‘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

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Scranton Eyes $20 Million In Borrowing And Second Dedicated Tax Hike For 2013

Scranton City Council on Thursday unanimously introduced a $21 million bond ordinance to fund new debt and an increase in mandatory pension contributions and refinance old debt.

While the introduction was unanimous, council had questions about the bond proposal and agreed to ask administration officials to attend an upcoming caucus to explain it.

Mayor Chris Doherty wanted council to adopt on an emergency basis this legislation and another ordinance for a dedicated tax increase to pay for $9.75 million in unfunded debt, council President Janet Evans said.

However, because council received the ordinances late Wednesday, she said, council and its solicitor, Boyd Hughes, had not had enough time to review them and refused to enact them on an emergency basis – which requires introducing, advancing and adopting them all at the same meeting.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-eyes-20-million-in-borrowing-and-second-dedicated-tax-hike-for-2013-1.1401050

Has Pennsylvania Lost Its Swing-State Status?

English: Pennsylvania county map

English: Pennsylvania county map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s victory in Pennsylvania marks the sixth straight presidential election in which state voters have picked the Democrat.

Which raises the question: Has Pennsylvania finally lost its swing-state status?

The battleground status of the historically competitive state was the subject of political scrutiny for much of 2012.  Even when the Republicans made a brisk, last-minute attempt to wrest it away when some polls showed the race tightening, Obama still won without breaking much of a sweat.

If Pennsylvania was shaded blue on a dry erase board after previous elections, this year it might be colored in with a permanent marker.  Pundits and politicians interviewed this week offered differing takes.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/elections/mc-pa-swing-state-status-lost-20121108,0,2981343.story

Local Leaders See City Of Reading Market Analysis

The greater Reading market value analysis that’s intended to guide the city’s housing and economic development efforts got some suburban buy-in Thursday at an Albright College forum.

More than three dozen community leaders, a third of them from municipalities surrounding Reading, got a first look at the study compiled by The Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia.  Several said it could be a useful tool for the boroughs and townships as well.

“My biggest fear is, if this study sits on a shelf, the entire effort is wasted,” said Todd Auman, chairman of the Reading Redevelopment Authority, which commissioned the work.

Essentially, the analysis compared home sale prices, vacancy rates, percentage of rental versus owner-occupied homes, foreclosure rates and housing voucher statistics – down to the census block level in every municipality from Sinking Spring to Saint Lawrence – and assigned each census block one of eight different market types.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=426263

Exeter Township Police Chief: ‘We’re At Bare Bones’

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

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

Exeter Township Supervisor Dona L. Starr has dispelled fears that the township is considering reducing its police force to help balance the budget.

“There’s one, two, three, four board members who have never even mentioned laying off police officers,” Starr told a crowd of officers and police supporters at a special budget workshop meeting.  “I believe that the Exeter Township Police Department is the best in the county, and I want to keep it that way.  I’m not willing to lay off any officers.  I’m not willing to make any cuts.”

Starr’s comments at Wednesday’s meeting came after statements by Supervisor Kenneth A. Smith, who said he would not be opposed to reducing the police force to make up a $230,000 shortfall in the 2013 budget.

That number is down from an initial budget gap of about $400,000 in August.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=426255