Officials Further Hopeful About International Rail Port In Bethlehem

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials were in Bethlehem last week to further discuss opening a local international rail port and local officials left the meeting feeling very hopeful.

“They’re very interested in the site, they’re very interested in the Lehigh Valley,” said Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez, who attended the Sept. 12 meeting with Port Authority officials at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Don Cunningham also said the Port Authority is very interested in opening an inland port in Bethlehem. He said the main unknown is whether the owner of the Bethlehem Intermodal rail yard can get funding to expand.

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

Facade Program Spruces Up Wilkes-Barre’s Main Arteries

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — Angela Marsicano and her daughter, Gina, know first-hand the benefits of the city’s Gateway Facade Improvement Program.

The two women live next door to each other and they took advantage of the program to improve the appearance of their Blackman Street homes. Angela lives at 246 Blackman St. and Gina is at 250 Blackman.

Gina had new stonework, front window, front door, porch rail, porch roof installed and aluminum siding painted.

Her mother had new windows installed, shutters, aconcrete foundation and porch steps put in.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50139841/Facade-program-spruces-up-W-Bs-main-arteries#.U_I5tPRDsxI

Neighborhood Allies Names Innovator As First President

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neighborhood Allies has named as its first president the nationally recognized innovator behind revitalization efforts in Youngstown, Ohio.

Presley Gillespie begins his work in mid-May with the nonprofit that established this year from the dissolution of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Mr. Gillespie founded the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. five years ago. It was that city’s first such entity and it grew from a $200,000 start-up into a $3.1 million force behind housing rehabilitation and green enterprise, including the Iron Roots Urban Farm, a commercial enterprise on a solar-powered campus with a demonstration kitchen, job training workshops and a community loan fund for low- and moderate income home buyers.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/04/17/Neighborhood-Allies-names-innovator-as-first-president/stories/201404170138#ixzz2z9oBG3S0

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Easton Urban Garden, Which Grew 1,400 Pounds Of Produce Last Year, Hopes For Funding Boost

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

A once-withering urban garden on Easton’s South Side grew hundreds of pounds of free produce for city residents last year.

The city hopes to build on its success by pursuing a $75,000 federal grant and then matching it with city funds to expand and improve the garden at the Easton Area Neighborhood Center.

The West Ward Neighborhood Partnershiptook over the troubled garden in 2012 and last year, volunteers helped harvest more than 1,400 pounds of vegetables that were donated to Easton residents.

Initial plans call for expanding the farmable land, installing new garden-themed playground equipment, improving the watering system and erecting a fence.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2014/04/easton_urban_gardens_success_c.html

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Pennsylvania Partners In The Arts Project Stream Grant Workshops

LVAC-4LinesCalling all artists, community groups and arts organizations!

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council invites you to apply for up to $2,500 from the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Stream to fund arts projects or activities benefiting the communities of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. Anyone interested in applying is encouraged to join us for one of our free PPA grant workshops.

May 6th, 4 PM to 5:30 PM: Lehigh Valley Arts Council (Allentown)

May 8th, 4 PM to 5:30 PM: Sigal Museum (Easton)

Mark your Calendar! The PPA deadline for Project Stream Applications is June 20th, 2014!

Click here for more information: http://lvartscouncil.org/programs/workshops.html

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Report: Absence Of School Funding Formula In PA Costs Pottstown $5 Million A Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough property owners would be off the hook for generating more than $5 million in school funding this year if the state funding formula abandoned by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2010 were still in place, according to a report.

Further, as a result of that formula’s absence in calculating state education funding, Pottstown has lost more state aid in the past few years than almost any other district in Montgomery County, the report found.

At $2.5 million, only Norristown schools lost more in the last three years than the $1.5 million in state funding Pottstown has lost since 2010-11, the study found.

In an attempt to reverse the problems highlighted in that study, the Pottstown School Board on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Harrisburg to establish “a fair and equitable school funding formula.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140328/report-absence-of-school-funding-formula-in-pa-costs-pottstown-5-million-a-year

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Opposition Builds To Library Funding Cut By Lower Pottsgrove Township

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA — The township commissioners’ decision to reconsider its 2014 funding for the Pottstown Regional Public Library has resulted in a swelling of support for the library and a number of efforts to keep the funding intact.

Earlier this month when the Board of Commissioners reorganized, the new majority announced its intention to open up the 2014 budget adopted one month earlier and reduce funding to the Pottstown Regional Public Library on High Street.

Paradoxically, in December, Lower Pottsgrove had joined with both Upper Pottsgrove and Pottstown borough in increasing the allocation to the library for 2014.

In Lower Pottsgrove’s case, the commissioners had agreed in December to increase the annual allocation by $5,000 — up to $65,000.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140118/opposition-builds-to-library-funding-cut-by-l-pottstrove

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Pottstown Regional Public Library Funding Rescue May Lie With School Parents

POTTSTOWN PA – Can residents in the Lower Pottsgrove portion of the Pottsgrove School District do what they proved capable of five years ago this month: rescue the Pottstown Regional Public Library by encouraging the township Board of Commissioners to restore proposed funding cuts? The school board’s leader is hoping for it.

The library may literally be banking on it.

A majority of commissioners announced last Monday (Jan. 6, 2014), during their reorganization meeting, that they intended to conduct a Feb. 3 (Monday) hearing in part to consider cutting $10,000 in library funding from the township’s already approved 2014 budget. The library had been allocated to receive a $5,000 increase in Lower Pottsgrove’s contribution, from $60,000 annually in each of the past five years, to $65,000 this year.

The majority last week instead suggested it wants to now lower the donation to $55,000, eliminating the increase and another $5,000 as well. Those commissioners – board President Bruce Foltz, Vice President Stephen Klotz, and new member Shawn Watson – have indicated they would prefer to put more money into the police department and other priorities.

Read more: http://sanatogapost.com/2014/01/13/library-funding-rescue-may-lie-school-parents/

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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Bridges Are On Replacement List

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)

The state’s $2.4 billion transportation funding law will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to use its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project on at least 200 more bridges than originally planned.

Among the 998 bridges eligible for replacement are eight in Luzerne County, seven in Lackawanna County and four in Wyoming County.

The project that will reconstruct at least 500 structurally deficient bridges of similar design across the state involves PennDOT reaching out to the private sector to submit statements of qualification.

Erin Waters, a PennDOT spokeswoman, said those interested in bidding must submit their statements of qualifications to the agency by Jan.31.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1052771/Area-bridges-are-on-replacement-list

Downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland Rapid Bus Route Urged

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Backers of a proposed Bus Rapid Transit corridor connecting Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland have adopted an ambitious timetable to advance the project.

Wendy Stern, Port Authority assistant general manager for planning and development, told a board committee recently that project supporters hope to apply for federal funding next fall. That would require completion of preliminary engineering and environmental review before then, and securing all of the non-federal funding needed for construction.

That would keep the project on track for a start of service in 2017.

A preliminary estimate of the overall cost is $200 million and the project would have to prevail in a highly competitive federal grant program to move ahead, Ms. Stern said. A federal grant likely would cover only 50 percent of the cost.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/12/02/Port-Authority-pushes-Downtown-Oakland-rapid-yyy-Downtown-to-Oakland-rapid-bus-route-urged/stories/201312020059#ixzz2mL8hxINw

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Pottstown Halloween Parade Planned, Funds Needed

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — With civic groups working to make Pottstown “the place to be” for Halloween, it would be remiss not to mention the event that got it all started — the Halloween Parade.

As Halloween-parade lovers may recall, last year’s parade almost didn’t happen when it was revealed that the organizers did not have the fee waiver they thought they had from borough council.

Council eventually agreed to pay half the fee for police overtime services to $2,500, but it was a scramble to come up with the money.

Dick Frantz is the Pottstown Rotary Club’s point man on parade matters and he said the club, which co-sponsors the parade with the Pottstown AMBUCS, hopes to avoid that last minute scramble this year.

Rad more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131006/pottstown-halloween-parade-planned-funds-needed

Scranton, Wilkes-Barre Area Roads Among Bottom Third In Mid-Sized Cities Nationally

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)

A national research group ranked the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area’s roads among the bottom third of the nation’s mid-sized cities.

More specifically, TRIP ranked both cities and the surrounding suburban areas 17th worst among 62 urban regions with populations between 250,000 and 500,000.

Thirty-two percent of the region’s roads are “in poor condition and provide a rough ride,” according to the report that TRIP released Thursday.

The average motorist in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area pays $539 annually in vehicle maintenance costs related to the substandard roads, which TRIP ranked 18th nationally.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-wilkes-barre-area-roads-among-bottom-third-in-mid-sized-cities-nationally-1.1563220

Governor Would Sign Transportation Bills

HARRISBURG, PA – Amid Pennsylvania’s stalled debate over how to raise more money for highways and transit agencies, state Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Friday that Gov. Tom Corbett would sign either of two plans that have led debate in the legislature.

Corbett has not to date publicly endorsed any specific transportation funding plan in the Legislature after a $1.8 billion plan he released in February failed to gain much traction with lawmakers.

But a new willingness by the governor to embrace either bill is a sign that he is no longer willing to let disagreement over some elements of each bill stop him from making it law.

“He wants a transportation bill on his desk,” Schoch said. “What passes both parts of the Legislature I believe he’ll sign.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=514833

Mix-Up In Payment Costs Reading $715,000

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City officials acknowledged Monday that a $625,000 payment from the wrong fund 10 years ago for the Sovereign Plaza project now is costing the city $715,000 in money it could otherwise have used for economic development.

Matthew Bembenick, administrative services director, also told City Council that the Reading Redevelopment Authority had a verbal deal, not a written agreement, on who pays back several loans from that project, so there’s little paperwork except for some 10-year-old emails.

“The documentation that exists from 10 or 11 years ago is spotty at best,” said Bembenick, hired last year.

He added that he’s spent countless hours trying to find what paperwork the city has.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=504622

Reading / Berks Crime Summit Initiatives Still Moving Ahead, Leaders Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

More than six months after a meeting of 100-plus public and private leaders put a sharp focus on curtailing crime in Reading and Berks County, initiatives spawned at the Jan. 18 crime summit remain active.

One of them, the formation of a joint law-enforcement intelligence committee, is a topic that Berks District Attorney John T. Adams did not want to discuss in detail, other than to say that meetings have been held.

But Adams and others provided progress reports on other crime summit initiatives.  They were cobbled together during the unique gathering at Crowne Plaza Reading, Wyomissing, that involved federal and state lawmakers, Gov. Tom Corbett, county officials and leading business people.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=500295

Troubled Bridge Project A Headache, Wilkes-Barre Resident Says

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — One resident of the city’s Miners Mills section thinks the city jumped the gun by knocking down a bridge and cutting off the regular flow of traffic in the largely residential neighborhood.

Joe Gibbons Jr., of Coon Street, said the Sydney Street Bridge replacement project has been unattended for about two weeks. The span crossed Mill Creek.

Contractors closed the Coon and Sidney streets three-way intersection and then tore down the bridge in preparation for the reconstruction — now stalled because of a funding mixup.

Coon runs parallel with North Washington Street and connects Beatty and Sidney streets.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/645753/Troubled-bridge-project-a-headache-W-B-resident-says

PennDOT Lists Berks County Projects Transportation Bill Could Fund

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

PennDOT says it could make Route 222 four lanes from Reading to Allentown and catch up on road and bridge repairs all over Berks County if it can get its hands on more money.

The agency released its long-awaited Decade of Investment list Friday, detailing on an interactive website what extra projects it could get done if the state Legislature passes one of the transportation funding boosts that have been proposed.

The site allows people to compare what roadwork could be done if funds stay the same with what could be done with the $1.8 billion per year increase Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in February or the $2.5 billion per year increase the state Senate passed this month.

“There’s not much that’s going to happen if we’re faced with the current funding,” PennDOT spokesman Ronald J. Young Jr. said, adding, “We’d just be treading water, so to speak.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=486658

$3M Bike Lane/Sidewalk Project Would Create Safe Routes To Schools In Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — An ambitious $3 million plan to repair sidewalks and install bike lanes throughout the town as part of an effort to establish “Safe Routes to Schools” was unveiled Monday before borough council.

The idea is to combine state transportation funding and seek funding from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation as a match to undertake the upgrades, which would include repairing numerous damaged borough sidewalks at no cost to property owners.

At the same time, said Pottstown School District Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, the district would seek to incorporate the idea of physical fitness into its curriculum and encourage students to walk or ride a bicycle to school and home again.

Sparagana offered up two towns, Naperville, Ill. and Titusville, Pa., where similar efforts were undertaken and have proven successful.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130613/NEWS01/130619676/-3m-bike-lane-sidewalk-project-would-create-safe-routes-to-schools#full_story

PA Senate Passes $2.5 Billion Transportation Funding Package

Four months after hearing Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for a transportation funding plan in his budget address to the Legislature, the Senate delivered one mightily.

By a 45-5 vote, the Senate today approved a transportation funding plan that not only raises the $1.8 billion by 2018 that Corbett wanted.  It goes $700 million beyond that.

The measure now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.  Its fate is uncertain in the House because of the cost implications on consumers.

All midstate senators voted in favor of the legislation.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/senate_passes_25_billion_trans.html#incart_m-rpt-1