Monday, May 25
High-profile votes, fights preview Wolf's challenges in June
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — June is crunch time in the state Capitol and the challenges in front of Gov. Tom Wolf are becoming clearer in the Democrat's first go-round with budget negotiations.
In the last few days, his administration ruffled Republican feathers with a bare-fisted attack on the Senate Republicans' bill to scale back public pension benefits. And Wolf penned an open letter to business organizations that laid bare his frustration with their opposition to a natural gas production tax that Wolf is depending on to help increase public schools funding.
In addition, philosophical divisions between the House and Senate Republican majorities could prove complicated. Those divisions became even clearer in recent days with several major votes that showed them to be lukewarm, at best, to the other's priorities.
SHOT IN TUNNEL
Police: Driver shot, other cars damaged in Pittsburgh tunnel
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a driver was hit by gunfire from another vehicle in a tunnel in Pittsburgh.
Police said an officer near the entrance of the Liberty Tunnel at about 1:40 a.m. Sunday heard multiple shots fired and found a crashed car struck multiple times by bullets.
Paramedics on the scene were treating the male driver who had been struck multiple times. He was taken to UPMC Mercy in stable condition.
Two other vehicles were also damaged in the crash in the tunnel, which links Pittsburgh with its southern suburbs.
Police said a white sedan is believed to have fired several shots at the first car before fleeing across the Liberty bridge.
Officials are seeking the vehicle, which is believed to have damage from collisions inside the tunnel.
MAN SET ON FIRE
Police: Woman accused of setting man on fire arrested
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Authorities in central Pennsylvania say they have arrested a woman accused of having tied a man to a bed, doused him with a flammable substance and set him on fire before fleeing in his van.
Twenty-seven-year-old Christina Leach is charged in Cumberland County with aggravated assault, arson and theft.
Police in Silver Spring Township say the man told them that a female friend offered to give him a massage in his home on Saturday but bound him and set him afire.
Investigators said he managed to free himself and jump out of a second-story window. He was flown to Lehigh Valley burn center, where his condition wasn't immediately available.
Court documents don't indicate a defense attorney who could offer comment, and a listed number for Leach couldn't be found Sunday.
Man charged with 3rd-degree murder in death of girl
POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania man has been charged with third-degree murder in the death of a 13-month-old girl two days after Christmas.
Twenty-nine-year-old Joseph Brennan II of Ashland is also charged in Schuylkill County with aggravated and simple assault, involuntary manslaughter, child and reckless endangerment and falsely incriminating another person.
Brennan was arraigned Friday and sent to the county prison without bail in the Dec. 27 death of Alivia Delrio.
The (Pottsville) Republican-Herald reported that authorities said Brennan initially said he had seen a 5-year-old child strike the girl with a plastic toy, but a forensic pathologist ruled that out and the defendant changed his story three times. A coroner ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma.
Court documents don't list a defense attorney who could offer comment.
CAR CRASH INTO FARM FIELD
Car crashes into farm field, killing 2, injuring 2
(Information in the following story is from: Altoona Mirror, http://www.altoonamirror.com )
WILLIAMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say a car traveling at high speed crashed into a central Pennsylvania farm field over the weekend, killing two people and severely injuring two others.
Police in Blair County told The (Altoona) Mirror that the car went off Route 22 just east of Canoe Mountain in Catherine Township at about 1 a.m. Saturday.
Coroner Patricia Ross said 21-year-old Allison Edwards was pronounced dead at UPMC Altoona less than an hour after the crash while 26-year-old driver Joshua Fay died shortly after 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
Police said another passenger was in critical condition at UPMC Altoona, while a fourth person had been flown to Pittsburgh for treatment.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation but police said the car was traveling "at a high rate of speed."
In the coalfields, dilapidated sites make way for renewal
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A crew from Coalfield Development Corp. that's remodeling a former warehouse in Williamson, West Virginia, is part of a broad effort to tackle empty or unkempt buildings in Appalachia.
Rural blight is a legacy of the coal industry's boom-and-bust nature in many communities in West Virginia and its neighbors.
Earlier this year, West Virginia University began a project to help rehabbers navigate the legal web surrounding older properties. Last year marked the launch of the statewide BAD buildings project which helps towns with dilapidated properties.
While big cities have fought blight for years, experts say rural areas have lagged in creating systematic approaches. In recent years, anti-blight programs have sprung up around Appalachia.
GREAT LAKES CONFERENCE
Vermont hosting Great Lakes scientists at not-so-great lake
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Scientists from across the world are going to be on the campus of the University of Vermont in Burlington for a weeklong conference on the Great Lakes not far the shores of the not-so-great Lake Champlain.
In 1998 Lake Champlain was briefly named as the sixth Great Lake, but that designation was lifted after representatives of the states around the five traditional Great Lakes complained the tiny lake between Vermont and New York didn't qualify.
Organizers of the conference in Burlington say the leaders of the International Association of Great Lakes Research are working to expand the definition of great lakes to include the largest fresh water lakes in the world.
Scientists and students at the conference will be able to choose from hundreds of presentations.