Here's what's trending for February 17.


A Lehigh County man and his adult son are being credited with helping three people survive a Heidelberg Township house fire Wednesday. Mark Steininger says he saw the fire and heard people yelling and knew they were trapped across the street. He got a ladder and his adult son Benjamin climbed it. Benjamin broke through a window screen and made his way through helping a woman, her baby, another daughter and the family dog to the window where they were all able to get to safety. Randy Metzger, Chief Deputy of the Germansville Fire Department, says the fire was in the back of the house, where there was a sliding glass door, but no deck. He credits the younger man for saving the family's lives.

Police have a 36-year-old man in custody for reportedly shooting his ex-girlfriend. The woman, whose name has not been released, was shot in the 100 block of Chestnut Street early Wednesday morning. She's now in the hospital in stable condition. Kyle Birch of Allentown has been arraigned on charges of attempted murder, various degrees of assault and other counts. He was denied bail and is being held in the Lehigh County Prison.

About $20 million in infrastructure spending is headed to the Lehigh Valley this fiscal year and PennDOT is now saying how some of it will be spent to repair decaying bridges. The Race Street Bridge over the Lehigh River is getting about $5.5 million. The Richmond Bridge on Route 611 will receive nearly $1.5 million. The Route 33 bridges over the Bushkill Creek in Palmer Township and Stockertown, which are both rated "poor" will get more than $1.2 million for repairs. The Cementon Bridge, which carries Route 329 and connects Whitehall Township in Lehigh County and Northampton Borough in Northampton County, also has a poor rating and will get $3 million.

The teachers at the Pleasant Valley School District could go on strike soon. The Pleasant Valley Education Association issued a strike notice for February 28th. Talks are continuing between the district's administration and the teachers to solve issues concerning pay and working conditions.

A Hazleton police officer's been charged with attempted homicide and arson. State Police say Ladell Hannon detonated an explosive device outside an apartment building in December. One person was hurt. It's alleged Hannon admitted being upset that he was dating his estranged wife. "It shows that he was keeping an eye on her and where she was at and that's how he was showing up at the residence," says State Trooper David Boehm.

A new poll has Dr. Mehmet Oz holding a healthy lead in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. The Trafalgar poll of 1070 likely Republican primary voters shows Oz with 27-percent support, nearly 12 points ahead of David McCormick. Carla Sands is running third at nearly 15 percent with Kathy Barnette and Jeff Bartos fourth and fifth, both with under ten percent support. 21 percent of those surveyed say they are undecided on who they'll support. The polling was done from February 1-4.

Gov. Tom Wolf is pushing a $200 million bill to help make college more affordable at both universities and two-year colleges. Gov. Wolf announced the Nellie Bly proposal Wednesday afternoon. The funding would offer scholarships to students based on their needs. State officials say the funding will also go toward room and board, books, supplies and even graduation expenses. But Wolf has also asked that recipients who become part of the program stay in Pennsylvania. He says that would not only help to strengthen the state's workforce, but also help the commonwealth's future and economy.

Democratic St. Sen. Judy Schwank is the prime sponsor of a bill that looks to have a full-time librarian at every school in Pennsylvania. "This is more important than just having a librarian at school. It's about inspiring children to be the best they can be," Schwank says. The Berks County lawmaker says most schools in her district have a certified librarian, but due to funding, those librarians often have to pack up and go do the same work for multiple schools. She says that travel time could be better used to help kids grow and learn.

State regulators say that more than $68 million in Super Bowl wagers were placed on the contest between the Rams and the Bengals. More than $61 million worth of those bets from Keystone State residents were placed online with the rest being made at retail sportsbooks.

The City of Philadelphia has lifted its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for dining establishments due to the recent drop in cases. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole unveiled a new tiered response to the pandemic. "The new response levels are based on case counts, positivity, hospitalizations and the rate of change in cases," Bettigole says. The announcement means the Wells Fargo Center will no longer require fans to show that they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the arena. The new rules will be in effect for tonight’s Flyers game against the Washington Capitals. While the vaccination requirement is history, an indoor mask mandate remains in place.

Pennsylvania's agriculture secretary has been named to a USDA equity committee. Secretary Russell Redding will help the governmental body examine the fairness of the agency's policies. Redding, who has sought to expand opportunities for people of color in the agriculture industry, is one of the 13 members named last week to the Equity Commission's Subcommittee on Agriculture. The commission, created in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, will provide recommendations on policies, programs and actions that can help historically underserved groups access the federal government's farming programs.

New Jersey's coronavirus figures may be trending downward, but Gov. Phil Murphy is in no rush to lift the schools mask mandate. He is resisting calls to speed up his timelines, saying the state is "getting there" and continues to sound hopeful in the fight against COVID-19. The school mask mandate is set to end in just over two weeks on March 7th. He says his team wants to take its time transitioning, adding we are going from a "pandemic" to an "endemic."


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