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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Census Figures Show Population Drops In NEPA Across The Board

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)

About 2,000 fewer people lived in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro in 2013 compared to the previous year, as deaths outpaced births and more people fled the area than flocked to it.

All seven counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania lost population between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013, according to new annual estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau today. Unlike the once-a-decade census, the annual estimates are based on records such as birth and death certificates,tax forms and Medicare enrollment.

Gordon De Jong, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of sociology and demography at Penn State, said the aging population, low birth rate and lack of economic opportunity in Northeastern Pennsylvania continue to cost its residents.

“The fundamental underlying trend is continued, if not accelerated,” De Jong said.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/census-figures-show-population-drops-in-nepa-across-the-board-1.1657880

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Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Hazleton Police Chief Hail Success

HAZLETON, PA — Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Police Chief Frank DeAndrea pointed to the successes of Kane’s Mobile Street Crime Unit on Wednesday and asked residents of Hazleton and across the commonwealth to help the success continue.

At the urging of state Sen. John Yudichak to address violent drug-related crime plaguing Northeastern Pennsylvania, Kane organized the Region X Intensive Mobile Proactive Anti-Crime Team — IMPACT — task force and deployed it to Hazleton in September to dismantle gang-run drug trafficking networks.

The approximately 20-member team, composed of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement officers, racked up more than 120 arrests and seized about 35,000 packets of heroin, quantities of crack cocaine, numerous vehicles, handguns, rifles, an assault weapon and thousands of dollars in cash, with many of the items on display at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday.

Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, noted that a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice detailed the foothold that drug-trafficking organizations had established in the Hazleton area and that branched off throughout Luzerne and surrounding counties.

Read more:  http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1206626/Kane-Hazleton-chief-hail-success

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Snow Storm Starts; Many NEPA Activities Stop

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)

It’s a snow day for almost everyone.

With the winter storm pummeling Northeast Pennsylvania expected to continue into early Friday, schools and most government offices are shut down, and many businesses and some employers have followed suit.

Getting around is already difficult and is only going to get worse. Plows and salt trucks were prepared for a long siege. Roadways speed limits have been lowered.

COLTS announced its buses will quit running this afternoon, and most commercial bus runs to and from the area have been canceled. It’s the same at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, where most flights have been scrubbed.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/snow-storm-starts-many-activities-stop-1.1621652

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Hearing Call Of ‘All Aboard’? Experts Discuss Feasibility Of Passenger Rail Service

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)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority President Lawrence Malski said Monday studies show major industries are looking to get out of congested metropolitan areas and move to areas like NEPA.

Passenger rail service that links Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, he said, would be a major factor in attracting those companies to the area. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, suggested the idea on Friday to spur economic activity.

“It’s (passenger rail service) is a major requirement that they have,” Malski said. “When you connect cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton to a major city like New York, major industries will follow that rail line out here because they would have an efficient and reliable form of transportation for workers.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news//1152788/Hearing-call-of-All-aboard

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Land Trust Acquisition To Boost Preservation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

The North Branch Land Trust is about to preserve a 3,000-acre parcel of some of the finest forest land in Pennsylvania.

And, eventually, the goal is to protect an entire mountain ridge and create a protected forest that will run from Mocanaqua north to Crystal Lake and a connection to existing state forest lands.

It will be the North Branch Land Trust’s most significant move in its 21-year history of saving and preserving parcels of varying size. When acquired, the 3,000 acres will boost to 15,000 acres the total land mass preserved via the trust.

One sidelight to the success of the land trust is its support of the trails system being developed in the Delaware and National Heritage Corridor. The land trust is playing a role in extending a trail from Mountain Top to Oliver Mills in Laurel Run Borough and then around the mountain to Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre Township.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/land-trust-acquisition-to-boost-preservation-1.1619488

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Fee Could Raise $4M For NEPA Counties

Northeastern Pennsylvania‘s seven counties could collect more than $4 million per year for transportation projects starting next year if officials assess an optional $5 vehicle registration fee on their residents.

The state’s $2.3 billion transportation bill authorizes counties to collect the optional fee. State Department of Transportation records show the region’s drivers registered 826,694 vehicles in 2012.

Leaders in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, which together could collect $2.36 million of that total, initially sounded more open to the idea than their more rural counterparts.

“Right now, we are reviewing the legislation and taking a look at it, so we just started that process,” said Jim Wansacz, chairman of the Lackawanna County commissioners. “We’ll see what can be done and what type of revenue would be associated with it.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/fee-could-raise-4m-for-nepa-counties-1.1619430

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Scranton Wants To Declare Bankruptcy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

SCRANTON, PA — When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, hundreds of residents took to the streets to protest what they saw as a drastic approach to fixing the city’s budget problems.

But in this hilly town of 76,000 in northeastern Pennsylvania, residents have a different view of Chapter 9: They want the city to declare bankruptcy. And soon.

“The silent majority would like to see bankruptcy,” said Bob “Ozzie” Quinn, president of the Scranton and Lackawanna County Taxpayers Association. “Basically, it’s down to a point where people cannot afford to pay the taxes and are moving out of town.”

Faced with a $20 million deficit, Scranton had to do some tricky maneuvering to balance its budget and avoid defaulting on loans. Most of this maneuvering has involved increasing taxes and fees paid by the people who still live in the town, which has seen its population drop by half since the 1930s.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140111/scranton-wants-to-declare-bankruptcy

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Wilkes-Barre City Council Reorganizes, Picks Officers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — City Council on Monday reelected its chairman, but replaced its vice chairman, who has been a frequent critic of Mayor Tom Leighton and his administration.

Bill Barrett will handle the gavel in 2014, keeping the chairmanship for another year. However, Tony George, a retired city police chief like Barrett, was replaced by Mike Merritt for the vice chairman’s post.

“I guess I must have offended them by not voting for all of the mayor’s proposals,” George said after the meeting. “I was elected to represent the people, and I will continue voting no when I feel it’s the right thing to do, and I will question issues when I see fit.”

Read more:  http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1105905/W-B-council-reorganizes-picks-officers

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Maximus To Hire Hundreds In Jenkins Twp.

English: Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania h...

English: Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania higlighting Jenkins Township (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JENKINS TWP. — A Virginia government contractor is expanding its operations in Northeastern Pennsylvania with a new service center in CenterPoint Trade Park East promising between 500 and 700 new jobs for the area.

Maximus, a company that provides support for health and human services at all levels of government, expects to occupy its new location sometime in January and will be accepting job applications for the next several months.

The company is filling seats to support its Medicare and Medicaid appeal review operations, which first appeared in the region last April at a smaller center in Moosic with about 100 employees. When Medicare and Medicaid determinations are appealed, Maximus provides an independent review service for those disputed claims. The new building represents Moosic’s expansion.

Modifications to a new building in CenterPoint, which is owned by Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, are likely to be finished by the end of the week. The company plans to set up shop next month, according to Lisa Miles, Maximus’ vice president of investor relations and corporate communications.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/1030582/Maximus-to-hire-hundreds-in-Jenkins-Twp.

Scranton Landlords, Homeowners And Renters Brace For Tax Hikes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

University of Scranton students Bridget McVeigh and Ashley Opalka are apartment hunting with two criteria in mind: proximity to campus and lower prices than the university’s dorms.

The pair were alarmed city landlords are poised to hike rents in response to a proposed 2014 Scranton budget that would raise property taxes 56.7 percent, garbage fees 68.5 percent and rental registration fees from $50 to $150 per structure and $15 to $50 per unit.

Landlord Carol Smurl said she tries “to be compassionate to the tenants because they’re on a fixed income,” but she and her husband cannot afford to absorb that kind of increase.

Normally, Mrs. Smurl waits until tenants move out to raise the rent or tries to delay passing increased costs on for two to three years at her nine properties.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-landlords-homeowners-and-renters-brace-for-tax-hikes-1.1590772

Area Code 570 Businesses Get Ready For 10-Digit Dialing

Pennsylvania in blue with Area Code 570 272 sh...

Pennsylvania in blue with Area Code 570 272 shown in red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Area businesses are gearing up for a big change that will begin Saturday: 10-digit dialing instead of seven.

For Phil Rudy, owner of Circles on the Square in Wilkes-Barre, the change means 200 numbers need to be reprogrammed in his fax machine. He faxes menus from his deli on Public Square to 200 area businesses. Circles employee Bill Scholl has been reprogramming all the numbers.

Beginning Saturday, everyone in Northeastern Pennsylvania will have to dial 10 digits to make a local call.

“I hate it,” Rudy said. “I don’t understand why we had to go that way. Why do we have to dial 10 numbers for local numbers? I don’t know why you have to dial 10 numbers for your neighbor next door.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/businesses-get-ready-for-10-digit-dialing-1.1554792

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Applies For Grant To Expand Service

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)

AVOCA, PA — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport has applied for a $575,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to help expand service and market the airport.

The application was filed this week with the FAA’s Small Community Air Service Development Grant program.

The grant would be used toward a nearly $1.2 million initiative that includes enticing airlines to add flights to leisure and business destinations not currently offered out of Northeastern Pennsylvania including Tampa, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington and Las Vegas, said Barry J. Centini, the airport’s director.

Money would be used to help subsidize the airlines, could go toward landing fees and other offers making flying in to and out of the area more attractive, Centini said.  Additional money would be used to amplify marketing efforts for those airlines and existing airlines.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/792704/Avoca-airport-applies-for-grant-to-expand-service

Officials Break Ground On McGowan Center In Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

JENKINS TOWNSHIP, PA – Officials from the Commission on Economic Opportunity broke ground Monday for a $6.4 million center in CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park East named after the late Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan and aimed at providing healthy food for the needy.

When completed next spring, the Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Center for Healthy Living will store and distribute healthy food products for about 80,000 low-income residents of Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, with an emphasis on children and the elderly.

The center also will provide nutritional information, said principal speaker Sue Gin McGowan, sister-in-law of the late Monsignor McGowan and wife of the late William McGowan, an Ashley native and business leader.

Sue Gin McGowan, president of the board of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, a major benefactor of the new center, said the new facility will dramatically expand the reach of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Food Bank, which already serves Northeastern Pennsylvania’s neediest.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/officials-break-ground-on-mcgowan-center-1.1538590

Pipeline Giant Putting Down Roots In Tunkhannock

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Wyoming County

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

TUNKHANNOCK — Two months ago, Helen Humphreys sat in her cluttered Williams Energy field office downtown in this Wyoming County borough surrounded by exhibit displays and stacks of binders.

Outside the room, clerical employees and field workers shuffled around each other in the converted credit union building. Technicians’ gear and road signs were stacked in corners neatly, but obviously out of place in the former bank.

It was not a scene you’d expect for an operator of some of the country’s largest pipeline systems. Williams has grown from six employees in Northeastern Pennsylvania to more than 100 in a 2 1/2 years, and the growth has inspired construction of the company’s new field office on the outskirts of town, said Mike Dickinson, a Williams operations manager.

Humphreys, a strategic outreach coordinator for the company, kicked off a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday to announce Williams’ new 30,000-square-foot field office to be completed by spring 2014.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/711932/Pipeline-giant-putting-down-roots-in-Tunkhannock

Former Pa. Gov. Scranton Dies At Age 96

English: Not applicable for copyright because ...

English: Not applicable for copyright because this image is a work of the US Government. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Warren Scranton Jr., a former Pennsylvania governor, congressman, presidential candidate and ambassador to the United Nations, died Sunday night at the age 96.

Scranton died of a cerebral hemorrhage at a retirement community in Montecito, Calif., where he lived with his wife Mary, a family spokesman told The Associated Press on Monday.

Scranton, a progressive Republican from the Lackawanna County city named after his family, was elected to Congress in 1960.  He served one term before he was elected as Pennsylvania’s 38th governor in 1962.

His foray into presidential politics occurred in 1964, during his one term as governor, when he emerged as a moderately liberal alternative to conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater after New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller dropped out of the race.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/711528/Former-Pa.-Gov.-Scranton-dies-at-age-96

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Deficient Bridges Won’t Be Quick Fix

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly one of every four bridges in Northeastern Pennsylvania is structurally deficient, a Times-Shamrock Newspapers analysis found.

And, because of decades of neglect, repairing those bridges “will take years to catch up,” a local transportation expert said – even if state lawmakers approve a transportation bill this fall.

“Once a bridge gets to be 50 to 60 years old, you can’t go in and just patch it,” Thomas Lawson, co-chairman of the Focus 81 Committee, said.

Interactive: Search for the most deficient bridges in NEPA

Instead, numerous bridges around the region, which has more deteriorating bridges than the state average, will require superstructure overhauls “at minimum,” he said.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/region-s-deficient-bridges-won-t-be-quick-fix-1.1520394

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Region Cleans Up After Deluge

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)

Heavy rain closed roads, jammed storm drains and pushed the Lackawanna River above flood stage Friday morning to the highest level it has reached since recording began at Scranton’s Parker Street Bridge in 2009.

AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said parts of Northeast Pennsylvania saw 2 inches of rain on average over a period of six to eight hours. Rainfall was heaviest between 7 and 11 p.m. Thursday, Mr. Kines said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Champsey said water near the Parker Street Bridge crested at 9.46 feet at 5 a.m. Friday. By 4 p.m., the river had fallen to 5 feet – below the flood stage of 6 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/region-cleans-up-after-deluge-1.1513073

Superintendent: ‘Minersville Has Never Been Distressed’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County

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

MINERSVILLE, PA - Superintendent M. Joseph Brady responded Monday night to a June 18 article that ran in The Republican-Herald and the Scranton Times-Tribune that a proposed Senate Democratic Caucus plan may declare Minersville Area as a distressed school district.

Minersville Area School District has never been distressed in all of the time I’m here and I assure you, it’s not distressed now,” Brady said Monday.  “We are financially sound and solid.”

The article states the Senate Democratic minority is proposing to provide special state aid to distressed school districts for a second year in a row in the next budget for six districts in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including Minersville Area in Schuylkill County.

According to a quote by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman, R-34, Bellefonte, senators are looking at how much aid would be provided, how to define which of the 500 school districts are considered distressed and the aid distribution formula.

Read more:  http://republicanherald.com/news/superintendent-minersville-has-never-been-distressed-1.1511313

Mohegan Job Fair Draws Thousands Seeking Casino Posts

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

Editor’s note:  We got quite a few hits after posting an article about this job fair.  We are not surprised by the large turnout.  It’s certainly an employers market.

PLAINS TWP. — Students, working parents, the unemployed.

About 2,000 people from across Northeastern Pennsylvania filed through the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs ballroom during a job fair Tuesday, having come to try their luck at an estimated 250 openings expected to be created by the opening of a $50 million hotel and convention center this fall.

If there was a common denominator throughout the crowd — whose attire ranged from business suits to shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops — it was the oft-spoken view that a job at Mohegan Sun, which already employs more than 1,700 people, means good, steady work.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/610204/Mohegan-job-fair-draws-thousands-seeking-casino-posts