Wawa vs. Sheetz: Fast-Food Chains Mark Their Own Territories

English: Interior of a Super Sheetz in Altoona...

English: Interior of a Super Sheetz in Altoona, PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania divides a few ways: Phillies vs. Pirates. Democratic ex-factory towns vs. Republican ex-farming townships. Nittany Lions fans vs. everyone else.

And Wawa vs. Sheetz – though that might be the least bitter rivalry:  The state’s two big gas-and-milk, Cokes-and-smokes, Tastykakes-and-store-built sandwich chains try not to fight.  They’re not like Ford vs. GM. Instead, they have mostly drawn lines and split the land between them.  Like Comcast and TimeWarner Cable.

Which you prefer depends on where you were raised:

Wawa is Philly and the Shore from Jersey to Virginia Beach.  Also Florida, since last year.

Sheetz is Pittsburgh and the valley highways below the green ridges, all the way to Greensboro, N.C.

English: Wawa gas station located along Pennsy...

English: Wawa gas station located along Pennsylvania Route 611 (Easton Road) in Horsham, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130331_Wawa_vs__Sheetz__Fast-food_chains_mark_their_own_territories.html

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

Pittsburgh’s Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Church For Homeless, Celebrates Resurrection On Easter

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, co...

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, colors from http://www.episcopalchurch.org/imageshop_11785_ENG_HTM.htm. The shield was adopted in 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  A truly inspiring story on this Easter Sunday.

When Leonard Williams attends the Easter service today at Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, an Anglican church for the homeless in Uptown, like Christians everywhere he will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the tomb.

But Mr. Williams, 53, and others who attend Shepherd’s Heart also will be celebrating the new life that has been breathed into their church after a recent significant agreement between Pittsburgh‘s Episcopal and Anglican dioceses.  A long-running conflict in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh resulted in a 2008 split, with many of the churches leaving and creating the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, linked to the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America.

Shepherd’s Heart was originally founded as an Episcopal church by the Rev. Michael Wurschmidt. But after the split in the diocese, Rev. Wurschmidt switched his affiliation to become an Anglican priest.  At that point, Shepherd’s Heart became one of a number of congregations caught between the two dioceses.

While few settlements have been reached over parish assets, the Episcopal Diocese agreed in October to give Shepherd’s Heart and its ministry to the homeless a clear title to all of its property and assets, despite its affiliation with the rival Anglican church.  It is the lone case in which a parish kept all of its assets and its Anglican affiliation.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/church-for-homeless-pittsburghs-shepherds-heart-fellowship-celebrates-resurrection-on-easter-681581/#ixzz2PAaLl2hb

Weather Does Please, But It’s Just A Tease

Ah, at long last, golfing weather.

Abundant sunshine, temperatures near 60 and the Easter spirit got Willy Quick in the mood Saturday to practice chipping and putting.

“This is a good golfing day,” declared Quick, 68, toting an 8-iron at Reading’s Third & Spruce Recreation Center.

Not to put a damper on things, but the scent of spring is likely to be short-lived.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=464630

Mapping System Keeps Berks Residents Abreast Of Crime

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Editor’s note:  This is an awesome tool!!!

Of the four reported crimes in Birdsboro between March 20 and Tuesday, none was likely to be newsworthy.

The crimes reported to police, according to www.CrimeMapping.com, were a vandalism incident at East Second and Hook streets; a theft in the 300 block of Furnace Street; a burglary in the 900 block of Berks Street; and a drunken driver in the 400 block of East Eighth Street.

But just because these apparently unrelated incidents didn’t grab headlines doesn’t mean nobody besides the victims is interested.

As a way of helping the public keep abreast of crimes in their communities, nearly every police department in Berks County feeds data to www.CrimeMapping.com.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=464627

Pottstown, Pottsgrove, Limerick Primaries On Tap

Editor’s note:  We urge voters to check out the Reform Party candidates for Pottstown Borough Council and mayor of Pottstown.  Pottstown desperately needs a leadership change!  The elected leadership needs to have a positive vision for the future of the borough.   Currently that vision does not exist or if it does, it is a well kept secret.  It’s time to clean house.  Vote the incumbents out of office.

Although the ballot isn’t official yet, primary elections are shaping up in several Montgomery County communities.

As of Friday, some candidates had already withdrawn, but so far it looks like there will be three primary battles in Pottstown, but no contest for the school board.

In the neighboring Pottsgrove School Board race however, it looks like a real race may be brewing and several tax collector contests are in the offing as well.

In the Pottsgrove School Board race, four incumbents — B. Scott Fullmer, Nancy J. Landes, Diane M. Cherico and Michael G. Neiffer — will square off against four challengers.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130331/NEWS01/130339980/pottstown-pottsgrove-limerick-primaries-on-tap#full_story

‘Drug Houses’ Seized Under Hazleton Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

Editor’s note:  Now that clearly sends a message that drug dealers aren’t welcome in Hazleton!

HAZLETON, PA — In addition to potentially losing her freedom, a woman arrested in a drug raid Friday also could lose her home under a new initiative of the Hazleton Police Department.

After police served a search warrant at 134 Pine Tree Road and arrested the three people inside, a city official posted a dark red sign in the front door window with the word “CONDEMNED.”

“The new idea actually has been on the books for quite some time — using the city’s nuisance property ordinance” to clean up neighborhoods, Police Chief Frank DeAndrea said at a press conference at City Hall Friday afternoon.  “And since the mayor has put code enforcement and the health department under the supervision of the police department, I thought we would attempt to take a new approach.”

When advised Thursday of the operation planned for Friday by his narcotics unit lieutenant, DeAndrea called Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis and requested her view on the city condemning the Pine Tree Road house “because it’s unsafe for human cohabitation, it’s a danger to the community,” DeAndrea said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/394624/Drug-houses-seized-under-Hazleton-plan

Owner Of Chink’s Steaks Yields To Pressure, Will Change Shop Name

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

To a steak shop in Philadelphia‘s Wissinoming section that remains pretty much as it was when it opened 64 years ago, big change is coming Monday.

Chink’s Steaks on Torresdale Avenue is taking on a new name: Joe’s Steaks & Soda Shop.

Some will consider it a long-overdue act of racial sensitivity at a business whose name – the founder’s nickname since childhood and a slur against Chinese – has drawn fire from Asian Americans.  Others no doubt will protest the switch, including regulars who have griped about any shift in how things are done at the retro-1950s eatery, even the addition of french fries to the menu about four years ago.

Some might even think it’s an April Fool’s prank.  But this is no joke.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130330_Steak-shop_owner_takes_hint__goes_with_new_name.html#ixzz2P2LzSgAZ
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North Korea Says It’s In State Of War With South Korea

English: Own work, based on Wikipedia blank map.

English: Own work, based on Wikipedia blank map. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Nut jobs with nukes!  Never a good combination!

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea issued its latest belligerent threat Saturday, saying it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea a day after its young leader threatened the United States because two American B-2 bombers flew a training mission in South Korea.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely and North Korea’s threats are instead aimed at drawing Washington into talks that could result in aid and boosting leader Kim Jong Un’s image at home.  But the harsh rhetoric from North Korea and rising animosity from the rivals that have followed U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang’s Feb. 12 nuclear test have raised worries of a misjudgment leading to a clash.

In a joint statement by the government, political parties and organizations, North Korea said Saturday that it will deal with all matters involving South Korea according to “wartime regulations.”  It also warned it will retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without “any prior notice.”

The divided Korean Peninsula is already in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.  But Pyongyang said it was scrapping the war armistice earlier this month.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20130330_ap_nkoreasaysitsinstateofwarwithskorea.html

Oxford Development Co. Still In Talks With Possible High-Rise Tenants In Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another deadline will come and go without a decision by Oxford Development Co. on whether to build a 33-story skyscraper on Smithfield Street or renovate an existing building there.

Oxford initially had hoped to decide by the end of 2012 before extending the time frame to Sunday, the end of the first quarter.

While Shawn Fox, director of business development for the company, acknowledged that the firm probably won’t meet that deadline either, he added that Oxford is closing in on a decision.

“It’s not going to go that far into the future,” he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/oxford-development-co-still-in-talks-with-possible-high-rise-tenants-in-downtown-pittsburgh-681417/#ixzz2P2GZ6Up6

Lower Pottsgrove Faces 500 Units As Housing Market Picks Up

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Two large developments being proposed in the township and totally more than 500 units may be part of a regional uptick in the housing market.

One proposal, still in its early stages, would site as many as 300 housing units, a hotel, bank and day care center on 42 acres between South park and Evergreen roads at the Sanatoga interchange with Route 422.

The second is a redux of a 2005 proposal to develop 140 acres on the west side of North Pleasant View Road that would add 265 more units to the mix.

“I can tell you absolutely I am seeing more (housing) going on,” said Trappe attorney Robert Brant, who is representing MasterHouse, the developer that plans to present the Sanatoga interchange proposal at a May 6 meeting of the board of commissioners.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130329/NEWS01/130329177/lower-pottsgrove-faces-500-units-as-housing-market-picks-up#full_story

Changing Skyline: Money For Costly Roadwork Would Be Better Spent On Transit

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in 2010, Gov. Christie shocked transportation experts when he canceled construction of a new rail tunnel to Manhattan, one of the nation’s busiest routes.  The project would have doubled capacity, relieving the terrible rush-hour delays that force NJ Transit and Amtrak trains to queue up to snake through two century-old, single-track tunnels.  But Christie argued that the state couldn’t afford its part of the tab, $3 billion to $5 billion, for relieving the rail congestion.

Price wasn’t an issue earlier this month when South Jersey officials boisterously celebrated the start of another project aimed at reducing congestion.  This one will reconstruct the chaotic Camden County interchange where Interstates 295 and 76 converge with Route 42.  Fixing this one trouble spot – or, rather, making it more tolerable – will cost U.S. taxpayers just shy of $1 billion.

The different responses to these projects speak volumes about how our policymakers think about congestion. Highway traffic jams are still considered unacceptable.  But rail commuters routinely make do with antiquated systems that cause regular delays and breakdowns, like the one that left PATCO riders stranded on the Ben Franklin Bridge for 90 minutes during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

What makes the I-295 project stand out is its staggering price tag.  Officials say it will take at least $900 million to untangle the South Jersey interchange – a sum equal to 75 percent of SEPTA’s entire annual operating budget.  Yet it doesn’t appear that New Jersey or federal officials ever stopped to ask, “Is this problem just too expensive to fix?”

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130329_Changing_Skyline__Money_for_costly_roadwork_would_be_better_spent_on_transit.html

The 10 Richest Zip Codes In Philadelphia

English: Sam Austin House in Chestnut Hill His...

English: Sam Austin House in Chestnut Hill Historic District on the NRHP, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 5 East Chestnut Hill Ave. (equivalent to 8801 Germantown Avenue – the cross street) Coords40.078285,-75.210675 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re continuing to go through Pew Charitable Trust‘s 2013 state of the city report for Philadelphia (see our previous lists of the 8 most diverse neighborhoods and 15 largest private employers).  Today, we’re looking at the richest areas.

According to Pew, these are the 10 zip codes with highest median household incomes:

1. 19106 (Center City-Society Hill): $93,222
2. 19118 (Chestnut Hill): $80,950

To see the rest, click here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillylists/The-10-richest-zip-codes-in-Philadelphia.html

Dance Performance April 18-21 Displays Talent Of 14 Young Choreographers, 60 Dancers

Logo of Muhlenberg College

Logo of Muhlenberg College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown, Pa. — Muhlenberg College dancers tell their stories through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Dance Emerge,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, April 18-21 in the College’s Dance Studio Theatre. Jeffrey Peterson and Teresa VanDenend Sorge are co-artistic directors for the concert.

“The choreographers have developed mature works that ultimately explore elements of the human experience, including themes of loss, community, and celebration,” VanDenend Sorge says. “An eclectic array of innovative choreography, the concert will run the gamut from contemplation to exaltation.”

‘Dance Emerge’ will showcase 14 choreographers and 60 dancers from the department’s dance program, which is among the most highly regarded programs of its kind. The concert features costume and lighting designs by the department’s acclaimed professional staff.

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the county, according to the Princeton Review rankings.  Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. It has been named annually among The Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States, and the American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance.

“Dance Emerge” runs April 18-21 in the Dance Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Performances are Thursday and Friday, April 18-19, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 20, at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges.  For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $13.

Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or ttp://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/theatre-dance

TriCounty Community Career Fair

Sponsored by the TCN Exelon Nuclear Workforce Development Program

Wednesday, May 22nd, 10am-2pm

Sunnybrook Ballroom, 50 Sunnybrook Road, Pottstown

Career Fair PREP Workshops

Learn how to get the most out of your career fair experience.

Thurs, April 18, 7pm-8:30pm: Phoenixville Library, 183 2nd Ave., Phoenixville

Wed, April 24, 6pm-8pm: Rolling Hills Apts, Community Rm, 2120 Buchert Rd., Pottstown

Fri, May 3, 10am-12pm: Pottstown Bible Church, 431 E. High Street, Pottstown

Mon, May 6, 5pm-7pm: The Open Line, 452 Penn St., Pennsburg

Wed, May 15, 4pm-6pm: YWCA Literacy Center, 1830 E. High Street, Pottstown

Registration required for workshops.  Please call TCN at 610-705-3301, Ext.2

City Controller Michael Lamb Conducting Broad Audit Of Pittsburgh Police Bureau

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb quietly launched a broad audit of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police last week, according to communications obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette under the state right-to-know law.

The controller’s office launched the performance audit — which, as opposed to a fiscal audit, can go beyond dollars — through an email of March 21 to acting police Chief Regina McDonald.  The email said preliminary objectives include “secondary employment and staffing.”  The first meeting with Chief McDonald occurred Wednesday.

Other communications between top controller’s office officials and top police brass show that auditors launched a review of the police Premium Pay Account on Feb. 8 by emailing bureau personnel and finance manager Sandra J. Ganster.  On Feb. 9, Ms. Ganster brought her concerns about the alleged diversion of funds meant for that account to public safety director Michael Huss, her attorney has said.  The alleged misapplication of funds meant for the account last week became the centerpiece of the criminal case against former police Chief Nate Harper.

“It does appear that our [inquiry] is what prompted a whistle-blower to step forward,” Controller Michael Lamb said.  “I think that the work that we’ve done has helped to unveil this scandal.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/city-controller-michael-lamb-conducting-broad-audit-of-pittsburgh-police-bureau-681299/#ixzz2OwWQ6pb9

Lansdale Will Be Pilot Location For Revamped Montgomery County Human Services Delivery System

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  And of course, Pottstown and Norristown are getting one too.

HATFIELD TWP. — Lansdale Borough will serve as the home for one of Montgomery County’s four new locations as part of its revamped human services delivery system.

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, made the announcement Thursday afternoon during a systems change workshop hosted by the North Penn Community Health Foundation.

Shapiro told a collection of nearly 70 representatives of local nonprofit organizations that the facility in Lansdale — as well as Norristown, Pottstown and Willow Grove — are on track to launch in April, then be rolled out throughout the county.

The locations of each office have yet to be identified, though they will be announced shortly, according to Shapiro.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130329/NEWS01/130329374/lansdale-will-be-pilot-location-for-revamped-montgomery-county-human-services-delivery-system#full_story

Stalled Owen J Roberts Contract Talks Lead To Teacher Slowdown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

SOUTH COVENTRY — The stalled contract negotiations between the Owen J. Roberts School District and its teachers union has gone public.

The teachers have been working without a contract since June 30 and the two sides have been negotiating, quietly for the most part, for 15 months.

However the failure to reach an agreement about wages has raised the stakes and the rhetoric in the matter and the teachers union have instructed their members to work only to the specific language of the expired contract and cease all extra and voluntary activities.

School Board President Douglas K. Hughes reacted by issuing a letter to the district Tuesday, which was also   posted on the district web site, announcing that the teachers union had decided to “work to contract,” explaining they would “work only to the contractually obligated hours” and informing residents and taxpayers the union had asked their members “not to participate in any unpaid activities.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130328/NEWS01/130329308/stalled-ojr-contract-talks-lead-to-teacher-slowdown#full_story