Distressed Cities Bill Wins Final OK

HARRISBURG, PA — Scranton and other fiscally distressed cities could triple the local services tax to help them move out of Act 47 status under legislation that won final legislative approval with a 43-5 Senate vote Thursday.

This option would be available to Act 47 municipalities only as an alternative to an increased earned income tax already available to them.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill after a review, said spokesman Jay Pagni. He has 10 days to review the provisions.

The local services tax could potentially triple from $52 annually to $156 annually for individuals working in those municipalities but those earning under $15,600 annually would be exempt from the higher local services tax.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/distressed-cities-bill-wins-final-ok-1.1772463

The Political Porn Circus Adds A 3rd Ring

THE HARRISBURG porn circus consuming the state’s Capitol added a third ring yesterday.

The first ring: Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last month released a selection of explicit emails sent and received by Gov. Corbett‘s top deputies when he was attorney general.

The second ring: State Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille and Justice Seamus McCaffery continued their long-running feud, swapping accusations this week after Castille disclosed that McCaffery sent and received many of the explicit images.

And the third ring: Emails obtained yesterday by the Daily News show that state Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin used a fake name on a Yahoo email account to receive emails with explicit and racist images in 2010.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20141017_The_political_porn_circus_adds_a_3rd_ring.html#BVfVSR1RS0B1Yrsx.99

Another Bad Air Report For Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The air Lancaster County residents breathe continues to be among the worst in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.

In the ALA’s annual “State of the Air” report, which examined federal pollution records from 2010-2012, Lancaster County ranked as the 18th-worst metropolitan area out of 217 in the United States for average daily levels of particle pollution, which is composed of soot, dust particles and aerosols.

The Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area was tied with Lancaster.

Lancaster County had an average of 4.7 unhealthy days per year over the three-year period, compared to three unhealthy days in last year’s report.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/another-bad-air-report-for-lancaster-county/article_4126c060-d094-11e3-a95e-001a4bcf6878.html

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Great Harrisburg Cleanup This Saturday

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It may be wet & cold today but Saturday will be sunny & dry.  Perfect weather to come out and join Friends of Midtown in the Great Harrisburg Cleanup which runs from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  There will be a dumpster located at the Broad Street Market for the bags of trash & debris collected.  Our new incinerator owner, LCSWMA, has agreed to waive the tipping fees and the dumpsters have also been donated by local businesses.  This is truly a community event and city-wide as there will be donated dumpsters located in Uptown and Allison Hill.

We will meet at 8:45 am in front of the Broad Street Market on the Third Street side and set our plans to clean up our neighborhood.  If you prefer to work with your neighbors in your own block and find hauling your collected trash bags to the Broad Street Market dumpster could be difficult, register your group on the Great Harrisburg Cleanup website at http://historicharrisburg.com/index.php/events/volunteer-registration and indicate what street corner your bags will be placed so they can be picked up by Public Works.

Any questions?  Contact us at beautification@friendsofmidtown.org before 8:00 am on Saturday.

Hope to see you there!

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Poll: Those In NEPA Among Most Miserable In U.S.

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Lancaster, PA ranked 21st on the list :)  The happiest of any Pennsylvania Metropolitan Area.  Hey now!

People in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area are among the most miserable in the nation, according to a report that ranks the area 177th out of 189 it surveyed to gauge residents’ sense of well-being.

Their continuing economic downslide, bad memories, misperceptions and even a lack of sunlight may play a part in Northeast Pennsylvanians’ gloomy outlook, some local experts say in commenting on the State of American Well-Being, the report released last week by Gallup and Healthways.

The highest-ranked area was Provo-Orem, Utah, and the lowest-ranked was the Huntington, W.Va.-Ashland, Ky. area. More than 178,000 people across the country were interviewed last year, including a sample size of 1,092 from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

The survey asked people to rate their life evaluation – a combination of current situation evaluation and the anticipated situation in five years – emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to health care and other necessities.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/poll-those-in-nepa-among-most-miserable-in-u-s-1.1663838

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MCCC Students Named To All-PA Academic Team

PHOTO: Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (far left) and Board of Trustees Chairman Michael D’Aniello (far right) stand with MCCC’s All-PA Academic Team members (from left) Serena Dunlap, Elizabeth Holleger, Angelique Moon and Shari Nelson. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

PHOTO: Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (far left) and Board of Trustees Chairman Michael D’Aniello (far right) stand with MCCC’s All-PA Academic Team members (from left) Serena Dunlap, Elizabeth Holleger, Angelique Moon and Shari Nelson. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Harrisburg, PA — Four Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students were among 45 students from across the Commonwealth recognized this week for their academic and community achievements.

MCCC students include Serena Dunlap, Gilbertsville; Elizabeth Holleger, Norristown; Angelique Moon, Pottstown; and Shari Nelson, Pottstown.

Collectively, the students comprise the All-PA Academic Team, which is administered nationally by Phi Theta Kappa, the national two-year college honors society. Students were recognized in Harrisburg on March 31, both on the floor of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol, and during a banquet facilitated by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

Serena Dunlap already graduated from MCCC’s Honors Program in December, earning an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies before transferring to Bryn Mawr College on full scholarship. Her long-term plans include earning a Ph.D. and specializing in art therapy.

After graduating from Boyertown Area High School, Serena spent a semester at a private university, struggling to pay the tuition price out-of-pocket.  Then she learned about MCCC’s Honors Program, which offers full-tuition scholarships for high-achieving students.

“I chose to attend community college because it was affordable,” Dunlap said. “Not only is it affordable, but it is very easy to get involved on campus and in the community itself, which makes it a pleasure to attend. Affordability was my goal when I decided to attend community college, but what community college gives in education and community is priceless.”

On campus, Dunlap was very engaged in student life, serving as vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the Environmental Club, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and as the Northwest Regional Representative of the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC). She also worked as a peer mentor in the College’s Upward Bound program and served as a student representative on the President’s Climate Council and Student Life Committee.

Elizabeth Holleger is an Education in the Early Years major who hopes to one day work as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education. She dedicates her time to volunteering and performing service work in the community in memory of her mother, who lost her battle with invasive breast cancer in 2007.

“I decided to turn a difficult situation into a positive one, and I started volunteering and fundraising in my mother’s memory,” Holleger said. “I want to do all that I can to help others who are also affected by breast cancer. It has become a huge part of my life, and I often volunteer together with my sisters and brothers. My mother’s death has allowed me to grow as a person and to think positively about any situation.”

On campus, Holleger was instrumental in helping to charter the College’s first-ever Rotaract community service club, and she serves as its secretary. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and she participated in Alternative Spring Break, during which she volunteered for five days at The Samaritan Woman in Baltimore, Md.

Holleger currently holds a 4.0 grade point average (GPA), which she plans to maintain through next December when she will graduate from MCCC with an associate’s degree.

Angelique Moon proudly became the first woman in her family to earn a college degree when she completed her associate’s degree coursework in December at MCCC. A mother of three boys, Moon was majoring in Business when she signed up for a drawing class to fill an elective.

 “I never really knew what I wanted or who I was until after I took this [drawing] class. It changed my life,” she expressed.

Because art helped Moon overcome her social anxiety, she wants to help others to help themselves through art, too. She is currently taking more Fine Arts classes at MCCC and hopes to continue her studies at Kutztown University.

“As far as my long-term goals, I would love to teach but I know that many public schools are removing the arts; therefore, I am keeping an open mind to possibly curating at a museum,” she said. “I also plan to show my work as often as possible and to volunteer my services as an instructor to spread the love of art and to teach others how to express themselves through art.”

Shari Nelson chose to attend MCCC so that she could pursue a degree while helping with her family’s business–Nelson Illusions, a theater company specializing in magic and illusion. A Liberal Studies major at MCCC’s West Campus, Nelson plans to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics and hopes to one day teach math, while continuing to work in the arts and to travel as a professional magician and illusionist.

“Learning has always been important to me, and I love understanding new things and applying them to my life and work,” shared Nelson. “Montgomery County Community College has given me the opportunity to achieve my education and work with wonderful professors while still being able to continue my jobs. At college I aim to learn the most I can to better myself and, hopefully, my future family.”

Nelson will graduate this summer from MCCC with an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies. On campus, she co-founded the West End Student Theatre club and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She also volunteered during MLK Day of Service and as a new student orientation leader. As a magician, Nelson has earned four major awards, including the Magicians Alliance of the Eastern States Award of Excellence, and has competed nationally in magic competitions.

Members of the All-PA Academic Team qualify for two-year scholarships to any of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions and compete at the national level for scholarships from the All-USA Academic Team and the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. To learn more, visit http://www.pacommunitycolleges.org.

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Drug Overdose Deaths Spur Legislation

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Concerns about a spate of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania have put the spotlight on legislation to create a state database to monitor illegal use of prescription drugs.

The issue surfaced last month during state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Passage of monitoring legislation is key to combatting illegal drug use, Kane said. Prescription drug abuse is often a gateway to heroin use, she said.

“We have a heroin problem,” Kane said. “We also have a prescription pill problem.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/drug-overdose-deaths-spur-legislation-1.1647566

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Montco Residents’ Butter Sculpture Honors The Milkshake At Pa. Farm Show

Location of Whitemarsh Township in Montgomery ...

Location of Whitemarsh Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will Sellers appeared amazed as he stared at roughly 1,000 pounds of butter fashioned into a three-dimensional image that depicts a guy selling milkshakes beside two cows dancing on their hind legs.

“I’ve never seen a butter sculpture,” said Sellers, of Luling, La.

Sellers was in Harrisburg on Thursday to help his father-in-law — Larry Hamilton, owner of Potter County-based Hamilton’s Maple Products — set up a display for the family’s business at the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The sculpture, a longtime tradition at the show, is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world, Farm Show officials said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140103/montco-residents-butter-sculpture-honors-the-milkshake-at-pa-farm-show

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2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show Starts January 4th In Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs Jan. 4 through Jan. 11 at the Pennsylvania Complex & Expo Center, North Cameron and Maclay Streets, Harrisburg.

Show hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 4 through 11 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 12

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/business/20140102/live-from-the-2014-pennsylvania-farm-show

Outgoing Harrisburg Mayor, Linda Thompson, Lands On Time Magazine’s 2013 Mayors’ Gaffe List

Editor’s note:  Ms. Thompson landed in the number two spot.  A rather infamous list of mayoral faux pas from around the globe.  Way to go LT for putting Harrisburg in the international spotlight.

The Year in Mayors’ Gaffes

A road to political purgatory, from bad to worst

Read more: The Year in Mayors’ Gaffes | TIME.com http://poy.time.com/2013/12/10/the-year-in-mayors-gaffes/#ixzz2nhSvTjn9

Multiple People Shot Following Harrisburg Youth Party

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Multiple adults and juveniles were shot as they left a youth party at the Community Center at Walnut and Hoerner streets in Harrisburg early Saturday morning.

Police were dispatched to a shooting report at North 16th and Walnut streets at 12:55, and upon arrival, were directed to Walnut and Hoerner streets to investigate a report of multiple shots fired.

As the investigation was underway, several people arrived to area hospitals with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/multiple_people_shot_following.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Some Parts Of Harrisburg Area Hit With 10 Inches Of Rain Thursday Through Friday, Forecasters Say

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in th...

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in the south central part of the of . Red denotes the Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After two days of record breaking rainfall, the sun is once again visible in the Harrisburg area this morning.

Some parts of the Cumberland, York and Dauphin counties received more than ten inches of rain during the last 48 hours, according to estimates by the National Weather Service in State College.

The Harrisburg area officially received a total of 9.74 inches of rain on Thursday and Friday, according to measurements taken at the Harrisburg International Airport.

Friday’s rainfall in Harrisburg was measured at 5.72 inches. That crushed the previous high for Oct. 11, which was 1.47 inches, set in 1905.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/some_parts_of_harrisburg_area.html#incart_river_default

Local McDonald’s Owner Subject Of Son’s Harassment, Prostitution-Related Complaints

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The son of a local McDonald’s franchisee has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and McDonald’s Corp. to investigate employee harassment charges that he has lodged against his father.

Jason Rippon filed a complaint with the EEOC in August in which he alleges that his father, H. James Rippon, has ordered employees to help solicit prostitutes, regularly sexually harasses workers and makes racist comments to staff.

James Rippon, 72, had a manager at one of his three restaurants send text messages to prostitutes he was soliciting, according to his son’s complaint. James Rippon allegedly had the worker send the texts because he didn’t know how to send messages from his own cellphone.

The elder Rippon, of Hummelstown, owns McDonald’s restaurants in West Hanover Township, Pine Grove and Shamokin Dam.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/mcdonalds_franchisee.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Marysville Police Chief Fired By Borough Council

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Perry County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Perry County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marysville Borough Council fired the borough’s police chief Monday night.

Carl Lehman, who had been a member of Marysville Police Department for 12 years, was fired for personnel reasons, said Scott Weaver, borough manager.

It was a unanimous vote of the seven-member council, he said. “He didn’t do anything illegal,” Weaver said, adding that there are “all kinds of allegations” circulating that are not true.

There was an investigation by the borough’s mayor and solicitor, Weaver said, which led to the chief’s firing.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/marysville_police_chief_fired.html#incart_m-rpt-2

A Year After A Shift On Second Street, Harrisburg’s Restaurant Row Is ‘Kinder, Gentler’ — And A Bit More Mature, Businesses Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is not your twenty-somethings’ Second Street. Sure, Harrisburg’s Restaurant Row remains a haven for newly-minted but decidedly inexperienced drinkers that can lead to problems for establishment owners, their patrons and police.

But over the past year, there has been a deliberate shift on Second Street. Its character has mellowed and matured, some business owners say. And the proof is in the character of the crowds. It’s a slightly older customer base now seen in upstart — and upscale — establishments such as the Federal Taphouse, the Susquehanna Ale House and the Second Street Comedy Club.

The turning point came in early 2012. After a string of stabbings, including a fatality, the Dragonfly nightclub abruptly closed. Instead of a driving beat, the space was given over to craft beer and gourmet burgers with the summer opening of the Federal Taphouse. By all accounts, the joint venture of Corey Fogarty of Fogarty Hospitality and Judd Goodman of Brubar Inc. has been a smashing success.

Not only is business good. Business as usual has changed on Second Street as a result. Crowds are a little older. Instead of bargain beer specials, thirty- and forty-somethings are spending $7 and $8 a beer. They’re coming in for dinner, shifting peak hours to between 5 p.m. and midnight, instead of midnight to 2 a.m.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/a_year_after_a_shift_on_second.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Harrisburg Mayoral Hopefuls Fielding Questions For First General Election Debate

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Three mayoral candidates are fielding questions during the general election’s first debate.

The event started at 6 p.m. at co-sponsor Harrisburg Area Community College’s student center, 1 HACC Drive.

Democrat Eric Papenfuse, Republican nominee Dan Miller and write-in hopeful Lewis Butts will participate.

Whoever wins the election will lead Harrisburg as the city emerges from financial recovery.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/harrisburg_mayoral_hopefuls_fi.html#incart_river#incart_m-rpt-2

Moving Harrisburg Forward Might Be Impossible Without Settling Present

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The forum was supposed to focus on the future of Harrisburg. And to a large extent, it did. But the reality of city’s present casts a long shadow over any discussion in the capital these days.

At some point in the next three months, it is likely the Harrisburg recovery plan, whether you support it or not, is going to go into effect, essentially eliminating the city’s massive debts and putting its government back on the path to some form of solvency.

How much it is able to carry that past the next four years remains unknown. But the future of the city, whether it stagnates or begins a new renaissance, will largely be in its own hands, unencumbered from debt obligations.

At its core, argues developer Ralph Vartan, is a simple equation. Of the 58,000 people who work in the city, only about 10,000 live in the city. That is further unbalanced by the fact that over the last several decades the regional population has almost doubled, while Harrisburg’s has stagnated.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/moving_harrisburg_forward_may.html#incart_m-rpt-2

SEPTA Warns Of ‘Devastating’ Cuts

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a showdown looming in Harrisburg, SEPTA officials made a final pitch Thursday for millions more in state aid to avoid a “devastating” cutback in service.

A House vote is expected as early as next week on statewide transportation funding, and SEPTA says it is prepared to enact a doomsday plan to eliminate nine of its 13 rail lines, close a subway line, and convert all trolley routes to bus lines.

Deputy general manager Jeffrey Knueppel told the SEPTA board that old rail bridges, power stations, vehicles, and train stations could no longer be maintained and must be replaced.

Without more state funding for those capital needs, SEPTA will begin a “rational progression” of cutbacks over a decade, starting next year, Kneuppel said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130927_SEPTA_warns_of__devastating__cuts.html#0mpGuZ38YSbrJSk6.99

Massive Foreclosure Sale: 16 Office Buildings, $67M In Debt, Spanning 2 Counties

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in th...

Locator map of the Harrisburg metro area in the south central part of the of . Red denotes the Harrisburg-Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sixteen office buildings, $67 million in debt.

It is a sprawling real estate portfolio, one that stretches from Mechanicsburg in the west to Lower Paxton Township in the east. And its all being put up for sale to the highest bidder in October, dramatically enough on the steps of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Harrisburg.

The foreclosure sale – one of the largest, if not the largest in the midstate’s recent history – comes after a year-long, largely uncontested civil case in federal court, between one of the nation’s largest banks and a real estate company which serves as proxy for other, largely unknown investors.

The buildings include sites in Rossmoyne Business Park in Upper Allen Township, Interstate Drive in Susquehanna Township, and along Flank Drive in Lower Paxton, home to dozens of private businesses and several state agencies, including PEMA.

Reads more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/massive_foreclosure_scheduled.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Dauphin County Coroner Identifies Harrisburg’s 12th Homicide Victim

Harrisburg’s latest homicide victim was identified as one Rafael Diaz, according to a press release issued by the Dauphin County Coroner’s Office earlier Thursday.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/dauphin_county_coroner_identif_1.html#incart_m-rpt-2