Here's what's trending for October 9.

A letter sent to Penn State safety Jonathan Sutherland is being called racist. In the letter, apparently written by a Penn State graduate, Sutherland is told the letter writer misses the clean cut young men and women from the old days and that Sutherland's dreadlocks are disgusting. Coach James Franklin defends Sutherland and says his players are together. "Black, white, brown. Catholic, Jewish or Muslim. Rich or poor. Rural or urban. Republican or Democrat, Long hair, short hair or no hair. They're all in that locker room together" Franklin says. Via Twitter, Sutherland said he forgives the letter writer because, "I'm nowhere close to being perfect and I expect God to forgive me for all the wrong I've done in my life."

A man accused of killing an elderly Northampton County woman and her adult son had showed up with cookies before allegedly killing the pair. Drew Rose was ordered Tuesday to face trial on charges of murder, burglary and arson. Police say Rose came to the home of 97-year-old Virginia Houck in January with the cookies to ask Houck's 61-year-old son, Roger, to take part in a mail order scheme. Police say Roger Houck refused, leading Rose to beat and then strangle him. Rose then allegedly left but returned to tie up Virginia Houck and then throw her down her basement steps before setting the Palmer Township home on fire.

Moravian College says the mumps remains a problem on its campus. There have now been at least eight cases confirmed since September 19th, plus another half-dozen still yet to be fully diagnosed by the Bethlehem Health Bureau. A ninth case of mumps, unrelated to Moravian, has been confirmed in the city. Symptoms of mumps include a swollen jaw, flu-like reactions, lethargy and in some very rare cases deafness.

Investigators are remaining tight-lipped a day after court documents revealed gruesome details about the deaths of two children in Berks County. The documents indicate two children were found hanging in their basement by a plastic-coated wire with chairs underneath them in their home in Albany Township on September 23rd. The children died later at Lehigh Valley Hospital. The Berks County DA says he's confident investigators will be able to make a determination at some point in time.

A dozen people are behind bars in connection to a major drug bust in Schuylkill County. State police say more than $1 million in crystal meth, fentanyl and heroin were seized as part of a lengthy investigation called "Operation Strike Three." Troopers allege the drugs were primarily trafficked in from Luzerne County and the Schuylkill County DA's office says this could be the biggest drug bust in county history.

Pennsylvania State Police say they seized more than $8 million worth of illegal drugs in the third quarter of 2019. Troopers say that from July 1st through September 30th, they confiscated 23 pounds of heroin and close to 14 pounds of fentanyl, which have a combined street value of just below $1 million. More than $4 million worth of cocaine and $2.3 million in processed marijuana were also impounded.

Football season is here. Hockey season is here. And Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says so is flu season. "The flu season officially began last week and runs until May 2020. The Department of Health is urging our residents to receive their flu vaccine by the end of October to prepare for flu season," Levine says. She recommends getting the flu shot as soon as possible is important because it takes about two weeks after receiving the shot for it to take effect.

The two Grantville-area rest areas on Interstate 81 will be closing next week for renovation work. They'll remain closed for 18 months, until the summer of 2021. "This is going to be a big impact especially with the Thanksgiving travel and the holiday travel," says PennDOT's Frtizi Schreffler. She says they’ve alerted other private truck stops about the closure.

Police are investigating an accident in Somerset County that could be a hit-and-run. Watchung police say around 7 o'clock Tuesday night that a 12-year-old victim was struck and taken to the hospital. The road was closed for more than four hours.

New Jersey Transit is getting ready to roll out a fleet of driver-free vehicles. The rail company held a presentation at an event Tuesday that offered guests a look at some self-driving shuttles that could handle first and last-mile transit options. The shuttles are completely electric, can carry as many as 15 passengers and move as fast as 15 miles per hour.

New Jersey is launching a new campaign to help communities deal with soil used to support or fill in at various sites and developments. The state Department of Environmental Protection's "Guard Your yard" campaign is intended to make sure dirt used for landscaping, construction projects and around homes is free of dangerous contaminants. The idea is for townships, boroughs and other municipalities to create ordinances to determine what kind of ill material may or may not be brought in.

Dan Holzman

Dan Holzman

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