Survey Of Washington, Greene Elected Officials Shows Positive Views Of Gas Industry

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

A survey of elected leaders in Washington and Greene counties found generally positive experiences with the gas exploration industry that has changed the face of their communities.

“They’re starting to see a lot of vitality. There’s physical activity in the communities and new wealth among some property owners. New employees. That’s all very positive,” said Diana Stares, the director of the Center of Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College, who oversaw the survey. “Now they’re anxious to draw from that development some long-term results. And some don’t know how to go about that.”

Interactions between drilling companies and local officials are improving as both sides get to know each other, and as money and jobs flow into the region, several people said.

“It was a growing experience, I think, by some of these companies coming in here,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, a Democrat. “But they saw that if you treat people fairly, they’ll respond in a positive way.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6383333-74/industry-officials-percent#ixzz36tbYQPSg
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Pittsburgh-Area Employers Added 22,300 Jobs In April

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunny Kourkoutis spent six months on unemployment and a couple more working in a job she hated before she found something that suited her restaurant experience.

“When I was on unemployment, I could have easily gotten a job as a server,” said Kourkoutis, 42, of Bridgeville. “But at my age, it’s not something I really saw myself doing.”

In April, Kourkoutis finally found a job she enjoyed. She was hired as reservations manager at Jacksons Restaurant in Cecil and since was promoted to assistant executive manager. In so doing, she joined a hospitality industry that added 8,100 jobs last month and has led growth in the local economy.

Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh region added 22,300 nonfarm jobs in April, and the unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.6 percent, according to preliminary figures released on Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The decline occurred as 3,900 more people began looking for work, an expression of confidence in Pittsburgh’s economy.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6188520-74/22300-added-april#ixzz338k1vjC0
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Interstate 70 Modernization Projects To Move Highway Into 21st Century

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This road was a death-trap when I was living in the Mon Valley back in the 1970’s.  Glad it only took 40 years for PennDot to realize it!

A grassy mound in the backyard of Melvin “Bucky” Walkush’s childhood home is the only visible reminder of the popular carhop restaurant that served the best pizza he’s ever tasted.

It was the 1950s. Elvis topped the charts. Ike was in the White House. The Ford Thunderbird was one of the hottest cars around.

And the New 71 Barbeque along old state Route 71 in North Belle Vernon, owned by Walkush’s brother Joe and his wife, Adeline, was the place to stop for anyone using the highway linking Greensburg and Washington, Pa.

The restaurant is gone now, and the stretch of Route 71 that Walkush, 84, remembers was decommissioned in the 1960s to become part of Interstate 70 between New Stanton and Washington.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5870537-74/washington-walkush-highway#ixzz32BzJh8u9
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The Meadows Racetrack And Casino In Washington To Be Sold In $465M Deal

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

The owners of The Meadows Racetrack and Casino accepted a $465 million offer on Wednesday to sell the Washington County gaming business off Interstate 79 at a time when revenue is falling as competition for gambling dollars is growing across the region.

Las Vegas-based Cannery Casino Resorts, which opened The Meadows in 2007 when few casinos operated locally, agreed to the cash and equity deal with Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., a Berks County-based real estate investment trust that owns property associated with 22 casinos.

The deal is subject to approval from the state Gaming Control Board and Racing Commission and is expected to close next year.

Gaming and Leisure Properties, the nation’s first casino-focused real estate investment trust, formed last year to hold the real estate of Penn National Gaming Inc. and acquire more properties.

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Pennsylvania Woman Was On Board Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

MONONGAHELA, PA — A company official says a woman based in western Pennsylvania was among the 239 people aboard a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared en route to Beijing over the weekend.

A spokeswoman said Mei Ling Chng, a senior process engineer for Flexsys America in Monongahela near Pittsburgh, “is confirmed to have been on the flight.”

Tracy Kilgore of Flexsys parent firm Eastman Chemical Co., which is based in Kingsport, Tenn., told reporters in an email that officials “are deeply shocked and saddened.”

She said Chng went to work for the chemical company Solutia in Malaysia in 2005 and transferred to Monongahela in 2010.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140310/pa-woman-was-on-board-missing-malaysia-airlines-jet

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Gas Field Politics Affect Leadership In Western Pennsylvania Communities

Map of Washington County higlighting Robinson ...

Map of Washington County higlighting Robinson Township. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rodger Kendall says he never wanted to enter politics, but when he did, he waded into one of the biggest political conflicts in Pennsylvania.

Kendall became a supervisor in Robinson, Washington County, in January, less than three weeks since it won a landmark state Supreme Court ruling overturning part of new laws aimed at eliminating local obstacles to shale drilling.

Despite the win, he used his first night in office, Jan. 6, to lead a vote to remove Robinson from the case. Then he made his first official call as a township supervisor to Range Resources Corp.

In one election, voters dumped two of the township’s three supervisors and shifted the township’s position on drilling.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5502081-74/drilling-gas-robinson#ixzz2sw6KrTmz
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Frugal California University Of Pennsylvania Cuts Back On Spending, Saves Millions

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Channel-surfing college football fans may notice one area team missing from this fall’s TV lineup.

California University of Pennsylvania decided it no longer could justify spending up to $150,000 a season to produce and broadcast games played by its Division II Vulcans football team — not with classroom cuts looming.

Suddenly frugal Cal U also pared service on its Vulcan Flyer, a shuttle named for the school’s mascot that used to leave campus stops every 10 minutes. Students now wait a bit longer, saving Cal U half a million dollars.

Still more money — another $1.6 million — was recouped by telling campus departments to return unspent money at year’s end, suspending a practice that had let them amass surpluses, even in years that the university tapped reserves to balance its books.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/frugal-california-university-of-pennsylvania-cuts-back-on-spending-saves-millions-706559/#ixzz2h3iK9R1u

Unemployment In Pittsburgh Region Falls To Lowest In Post-Recession Recovery

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unemployment in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area fell to 6.8 percent in June, a rate one-tenth of a percentage point below May’s 6.9 percent but that marks a new low of the post-recession recovery.

The last time unemployment was at 6.8 percent in the region was in March 2009, when unemployment was rising in the midst of the Great Recession.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/unemployment-in-pittsburgh-region-falls-to-lowest-in-post-recession-recovery-697432/#ixzz2aYC55kY0

Pittsburgh-Area Hotels Find Niche In Oil, Gas Workers

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To endear a hotel to the oil and gas crowd, give them a place to eat and sleep at all hours of the day, a place to wash their boots, a warm place to smoke in the winter and a cold beer once in a while.

So goes the formula developed by Tejas Gosai, president of the Washington, Pa.-based business Shale Hotel Inc.  The company is managing two hotels geared toward oil and gas workers, building two others and preparing to turn the Monroeville Holiday Inn into an industry destination for workers summoned here by the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas deposit underlying much of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gosai represents a group of four doctors, among them his father, who bought the 187-room Monroeville hotel in June.  His goal is to replicate there what he has helped to do in Bentleyville — attract at least half of the guests from oil and gas fields.

The Gosais have been in the hotel business for a dozen years.  Kam Gosai, a practicing physician in Washington County, co-owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western Garden Inn in Bentleyville.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pittsburgh-area-hotels-find-niche-in-oil-gas-workers-694646/#ixzz2YT5pEbAE

Charleroi Regional Ousts Police Officer

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

The Charleroi Regional Police Board on Wednesday terminated the employment of part-time police Officer Steve Kenyon, citing “conduct unbecoming an officer,” according to two board members.

Acting upon the recommendation of its personnel committee, the board ousted Kenyon behind a 6-1 vote. Kenyon will receive a letter informing him of the decision.

The board had removed Kenyon from the work schedule in May after his girlfriend was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia while parked in Kenyon’s private vehicle in Charleroi.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmonvalley/yourmonvalleymore/4225808-74/charleroi-board-officer#ixzz2WrvY0X7B
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Charleroi Area Lunch Ladies Steal Cafeteria Proceeds, Police Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Editor’s note:  Is nothing sacred!!!!????

Two Charleroi Area School District cafeteria workers stole about $94,000 in a scheme that involved pocketing cafeteria money and using it to gamble at a casino, according to Washington County criminal complaints.

Stacy Lee Shipley, 50, and Sheila Ann Cook, 49, both of Charleroi, went to The Meadows Racetrack and Casino with money that Ms. Shipley stole from the school cafeteria, the complaints say.

Ms. Shipley would tell Ms. Cook that she had “extra money” with the understanding that the money was stolen. The pair promised each other they would split all winnings, according to the complaint.

Ms. Cook told police that she “just got caught up in the thrill of it all.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/washington/charleroi-area-lunch-ladies-steal-cafeteria-proceeds-police-say-672844/#ixzz2JayX4LgW

Natural Gas Boom Fuels U.S. Office Market

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bloomberg — Leasing demand from natural-gas and other energy companies is helping to bolster the U.S. office market and drive growth in cities such as Pittsburgh, where rents are at their highest in more than a decade.

Greater Pittsburgh, along with Houston and other cities with concentrations of energy-related workers, is outpacing national growth in rents and occupancy, according to a report today from Reis Inc., which showed U.S. office landlords had net gains in leased space for a second year in 2012, following three years of declines.  Tenants in energy, along with technology, helped push the national vacancy rate to a three-year low.

In the fourth quarter, greater Pittsburgh office rents after landlord concessions climbed 1 percent from the previous three months, compared with 0.8 percent for the U.S., while the area’s vacancy rate held at 15.5 percent, below the national average of 17.1 percent, New York-based Reis said. Pittsburgh tenants paid an average of $17.68 a square foot in the fourth quarter, the highest since 2000, ranking it 12th out of 79 markets for growth.  In Houston, effective rents rose 1.7 percent, the fifth-most nationwide.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-energy-office-market-20130107,0,3658617.story

Rural Food Banks Struggle To Meet Need

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Greene County

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

Like the people they help, food pantries throughout southwestern Pennsylvania are struggling — and in some cases, failing — to make ends meet as skimpy federal food supplies, a tighter state budget, higher food prices and more needy clients strain resources.

Food banks around the region are reducing the number of fruits and vegetables they distribute, trimming or even eliminating expensive protein sources such as eggs and peanut butter from the boxes given to their clients, and in some cases, must consider scaling back their operations.

In Greene County, for instance, board members of the Waynesburg-based food bank, The Corner Cupboard, were spared Monday from slashing their food box distribution from monthly to bimonthly only after a last-minute $10,000 donation from natural gas drilling company EQT, according to board member John Jenkins.

“I don’t want to tell people we don’t have food for them, my God, but there’s just nothing we can do right now,” Mr. Jenkins said. “We’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul to try to stay afloat as it is.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/rural-food-banks-struggle-to-meet-need-653436/#ixzz26bApTVGG

Marcellus Shale Yield Skyrockets In Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

The amount of Marcellus Shale gas produced in Allegheny County more than doubled in the first half of 2012, with nine online wells concentrated in Frazer and Fawn producing more than 3.6 billion cubic feet of gas, according to new data released by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Even with the increase, the county still contributed a pittance to total statewide production figures.

Gas production across the state climbed from January to June, with 704 billion cubic feet of gas produced, up from the 630 billion cubic feet reported from July to December 2011.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/marcellusshale/county-marcellus-shale-yield-skyrockets-649379/#ixzz246GMjMrr

“American Idol” Puts Adam Brock Of Washington, Pa., In Top 24

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Image via Wikipedia

Amid the glitz of Hollywood and Vegas, a creative arts director from “Little Washington” sung his way onto the main stage of “American Idol.”

Adam Brock, 27, was announced Thursday night as one of the 24 finalists in the venerable Fox talent competition. Live shows kickoff next week and viewers will have the chance to vote for their favorites, ultimately naming the 11th American Idol.

For Mr. Brock, who graduated from Trinity High School and Messiah College in Harrisburg, it had to have been a tough week. The latest selection process was completed last month but the bluesman, who calls himself “White Chocolate,” was forbidden to reveal the results.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12055/1212400-67-0.stm#ixzz1nPzv0MWX

Huge Alcohol Crackdown At California University Of Pennsylvania

Map of Washington County higlighting California.

Image via Wikipedia

Over the weekend police in California, Pennsylvania were busy writing up dozens of citations for underage drinking and alcohol-related offenses.  38 people were cited, at various locations in California Borough, for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, holding a loud party, having an open container of alcohol and underage drinking.

James Donofrio, 21, of Venetia, is charged with supplying alcohol to minors, tampering with evidence and disorderly conduct.

Two people were taken to Mon Valley Hospital for consuming too much alcohol.

The Brownsville Telegraph is also reporting that 90 citations were issued at the Theta X Frat House over the weekend, mostly for underage drinking.  California University of Pennsylvania is located within the borough of California, PA.