Here's what's trending for November 17.


What may be the most-expensive home in the Lehigh Valley went up in flames Tuesday morning. In happened at a $6.4 million home on Barrington Lane in Salisbury Township. Don Sabo is the Salisbury Township Fire Marshal and he describes the damage done. "The main home itself has a lot of smoke and water damage. The fire damage is isolated to the new stone area," Sabo says. Closing on the home happened the day before after it had been on the market for nearly a year. Two firefighters had to be taken to the hospital for injuries, but they are expected to fully recover. Investigators don't yet know what started the blaze.

The November 2nd election isn't over just yet in Lehigh County. In the race for Lehigh County judge, Republican David Ritter leads Democrat Zachary Cohen by 74 votes. However, the Lehigh County Board of Elections has voted unanimously to count 260 mail-in ballots even though they were submitted without dates on the outer envelopes, which is required. Ritter says he'll appeal the ruling, saying it is in opposition to state election law and goes against the advice of the Lehigh County solicitor and the position of the county chief clerk of elections. Acting election board Chairman Dan McCarthy says the board believes it's better to count those votes rather than not.

The mask mandate for schools across Pennsylvania must end on December 4th, according to a ruling by a judge Tuesday. The ruling, which says that the mask mandate would be canceled for all K-12 students, clears the way for the state Supreme Court to take up the issue. Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon also ruled last week that the state's mask mandate for schools was "void and unenforceable." She contends that the state's acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam did not have the authority to issue such a mandate. Gov. Tom Wolf has said his administration will fight last week's ruling.

AAA East Central says the average price of a gallon of gas in Pennsylvania has bumped up by two cents to $3.60. That's $1.53 more than on this date one year ago. In the Lehigh Valley, the average price was a nickel higher than a week ago at $3.59, which is $1.55 higher than November 16, 2020.

Investigators say they now know what caused more than $1 million worth of damage to a Buddhist facility in Hereford Saturday. State Police Fire Marshal Corey Heimbach says the fire is determined to have been accidental and was caused by fireplace debris outside the main dormitory. No residents were hurt although two firefighters were injured. Heimbach says response to the fire in the remote area was hampered due a lack of fire hydrants; an estimated 60-thousand gallons of water had to be transferred to the scene from a nearby pond.

The Bethlehem City Council has voted to postpone procedural votes on the city's 2022 budget ordinances. The items will be considered at the December 7th meeting instead after two councilmembers said they wouldn't be voting for them. Bryan Callahan and Grace Crampsie Smith were the two dissenting councilmembers. Four "yes" votes are needed to pass the first reading of the budget ordinances. Mayor Robert Donchez had presented a no-tax-increase budget of over $93 million November 5th.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a bill that does away with permits to carry a concealed weapon. House Bill 565 passed Tuesday night by a 107-92 vote margin. It now heads to the governor's desk where it will certainly be vetoed.

Gov. Tom Wolf apologized Tuesday for what he calls his “honest mistake” in asking his wife to deliver his mail-in ballot for the Nov. 2 election. Speaking on KDKA in Pittsburgh, where he admitted to a violation of an election law two weeks ago, Wolf apologized. “I’m sorry. I did it. It was an honest mistake.” I guess they say ignorance of the law is no defense, but I’m sorry, I apologize.” In Pennsylvania, election law bars anyone other than the voter to deliver a completed mail-in or absentee ballot in most instances.

Pennsylvania is expected to receive $4 billion in new federal money for roads and bridges from the infrastructure bill signed Monday. But the money will not be going to the nine bridges in need of repair that are proposed for tolling, including the I-78 Lenhartsville bridge that crosses the Maiden Creek in Greenwich Township, Berks County. Instead it'll go toward some 170 other projects according to PennDOT spokesperson Alexis Campbell. "There are 170 projects around the state that we can begin or accelerate with this new funding, or replace nine state bridges. I think it's pretty clear where the benefits to more Pennsylvanians lie," Campbell says.

Pennsylvania House GOP leaders are mounting new opposition to PennDOT's plans to start tolls at nine bridges. The lawmakers have now filed suit in Commonwealth Court saying that PennDOT didn't use a fair review process before announcing the toll plans for the state bridges. If the lawsuit is successful, all work and planning on the bridge toll projects would have to stop pending further legal action.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor is announcing new regulations for workers who receive wages from tips. Officials said yesterday that under the new rules, tipped workers can only be paid the tipped minimum wage when engaged in work that generates tips. The DOL says this ensures that employers do not extend the reduced cash wage to all employee work contributions all week long. The tipped minimum wage is currently $2.13 per hour federally and $2.83 per hour in Pennsylvania.

You'll soon have a chance to enter a lottery to buy one of 425 bottles of rare whiskey. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has opened its limited-release lottery to state residents and licensees for the chance to opt in to five separate lotteries: Buffalo Trace 2021 Antique Collection and four bourbons. The price for each whiskey is $110. The limited release lottery registration is open until Friday.

A Penn State initiative that uses smartphones and artificial intelligence to help global farmers will soon get a huge shot in the arm from the U.S. government. Plantvillage at Penn State will be able to expand thanks to a nearly $40 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program's team members help develop tools to monitor plant pests and disease around the world.

New Jersey's open enrollment period for healthcare coverage is underway. Gov. Phil Murphy is encouraging residents in need of healthcare coverage to explore insurance options. He joined with several officials yesterday, explaining there are record levels of financial help at Get Covered New Jersey, which is the state's official health insurance marketplace. Some plans are as cheap as $10 a month. Open enrollment is open through January 31st, 2022.

Travelers going through Newark International Airport this holiday season could be dealing with longer waits. Officials are urging travelers to arrive early this Thanksgiving, since travel is expected rise by 14-percent in comparison to last year. Terminal A at Newark International Airport is also undergoing renovations, which could add to wait times at security checkpoints. The delays will be more of a nuisance for those traveling with American Airlines, ir Canada, and Air Alaska.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says comments and jokes about his weight have made him "tougher." The Republican said he has learned to "deal with it" over the years. Christie says others often gave him unsolicited weight loss advice, and added that in 2013 he secretly underwent lap band surgery. Christie also mentioned that he is glad that he can be someone to relate to for others who are overweight.


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