BACKYARD BROADCASTING LOCAL NEWS MAY 14, 2020

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH UPDATE
The total number of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania is trending down with 707 new cases reported as of midnight yesterday according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, with a statewide total to 58,698. Lycoming County has had 139 positive cases and nine deaths to date, up seven positive cases from Monday – there  were 1,522 county residents who test negative.  After reconciling data from state agencies, the health department reports an increase in 137 new deaths, resulting in a total 3,943 fatalities from the coronavirus.

PA LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE REOPENING PLAN FOR EATERIES
The first local legislation to re-open restaurants in our area has been introduced by State Senator Gene Yaw and Representative Garth Everett this week for establishments in yellow and green designated counties – with Lycoming newly designated yellow last Friday.  Senator Yaw said the proposal follows the majority of CDC directives and would apply to places serving both food and food and alcohol, but night clubs and music venues do not qualify.  A first bill would introduce required outdoor seating plans, 6 foot table separation and single point entry, then a second would later allow limited patrons indoors at a 50% occupancy.  This legislation would remain in effect until the Disaster Declaration is terminated.

K-9 PROGRAM BUDGET CONCERNS
Due to budget concerns in the COVID-19 pandemic the Williamsport City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday forwarded a request for a second city police K-9 officer and dog to undergo training to the council without a recommendation.  According top the Sun Gazette. Police Chief Damon Hagan said the K-9 donation program has raised $78,000 and another K-9 on the streets would help provide more security for residents by helping police in their patrol and arrests.  A city officer would be expected to begin training June 22 for several weeks and Hagan said there are volunteers to cover the officer-in-K-9-training’s shifts.  The considerations will go before the full council.

DMV TO USE EXISTING PHOTOS TO HELP CURB THE VIRUS
The Driver License Centers at 1782 E. Third St., Williamsport opened this week and there were long liones reported at the facility yesterday according to the Sun Gazette.  However, the Department of Transportation will use existing photos on file for customers who renew their driver’s license and identification card beginning this week. Those who renewed their product on or before May 10 will receive a camera card in the mail and will need to visit a PennDOT Photo License Center to obtain an updated photo. According to  PennDOT, using a customer’s existing photo will help limit the number of people in the  photo license center, and help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

SOME COUNTIES TO DEFY GOVERNOR
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that Lycoming county had 7 new cases of the coronavirus as of yesterday at midnight.  There are 9 deaths confirmed here by the Lycoming County coroner.    Northumberland is up 2 cases to 128, Union County gained one case to 42 and still reports one death there, Montour also added 1 case to 50.  Columbia County holds steady today with 330 cases and 28 deaths, and remain in the red phase, but indicated in a state Senate hearing yesterday that along with Beaver County, they will defy the governor’s order and lift pandemic restrictions in those counties on Friday anyway, adding that businesses do so at their own peril and cannot protect them from state retaliation.

WILLIAMSPORT FINANCES IN A SHORTFALL
The City of Williamsport is working on tackling the budget deficit created by the COVID-19 pandemic disruption.  According to the Sun Gazette, finance officials are looking to revise and re-plan budget projections with a conservative focus moving ahead, after finding a $2.7 million dollar shortfall.  City Councilwoman Liz Miele, finance committee chair, said there are cost-cutting plans available to consider, as well as the police and fire departments were able to reduce budget items through retiring officer salaries and a hold on a complete roof replacement of the bureau building.  Council will hold the next session tonight at 6:30pm on Zoom – you can get access to the meeting at lyco.org .

EDUCATION FUNDING APPROVED
U.S. Department of Education has approved Pennsylvania’s application for $523.8 million through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to help schools respond to COVID-19 impacts, according to a press release by Governor Tom Wolf.  Under the (CARES) Act, traditional public schools and charter schools can use the funding for a wide range of purposes, including food service, professional training, technology purchases, sanitization and cleaning supplies, summer and after-school programs, and mental health supports. Funds must be used by September 2022. Schools looking for an allocation can apply online – a link to the application, a list of schools that have been approved for funding and a detailed explanation of the CARES Act is here.

MONTGOMERY BOROUGH ANNOUNCES WATER REPAIR TIMELINE
At the Montgomery Borough Council meeting yesterday, they voted to approve a sewer line upgrade on West Houston Avenue which will be completed at no cost to the borough.  According to Borough officials the waterline replacements should be complete this week.  There was also a decision made that the borough building and park will stay closed until Lycoming County moves from the yellow phase to green phase of reopening

SPORTS

Florida is joining Arizona as another state to open for professional sports teams following the coronavirus outbreak.  In a press conference yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis, said all professional sports are welcome for practicing and playing in his state.

Pitt athletics’ leaders, along with the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, have linked up to financially support the university’s Center for Vaccine Research.  According to the Pittsburgh Post -Gazette, the families of the football and basketball coaches there  made a combined $500,000 donation to  the center on Wednesday. The Steelers, Penguins and Pirates each donated $100,000, – totalling  $800,000.

NFL
The Rams are revealing new uniforms for stadium debut when they open the season against the Dallas Cowboys in Los Angeles. They include a blue jersey featuring yellow numbering with a new helmet and metallic chrome blue yellow horn and a blue face mask.

NBA

The basketball commissioner will decide in the next 2 to 4 weeks if the season will continue or be canceled.  According to sources they say there was a sense of optimism about a return to play on Tuesdays phone call between Adam silver and team owners.  The  majority of players surveyed said they’d like to continue the season as long as it safe.

MLS
Major league soccer is proposing a summer tournament in Orlando Florida involving all 26 teams. ESPN says training could begin in Orlando June 1 with the tournament involving matches without fans to begin 3 to 4 weeks later.

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