Lehigh Valley Unemployment Rate Spikes

he Lehigh Valley‘s unemployment rate spiked again in July as the number of people looking for work continues to grow faster than businesses add jobs.

The unemployment rate hit 8.8 percent in July, up from 8.5 percent in June, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.  It is the second straight month the unemployment rate increased even though the number of Valley residents working grew.

A total of 395,300 Valley area residents had jobs in July, the highest that number has been since November 2008, just as the Great Recession was taking hold.  But the workforce is growing at a faster pace.

From May to July, 6,700 new workers entered the labor pool, but fewer than half of them — 3,200 — found jobs.  When the workforce grows faster than businesses add jobs, the unemployment rate goes up.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-lehigh-valley-jobs-july-20120828,0,386387.story

Isaac Becomes Category 1 Hurricane Near Gulf Coast

(Updated at 1:13 p.m.) MIAMI — Isaac became a hurricane Tuesday that could flood the coasts of four states with storm surge and heavy rains on its way to New Orleans, where residents hunkered down behind levees fortified after Katrina struck seven years ago this week.

Shelters were open for those who chose to stay or missed the chance to get away before the outer bands of the large storm blow ashore ahead of a forecast landfall in southeast Louisiana on Tuesday night or early Wednesday.  However, with the exception of some low-lying areas, officials had not ordered mass evacuations.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac became a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday with winds of 75 mph.  It could get stronger by the time it’s expected to reach the swampy coast of southeast Louisiana.

In Houma, a city southwest of New Orleans, people filled a municipal auditorium-turned-shelter.  However, in the bayou country of Terrebonne Parish off Highway 24, storms pose a perennial dilemma for those living a hardscrabble life.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120828/NEWS04/120829390/updated-isaac-becomes-cat-1-hurricane-near-gulf-coast&pager=full_story

Argument Over Parenting Leads To Pottstown Arson Fire

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Updated at 3 p.m.) POTTSTOWN, PA — A borough woman was arrested for setting fire to her own home Sunday night after an argument with her domestic partner over parenting techniques with their children caused the police to be called.

Cora Lee Sharp, 48, is charged with arson after starting a fire in the kitchen of the home the couple and their two adopted children share on the 900 block of Spruce Street, according to the Pottstown Police.

The Pottstown Fire Department was dispatched to the residence around 9:06 p.m. Sunday and found multiple fires burning on the property, said Fire Chief Richard Lengel.

After 22 minutes, the fires, which were isolated to Sharp’s property, were extinguished.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120828/NEWS01/120829459/argument-over-parenting-leads-to-pottstown-arson-fire-(video)&pager=full_story

Target Steals Title Of ‘Cheapest’ From Wal-Mart

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  There is a very good video to watch if you click on the link below.

For the first time since October, Target gas reclaimed the title  of  “cheapest” from its fellow big-box retailer, Bloomberg reported, and the gap was the biggest its been in the two years the difference has been tracked.

That’s especially important in today’s economy, as cheap is exactly what consumers are looking for.  High unemployment, coupled with rising gas and food prices, means customers are as cash-conscious as ever.  And while retail sales finally improved in July, that was one of the first good signs for the sector in months.

Both companies have thus been trying to lure in those penny-pinching customers with discounts and slashed prices. The key to Target’s success in the pricing department  came from the addition of groceries to many stores, which cut into Wal-Mart‘s advantage on food prices.  The company has also added discount incentives through its REDCard.

Read more: http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=84caede6-927a-488e-842c-322ae9654306

To ‘Hell’ And Back: Milford, Pennsylvania’s River Rock Inn Featured In Sept. 3 Episode Of New Gordon Ramsay TV Series

Logo of the Fox Broadcasting Company

Logo of the Fox Broadcasting Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With show titles like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares” already under his belt, it’s no surprise that Gordon Ramsay has garnered a reputation for being a no-nonsense chef and businessman.

The renowned culinary artist and hospitality expert recently launched his newest reality TV series, “Hotel Hell,” on the Fox network, in which he visits and effectively takes over failing hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts across the country.

One of the stops Mr. Ramsay made for the show was River Rock Inn in Milford.  The episode featuring the Pike County business is scheduled to air Monday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. on FOX, locally WOLF-TV, Channel 56.

During a recent conference call with reporters, Mr. Ramsay, who owns several restaurants and a hotel of his own, explained his desire to branch out from the kitchen to the hospitality sector was based on his own misgivings and bad experiences as a guest at various places.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles-people/to-hell-and-back-milford-s-river-rock-inn-featured-in-sept-3-episode-of-new-gordon-ramsay-tv-series-1.1363248

Fresh Express Recalls Hearts Of Romaine Sold In Pennsylvania

Fresh Express Inc. is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of expired 10-oz. Hearts of Romaine salad with the expired Use-by Date of Aug. 23, 2012 and a Product Code beginning with “G222” as a precaution due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes.

No illnesses are reported in association with the recall.  No other Fresh Express products are being recalled.

Fresh Express customer service representatives are already contacting retailers to confirm the product was removed from their inventories and store shelves in accordance with standard procedures for products that have reached their expiration date.  Customers with questions may contact their Fresh Express customer service representative.

In an unlikely event that consumers may still have this expired product in their refrigerators, it should not be consumed, but discarded instead.  Consumers with questions may call the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at 800-242-5472 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120827/NEWS01/120829460/fresh-express-recalls-hearts-of-romaine-sold-in-pa-

Arson Suspected In Pottstown House Fire

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — A fire call at a home in the 900 block of Spruce Street Sunday night is being investigated as arson.

According to Fire Chief Richard Lengel, a call came in for 967 Spruce St. around 9:06 p.m. Sunday, and when firefighters arrived, they found several fires set throughout the property.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120827/NEWS01/120829459/arson-suspected-in-pottstown-house-fire

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem Table Games Boom Benefits Easton

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Great to see this money benefit the taxpayers of Pennsylvania!

The city was left out of the local share of taxes on the casino’s thousands of slot machines, but came away with a 25 percent cut of local table gaming taxes. The games — poker, blackjack and more than a dozen other options — remain a fraction of the tens of millions poured into Sands’ slot machines, but the casino’s tables are the most popular in the state and show no sign of slowing down.

The city budgeted $560,000 in table games money this year, a slight uptick from 2011’s $530,000 haul, yet Easton could see more than $700,000 if the boom in south Bethlehem continues. Through the first two quarters this year, Sands shunted $336,000 into Easton’s coffers and the table games at Sands remain the state’s highest grossing.

“We are definitely getting more than we expected,” Easton Finance Director Chris Heagele said.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-sees-windfall-table-games-revenue-20120824,0,5728945.story

Tropical Storm Isaac Slogs Toward U.S. Gulf Coast

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Isaac churned across the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, disrupting U.S. offshore energy production and threatening to hit Louisiana on the anniversary of devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The storm swiped south Florida on Sunday before moving into warm Gulf waters, where it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.

On its current track, Isaac was due to slam into the Gulf Coast anywhere between Florida and Louisiana by Tuesday night or early Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Katrina hitting New Orleans, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

“The weather is going to go downhill well in advance of that and that’s why today is the day of preparation,” said NHC director Richard Knabb.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/sns-rt-us-storm-isaacbre87l0ph-20120822,0,2605372.story

Social Security Worth Higher Tax, Most In Poll Say

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations.  And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated PressGfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation’s largest federal program.

Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems.  When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll.  Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411559

Pennsylvania Turnpike Is Billions Of Dollars In Debt

Map of the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Map of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Stop the madness!

PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania Turnpike may be on the road to the poorhouse.

Required by a 2007 state law to provide billions of dollars for statewide road and bridge repairs and transit operations, the turnpike is spending more money each year than it makes, despite toll increases that have doubled the cost to travel the turnpike over the last 10 years.

To meet the financial demands created by the law, Act 44, turnpike officials have borrowed aggressively, leaving the agency deeper in debt each year.

The Turnpike Commission is now more than $7 billion in debt, up from $2 billion in 2002 and $4 billion in 2009. The burden continues to grow, with the turnpike required to make payments until 2057.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411605

Many Wilson Students Will Go To Different Buildings

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

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

When classes resume Monday in Wilson School District, many students will find themselves in new surroundings.

Students at the now-closed Lincoln Park and West Wyomissing elementary schools will move to other buildings.

In addition, a redistricting effort impacts students at two more elementary schools and both middle schools.

To ease the transition for about 600 students, Wilson has scheduled open houses, tours, orientations and demo bus rides.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411361

Bachman Selling Its Snack Brands To Utz

Wyomissing-based snack maker Bachman Co. announced Saturday that it has sold its brands and certain assets to Utz Quality Foods Inc., Hanover, York County.

Brands such as Bachman, Jax, Thin’n Right and Chipitos, distribution rights to the brands and an Ephrata plant are part of the sale.

No purchase price was disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the next 30 days, according to a statement from Utz.

Scott Carpenter, Bachman president, said the company will change its name to Savor Street Foods Inc. and retain its Hyde Park plant.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411372

Neil Armstrong, 1st Man On The Moon, Dies At 82

Neil Armstrong, one of the first two men to la...

Neil Armstrong, one of the first two men to land on the Moon, and the first to walk on it, in 1969 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cincinnati, OHNeil Armstrong was a soft-spoken engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step onto the moon. The modest man, who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter-million miles away, but credited others for the feat, died Saturday. He was 82.

Armstrong died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, his family said in a statement. Armstrong had had a bypass operation this month, according to NASA. His family didn’t say where he died; he had lived in suburban Cincinnati.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after becoming the first person to set foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411316

8 States With Deepest Funding Cuts

Editor’s note:  Pennsylvania did NOT make this list….you may be surprised by some of the states that did!

The Great Recession pinched state governments, forcing them to be less generous with local communities which, in turn, had less to spend on students, police and programs for the poor.

For nearly three decades, local governments could count on a steady increase in money from their two biggest funding sources — the states and property taxes.

That changed in 2009 and 2010, when local governments took in less from both sources, according to a report last month from the Pew American Cities Project.  The funding shortfall has forced many cities, towns, counties and school districts to tighten their belts.

24/7 Wall St identified the eight states making the steepest cuts in funding to local governments. The website’s analysis of data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that these states were having their own budget problems as tax receipts shriveled in an anemic economy.

Read more: http://money.msn.com/investing/8-states-with-deepest-funding-cuts

Mayans Themselves May Have Aided Collapse Of Empire

Editor’s note:  Sounds like history is repeating itself in the Amazon!

The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries.  Then, around A.D. 900, Mayan civilization disintegrated.

Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culture, finding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.

Scientists have found that drought played a key role, but the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops, according to researchers who used climate-model simulations to see how much deforestation aggravated the drought.

“We’re not saying deforestation explains the entire drought, but it does explain a substantial portion of the overall drying that is thought to have occurred,” said the study’s lead author, Benjamin Cook, a climate modeler at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a statement.

Read more: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48752012/ns/technology_and_science-science/?ocid=ansmsnbc11#.UDeyksFlQkI

Lance Armstrong Ends Fight Against Doping Charges, To Lose Titles

Lance Armstrong riding to victory at L'Alpe d'...

Lance Armstrong riding to victory at L’Alpe d’Huez. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) – Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said he would no longer fight doping charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which quickly said it would strip him of his titles and ban him from competitive cycling.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, made the announcement in a written statement as he faced a midnight deadline on Thursday to formally challenge the accusations against him.

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’,” the American cyclist said in the statement, which was posted on his website, www.Lancearmstrong.com.

“For me, that time is now.  I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.”

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/24/us-cycling-armstrong-doping-idUSBRE87N03N20120824

Scranton Gets $6.2M Short-Term Loan; State Sets Public Hearing On Plan For Today

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to see that the mayor and council president have put aside their differences and are working together.  It’s making a difference!

Like dominoes falling, Scranton has finally adopted a revised recovery plan, and because of that the city now will receive a $2.2 million state aid package and a $6.25 million short-term bank loan that will allow the city to pay bills and payrolls while continuing to seek long-term borrowing to fund its 2012 budget.

The flurry of separate, yet related, developments has bought the city some time to resolve its short-term financial crisis, however the city still needs to secure other borrowing to end the year in black, Mayor Chris Doherty and council President Janet Evans said.

The stage was set with the city’s proposed revised recovery plan having received approval in recent days from its Act 47 recovery coordinator, Pennsylvania Economy League.  That approval will allow the city to receive the $2.2 million state aid package from PEL’s overseer, the state Department of Community and Economic Development.  With PEL and DCED on board with the city’s recovery plan and the state aid package on the way, the city was able to secure on Wednesday night a $6.25 million tax- anticipation note from Amalgamated Bank of New York and Washington, D.C., the mayor and Mrs. Evans announced late Thursday afternoon in front of City Hall, shortly before the council meeting.

“This buys us time,” Mr. Doherty said of the bank loan and state aid package.  “With the recovery plan being passed, it sends a positive message for our future borrowing.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/city-gets-6-2m-short-term-loan-state-sets-public-hearing-on-plan-for-today-1.1363190

Easton Pays McDonald’s $300,000 To Vacate Two Rivers Landing

English: The official logo.

English: The official logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There will be no more Egg McMuffins, Golden Arches or Happy Meals in Centre Square.

Easton City Council agreed Wednesday night to pay McDonald’s $300,000 over three years to terminate the remainder of the burger chain’s lease at Two Rivers Landing.  The deal paved the way for a 10-year commitment from Crayola to lease the entire facility, putting the building back on tax rolls and effectively paying off the mortgage.

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. laid out the major terms of the two pacts, highlighting a $2.2 million boost in revenue over the next decade before the payments to McDonald’s.  Crayola, which will invest millions to revamp its Crayola Experience attraction, plans to generate much larger crowds, reconfigure its store and pump more money into the downtown, Panto said.

“The amount of dollars we are investing,” Panto said of the McDonald’s buyout, “will be returned many, many times.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-two-rivers-landing-lease-resolved-20120822,0,5083955.story

Ten Shot, Two Dead Near New York’s Empire State Building

English: Empire State Building from airplane

English: Empire State Building from airplane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW YORK  (Reuters) – Two people were killed and at least eight were wounded in a shooting outside the landmark Empire State Building in New York City on Friday, a New York police source said.

One of the dead was the shooter, the source said, adding there was no apparent link to terrorism.

A white tarp covered what was believed to be a body in front of the entrance to the office building but police declined to confirm if it was the shooter.

“I heard the gunshots,” said Dahlia Anister, 33, who works at an office near the 102-story Empire State Building.  “It was like pop, pop, pop. It was definitely in a bunch.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/sns-rt-us-usa-shooting-empirestatebre87n0m2-20120824,0,326407.story