Marcus Hook Refinery Gets Makeover As Natural Gas Hub

English: Sunoco Logo

English: Sunoco Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is out with the old and in with the new at the 500-acre waterfront facility formerly known as the Sunoco Marcus Hook Refinery, now the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.

Workers last week ripped down aging petroleum-processing equipment, part of a labyrinth of machinery that has produced gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for more than a century. Other crews built cryogenic storage tanks more than 130 feet tall with three-foot-thick walls that will hold the future: new fuels from the prolific Marcellus Shale region.

Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., a pipeline company that bought the property for $60 million last year from its sister company, Sunoco Inc., is converting the site into a major center for processing and shipping natural gas liquids.

“We very much hope this is only the first step in this property,” said Jonathan Hunt, director of the complex. “We’re working on a lot of possible businesses. There’s a lot of opportunities here.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140420_Marcus_Hook_refinery_gets_makeover_as_natural_gas_hub.html#uviXa1C6vRQ7JrMk.99

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Teen Stabs 22 At Pittsburgh-Area High School

Map of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Unit...

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

MURRYSVILLE, PA (AP) – Flailing away with two kitchen knives, a 16-year-old boy with a “blank expression” stabbed and slashed 21 students and a security guard in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.

At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy whose liver was pierced by a knife thrust that narrowly missed his heart and aorta, doctors said. Others also suffered deep abdominal puncture wounds.

The rampage – which came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings – set off a screaming stampede, left blood on the floor and walls, and brought teachers rushing to help the victims.

Police shed little light on the motive.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140409_ap_dc67f56a2abf466db1c027077138e2cd.html#JcEUTVsMhStwpXdM.99

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Pennsylvania Tax Burden Ranks 10th Nationally

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvanians’ state and local tax burden reached its lowest point in more than a decade in 2011, but it still climbed to rank as the nation’s 10th most onerous, up two spots from the year before, an analysis released this week shows.

The Washington-based Tax Foundation said Pennsylvanians shelled out $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes in 2011, or 10.3 percent of their per-capita income of $42,268. About 10.5 percent of income went toward state and local taxes in 2010, the foundation said.

“This trend was largely driven by the growth of income,” said Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm, explaining the slight decline.

About 27 percent of Pennsylvanians’ tax money went to other states. Aside from sales, excise, income, corporate and other taxes paid in other states, the Tax Foundation factors what it calls tax exporting.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5882443-74/tax-state-taxes#ixzz2y3z5waOg
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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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Pa., N.J. Lawmakers Launch Effort To Rein In Delaware River Port Authority

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are planning a coordinated effort to change the Delaware River Port Authority and alter its federal charter.

Bills will be introduced in Harrisburg and Trenton to prohibit economic-development spending by the DRPA, give Pennsylvania’s governor the same veto authority over DRPA actions now held by New Jersey’s governor, and require state Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the DRPA board in Pennsylvania, as is now done in New Jersey.

The bills would also:

- Require a two-thirds majority of the board to approve any toll increases on the DRPA’s four toll bridges;

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140326_Pa___N_J__lawmakers_launch_effort_to_rein_in_DRPA.html#b3cTW5MXkkoRHgws.99

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$1.4M Grant Will Aid Colebrookdale Railroad Effort

The Colebrookdale Railroad will benefit from $1.4 million in funding made possible by a PennDOT grant aimed at repairing and upgrading the line’s rails, equipment and infrastructure.

The 8.6-mile line between Pottstown and Boyertown recently began carrying freight again and will also be home to The Secret Valley Line historic excursion railroad, opening in the fall.

“Seventy percent of the funding was provided by the state and we had to raise the other 30 percent,” said Nathaniel Guest, president of the non-profit Colebrookdale Railroad Restoration Trust, which oversees the line.

The non-profit group has a for-profit subsidiary, Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, which oversees the freight traffic and was the recipient of the grant.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140309/14m-grant-will-aid-colebrookdale-railroad-effort

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Bethlehem Revitalization Authority Readying For Applicants

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority is accelerating efforts to hire consultants so it can start accepting development applications in the summer.

The authority is tasked with implementing Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, which is expected to create $587 million worth of development. Bethlehem received the state economic development designation late last year.

Similar to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, the zone allows state and local nonproperty taxes from new development in the zone to help finance construction within it.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/03/bethlehem_revitalization_autho.html

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In Happiness Rankings, Pennsylvania Feeling Kinda Blue

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HOW YOU feeling, Bunkie? Something got you down?

In the annual Gallup poll measuring Americans’ sense of well-being, also known as the happiness poll, Pennsylvania was No. 36 in 2013, down sharply from 29 the year before. (Thank you, Gov. Corbett?) Since Philadelphians are the single biggest geographic group of Pennsylvanians, our civic angst probably drags down the ranking.

We have a schools crisis and send in a hothead as a healer. Crime by criminals is down but crime by cops is up. Buildings collapse, water mains explode, the mayor adds deputy mayors and bike lanes. Poverty is up, employment is down, as are the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers. No wonder we’re not happy.

Do I hear laughter from across the river?

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140303_Don_t_be_glum__chum.html#yTgJ8HAsd3rKLEHi.99

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US Airways To Close Moon Flight Operations Center, Affecting 600 Jobs

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

Built less than six years ago, a state-of-the-art flight operations control center in Moon will be closing and the work transferred to Texas, a casualty in the American Airlines-US Airways merger.

American Airlines announced Friday that it intends to consolidate flight operations in Dallas-Fort Worth over the next 18 months, costing the region a facility built specifically for the needs of US Airways and the 600 jobs that go with it.

“It’s pretty sad for the people that have been here for a long time,” said Danny Persuit, president of Transport Workers Union Local 545, which represents 164 employees at the center.

In a separate action, American also plans to transfer 53 mechanics out of Pittsburgh in what it said was an annual maintenance “rebalancing” unrelated to the merger.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/01/24/US-Airways-to-close-Moon-flight-operations-center/stories/201401240148#ixzz2rQyL9pLw

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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

Pennsylvania Sales Tax Solution Sought

Traditional merchants are suffering a 6 percent disadvantage over their Internet-only competitors this holiday season.

Though the Supreme Court recently affirmed the right of states to tax online purchases made by state residents, it really didn’t help small-business owners.

Online appliance sellers routinely boast they sell appliances free of sales tax and often offer free delivery on big-ticket items despite a requirement that Internet merchants collect the 6 percent sales tax on anything they sell for use in Pennsylvania, said Brian Sutton, part owner of Maidencreek TV & Appliance in Maidencreek Township.

“They do it all the time,” Sutton said. “We’ve been dealing with this for years.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131216/NEWS/312169981#.Uq8i_vRDsxI

Conference Generates Ideas For Tackling Poverty In Reading

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present)

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fatherless families, a lack of jobs and school dropout rates contribute to poverty and local economic conditions, U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts said Monday.

“Families with fathers and mothers are the best anti-poverty program,” said the Chester County Republican, whose district includes Reading. “Saying these simple things can land you in all kinds of trouble.”

He was speaking at a conference on economic inequality that he organized at Reading Area Community College.

In an interview afterward, Pitts listed some points raised during the four-hour event that he will pursue.

“We will come up with some projects,” Pitts said.

While some of the 75 political, business and nonprofit leaders who participated agreed with Pitts’ points, several made their own arguments for improving the economy in Reading, where the 2012 poverty rate of 40.5 percent made it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131210/NEWS/312109974/1052#.UqeN0fRDsxI

Church & Dwight To Manufacture Gummy Vitamins In York County, Hire 180 People

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Church & Dwight plans to construct a new production line for gummy vitamins at its facility in Jackson Township.

A $55 million investment, the new production line will lead to the hiring of approximately 180 people, according to the company.

Construction will begin in January and the line is scheduled to be operational in the first quarter of 2015, according to a news release.

The company will also receive some state funds for the project via the Governor’s Action Team, which works with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_24655737/church-dwight-hire-180-people-manufacture-gummy-vitamins

Pension Crisis About To Explode For Pennsylvania School Districts

School districts across Pennsylvania are getting news that’s unpleasant yet not unexpected.

The Public School Employees Retirement System, or PSERS, last week began sending notices to school districts that their pension costs will climb to 21.4 percent of payroll in the 2014-15 school year.

Even though that total could change a bit before it becomes official at an end-of-year meeting of the PSERS board, it gives a pretty good indication of what school districts are facing.

For historical context, the 21.4 percent figure is the highest rate since at least the 1950s — and it’s quite a jump from the 16.9 percent districts paid this year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131204/pension-crisis-about-to-explode-for-pa-school-districts

Greater Reading Chamber Receives Grant For Manufacturing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The Corbett administration today announced the award of a Discovered in Pennsylvania-Developed in Pennsylvania grant to help launch the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Reignite in Pennsylvania program, created to support the growth of manufacturers.

The Greater Reading Chamber will receive a $286,600 grant to support targeted outreach, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting to an estimated 30 companies in the first year and another 30 companies in the second year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519627

Pennsylvania Insurance Chief Doubts Obama’s Health Care Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state Insurance commissioner cast doubt Friday on a plan by President Obama to stop insurers from dumping more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians whose medical coverage did not meet the minimum requirements of the new health care law.

Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine questioned whether Obama had the legal authority to allow insurers to reinstate or extend those policies. He also said the state has limited power to force insurers to comply with a scheme that he said “heightens confusion” surrounding the law’s implementation.

“I think there are very fair questions being raised about the legal authority for the president to say we’re going to ignore what’s in the” Affordable Care Act, Consedine told the Tribune-Review.

The president acted to quell a firestorm over the chaotic rollout of the law known as Obamacare in proposing the administrative fix for consumers whose policies were being canceled. Many accused him of reneging on a pledge that no one would lose medical coverage if they liked it.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5078520-74/insurers-health-state#ixzz2kpOO1rvh
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50-Story Hotel Proposal For Center City Gains In Council

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City Council moved closer Thursday to approving millions in tax breaks for a contentious 50-story hotel development in the heart of Center City.

The $280 million tower would include two hotel brands – W and Elements – built on a parking lot at 15th and Chestnut Streets, a half-acre plot adjacent to the disastrous 1991 fire that consumed One Meridian Plaza and resulted in the deaths of three firefighters.

The developers, Brook Lenfest and Jeffrey Cohen, say they can’t build there without tax increment financing (TIF), a deal in which they would borrow $33 million and repay the loan through tax breaks authorized by the city.

The project – and TIFs in general – has its critics, and the Council chamber was packed Thursday with lobbyists, supporters, and opponents, who waited out a hearing that lasted more than five hours.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131108_50-story_hotel_proposal_for_Center_City_gains_in_Council.html#q0H4BjrGoLvkrcT5.99

CRIZ Program Could Bring Biz To Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — The state has a new economic development tool with the city’s name on it.

In truth, the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program applies to seven other third-class cities and Delaware County, the applicant for the city of Chester. The program is included in a tax-reform package signed into law last July by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The program allows the eligible cities to use tax money generated in designated zones to pay down the debt taken on for job creation and economic-development projects.

Drew McLaughlin, Wilkes-Barre’s municipal affairs manager, said the city has been researching the CRIZ program for a while.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/953436/CRIZ-program-could-bring-biz-to-Wilkes-Barre

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

Labor Day Traffic Jams Could Be Daily Occurrence By The 2020s, Study Says

The traffic jams we can anticipate on highways like Route 22 this holiday weekend will plague American highways routinely by as soon as 2020 without increases in traffic capacity or other solutions, according to a travel-industry study.

In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Travel Association joins a growing list of engineers, contractors and other business interests, as well as federal and state agencies and officials, urging Congress and state governments to add new lanes and new highways. Long lead times for planning, design, environmental and other permitting before construction begins emphasize the need for early project starts.

“At current rates of highway-traffic growth, unless additional capacity … is created through expansion of existing infrastructure, new facilities or innovative techniques, the typical day will approach Labor Day peaks” of frustrating traffic jams, concludes the study by consultant Cambridge Systems Inc.

Though none of the interstates in the Lehigh Valley region are among the 16 segments used in the examination, the roads’ geographical diversity suggests that “together, they provide a reliable snapshot of the growing congestion on America’s highways” generally, according to U.S. Travel.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-road-congestion-labor-day-20130901,0,4247270.story#ixzz2dkwrwOsz
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