Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Last In Beating Recession

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)

In the race to climb out of recession, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area is dead last among the 100 largest urban areas nationwide.

That is the finding in a recent “Metro Monitor” study by The Brookings Institution that tracked the economic performance of 100 metropolitan areas on four indicators: jobs, unemployment, output (gross product) and house prices. The analysis focused on the change of the indicators during three time periods: the recession, recovery and a combination of both.

During the recovery period, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ranked 100, or last, trailing Little Rock, Ark., (99) and Greater Hartford, Conn. (98).

“In terms of recovery, it has been pretty slow” for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, said Siddharth Kulkarni, a research assistant in Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-w-b-last-in-beating-recession-1.1667766

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City Mayor Sues Scranton Redevelopment Authority, And Board Member

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Mayor Bill Courtright filed suit against a city authority board Monday, seeking to depose and replace a board member with his own appointee.

Former Mayor Chris Doherty illegally appointed Peter Riebe to the Scranton Redevelopment Authority board, Mr. Courtright contends in a lawsuit filed on his behalf by city solicitor Jason A. Shrive.

The lawsuit escalates an ongoing battle between Mr. Courtright and the authority board, which refuses to recognize the mayor’s appointment on Feb. 18 of Timothy Perry as Mr. Riebe’s replacement.

The authority is an independent body that plays a critical role in the city’s redevelopment and blight removal. It has previously argued Mr. Riebe’s term will not expire until next year.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/city-mayor-sues-scranton-redevelopment-authority-and-board-member-1.1660441

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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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Texting Citations In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Area Drop

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)

Texting while driving citations for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area dropped 29 percent in one year, but the region still ranks 8th-worst in the state, according to data from compiled by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the Philadelphia police and the U.S. Census Bureau.

There were 37 citations in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties from March 2013 through February – one citation fewer than the Lancaster metro area, though Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area has 36,806 more residents, There were 52 citations from March 2012 to Feb. 2013, making the metro area the 6th-worst in the state in 2013. The Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas maintained the one and two spots respectively, though their populations are far greater.

No one reason can be attributed for the year’s decline in citations, area law enforcement officials said. An optimist might attribute part of it to increased awareness in the dangers of texting while driving, Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney Robert Klein said. One reason may be a reduction of crashes caused by texting. Another reason could be as simple as fewer drivers getting caught.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/texting-citations-in-w-b-scranton-area-drop-1.1655025

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Scranton St. Partrick’s Day Parade, March 15, 2014

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

The Saint Patrick’s parade in Scranton boasts 12,000 participants, including multiple bagpipe, high school and string bands. The parade is enhanced by many floats and large balloons. Many Irish groups and societies are also represented. It has been going on annually since 1962 and is organized by the St. Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County. The parade has received national attention as being one of the better St. Patrick’s parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral, proceeds to Lackawanna Ave. over Jefferson Ave. then down Spruce St to get to Washington Ave. where it passes the William J. Nealon Federal building and finally the reviewing stand.

The parade is preceded by the Parade Day mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Brian Kelly Memorial race.

Click here for the parade website:  http://www.stpatparade.com/index.php

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Boscov: Steamtown Mall Nearing Foreclosure

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

The Mall at Steamtown is on the verge of foreclosure, department store magnate Al Boscov disclosed to The Times-Tribune on Wednesday.

The mall ownership group, Steamtown Mall Partners LP, recently defaulted on a lump sum mortgage payment and a property foreclosure action is expected to be filed by Friday in Lackawanna County Court, Boscov told the newspaper’s editorial board.

The mall will continue to operate and shoppers should notice no difference at the Lackawanna Avenue retail complex during foreclosure, he said. All of the mall’s tenants but one, a store whose lease was up, have decided to stay.

Reiterating his personal commitment to the mall and to downtown Scranton, Boscov, chairman and chief executive of Boscov’s department store, said the mall’s ownership believes the foreclosure process will help the property emerge as a financially healthier operation.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/boscov-steamtown-mall-nearing-foreclosure-1.1645780

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Wyoming Valley To See Up To 4 Inches Of Snow

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 – As the saying goes, March is coming in like a lion.

Three to four inches of snow is expected in the Wyoming Valley Sunday into Monday, according to a spokesman for the National Weather Service. The storm comes on the heels of a week of bone-chilling temperatures.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news//1228564/Wyoming-Valley-to-see-up-to-4-inches-of-snow

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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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Local Unemployment Rate Lowest Since July 2009

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 tri-county area including Luzerne, Wyoming and Lackawanna ended 2013 just like it began, with the highest unemployment rate of the state’s 14 metropolitan statistical areas. December also marked the 45th month in a row the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton region held that distinction.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/business/1171547/Local-unemployment-rate-lowest-since-July-2009

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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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Barletta Eyes Train Between Scranton, Hazleton

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou ...

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou Barletta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pardon me, Lou. Is that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton choo-choo?

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, fresh off his announcement that he will seek a third term in Congress, Friday told The Times Leader Opinion Board he feels establishing passenger-rail service connecting the region’s three largest cities is a key to economic recovery and growth.

“The interstate roads are always crowded and often under repair,” said Barletta, 57. “Rail service — both freight and passenger — contributes to economic growth. Transportation in general, from waterways to highways to railways, are vital to the country and our region.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1148657/Barletta-eyes-train-between-Scranton-Hazleton

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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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In Downtown Scranton Residential Boom, No Sign Of Slowing

Picture 062Four years ago, there was no residential life along the unit block of Franklin Avenue. By the end of this year, more than 55 apartments could be located along Franklin, between Lackawanna Avenue and Spruce Street.

“It’s about quality of living,” former Mayor Chris Doherty said earlier this month before he left office. “I said from the beginning, fail or success, we will go after downtown living.”

Scranton building contractor and redeveloper Art Russo bought into Mr. Doherty’s concept and his latest downtown project is one of his largest.

He is constructing 21 apartments on the three upper floors at the Bittenbender Building, a four-story, 48,000-square-foot structure at 126-132 Franklin. A sports bar, seafood restaurant and speakeasy-themed jazz club will occupy the 9,000-square-foot first floor.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/in-downtown-scranton-residential-boom-no-sign-of-slowing-1.1615299

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Online Publication: Scranton Is Nation’s Most Hungover City

picture-0571Sam Bernardini had the Bog pretty much to himself Wednesday night.

The Scranton was packed with New Year’s Eve revelers the night before, but Bernardini rang in 2014 at home.

“Amateurs go out on New Year’s Eve,” he said, one of four patrons at the bar. Few city watering holes were open, and those that were had far more barstools than customers, suggesting that a study published by Business Insider might have merit.

The online publication ranked Scranton the “Most Hungover City in America” in a list of 25 communities where citizens were likely to be nursing sore heads and queasy stomachs Wednesday morning.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/online-publication-scranton-is-nation-s-most-hungover-city-1.1610427

As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Tinseltown: First Night Scranton Returns With Hollywood Theme

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton will roll out the red carpet to welcome the new year.

First Night Scranton will once again keep the city’s downtown abuzz on New Year’s Eve with live music, family-friendly activities and fireworks, and this time it will do so with Hollywood-style flair.

“It’s our 15th anniversary, so I thought, well, you know what? We’ve got to do something big,” said Paige Balitski, one of the event organizers. “What’s bigger than Hollywood? It’s fun. You can play off of movie stars and films.”

The different activities taking place throughout the night will touch on the Hollywood theme, with musicians set to perform movie themes and love songs and other activities drawing inspiration from films. Costumed characters from popular movies will greet guests, for instance, Ms. Baltiski said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles/tinseltown-first-night-scranton-returns-with-hollywood-theme-1.1606227

No Lack Of Ideas For Steamtown Mall’s Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

As Betty Lou and Larry Stevens carried bags of heavily discounted merchandise out of the closing Bon-Ton store, the Moosic residents hoped Ikea will take its place at the Mall at Steamtown.

The couple currently drives to Philadelphia’s branch of the Swedish store when they need furniture and thought Ikea could provide a major draw to the downtown Scranton mall.

“I think people would come to Steamtown for Ikea,” Mrs. Stevens said.

John Topa, the mall’s director of marketing and specialty leasing, told The Times-Tribune last week mall officials have a replacement lined up for the departing anchor store that would revitalize the downtown shopping center.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/no-lack-of-ideas-for-mall-s-future-1.1605656

Scranton Mayor Vetoes Council’s Revisions To His Budget

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Mayor Chris Doherty on Friday vetoed city council’s revisions to his proposed $130.2 million budget.

Council will hold a special meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. to vote on whether to override or sustain the veto, council President Janet Evans said.

A split council on Thursday raised and lowered some salaries and added two positions in the mayor’s budget. The amendments did not change the budget total or the 57 percent tax increase and 69 percent trash collection fee hike.

Council voted 3-2 on many of the amendments in a split that had Councilmen Bob McGoff, Pat Rogan and Jack Loscombe, who are all returning to council in 2014, forming a bloc to pass the amendments, and Council President Janet Evans and Councilman Frank Joyce, who are departing council, dissenting.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-vetoes-council-s-revisions-to-his-budget-1.1601207

Long-Planned Scranton Transit Center Makes Progress

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

The transportation hub planned for downtown Scranton is making solid progress after years of delays and false starts.

The County of Lackawanna Transit System has received the go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration to open negotiations for the acquisition of two properties needed as part of the $12.6 million intermodal transit center project, COLTS Executive Director Robert Fiume said.

In addition, the project design by Sowinski Sullivan Architects, Sparta, N.J., is 60 percent complete.

“Should things stay on track – and I don’t even know if I want to say this – but if they stay on track, it looks like we can break ground in April or May,” Mr. Fiume said.

His hesitation is understandable, given the project’s history.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/long-planned-transit-center-makes-progress-1.1593946

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