A Bucks County man has been found not guilty by a Philadelphia jury. Mark Houck was accused of pushing and injuring a patient escort outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. His defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, says it didn't take long for a verdict, once one particular juror was excused. "One of the jurors had to be excused who was not participating quite frankly in the deliberation process, and we quickly worked to try and bring in an alternate juror, and he came in and within an hour of getting here, there was a unanimous not-guilty verdict," McMonagle says. Houck never denied shoving the patient escort, but said he was defending both himself and young son who was with him.
State Sen. Lisa Boscola says she will introduce a seven-bill election reform package, with one bill focused on ballot drop boxes. "We need more consistency with drop boxes that are available," Boscola says. Specifically, she says to make sure there are enough drop boxes per capita, enough money available for counties to operate them and to make it legal for family members to drop off voters’ ballots. The Democrat's plans also would allow mail-in voters to fix mail-in ballot errors and eliminate the need for a secrecy envelope for any mailed in ballot.
A former parish church building in Bethlehem is closing and being sold. The Allentown Diocese says St. Joseph’s Church Hall on East Fifth Street in south Bethlehem only holds just one regular mass per year and hosts funerals for former parishioners. In 2008, five South Bethlehem churches consolidated to form Incarnation of Our Lord parish, which now says maintaining the building has been a financial burden. The church will hold a final Mass on March 18 for the Feast Day of St. Joseph.
The so-called "Father of Peeps" has died. Ira "Bob" Born, who was president of Just Born Quality Confections, which makes Peeps, has died at the age of 98. Born joined the family business right after serving in the Navy during World War II and eventually became president of the company in 1959. The company says he invented the Peeps chick machine in 1954 and credits him with creating the recipe for Hot Tamales cinnamon-flavored candies in 1950 and the method used to increase the rate of production of the Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales candies.
The Lehigh County coroner says two Reading men were killed in a Sunday afternoon crash in Lehigh County. 25-year-old Christopher Schaffer and 22-year-old Patrick Phyrillas both died when the car they were riding in was hit by a tractor-trailer on Hamilton Boulevard, near Folk Road in Upper Macungie Township. The accident remains under investigation.
A 16-year-old Bethlehem boy faces charges in juvenile court after allegedly posting a photo of himself holding what appeared to be a gun while in the area of Freedom High School. Bethlehem police say the gun turned out to be a BB gun, which looks almost exactly like a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. The photo was posted on January 20th before the Freedom/East Stroudsburg basketball game.
The Paradise Township Board of Supervisors is currently reviewing plans for a new resort in Monroe County. On Monday night, supervisors held the first of several public hearings to consider the plan for the Hawthorne Mount Pocono Resort, a mixed-use facility consisting of a lodge, separate villas, pools, a spa and retail, office and restaurant space. The entire development is being proposed on seven parcels of land located off Route 611, four parcels of which are located within Paradise Township. The others are in Pocono Township and in Mount Pocono Borough. The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. the Pocono Mountain East High School auditorium.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission say they won't change the opening day of the statewide firearms deer season. Supporters had wanted the date changed from the Saturday after Thanksgiving to Monday. The game commission board voted unanimously to keep the Saturday opener in place during its quarterly meeting over the weekend. The motion, which was preliminary, will still need final approval. That's expected to come at the board's April 15th meeting.
A judge is granting a motion from defense attorneys in the Tree of Life shooting case to add an additional step in the hearing's sentencing phase. The ruling means prosecutors will be required to present an argument on why Robert Bowers may be eligible to receive the death penalty before victim impact statements are provided in court. Bowers' legal team says the jury could be swayed to allow capital punishment if that decision comes after victim testimony. Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin on April 24th. Bowers is facing a long list of charges, accused of killing eleven people at the Squirrel Hill synagogue in October of 2018.
A federal judge has blocked New Jersey's ban it recently enacted against guns on beaches and at casinos but left in place other parts of the ban. Governor Phil Murphy signed the ban into law in December. His office says it plans to appeal the decision. U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb had already blocked other parts of the law as a result of a lawsuit brought by groups such as the New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. Those included a ban on guns in public libraries and bars and restaurants. Other parts of the law -- such as more restrictive gun licensing requirements -- remain in effect.
New Jersey's tripledemic is fading earlier than expected. CDC numbers show COVID-19, RSV and influenza rates declining in New Jersey. Flu and RSV peaked earlier than usual this season slamming hospitals late last fall but have since faded below January's usual levels and the post-holiday COVID wave wasn't as bad as last year's. ICU beds in the state are 45-percent full compared to 75-percent nationwide. However, the viruses are still taking a toll with a fourth pediatric flu death reported in New Jersey last week along with 62 COVID deaths.
Consumer advice website WalletHub has recently completed a study of the best and worst states for singles. The site compared statistics in 30 key metrics across the nation's 50 states. Data considered included the share of single adults per capita, the average cost of a night out at the movies and the average cost of a trip to the barber or beauty salon. In the rankings, Pennsylvania placed as the 5th best state for singles...one spot behind Texas and one spot ahead of Illinois. California topped the survey at number one.
A new study ranks the Garden State among the top ten states in the country for singles. The study comes from a financial website called WalletHub. In advance of Valentine's Day, WalletHub compared the fifty states according to 30 key indicators for dating-friendliness. Those categories include online-dating opportunities, mobile dating opportunities and restaurants and movie theaters per capita. New Jersey came in seventh among all states and ranked high in various categories, including crime rate, median annual household income and percentage of residents older than 12 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 49ers are losing another quarterback to a long-term injury. ESPN reports rookie Brock Purdy suffered a torn UCL ligament in his right elbow and will be sidelined for at least six months. Purdy is reportedly seeking additional medical opinions on whether or not he'll need to have surgery. The seventh-round draft pick helped lead San Francisco to the NFC Championship game, where the Niners eventually lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.