Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health added 3742 new cases of COVID-19 to the state's overall total, which is now 1,544,463. 79 additional COVID-related deaths were also added Tuesday, leaving the state with 31,055 since the pandemic began. Right now, 2786 people are hospitalized with the virus, 683 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
There's labor harmony in one local school district. The Parkland School Board has approved a new three-year contract with the district's 680 teachers. Both the board and the union approved the deal Tuesday. The contract, which will take effect September 1, 2022 and will run through the end of August 2025, includes a 2.9-percent annual salary hike. Parkland superintendent Mark Madson calls the agreement a fair contract that is fiscally responsible while rewarding teachers for their skills.
The price of gasoline continues to head higher in our area and across the state. Pennsylvania's average as of Tuesday was $3.56 a gallon, up seven cents from one week ago and $1.10 from the same date in 2020. In the Lehigh Valley, the average price was $3.54, up six cents from the previous week and $1.12 more from October 26, 2020.
Stefano's restaurant and an adjacent property in Bethlehem have been sold for $1.48 million to RDD Apartments out of Wynnewood, near Philadelphia. Earlier this year, the city approved a plan to demolish and replace Stefano's at 2958 Linden Street, and build a 61-unit apartment building at 2970 Linden Street.
We're just learning that a plane was forced to land without its landing gear Friday afternoon at Braden Airpark in Forks Township. The pilot was the only person aboard the single-engine Beechcraft and no injuries were reported. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
A former Bangor Area High School band director will spend one-to-two years in prison for having sex with a student dozens of times. 39-year-old Eric Hahn, of South Whitehall Township pleaded guilty in May to having sex with a then-16-year-old girl in and out of school beginning in October 2019.
PennDOT is taking public comment on its plan to replace I-78's Lenhartsville bridge in Berks County, a project that would be paid for by tolling motorists who traverse the span. The bridge spans Route 143 and Maiden Creek in Greenwich Township. PennDOT said it is in poor structural condition and does not meet its current design standards. Comments can be submitted at www.penndot.gov.
Gov. Tom Wolf continues to push for what he calls meaningful action to address what he calls the scourge of gun violence in Pennsylvania. "We have to do something about this. That is something that we cannot and must not accept. That cannot be part of our lives. We cannot stand by and do nothing while the threat of gun violence follows children to our schools," the governor said. While saying he will veto bills that would loosen gun regulations, Wolf says he backs ideas that would allow for the temporary removal of guns from someone who may hurt themselves or others, mandate reporting lost or stolen firearms within 72 hours and tighten up the state's background check system to prevent the purchase of some weapons from non-licensed sellers.
Republican St. Sen. David Argall says adding meaningless gun laws to the books targets the wrong group of people. "We ought not to be creating violations that trip up law-abiding gun owners. We ought to be enforcing the laws that we have and put career criminals in the prisons where they belong," Argall says. Argall is a sponsor of Senate Bill 448, which would allow anyone to sue a city for enacting gun safety policies. He says you can't have one law in Philadelphia, and one law in Bucks County, and one law in Reading, and one law up in Pottsville.
Democratic St. Rep. Chris Rabb is pushing a bill to end Native American mascots at Pennsylvania schools. Rabb says more than 60 schools in Pennsylvania use native team names or mascots. He says getting rid of them is not about political correctness. "Not only is this accepted, but there are team names that indoctrinate that into school cultures and into society in ways that are deeply, deeply hurtful and problematic to youths," Rabb says. Several states have already banned or limited the use of native names for team mascots.
Today marks three years since the mass shooting event that left 11 people dead and six victims injured at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In a recent blog remarking on the anniversary, Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said the beauty is that people from all walks of life are moved to commemorate the date those lives were lost or affected in a way that is meaningful to them, and that by itself is incredibly moving to everyone. He adds that the love and embrace from the entire world will never be forgotten.
The Pennsylvania state treasurer's office says auctions of unclaimed property will resume tomorrow. The auctions were suspended due to the pandemic, making this the first auction since COVID-19 restrictions began last year. Tthe state estimates almost 4000 items will be sold, including jewelry, coins and collectible toys whose owners have not claimed them in three years. The online auction runs tomorrow and Friday.