Pennsylvania’s Stagnant 2013 Growth Has Political Repercussions

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’‍s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Pennsylvania’‍s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.

Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/06/19/Pennsylvania-s-stagnant-2013-growth-has-political-repercussions/stories/201406190114#ixzz356R8ZzWX

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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Many Remain Wary Of West Virginia Water As Smell Lingers

Map of Charleston and vicinity.

Map of Charleston and vicinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHARLESTON, WV—The smell lingers—the slightly sweet, slightly bitter odor of a chemical that contaminated the water supply of West Virginia’s capital more than a week ago. It creeps out of faucets and shower heads. It wafts from the Elk River, the site of the spill. Sometimes it hangs in the cold nighttime air.

For several days, a majority of Charleston-area residents have been told their water is safe to drink, that the concentration of a chemical used to wash coal is so low that it won’t be harmful. Restaurants have reopened—using tap water to wash dishes and produce, clean out their soda fountains and make ice.

But as long as people can still smell it, they’re wary—and given the lack of knowledge about the chemical known as MCHM, some experts say their caution is justified.

“I would certainly be waiting until I couldn’t smell it anymore, certainly to be drinking it,” said Richard Denison, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund who has followed the spill closely. “I don’t blame people at all for raising questions and wondering whether they can trust what’s being told to them.”

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/nation-world/ci_24940594/many-remain-wary-w-va-water-smell-lingers

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Water Ban Lifted For Parts Of West Virginia After Spill

West Virginia counties map

West Virginia counties map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHARLESTON, WV — The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for some of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply.

Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets.

“The numbers we have today look good and we are finally at a point where the ‘do not use order’ has been lifted,” he said.

Officials are lifting the ban in a strict, methodical manner to help ensure the water system is not overwhelmed by excessive demand, which could cause more water quality and service issues. Customers are being asked to flush out their systems before using the water again, and officials cautioned that the water could still have an odor, but it is safe.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/5409651-74/state-chemical-officials#ixzz2qJIsJ9gm
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Chemical Spill Shuts Down Much Of West Virginia Capital

Map of Charleston and vicinity.

Map of Charleston and vicinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHARLESTON, WV(AP) — Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the extent of the danger remained unclear.

The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. In requesting the federal declaration, which makes federal resources available to the state, state officials said about 300,000 people were affected.

Federal authorities are also launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the spill and what caused it, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a news release Friday.

Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customers of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.

Read more: http://hosted2.ap.org/PAWIC/140fe8300e9c43bab097b794ca7594c6/Article_2014-01-10-Chemical%20Spill-WVa/id-2310b0b7a3654ebf911d3ee5fc84f854

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Consol Selling 5 Coal Mines, River Transport Business In $3.5B Deal

English: Consol Energy Center

English: Consol Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the world’s oldest coal companies is selling off the business that gave Consol Energy Inc. its name, giving up five West Virginia mines and its river transport arm in an effort to transform into a growth-oriented gas business.

After weeks of speculation, Cecil-based Consol confirmed it is selling its Consolidation Coal Co. subsidiary to an Ohio mining competitor in a deal that includes $850 million in cash. The company will keep five mines to help supply overseas demand and use the capital it’s freeing up to reinvest in exploration and production of shale gas.

“We’ve kept the jewels for our shareholders,” CEO J. Brett Harvey said. “It’s important for you to understand that.”

Harvey said Consol retained an advantage over drilling competitors by retaining what it considers its best coal assets. The five mines it will hold, including its Pennsylvania operations, can supply both electric and metals makers, allowing it to sell at the best price and get more money to keep growing gas production by 30 percent annually, Consol executives said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4960070-74/consol-coal-billion#ixzz2j27tk12V
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The Pumpkin House – Kenova, WV

A friend of mine suggested that something like this would make a great festival for Pottstown.  As many residents recall, tractor trailer loads of pumpkins made their way into Pottstown every fall to become Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie, before the company was sold.  She suggested in addition to the pumpkin carving that a “pumpkin toss” might be fun when the pumpkin viewing was all over.

Several locations come to mind, Memorial Park or Riverfront Park would be at the top of the list.

This would be a great “homage” to Pottstown’s past.  Pumpkin parade, pumpkin queen, Pumpkin 5K and the list goes on and on :)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kenovas-Famous-Griffith-Pumpkin-House/278830822139142

Wheeling Jesuit College Student Dies Of Beating Injuries

English: Wheeling Jesuit University campus

English: Wheeling Jesuit University campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What started off as an assault investigation changed to a homicide investigation when a Wheeling Jesuit University student who was beaten early Saturday morning died in a Pittsburgh hospital Sunday.

Kevin Figaniak, 21, of Perkasie, Pa., near Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at UPMC Presbyterian at 3:05 a.m. Sunday, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office.  A man who was with him during the beating sustained mild cuts and refused medical treatment.

Wheeling police said they were called to Locust Avenue and National Road, about a mile from the center of the Wheeling Jesuit campus about 1:45 a.m. Saturday to investigate an assault.  When they arrived, they found Mr. Figaniak lying unresponsive on the ground with “significant head trauma” and rushed him to Wheeling Hospital, according to a statement from Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.

Mr. Figaniak was transported Saturday evening to UPMC Presbyterian, where school officials said friends and family members surrounded him.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/college-student-dies-of-beating-injuries-701640/#ixzz2dl3QnzXt

Western Pennsylvania’s Rural Areas Increasingly Struggle With Population Loss

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)

James DeBlasio has lived all 88 of his years in southern Lawrence County, where he’s a longtime Taylor Township supervisor and has seen many of the people he grew up with move away or die — with no young people coming in to replace them.

Like most of rural Western Pennsylvania, and the non-urban sections of West Virginia and eastern Ohio as well, his is an area where census counts and estimates have noted a population decline due to multiple factors that appear hard to reverse.

The trends have been especially rough in Taylor, which experienced a 13.6 percent population decline between 2000 and 2010.  Of its 1,052 residents, more than twice as many are over age 65 as under age 18.  That ratio is practically unheard of among municipalities and doesn’t bode well for the township’s future.

“I don’t think there’s been a new house built here in 10 years, maybe longer,” Mr. DeBlasio noted.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/western-pennsylvanias-rural-areas-increasingly-struggle-with-population-loss-681566/#ixzz2PAdHb86b

Snow: Lots In D.C., Less For Philly

The storm dubbed Saturn by the Weather Channel and Snowquester by the Washington Post is shaping up as a major event for D.C. and Baltimore, less so in the Philadelphia area.

West Virginia and western Virginia could see a foot-and-a-half of snow and areas closer to I-95 in Virginia and Maryland could see 10 inches of heavy wet snow that “will lead to power outages,” according to the National Weather Service.  Snow is expected there thoughout the day into the evening.  Federal offices in Washington closed this morning.

This morning’s revised forecast for most of the Philadelphia area, though, is calling for rain today that will start turning to snow in the early evening, producing an accumulation of perhaps two to four inches by Thursday morning.

Chester and Lancaster Counties, though, could see snow all day, with slushy conditions at first, as temperatures will be above freezing. But the snow could be heavy at times and accumulate more overnight, perhaps up to four inches.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Snow_Lots_in_DC_less_for_Philly.html

West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller Won’t Seek Re-Election To U.S. Senate

Official photograph of Jay Rockefeller, U.S. S...

Official photograph of Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Senator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who came to West Virginia as a young man from one of the world’s richest families to work on antipoverty programs and remained in the state to build a political legacy, announced Friday he will not seek a sixth term.

The 75-year-old Democrat’s decision, coming at a time when his popularity in a conservative state had been waning for sparring with the powerful mining industry and supporting President Barack Obama, told The Associated Press ahead of his formal announcement that it was time to retire.

After about three decades in elective office, it was time to “bring more balance to my life after a career that has been so obsessively dominated by politics and public policy and campaigns,” he said.  “I’ve gotten way out of whack in terms of the time I should spend with my wife and my children and my grandchildren.”

Mr. Rockefeller’s retirement was widely expected and puts the seat held by Democrats since 1958 in jeopardy for the party.  Within weeks of November’s elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito vowed to run for the Senate seat in 2014, even if it meant going up against Mr. Rockefeller and his storied name.  Other Republicans also have been eyeing the seat in recent weeks.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/politics-national/west-virginias-jay-rockefeller-wont-seek-re-election-to-us-senate-669999/#ixzz2HgtUoBYB

‘Forgotten’ West Virginia Struggling In Sandy’s Aftermath

West Virginia counties map

West Virginia counties map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lights are back on in Lower Manhattan, but several West Virginia counties remain in the dark more than a week after Superstorm Sandy dumped up to 3 feet of snow in the state’s higher elevations.

Officials also say it could take at least six months to clear fallen trees in some areas.

While the worst is over, about 12,000 customers remained without power late Thursday and some back roads were still inaccessible, even as work and school resumed for many.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Patti Michel said power was expected to be restored to 95 percent of customers by midnight.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/forgotten-west-virginia-struggling-in-sandys-aftermath-661316/#ixzz2BkNCUQqZ

Marcellus Shale Reserves Larger Than Expected

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH, PA – There’s been plenty of debate over the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, but new research adds a twist that could impact political and environmental battles.  Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn’t just the biggest natural gas field in the country – it’s the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

One of the reports adds that the Marcellus reserves that lie below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York are far larger than recent government estimates, while another said the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation.

The Marcellus could contain “almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S.,” a report from Standard & Poor’s issued this week said.

Another recent report from ITG Investment Research, a worldwide financial firm based in New York, found that a detailed analysis of Marcellus well production data suggested that federal government estimates of its reserves “are grossly understated.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gas-drilling/marcellus-shale-reserves-larger-than-expected-1.1391569

Marcellus Shale Becoming Top US Natural Gas Field

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH, PA (AP) — The Marcellus Shale is about to become the most productive natural gas field in the United States, according to new data from energy industry analysts and the federal government.

Though serious drilling only began five years ago, the sheer volume of Marcellus production suggests that in some ways there’s no going back, even as New York debates whether to allow drilling in its portion of the shale, which also lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The top spot for the Marcellus “doesn’t surprise me,” said Jay Apt, a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “But will it lead to industries that spring up to use that gas?” he asked, adding that much of the bounty could also end up being shipped to Canada, the Gulf Coast or overseas.

In 2008, Marcellus production barely registered on national energy reports. In July, the combined output from Pennsylvania and West Virginia wells was about 7.4 billion cubic feet per day, according to Kyle Martinez, an analyst at Bentek Energy. That’s more than double the 3.6 billion cubic feet from last April, and represents over 25 percent of national shale gas production.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/marcellus-shale-becoming-top-us-natural-gas-field-1.1355101

Verizon Loses $300,000 To Copper Thieves In Fayette County, Pennsylvania

Verizon logo

Image via Wikipedia

A sign of rough economic times is people breaking the law to get money.  Usually, things like shoplifting, armed robbery and burglary are the most common.  However, some clever criminals in Fayette County are stealing telephone line to strip the copper wire out and sell it. 

We had a copper thief here in Pottstown.  They were stealing copper rain gutters off churches, of all things, and selling it.  They were  fortunately apprehended.

In Fayette County, 35 thefts of telephone line have occurred since April.  Since October, 19 of these thefts have occurred.  Guess somebody needs some Christmas cash?

Verizon is offering up to $50,000 in rewards for information leading to an arrest. The downside is, in addition to Verizon being out money, Verizon customers are losing their phone service. 

Fayette County is mostly rural and located south of Pittsburgh.  The county shares its southern border with West Virginia.  The county seat and largest city is Uniontown.