Monday’s high, 62; Overnight low 34

MOSTLY CLOUDY TODAY HIGH 61

RAIN TONIGHT LOW 42.

SHOWERS TOMORROW HIGH OF 57.

HEAVY RAIN TOMORROW NIGHT A LOW OF 51.

THURSDAY MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A HIGH OF 57

CLEARING  SKIES THURSDAY NIGHT WITH A LOW OF

PA Department of Health contracts with nonprofit firm to help with the virus in nursing homes….DCNR accepting applications from rural fire departments for wildfire suppression….Ridgway PSP looking for whoever dumped a hot tub on private property in Jones Township…..Ridgway man accused of intimidating an Emporium witness….

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today announced they have signed a contract with ECRI, an independent, nonprofit health services research organization based in suburban Philadelphia, to help with the COVID-19 response across the state, particularly in long-term care facilities, as the pandemic continues.With decades of experience in assisting during outbreaks, ECRI will provide individualized infection control and prevention assistance to long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania. Staffers will be available over the phone for 12 hours a day on weekdays and will coordinate with the Department Operations Center, currently providing support to those working in coronavirus response. ECRI will also help the department evaluate PPE and research different ways to maximize available resources.

As of April 6, there are 12,980 positive cases of COVID-19 in 65 counties and there are 162 deaths. There are 70,874 patients who have tested negative to date. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the Department’s website.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

On a more pleasant note, The  Wolf administration has announced funding is now available to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities increase protections from wildfires in 2019. Spring’s warming temperatures, sunny days, and strong winds all combine to usher in wildfire dangers.  In 2019, almost $620,000 was awarded to more than 130 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common. The grant program, offered through DCNR and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, has awarded more than $13 million since it began in 1982.  Local firefighting forces in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents qualify for the aid, which is used for training and equipment purchases directly related to fighting brush and forest fires.

In reviewing applications, priority will be placed on projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective clothing. Grants also may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation work, training wildfire fighters, or converting and maintaining federal excess vehicles. These vehicles are presented to the local departments exhibiting the greatest needs and those that commit to outfitting them for fire suppression. Also, grants now can be used to purchase new/used 4X4 vehicles which will be utilized as a Type 6 or 7 Wildland Engine, and costing $40,000 or less. Aid is granted on a cost-share basis. Grants for any project during a fiscal year cannot exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures of local, public, and private nonprofit organizations in the agreement. The maximum grant that will be considered from any fire company in 2020 is $10,000.  Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website by 4:00 PM, Thursday, May 21, 2020. To expedite application and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications

State Police at Ridgway are investigating a scattering of rubbish taking place Sunday night in Jones Township. Someone dumped a hot tub at 2355 Old State Road. It is a Watkins Salona indoor unit bearing serial number X4C078 that was manufactured in 2001. Anyone with information as to who dumped that hot tub on the property is asked to call state police at Ridgeway 814,776.6136.

Emporium based state police are charging a 32 year old Ridgway man with retaliation against the witness for a domestic violence incident allegedly Taking place on the afternoon of March 30. on Route 120 in Emporium.  The victim is listed as a 30 year old Emporium woman and the investigation is continuing.