August Wilson Center To Be Sold To Foundations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Dollar Bank and the court-appointed receiver for the debt-ridden August Wilson Center for African American Culture struck a deal on Monday to sell the embattled Downtown cultural center to a coalition of foundations for $8.85 million.

The agreement nixes the proposed $9.5 million sale of the center to New York-based 980 Liberty Partners, a developer that wanted to build a 200-room luxury hotel atop the existing two stories and share space with the center.

The surprise announcement shortly before noon in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court halted what was supposed to be a two- to three-day trial over deed terms before it began. It marked a shift in course for court-appointed receiver Judith K. Fitzgerald, who had previously urged the judge to approve the sale to 980.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6866840-74/million-center-court#ixzz3Ej4UAIHV
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Montgomery Elks Liquor License Renewal Denied By State

POTTSTOWN — The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board denied the Montgomery Elks Lodge’s liquor license renewal on Wednesday.

While the renewal process was halted and hearings were held in June and July, the Montgomery Elks was able to operate under its license that expired officially in the spring.

As of midnight Friday, the Montgomery Elks, located on the 600 block of Walnut Street, may no longer serve alcohol, according to a letter from the Liquor Control Board obtained by The Mercury from a source.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140925/updated-montgomery-elks-liquor-license-renewal-denied-by-state

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Distressed Cities Bill

HARRISBURG — Scranton residents could see their taxes rise under legislation approved unanimously Wednesday by the Senate.

The measure would require that Scranton levy a tax on residents equal to or more than its 0.75 percent commuter earned income tax.

This stipulation is included in a late amendment added to the bill by the sponsor, Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, Hollidaysburg. The goal here is to treat all Act 47 municipalities — including those like Scranton that have distressed municipal pension plans subject to Act 205 — the same, said Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald.

Ten other municipalities levy a pension-related earned income tax, but they levy it on both commuters and resident workers, he added.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/senate-approves-distressed-cities-bill-1.1759951

Allentown’s Americus Hotel Revitalization Suffers Major Blow

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plans to revitalize Allentown’s historic Americus Hotel have suffered a major blow that could set the project back multiple years, according to the hotel owner.

Albert Abdouche said financing for the $16.5 million renovation project has fallen through due to an Allentown authority’s hesitation regarding his plans.

As a result, Abdouche said he is no longer seeking to tap into the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, Allentown’s 127-acre special tax district, to finance the project.

Instead, Abdouche plans to make $1 million in improvements to the first floor with private money, then perhaps return to the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development next year to finance the rest of the hotel renovations.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentowns_americus_hotel_revi.html

Atlantic City’s Credit Rating Is Downgraded

Trump Taj Mahal, 2007

Trump Taj Mahal, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY – Standard & Poor’s downgraded Atlantic City’s credit rating from A-minus to BBB-plus on Monday, citing mainly the closing of four of 12 casinos this year.

The downgrade, which includes a negative outlook for the city, comes as Atlantic City is struggling with the loss of tax revenue because of the closures.

Combined, the shuttered gambling halls – Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel and Trump Plaza, which closed last Tuesday – generated about $75 million in property tax revenue last year. A fifth – Trump Taj Mahal – may close in November.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140923_JERSEY_SHORE.html#8By6Www9h9YC1lJB.99

D.A.: Three To Be Charged In Center City Attack

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

The District Attorney’s Office today approved arrest warrants for three suspects in the Sept. 11 attack on a gay couple near Rittenhouse Square.

Philip Williams, 24, Kevin Harrigan, 26, and Katherine Knott, 24, will be charged with two counts of aggravated assault and related offenses in the incident, District Attorney Seth Williams said.

All three reside in Bucks County.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/dncrime/DA-Three-to-be-charged-in-Center-City-attack.html#fE36qMxkaKpdqW1x.99

Peduto’s Budget Proposal Includes Tax Increase, Would End ‘Pittsburgh’s Financial Distress’

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto today presented a $505.9 million city budget proposal for 2015 that includes a real estate tax increase but ends what he characterized as two decades of budgeting shell games, putting Pittsburgh firmly on the path to financial solvency.

“Today is the beginning of the end of Pittsburgh’s financial distress,” Mr. Peduto said at a news conference where he was flanked by Sam Ashbaugh, the city’s new director of the Office of Management and Budget. “We’re overhauling our entire budget. We’re stripping it down and building it back up.”

Mr. Peduto said his staff worked with the city council, the city controller and the Pittsburgh’s financial overseers under the state Act 47 program for distressed municipalities to vet revenue forecasts.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/09/22/Pittsburgh-Mayor-Peduto-budget-proposal-includes-tax-increase-would-end-financial-distress/stories/201409220191

NEPA Gets Extra $500M For Projects

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Northeastern Pennsylvania will get nearly $500 million more than expected for transportation projects over the next 12 years.

In 2012, area planners expected to spend $1.56 billion on transportation infrastructure in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming, Wayne, Pike and Susquehanna counties from 2013 through 2025, state Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Taluto said.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the new transportation funding package in November, and transportation planners in the six counties recently allocated $2.03 billion to largely fix up the area’s roads and bridges from 2015 through 2027.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/nepa-gets-extra-500m-for-projects-1.1757716

Newest Pottstown School Board Member Is Homegrown

POTTSTOWN — To say that the Pottstown School Board’s newest member is a hometown booster would be a bit of an understatement.

Chosen from among four other candidates last week, Katina Bearden took the oath of office Thursday night and will complete the year left in the term of former board vice president Dennis Wausnock who died last month.

Born in Pottstown, educated in Pottstown, living in Pottstown and raising her family in Pottstown, you might say Bearden is fond of the place.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140919/katina-bearden-becomes-newest-pottstown-school-board-member

Range Resources To Pay $4.15M Fine, Close Old Gas Drilling Impoundments

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Range Resources Corp. will pay the largest state fine levied against a Pennsylvania shale gas driller and close five drilling wastewater impoundments in Washington County because of leaks into soil and groundwater, officials said on Thursday.

The Fort Worth-based company signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection that requires paying a $4.15 million fine, closing the troubled facilities and rebuilding two impoundments using what regulators call “next generation” technology.

“There are two messages we are sending today. One is we take these kinds of situations very seriously and there are going to be consequences even when a company is a good corporate neighbor,” department Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo told the Tribune-Review. “And to the citizens, the message is we’re going to handle these matters.”

Davitt Woodwell, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council said, “I commend Range for coming forward. And it appears DEP has taken this as an opportunity to leverage better standards.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6819985-74/range-impoundments-department#ixzz3DmCmQVOQ
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Merger Discussions Advance With Cornell And Moon School Districts

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exploration of a possible merger between neighboring school districts Cornell and Moon Area will continue as long as both sides show interest in doing so.

Cornell Superintendent Aaron Thomas updated his school board Thursday night as to the direction of recent talks between the adjacent districts. He said he met last week with Curt Baker, Moon Area’s superintendent, for a “half strategic and half brainstorming” session as to how a merger could occur.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/09/19/Merger-discussions-advance-with-Cornell-and-Moon-school-districts/stories/201409190166

Changes Coming To Lancaster And Berks Transit, But A Combined New Authority Won’t Look Different To Bus Riders

Picture 565Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority board took its first formal step toward a merger with Berks County’s BARTA system on Wednesday.

But the combined South Central Transit Authority will be indistinguishable from the present RRTA and BARTA.

“We’ll form a new authority and nobody will know the difference,” RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer said.

The single authority will operate RRTA and BARTA buses in their respective counties. The names on the buses will not change, nor will their colors.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/changes-coming-to-lancaster-and-berks-transit-but-a-combined/article_090e5798-3ec5-11e4-a7b4-001a4bcf6878.html

Allentown Police Hire New Officers, Implement New Training

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Allentown Police Department added four new officers on Wednesday, as the police chief described for city officials new training and equipment the force has been implementing.

In the last few months the department has appointed its first liaison for the gay and lesbian community, and added training in Spanish language, emergency vehicle usage and riot policing.

The department has also received a $68,000 grant for the installation of audio and video equipment in 10 police cars, something Chief Joel Fitzgerald hopes will be implemented in all the city’s marked police cars.

“It’s a tremendous benefit for both the community, as well as cops because it insulates them from claims that might not be true,” he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_police_hire_new_offi.html#incart_river

Steps Taken To Address Building Blight, But Lancaster May Still Move To Take Problem Property

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Annville developer Kenneth Wenger has paid back taxes, ensured the grounds of the former G.E. Richards building are clean and the grass cut.

He has resolved nearly all the issues that led city inspectors to declare the 502-506 W. Walnut St. property blighted.

But that didn’t stop city Redevelopment Authority board members on Tuesday from voting to begin the process of taking the property by eminent domain.

In April, the board gave Wenger until Sept. 30 to address blighted conditions. The taking could occur in as little as 90 days unless Wenger takes action.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/steps-taken-to-address-building-blight-but-city-may-still/article_479f45ec-3e09-11e4-bf1e-0017a43b2370.html

Hughes Named Acting Wilkes-Barre Police Chief

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

Robert Hughes is the acting chief of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department after being appointed Monday by Mayor Tom Leighton.

Hughes, the department’s commander of operations, has been with the department for 25 years, according to a press release from the city.

Hughes replaces Gerard Dessoye, who retired Friday after 33 years to take a security job with King’s College.

Norristown Code Enforcement Manager Resigns After Investigation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — Code Enforcement Manager Joseph Januzelli was forced to resign Monday after Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones concluded an investigation into a Norristown resident’s complaint that a district justice allegedly rented an apartment to her without securing the required, annual rental license from the code enforcement department.

Eileen Schwartz complained at the Sept. 2 council meeting that her roof collapsed into her apartment earlier this year. Schwartz said she had rented the apartment in the 400 block of West Fornance Street from Norristown District Justice Francis Lawrence for more than nine years and that Lawrence had never obtained a rental license for the apartment.

Council members ordered Jones to investigate whether Lawrence had obtained a rental license.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140908/norristown-code-enforcement-manager-resigns-after-investigation

Pottstown Resident Miffed By Lack Of ‘Mercury’ Front Page Coverage For Pottstown High School Football Team’s Win

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s Note:  We saw this on Facebook and feel it needs to be shared with the wider community.  We understand and share this parent’s concern about the promotion of Pottstown and the Pottstown School District.  In our humble opinion, Pottstown and Pottstown School District news should always take priority in the local paper.  Far more disturbing is the son’s comment that “nobody cares about Pottstown”.  How sad is this and what does it say about the prevailing attitude of Pottstonians if this despair has crept all the way down the ladder to school age children?  At times this appears to be the prevailing attitude of the leadership, both paid and elected.  This issue needs some serious discussion by the “powers that be” and this cycle of “nobody cares” needs to end.  How will Pottstown ever recover with a defeatist attitude! Apparently, this attitude has been picked up on by “the rest of the world” and might be why articles like the recent one in the Philadelphia Inquirer get published.

I found myself very annoyed this morning.  I went and bought my local HOMETOWN newspaper which is operated and ran in Pottstown.  I looked on the front page and to my surprise and anger there is nothing about the Pottstown High School football team winning yesterday, but yet we put the Perk Valley vs. Methacton score on the front page.  Now please don’t think that I am putting down the other schools, but to not have the school that resides where your paper is published on the front page was to be quite frank, appalling.  My son, who happens to play for the Trojans, told me “what is the big deal Dad, no one cares about Pottstown”.  News Alert: I care and there are people out there that do care.  I’m sure there are people that agree with him but I am not one of them.  I am a former grad who still supports his local team.  How do we expect to move forward in this school district when our students have the mentality of no one cares about us, no big deal?  Our town needs help and I just think that a putting some good news about the LOCAL KIDS would go a long way in changing people ‘s attitude.   Rob Bertoti

Allentown Residents Benefiting From Hockey Arena Area Job Growth

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Oliver Velasquez arrived for a job fair earlier this summer at the new Allentown hockey arena, he was shocked by the number of attendees.

“I didn’t expect to see that many people; there must have been thousands,” the 26-year-old Allentown resident said. “The line actually wrapped around the block a couple of times.”

Velasquez waited in that line, and it paid off for him. He is now the PPL Center’s new suites and catering manager, providing banquets for catered events and overseeing food in the arena’s private suites.

He is one of more than 300 city residents to find employment as part of an effort by community activists and city officials to ensure people living in Allentown get a fair shot at the jobs being created by downtown redevelopment.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_residents_benefittin.html

Bethlehem Distillery Gets OK For State’s First New Economic Development Incentive

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

A Bethlehem-based distillery to be opened by the owner of Franklin Hill Vineyards received approval today to be the first business in the state to use a new economic development incentive.

The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority gave its unanimous approval to grant the distillery — which will be called Social Still — funding through the state’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone. The designation allows state and local nonproperty taxes from new businesses in the zone to help finance new development within it.

Authority members debated today over how much of those taxes the business should get. The authority’s guidelines say the authority “strives” to give the developer 80 percent of the funding, an amount board member Ann McHale said is too low for such a unique project.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/09/distillery_gets_ok_for_bethleh.html

York City Commuter Tax ‘A Very Real Possibility’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A majority of York City Council members said they are willing to consider authorizing a new tax in 2015 that would reach into the pockets of many more people.

The distressed pension earned income tax — more commonly known as the commuter tax — has been on the city’s menu of revenue-generating options for the past several years.

But, so far, city officials have been able to balance York’s budgets without wading into the controversial waters of taxing commuters’ earnings.

That might change next year.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26465818/york-city-commuter-tax-very-real-possibility