with decades of philanthropic leadership experience in non-profit management. Prior to forming Omiros Philanthropic Advisors in 2019, he was Associate Vice President of Medicine and Health Science Development at the West Virginia University Foundation. He has also held leadership positions with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Search For Missing Man Intensifies

The search for a missing South Strabane Township man is intensifying.  Sandra Duncan is the sister-in-law of 65-year-old John Ruffing who was last seen around three o’clock on Saturday afternoon at his home in Windsor Highlands.  Duncan tells WJPA News that the family, along with police, have organized a Citizens Search team.   Duncan says every day that her brother-in-law is missing becomes more crucial because of his medication needs.  Duncan says he is on at least ten medications for various health issues, one of them being a blood thinner.  She says if he is off of that medication for very long, he’ll begin developing blood clots.  Ruffing, a Vietnam War veteran recently suffered a stroke and is believed to be traveling on foot, is described as being 5’9 and weighing about 200 pounds and was last seen wearing a red t-shirt with the phrase “Colonial Williamsburg,” tan shorts and black boots. Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

COVID Deaths & Infections Continue To Climb

Washington County continues to see increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.  State health officials say Washington County now has 338 COVID related deaths  and 21,768 COVID infections.  Across Pennsylvania, over the past twenty-four hours, there were 4,394 new COVID cases and 66 new deaths.  Hospitalizations are continuing to climb across the state, with more than twenty-four-hundred people hospitalized and 609 of them in intensive care.  As for vaccinations, sixty-seven-point-nine-percent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated.

Pennsylvania ‘Well Prepared’ To Deliver Booster Shots

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s top health official says the state’s network of vaccine providers is ready to deliver booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine as soon as federal authorities sign off. The state says more than 2,000 providers have COVID-19 vaccine inventory. Federal authorities are considering a recommendation to give extra vaccine doses to people aged 65 or older and those who are at heightened risk from COVID-19. Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary, Alison Beam, says the state’s providers are “well prepared to start administering booster shoots.” Beam ordered providers to offer online vaccination appointments as well as live telephone support and serve walk-ins where possible.

Natural Gas Still Has A Future In SWPA

One of western Pennsylvania’s biggest energy resources still has a future, even as the world turns to decarbonizing the environment because of global warming. Dr. Varun Rai from the University of Texas at Austin spoke via a webinar to the W&J Center For Energy Policy and Management Wednesday morning. Rai specializes in energy transformation, and says even though the ultimate global goal is to combat climate change, the use of natural gas will still be useful and important to cutting carbon emissions. Dr. Rai says the limiting of methane that emits from the natural gas production process is key to making the resource more environmentally-friendly. Rai says there are multiple decarbonization pathways that include natural gas use as the world attempts to achieve net-zero or net-negative emissions in the next three to four decades. 

World News

House OK’s Debt & Funding Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has approved legislation to fund the government, suspend its borrowing limit and provide federal disaster and refugee aid. Republicans in the Senate are expected to block the measure, however, as Congress works to avoid a federal shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The GOP senators are insisting that Democrats go it alone when it comes to suspending the nation’s borrowing limit to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. The measure includes $28.6 billion in disaster relief and $6.3 billion to support Afghanistan evacuees.

Gabby Petito Identified; Death Ruled Homicide

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) – A county coroner has confirmed that human remains found in remote northern Wyoming along the border of Grand Teton National Park are those of Gabby Petito. The 22-year-old disappeared while on a cross-country road trip with a boyfriend who is now being sought by authorities in Florida. The FBI said Tuesday that the coroner determined Petito was a homicide victim, but officials did not disclose a cause of death pending final autopsy results. Police in North Port, Florida, say investigators returned to a swampy preserve area to look for her 23-year-old boyfriend Brian Laundrie. They paused for the night and planned to resume searching Wednesday.

Officials: Haitian Migrants Being Released In U.S.

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) – U.S. officials say many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town are being released in the United States, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that Haitians who enter the country illegally face immediate expulsion. One official says Haitians have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days, many of them with notices to appear at an immigration office. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press. The releases come despite a massive effort to expel Haitians on flights to Haiti under pandemic-related authority that denies migrants an opportunity to seek asylum.

‘Dose Of Hope’; Biden Pushes Vaccine Sharing

President Joe Biden is pushing well-off nations to do more to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control around the world as world leaders and health experts sound the alarm about the slow pace of global vaccinations. Biden is convening a virtual vaccine summit on Wednesday, timed to coincide with this week’s U.N. General Assembly. He wants more nations to follow the lead of the U.S., which has donated more doses than any other. But even the American response has come under criticism for being too modest. Biden is expected to announce additional U.S. commitments at the summit.

Arizona Republican Resigns After Recording Released

PHOENIX (AP) – A Republican official in Arizona resigned Tuesday from the board overseeing Maricopa County after a recording emerged of him criticizing his GOP colleagues in a meeting with activists demanding an audit of the 2020 election. During the meeting recorded surreptitiously last March, Supervisor Steve Chucri suggested two fellow Republican county supervisors opposed an audit because they nearly lost their own races. Chucri apologized in a statement announcing his resignation and said he shouldn’t have made the comments, adding “the political landscape has changed for the worst this year.”