New Jersey Raising Tolls 50 Percent – OUCH!

English: Map of the Garden State Parkway

Image via Wikipedia

NEWARK, N.J. – The new year will bring something that’s become old hat for New Jersey residents: more costs associated with driving.

For the second time in three years, toll rates will rise on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. The latest increases go into effect on New Year’s Day and compute to about 50 percent on both highways.

They come just four months after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey raised toll rates on bridges and tunnels into New York by 50 percent and five months after the Delaware River Port Authority increased tolls into Philadelphia by 25 percent.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20111231_As_bells_toll_in_the_new_year__N_J__road_tolls_will_rise.html

Upper Darby’s Shopping District Losing More Than Sears

2010 Sears logo

Image via Wikipedia

The shopping district in Upper Darby, PA is losing more than their Sears store.  In addition, Marshall’s is closing January 14th (but being replaced with Ross); the Turf Club has already closed and left a large empty building and Fashion Choice Jewelry is closing.  The vacant Sears store will leave two large empty buildings in the shopping district.

Sears has been a fixture and an anchor store in the Upper Darby shopping district for 30 years.  We here inPottstown can feel your pain.  Sears has been around Pottstown far longer.

The main reason for the closing is the economy (poor performance).  Since 2008 sales at Sears in Upper Darby have dropped 50 percent.  I would say the Pottstown Sears store is in the same boat.  Compared to Boscov’s and Kohl’s the Sears store is empty.  I could barely shop in Boscov’s last week because it was so crowded.

Sears employees losing their jobs can apply for positions in other stores, take severance, if they qualify, or be furloughed.

New Hospital In East Norriton Township Set To Open September 2012

Location of East Norriton Township in Montgome...

Image via Wikipedia

As the Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (EMCM) construction project in East Norriton moves toward a September 2012 opening, the fate of the Montgomery Hospital building in Norristown is hanging on the subsidized financing for a senior housing proposal.

The seven-story, Montgomery Hospital building on Powell Street may become the home for 108 apartments for seniors, a children’s day-care center and a senior day-care center if the financing plans of Mission First Housing Development Corp. (MFHDC) win state approval.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/article/20111231/NEWS01/111239940/-1/NEWS&pager=full_story

 

Russell Brand And Katy Perry Split

English: Katy Perry at The Warped Tour '08 Por...

Image via Wikipedia

Because nobody saw this coming **wink**

Looks like those missing wedding rings did indeed herald doom for Katy Perry and Russell Brand. The British funnyman has filed for divorce, citing the standard irreconcilable differences.

“Sadly, Katy and I are ending our marriage,” Brand said in a statement (via the AP). “I’ll always adore her, and I know we’ll remain friends.”

TMZ says the doe-eyed popster may have been blindsided by the filing.

Read more: http://wonderwall.msn.com/music/gossip-russell-brand-files-for-divorce-from-katy-perry-17250.gallery

Scranton’s Leaders Brace For 2012 Staff Cuts

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty’s reaction to staff cuts contained in city council’s 2012 budget was simple.

“We will do more with less,” Mr. Doherty said Wednesday, reflecting on how his administration plans to grapple with looming personnel reductions after lawmakers on Tuesday night overrode his veto of their $85.3 million 2012 budget.

Despite a wide-ranging list of cuts – including 29 firefighter layoffs proposed by Mr. Doherty himself – the mayor maintained there could be delays in nonessential services, but stressed garbage collection will continue uninterrupted.

“We have to live in the budget they give us,” said Mr. Doherty. “We are going to make it work.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/scranton-s-leaders-brace-for-2012-staff-cuts-1.1250766#ixzz1i37DSzKa

Harrisburg City Council Adopts 2012 Budget With 16 Percent Tax Hike

Harrisburg City Council tonight adopted a $54.3 million 2012 budget that includes a 16 percent real estate tax hike for homeowners.

The increase will tack on $50 to $100 in real estate taxes for most property owners.  A person whose property is assessed at $50,000 would pay $40 more annually in property taxes.  Property owners with houses valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $80 in taxes per year.

Council’s budget cuts spending by $1.2 million compared to the $55.5 million plan Mayor Linda Thompson introduced last month. Thompson’s proposal also included a 16 percent tax hike.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/harrisburg_city_council_adopts.html

Park City Center Plagued With Migrating Crows

After several weeks of citizen complaints about late-night booms, Lancaster city officials Thursday restricted the hours that Park City Center can set off its propane cannons that ward off crows.

The wee-hours detonations, which reverberated across the suburbs up to several miles away, were blamed on problems with timing devices on new cannons.

Mall officials apologized and said they would comply with the 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. time frame for firing the rooftop cannons.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/559311_Lancaster-city-restricts-hours-Park-City-Center-can-shoot-off-cannons.html#ixzz1i2x1UH39

Pittsburgh Residential Assessments Jump 46 Percent

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Image via Wikipedia

The city of Pittsburgh‘s residential properties are now assessed at a total of $10.78 billion, up 46 percent from their prior assessment of $7.33 billion, officials said in the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. today.

“That would mean everyone whose assessment went up by one-third would actually be paying fewer taxes, if the commercial came in at that amount” of increase, Judge Wettick said.

The city and school district must lower their millage, he noted, so they do not take an illegal windfall from the county’s reassessment.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11364/1200250-100-0.stm#ixzz1i2sm26oj

Jackass Star “Bam” Margera’s New Porsche Sideswiped

2010 Porsche Panamera 4S photographed in Silve...

Image via Wikipedia

A minor traffic accident involving a Jackass star turned surreal at times Thursday in Chester County when the driver at fault reportedly became giddy when he recognized the other motorist.

State police said MTV star Brandon “Bam” Margera was “stopped at a properly posted stop sign” at 1:48 p.m. on southbound Locust Grove Road at Corrine Road in Pocopson Township, close to his home. An unidentified driver of a Ford pickup who was turning onto Locust Grove sideswiped Margera’s 2011 Porsche Panamera, police said.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20111028_Report__Yet_another_Jackass_crash_in_Chester_County.html

Kill-adelphia: City Tops List Of Homicide Rates

Philadelphia skyline sunset

Image via Wikipedia

Murders are up again this year in Philadelphia, and the city still has the highest homicide rate of the nation’s 10 most populous cities, according to stats provided by each city’s police department. At the same time, fewer murders are getting solved.

With a few days left in the year, the city’s homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday, including the eight victims allegedly killed in previous years by West Philly abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Last year, 306 people were killed, and the year before, 302.

But despite the jump in homicides this year, city officials prefer to focus on the past. When they compare numbers, they go back to 2007, when murders in Philly were at the five-year high of 392. Looking at it that way, they get a 17 percent decrease in the murder rate from 2007 to 2011.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20111230_Kill-adelphia__Yet_again__city_tops_list_of_homicide_rates.html?cmpid=124488459

Pottstown And Upper Darby Sears Stores Closing

2010 Sears logo

Image via Wikipedia

Sears Holding Corporation just released their store closing list and two area Sears stores are on the chopping block.  The Coventry Mall and 69th Street Sears stores are closing.  No Kmart stores will be closed in Pennsylvania and no other Sears store in Pennsylvania will close, other than Pottstown and Upper Darby.

The Sears store at Coventry Mall predates the mall.  Originally Sears was in downtown Pottstown and moved across the river into North Coventry Township as a stand alone store.  When the mall was built in 1967, Sears was connected to the mall.  The Sears store is last surviving original anchor store at Coventry Mall. 

Sears retail stores have been in decline for several decades.  Sears was the nation’s largest retailer until the 1980′s but has declined considerably since then.  In 2005 Sears merged with Kmart.  Kmart purchased Sears and Kmart Holding Corporation changed its name to Sears Holding Corporation.

Sears built and owned what is still the tallest building in the United States, the Sears Tower in Chicago.  In 1993, Sears sold their skyscraper and moved into an office park setting in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Three Lancaster County School Districts Will Merge Teaching Efforts

I think this concept makes sense and should be explored around here!

Imagine a high school where students can take classes as early as 7 a.m. or as late as 9 p.m.

Some of the courses are taught face-to-face in the school, with others delivered online and still others taught through a mix of classroom and computer-based instruction.

At this school, tuition is free and students can enroll in specialty courses such as Latin and business Spanish that their home schools don’t offer.

And by taking classes at night or over the summer, they could earn a diploma faster than their peers.
Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/558484_Three-school-districts-here-will-merge-teaching-efforts.html#ixzz1hy97OMXg

Most Memorable Celebrity Tweets Of 2011

English: Picture I took of p!nk

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you who enjoy all things social media, here is a list of some of 2011′s most memorable celebrity tweets:

After Christina Aguilera was arrested for public intoxication early this year, P!nk rejoiced in not being the one to get into trouble.

@pink: Out of Myself, Britney, and Christina – didn’t everyone think I was gonna be the troublemaker? LOOK MA!!! No CUFFS!!!

Read more: http://www.fm97.com/cc-common/news/sections/special/celebritytweetsoftheweek.html?an=Most-Memorable-Tweets-of-2011#ixzz1hy6L6uyR

Lady Gaga House Shopping In Suburban Lancaster

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Image via Wikipedia

Lady Gaga‘s new boyfriend, Taylor Kinney is a Lancaster County native who was raised in Neffsville, PA.  Taylor recently had a recurring role on the CW‘s hit series The Vampire Diaries and played Mason Lockwood (who was a werewolf before being killed off by one of the series stars).  Taylor also appears in Gaga’s You and I video.  You may have heard the Pennsylvania version of You and I, which gets considerable airplay.

It seems Gaga is looking at a home in Bent Creek, a gated community in Manheim Township off of Fruitville Pike.  The house is on the market for $1.7 million.  Gaga has been seen in the Lititz Giant and various places around Lancaster County for the last several months.  Here are some pictures of the home she is looking at http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2011/12/lady-gaga-pennsylvania-mansion-photos

The Bent Creek development is near Taylor’s parents house.  Location, location, location!

2010 Crime Stats For City Of Reading And Metro Berks

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

Image via Wikipedia

Berks County ranked well this year in a national crime report, even as Reading slipped in the ratings compared to last year.

The Reading metro area, which is all of Berks, was the 235th most dangerous of 353 other U.S. metro areas, meaning only 119 metro areas were determined to have been safer in 2010, according to CQ Press. The metro area ranked 232 last year.

Reading was ranked the 33rd most dangerous U.S. city in the study by CQ Press, which based its work on cities with more than 75,000 residents that reported 2010 crime statistics to the FBI.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=355257

Culinary Blast From The Past Returning To Berks County – Seafood Shanty To Reopen At Broadcasting Square

If it’s possible to involve future customers and create excitement in a business before it opens, restaurateur Eddie Riegel seems to be doing just that.

Riegel plans to bring back the legendary Seafood Shanty restaurant, a once-popular dining chain that went bankrupt in 1993.

“Honestly, oh my God, I just pinch myself every day,” said Riegel, who lives with his wife, Bonnie, in Exeter Township. “I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m happy, I’m sad. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s a very emotional time.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=349104&obref=obinsite

Pennsylvania Gets More Than $41 Million In Federal Education Funds

Pennsylvania has been given more than $41 million in education funding through the federal Race to the Top grant program.

The money will be used mainly for a new evaluation system for teachers, an effort to align academic standards and improve access to charter and online charter schools, according to state education officials.

The $41,326,299 grant will be paid over the next four years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=355271

Little Known Facts From History – Today’s Humor

A pastor friend of mine sent me this and it is too funny not to share!

In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband,  “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods  when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?”

And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “How, dear?”

And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price.  And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.  And the drums rang out and were an immediate success.  Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew.  It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or eBay as it came to be known.

He said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.”

And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”

“YAHOO,” said Abraham.

And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside.

It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

That is how it all began. And that’s the truth.
Chapter 13, verses 7-16

Pennsylvania’s CHIP Program Has Growing Numbers

As hard times and high unemployment rates continue across the country, a program that aims to cover all uninsured children and teens in Pennsylvania has seen steady growth regionally and across the state.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, was launched in Pennsylvania in 1992 and was used as a model for the federal program four years later, according to state Insurance Department spokeswoman Melissa Fox. As of this month, CHIP covered nearly 194,500 children and teens, about a 17 percent increase from 2007.

Locally, CHIP enrollment has also seen growth. In Lackawanna County, nearly 3,000 kids and teens were covered by CHIP, a 22 percent increase since 2007. Luzerne County saw a 33 percent jump in members during the same time frame, with about 4,600 kids and teens covered right now.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/children-s-health-insurance-program-seeing-steady-increases-1.1249337#ixzz1hghhKmT1

King Coal Makes Comeback As Fuel Supply

English: Coal breaker at an anthracite coal mi...

Image via Wikipedia

Global demand and renewed popularity for the low-cost fuel have combined to put a strain on Pennsylvania anthracite supplies with a rather surprising result. People in the coal region are having trouble finding fuel for their stoves and furnaces.

It also shows how coal, which over the past 60 years has faded from its position as a dominant home heating fuel to a small niche market, is making a comeback in the face of high oil costs. A ton of coal, which can cost about $180 in the coal region, provides the same amount of heat as 180 gallons of heating oil, which would cost $630.

That price difference has encouraged many Pennsylvanians to use coal for heat. About 1.4 percent of Pennsylvania households have coal as a primary heat source in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-allentown-coal-shortage-20111225,0,6042051.story