Archives for July 2017


More than 500 cases of Pennsylvania offenders sentenced to life wtihout parole for crimes committed as juveniles are now cases being revisited because of a pair of Supreme Court rulings. Pennsylvania lead the nation in those serving mandatory no-release sentences for crimes committed as minors. After the Supreme Court barred such sentences for juveniles in 2012, Pennsylvania officials argued that didnt apply to those already in prison. Then last year, the nation’s hightest court said the band must be applied retroactively, triggering new sentencing hearings and parole for inmates across the country. Of the over 100 inmates in the state, so far 58 have been released while five have been denied parole. The inmates now in their 50s and 60s are being prepared for a return to s world very differenet from the one they left behind. John Wetzel, the secretary of corrections says “one of the things that akes it a mmore challenging group is they came in as children.”


A man who was seen fleeing the scene of a fatal shooting at a public housing complex in McKees Rocks is still at large. That shooting happened Saturday evening at the Uansa Village housing complex in McKees Rocks. 22-year-old Stephon Jeffrey was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was rushed to a local hospital where he later died. Witnesses tell police, that they saw a male fleeing on foot, immediately after the shots were fired. Now, Police are asking anyone who saw or heard anything to contact them. The investigation is ongoing [this morning / today].


The latest on the Pennsylvania Senate’s consideration of a plan to close a $2.2 billion dollar budget gap has gas drillers denouncing legislation that would impose a severance tax on natural gas production, while environmental advocates assert the bill “emasculates” state regularos who oversee the industry. The Senate approved a plan to balance the $32 billion dollar state budget that includes the severance tax expected to generage about $100-million per year as well as a new tax on consumers natural gas bills. The Marcellus Shale Coalition industry group says the taxes will “erode the commonwealth’s copetittive advantage and cost jobs.


The Pennsylvania Senate is returning to the Capitol to see if it can devise a plan for plugging a $2 billion hole in the state budget, which took effect July 1. House Republicans tried but failed last week to come up with a proposed solution. Now the Republican-controlled Senate is hoping to do better during two days in Harrisburg, starting today. Governor Tom Wolf allowed the $32 billion budget to take effect without his signature. The governor has said he could support borrowing, if it’s accompanied by enough recurring tax revenue to put the state on a path to fiscal solvency. A variety of proposals for increasing tax revenues have been discussed.

Mattel in PA

A major toy manufacturer plans to hire about 400 new workers to staff a new distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania. Mattel has opened the 1 million-square-foot center in the Gateway Logistics Park area of Jonestown. The company will package popular toys including Barbie and Hot Wheels brands at the center, which will also handle Mega Brands and, eventually, Fisher-Price. It will be Mattel’s East Coast hub because it’s centrally located to most customers in that region. Mattel is headquartered in El Segundo, California.


According to auditors, Pennsylvania state government is not measuring the effectiveness of many of its addiction treatment programs that can be helpful in the fight against the epidemic of heroin annd prescription drug overdoses. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recommends that three state agencies do more to assess whether their programs are working to help cure people. Those three are Human Services, Corrections, and Drug and Alcohol Programs.


The father of a Penn State student who died of injuries suffered during a fraternity pledge night is upset over the pace of a pre-trial hearing for students charged in connection with his son’s death. Jim Piazza says in a statement released Tuesday he hasn’t seen much evidence of remorse from defendants in the courtroom. He’s urging the defendants’ parents to pressure their sons to “come forward with everything they have that is helpful.”
Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey, was fatally injured at a February party at a Beta Theta Pi event. The defendants are accused of charges that include, for some, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Their lawyers have been cross-examining the lead detective in the case.


Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol for another session day, but without an agreement to fully fund the $32 billion budget bill they passed nearly two weeks ago and with the threat of a credit downgrade looming to the state’s bruised credit rating. The budget bill became law Today, even though it is badly out of balance. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf declined to veto the bill as he presses the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve a tax package big enough to avoid a credit downgrade. Today’s session could be a sidelight to negotiations to hammer out a $2 billion-plus revenue plan that budget negotiators say is necessary to plug a hole in the state’s finances.


Today is day two of a preliminary hearing in the case of a Penn State fraternity and 18 members who face charges in connection with the February death of pledge Timothy Piazza after a night of drnking. At a ten hour proceeding last month, a detective in the case was the lone witness. Some of the members of the now closed Beta Theta Pi franternity are accused of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault while others face less serious allegations. A judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to send the case to couny court for trial.


A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows Blair County pharmacies arent signing off on as many opioid prescriptions as in past years. However patients are still prescribed more of these drugs than in much of the rest of the country. The study, from 2010 to 2015 shows doctors in Blair, Cambria, and Centre counties prescribed fewer opioids then in the past. CDC officials say prescription numbers hit there high in 2010 and leveled off each year since.