In Post-Lower Macungie Development Boom, Talk Of ‘Smart Growth’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

Jim Palmquist is one 66-year-old who has the time, motivation and legs to walk the nearly two-miles from his Lower Macungie home to the closest restaurant.

What he doesn’t have is a death wish.

With the proliferation of cars and trucks clogging roads between his Fresh Meadow Drive neighborhood and the closest Brookside Road businesses, walking can be a life-risking proposition, particularly because of the sporadic placement of sidewalks and walkways that go virtually nowhere.

“This is a township that is completely auto driven,” said Palmquist ,who recently did a thorough study of sidewalks in the area of Lower Macungie and Brookside roads. “You can’t walk to the Wawa. You can’t walk to the township building.”

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Verizon Offers Up To $50,000 Reward In Reading Vandalism Case

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

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verizon is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of people who vandalized the phone company’s copper telephone cables that run under the Bingaman Street Bridge.

Two recent incidents put public safety at risk for hundreds of customers in the Reading area and caused unnecessary telephone service outages, said Lee J. Gierczynski, Verizon spokesman.

Gierczynski said cables that run under the bridge were vandalized on Sept. 16 and on Tuesday.

The vandalism, which police suspect is being committed by copper thieves, caused a loss of phone service in some areas of south Reading and Kenhorst.

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Pittsburgh Region Sees 11th Consecutive Month Of Home Sales Increases

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)

The number of homes sold last month in the Pittsburgh area and their total value rose compared with August 2011, marking the 11th consecutive month of increases, according to data released today by local real estate information service RealSTATs.

“This comes off of seven years of consecutive decline,” RealSTATs vice president Daniel Murrer said.  “It’s significant.  We’re in the first year of positive growth in eight years.”

RealSTATs compiles the data from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The total dollar volume of home sales in August in the region was $478 million, up 11 percent from nearly $431 million a year earlier.

West Penn Allegheny Cancels Highmark Affiliation Agreement

English: Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pitts...

English: Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, taken 2008 showing the new Highmark branding atop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saying that Highmark Inc. wanted it to restructure through bankruptcy, West Penn Allegheny Health System canceled the $475 million deal under which the insurer planned to acquire WPAHS.

WPAHS board chairman Jack Isherwood said in a written statement this morning that he considers bankruptcy a poor option for the health system’s employees and customers.

“To us, bankruptcy is not the first option, it’s the last option,” he said.

WPAHS is actively looking for new partners and is willing to consider all types of companies — another insurer, nonprofit, for-profit.

Senior management will remain in place, Mr. Isherwood said.

Property Taxes Are Killing Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  This is a well-written opinion piece from the Fishwrap that was sent to Governor Corbett and other state and local officials.  Sums up the state of Pottstown pretty well.

An open letter sent to Gov. Corbett and copied to state Rep. Thomas Quigley and Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath.

Gov. Corbett:

There’s a lovely stone house for sale on High Street in Pottstown.  Yes, it’s our house.  It’s reasonably priced and has piqued the curiosity of many prospective buyers but one item makes them turn and run.  “What is so frightening?” you ask.  It’s the property taxes!  Over $7,500 per year on a house assessed at $150,000.  That’s outrageous!  We have friends in other Montgomery County communities such as Springfield Township, Abington and Upper Dublin.  Their houses are assessed higher than ours but, in some cases, they pay less than half our taxes.  There is something drastically wrong with this scenario.  Pottstown ranks seventh in school taxes out of 500 Pennsylvania districts.  We also rank at the top for producing underachieving students.  We have 13.4 percent of our residents over 65, an inordinate number of Section 8 and transient residents in this blue-collar town, and high unemployment.  Property values are spiraling downward, creating a dismal sinking into the quicksand of urban destruction.

Our delusional council and school board keep raising taxes as though we were a booming town but we’ve lost our industrial base that employed hundreds at Bethlehem Steel, Firestone, Mrs. Smith’s Pies and other long-gone businesses.  Sadly, we’ve also had to say good-bye to our wonderful Pottstown Symphony.

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Two Pottstown Fire Companies Moving In Together

Editor’s note:  Hallelujah!  This makes complete sense and will help the borough budget!  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up!

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — One of the four firehouses in the borough is  up for sale and the fire company that has occupied it for 92 years will be moving into another firehouse by December.

Mark Gibson, a longtime member of the Empire Hook and Ladder Co. and its designated spokesman in this matter, confirmed that Empire will move into space at the Goodwill Fire Company on High Street and has put the 7,970-square-foot Empire firehouse at Chestnut and Franklin streets on the market.

The asking price is about $225,000.

Empire members voted overwhelmingly to endorse the move early in the year, he said.

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Serious Crimes In Lackawanna County Jumped 5.3 Percent From 2010 To 2011

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)

Serious crime in Lackawanna County is on the rise, including the number of reported murders and rapes, according to new crime statistics released by state police.

Crimes in Lackawanna County, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson increased 5.3 percent from 4,815 incidents in 2010 to 5,071 in 2011, the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System figures show.  Statewide, these types of crimes increased just 2.1 percent.

Lackawanna County was home to five murders in 2011 – three of them in Scranton – and 48 reported rapes, a jump from just one murder and 38 reported rapes in the county in 2010.  Of the 48 rapes, 34 were in Scranton last year.

“I don’t think there’s any single factor that you could point your finger at and say this is the reason crime is up,” Acting Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano said.

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Bethlehem Zoners Reject South Side Artist Colony

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

A nonprofit developer said this week’s zoning denial would not stop its multi-million-dollar plan to bring low-rent housing and a convert a vacant church into an art gallery in south Bethlehem.

Housing Development Corp. Midatlantic of Lancaster will go back to the drawing board to determine how to address the parking issues associated with the $11 million project, President Michael Carper said.

“We closed on the properties. We own them. We’re not going away and will make it work,” he said.

Plans included converting the vacant St. Stanislaus Church on Hayes Street into an art gallery accompanied with building 28 new, low-rent townhouses, loft apartments and 26 parking spaces on the property.

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Lancaster County Chef To Appear On ‘Cupcake Wars’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Chef Susan Notter, program director of pastry arts at The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts and owner of Susan Notter Pastries, will appear on “Cupcake Wars” at 8 p.m. Sunday as a competitor in a special edition episode, “Cake Wars,” which will unite cake makers, sweet specialists and special effect artists.

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Reading Parking Authority Ousts Executive Director

Within minutes of taking their seats Wednesday, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s two new appointees to the Reading Parking Authority voted with Chairman George Cook to fire longtime Executive Director Lawrence H. Lee.

“He’s not being removed for cause,” Cook said. “We just want somebody else.”

Cook said the authority is moving in a new direction to work more closely with the city, and wanted someone with a different set of skills.

He called for the vote immediately after opening the meeting.

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center East End Expansion Leads To Controversy

English: UPMC Logo

English: UPMC Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When UPMC paid $10 million in 2006 for the old Ford Motor Co. building on Baum Boulevard in Bloomfield, jaws dropped at what some considered an exorbitant price, even for a local landmark.

The sale “sort of stopped purchasing for a while because a lot of people thought they could get rich, too,” Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto said. “They thought that if they held out, UPMC would knock with a check with a couple of extra zeroes.”

People did indeed get rich following the sale of the 1915 building that once served as a Ford assembly plant and showroom, but not by holding out as a way to take advantage of the $10 billion health care giant.

They simply owned the right property at the right time when UPMC, with its deep pockets, made a strategic decision to establish a larger East End footprint.

Census Shows Continued Economic Suffering From Recession

Map of the 21 counties of the State of New Jersey

Map of the 21 counties of the State of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The typical New Jersey household’s income dropped again last year, the fifth consecutive decline, according to new data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Not surprisingly, as incomes fell, the ranks of the poor rose.

“The latest federal statistics show there are more people in our state struggling in poverty than during any period in half a century,” says Melville D. Miller Jr., president of Legal Services of New Jersey. “That can cripple the development of our children and our state’s economic and social future.”

The latest Census estimates put the median household income in the state at $67,458. When adjusted for inflation, that was 3.4 percent less than in 2010 and 8.1 percent less than in 2008, the first full year of the recent recession. It’s also less than the actual, unadjusted, median incomes for the prior three years and only slightly above 2007’s actual median income of $67,035 — $72,666 in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars.

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“Snooki Law” Would Let NJ Towns Regulate Reality TV

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – A New Jersey lawmaker wants towns to have a say in the filming of reality TV shows within their boundaries before a Situation develops.

Ocean County Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer on Monday introduced legislation for a Snookiville Law. The law would let towns impose conditions including requiring TV crews to pay for additional police officers to assure public safety during filming.

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The Ninth Annual Carousel Of Flavor Restaurant Festival

Date:  Sunday, Sept 30, 2012 from noon to 4 p.m.

Where:  100 Block of High Street, Pottstown (in front of Borough Hall)

Expanded wine and beer garden this year!  Over 4,000 attended last year.  Featuring live bands, crafters and a clown for children of all ages.

Eagles, Vick Beaten Up 27-6 By Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick a...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick after the Eagles’ training camp in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Michael Vick was knocked into Arizona’s bench on his first play and flattened in the pocket later in the series.

His day never got any better.

Harassed all game by Arizona’s attacking defense, Vick was sacked five times and had one of his two fumbles returned for a 93-yard touchdown in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 27-6 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.

”I wish I had all the answers right now,” Vick said. ”The only thing I can tell you is we didn’t play our best, Nowhere near what we have potential to do.”

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A More Simplified Way Of Explaining The U.S. Economy/Debt‏

Editor’s note:  This came in my email today and I liked the comparison between the home budget versus the national budget.  I don’t know anybody who would run their household budget the way our government runs the national budget.  I think this applies across the aisle!

This rather brilliantly cuts thru all the political doublespeak we get.  It puts it into a much better perspective.

Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $3.85

Got It ?????

OK, now Lesson # 2:

Here’s another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let’s say, you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood….and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ……

Raise the ceilings, or pump out the crap?

Arts In Philadelphia Economy: A Pretty Picture

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arts and cultural organizations have a multibillion-dollar impact on the Philadelphia region’s economy, and are among the nation’s most productive in creation of jobs and stirring up economic activity.  Only those in the Washington area generate more per-capita expenditures, and in terms of jobs, no region comes close to Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Cultural activity generates nearly $170 million in state and local taxes annually and supports 44,000 jobs within the city and its four suburban Pennsylvania counties, according to a study set for release Monday by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

The economic-impact study, based on data collected from 345 arts and cultural organizations and more than 2,000 audience members, reports that the sector triggers a total of $3.3 billion in direct and indirect expenditures every year.

In the area of employment, culture in the first-ranked Philadelphia region supports 43,700 jobs; Greater Houston, number two, generates 29,100, and Washington, number three, 29,000.

Television’s Fall Season Endures

For years, Alan Wurtzel, the head of research for NBC, has questioned the enduring validity of a television season — the ritual competition of network series, which begins again Monday night.

“I’ve been saying the idea of a television season is an anachronistic artifact,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “It’s a 52-week-a-year business. We never take a night off.”

The tradition of the fall season, originally tied to the start of the model year for new cars, is now more than 60 years old. It is defined arbitrarily and rather arcanely by the Nielsen Company as 34.5 weeks between mid-September and mid-May. The season doesn’t account for the increasing number of viewers who watch shows on their own schedules and it hasn’t stopped cable networks from introducing hit shows all through the year.

And yet, the idea persists, in large part because it still works. In defiance of diminishing ratings, attention on the new network shows seems only to have increased, as more blogs and social media sites offer breakdowns of the lineups and predictions of successes and failures.

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Scranton Is A ‘Hot Commodity’ For Downtown Residential Housing

Scranton‘s financial house may be in disorder, but the downtown residential boom continues to build momentum.

More than $11.3 million in three ongoing developments will add 74 apartments to Central City by next summer.

“Scranton is a hot commodity,” said Charlie Jefferson, an investor in the $8.6 million redevelopment of the Scranton Chamber of Commerce Building at Mulberry Street and North Washington Avenue.

Scranton’s municipal government is facing a credit crisis and recently borrowed $6.25 million to cover short-term financial obligations.  City residents could face potential tax increases of 39 to 79 percent – or more – over the next three years.

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Christina Aguilera And Cee Lo Green Taking ‘Voice’ Hiatus; Shakira And Usher To Fill Their Chairs

You have to hand it to “The Voice. ” Last week, the show added a third Wednesday episode to ruin “The X Factor‘s” big premiere night.  And now, with the new “American Idol” and “X Factor” judges having had hardly any time to bask in their publicity, already “The Voice” is stealing both shows’ thunder once again–with breaking news that two new singularly named superstar judges, Shakira and Usher, will replace Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green for Season 4.  Both Christina and Cee Lo will be back for Season 5 in fall 2013, according to NBC.

Rumors have swirled for months that NBC’s overkill decision to air “The Voice” twice yearly would at least temporarily drive away some or all of the show’s regular judges, causing the lineup to be revamped for the spring 2013 season.  Apparently such is the downside of hiring judges who, you know, are still relevant hitmakers and have other important things to do with their time, like touring and recording, besides sitting on an NBC soundstage six months out of the year. (And this is why talent shows should consider hiring non-celebrity judges, but I digress.)  In fact, just last week when talking to Ryan Seacrest, Christina admitted that she’d first assumed her “Voice” gig would be “kind of like a side project…then it kind of took off, and there goes my free time!”

With Christina getting ready to release her comeback album, Lotus, in November (her new single, “Your Body,” debuted last week to positive reviews), and the ubiquitous Cee Lo working on a Christmas album and a new sitcom, it’s no surprise that they are the first “Voice” judges to take official leaves of absence.

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