Archives for May 2019

Blair County Man Fleeing Police Dies in Rain-Swolllen River

A man fleeing police has died after jumping into a rain-swollen river. Police responded to a report of a domestic dispute in Blair County on Wednesday when they say 37-year-old Jeremy Ross fled the scene clad only in boxer shorts. Officers pursued Ross on foot when they say he jumped into the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. Police attempted to rescue Ross, but he refused to surrender.
His body was recovered hours later.

Powerful PA Storms

Storm-driven floodwaters inundated parts of western Pennsylvania, sending torrents down the streets of one town and requiring several people to be helped by swiftwater rescue specialists. Zelienople (ZEE-lee-uh-no-pul) officials told drivers to avoid several streets because of severe flooding in the town about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. A powerful front that raked across the state late Tuesday brought high winds that scattered debris, downed trees and took out power lines.

State Ruling Still to Come

The state’s highest court has deferred a ruling on the scheduled expiration date of a business relationship between two major health care providers in western Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in a 4-3 vote that Commonwealth Court has the authority to schedule arguments and decide when the consent decree involving UPMC and Highmark Health should expire. Attorney General Josh Shapiro had sought to delay the June 30 end of the agreement after a Commonwealth Court judge ruled that he lacked authority to do that. The companies in 2014 signed a five-year consent decree that kept in-network rates for Highmark customers in the Pittsburgh area and Erie.

World’s Oldest Roller Coaster Reopens in Altoona

Memorial Day weekend brought the reopening of the world’s oldest roller coaster still in operation. Leap The Dips was built in 1902 at Altoona’s Lakemont Park. It was in continuous operation until the 1980s, and was refurbished and reopened in the 1990s. LehighValleyLive.com reports the park had been closed the last two seasons for repairs and reopened last Saturday. The coaster only goes 10 mph and is only 41 feet high, but thrill-seekers may like the fact that it operates without seat belts, lap bars or headrests. The National Park Service added Leap The Dips to its registry of National Historic Landmarks in 1996.

PA has Already Hit the Yearly Average for Tornados

Weather officials say Pennsylvania has already recorded the average number of tornados for a year. Meteorologist Sarah Johnson of the National Weather Service says 16 tornadoes that have had preliminary confirmation in the commonwealth so far this year. Severe weather is more common in June and into July, but Johnson cautions that that is by no means a hard and fast rule.

State Lawmakers Ethics Forms Released

Pennsylvania state lawmakers’ newly filed ethics forms show they accepted more than $83,000 in free trips last year and collected a variety of gifts, booze and free meals. That’s just the value that lawmakers reported, and they are not required to disclose everything they accept in a state that does not limit gifts to public officials.
Travel funded by third parties took legislators to Taiwan, Israel and destinations around the United States, from Seattle to Key West, Florida.

PA Treasurer Accuses Firms of Inflating Bond Prices

Pennsylvania’s treasury department is accusing about a dozen large financial firms of working together to illegally inflate the price of bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over seven years. A federal court filing by Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella late Thursday cites what his office says is evidence from a “cooperating co-conspirator” in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into price-fixing in the secondary market for bonds issued by government-controlled companies. Evidence cited in the filing includes brief transcripts of what it says are online chats by traders from various financial institutions that are the largest dealers of the bonds.

Gov. Wolf Says Opioid May be Decreasing

Governor Tom Wolf says preliminary statistics are pointing to a decrease in overdose deaths in Pennsylvania last year, as his administration suggests the opioid crisis might be starting to wane in some parts of the state. Wolf spoke yesterday as he participated in a training session on how to administer a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdose. The governor says physicians are issuing fewer opioid prescriptions and doctor-shopping is over, thanks to a 2016 law that requires prescibers to check a state database before issuing an opioid prescription to a new patient.

Popular PA Hiking Trail to Remain Closed for Now

One of Pennsylvania’s most beloved and scenic hiking trails will remain closed to the public unless lawmakers pass Gov. Tom Wolf’s $4.5 billion infrastructure plan.The Democratic governor hiked to the base of the Glen Onoko Falls Trail to make the case for a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production to finance billions of dollars in capital projects but the gas industry says it already pays its fair share and the GOP-controlled Legislature has so far rejected the idea.

Gov. Wolf Wants to Pay You to Participate in the Census

A commission tapped by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to study how to ensure an accurate census in Pennsylvania is making a funding request of $1 per person to aid the outreach, or close to $13 million. Wolf’s office said he supports Monday’s request by the 2020 Complete Count Committee. A number of states are undertaking a similar analysis and, in some cases, devoting money to the cause. The government takes a headcount every 10 years. An undercount could have real-world consequences, since seats in Congress and billions in federal dollars for such things as transportation projects and education are allocated according to population.