Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Residential Unemployment Up In January

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)

Residential unemployment in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area increased three-tenths of a percentage point in January to a seasonally-adjusted 9.8 percent, the highest rate of joblessness among the state’s metro areas for 33 consecutive months.

That’s eight-tenths of a percentage point higher for the region than January 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

It’s not as bad as it looks, experts say.

The increase was due to the growing number of people joining or rejoining the labor force and looking for work. The labor force grew faster than the number jobs available during the year.  The number of people working or looking for work grew 10,400 for the trailing 12 months, while the ranks of the employed increases 7,100.  The difference – 3,200 – were counted among the unemployed.

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DA: Man Shot Wife, Himself In Murder-Suicide At Lehigh Valley Hospital Hospice

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said a man shot and killed his wife then turned the gun on himself Tuesday afternoon in the hospice ward of Lehigh Valley Hospital at 17th and Chew streets.

The woman, 83, was found dead in her bed, Martin said.  The man was also found dead in the room.  The woman was in hospice care, according to Martin.  No one else was in the room.

Martin said at 1:03 p.m. three hospital staff on the fourth floor heard a gunshot coming from one of the hospice rooms. He said the incident was contained to the one patient room.

“I don’t have any more detail I am prepared to release,” Martin said about 2 p.m. at the hospital complex. “There were no eyewitnesses to this event.”

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Faculty At State-Owned Universities, Including Millersville, In Line For Pay Raises

Get ready. The cost of a college education in Pennsylvania might be on the way up.

After 18 months of negotiations that included the threat of the system’s first-ever strike, unionized faculty at the 14 state-owned universities are hoping that on Wednesday the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board ratifies its four-year contract proposal.

The most controversial element of the contract has been the need to raise salaries without causing significant tuition hikes, said state system spokesman Kenn Marshall.

Related: List of salaries at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities for 2013

The deal calls for salary increases of 11.5 percent for senior faculty and 19 percent for junior faculty over the four years of the contract, with junior faculty members getting the higher increases. Faculty members now receive salaries ranging between $44,795 and $107,870 a year.

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Two Teenage Girls Face Charges For Threats After Steubenville Rape Trial

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Two teens accused of sending threatening messages on social media following the Steubenville rape trial will appear in court on the charges later this month.

Steubenville police were notified about the posts, both on Twitter, and on Monday arrested the 16-year-old girl, a relative of Ma’lik Richmond. The 15-year-old turned herself in the same day, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.

Ma’lik and another Steubenville High School football player, Trent Mays, were found guilty Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl after a drunken party in August.

The girls appeared at a detention preceding this morning in Jefferson County Juvenile Court. They are charged with intimidation of a victim, a felony, aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment, both misdemeanors.

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Of Big Cities, Philadelphia Worst For People In Deep Poverty

Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities.

The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it’s around $11,700.

Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people.

Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas are the nearest to Philadelphia, with deep-poverty rates of more than 10 percent.

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Trial Postponed For 2 Pottstown Men Who Allegedly Sold K2

NORRISTOWN — The trial of two Pottstown store owners accused of allowing synthetic marijuana to be sold from their store has been postponed after prosecutors moved to amend corrupt organization charges against the pair.

Montgomery County prosecutors on Tuesday amended the original charges to allege that Rafie L. Ali and Mohamed K. Himed, co-owners of the Achi Store at 315 E. High St., operated a corrupt organization in March, April and May 2012, a longer period of time than was originally charged. With the original charges filed last year, prosecutors had alleged the corrupt organization was in business only in May 2012.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who was slated to select a jury for the trial on Tuesday, granted the request of First Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele to amend the corrupt organization charges to include the longer period of time. Defense lawyers James P. Lyons, who represents Ali, and Lawrence Fisher, who represents Himed, immediately asked that the trial be postponed because the defense needed additional time to review the prosecution’s amended charges.

Originally, Ali, 35, of the 400 block of East High Street, Pottstown, and Himed, 26, of the Bronx, N.Y., each were charged with corrupt organizations, delivery of a controlled substance, and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance for their alleged roles in the sale of synthetic marijuana, or K2, to undercover detectives at the store in May 2012. An officer purchased two containers of K2 from the store on May 22. One package was labeled “Dead Man,” and the other “Power Diesel,” according to court papers.

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Pottstown Purchase Of iPads Questionable

Editor’s note:  We SO agree!  Chief BM has a spending addiction.

Going paperless, going green, embracing technology are goals of government these days, and Pottstown borough is getting on board.

A positive path to be sure, but it comes with a cost.

At Pottstown’s council meeting last week, it was announced that the borough has purchased 23 iPads for members of borough council, the mayor, and members of the borough authority.

Each iPad cost $389 for a total of $9,960 with the cost of the covers, Borough Manager Mark Flanders reported.

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Reading Police Targeting Specific People, Addresses, Chief Says

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To function better with less manpower, Reading police target specific addresses and people who are the sources of much of the city’s crime, Police Chief William M. Heim said Monday at a monthly strategy meeting of city officers.

“We engage in a very focused type of policing,” Heim said.

When one burglar is caught, burglaries in that neighborhood often dramatically decrease, Heim said.

City police have been having the monthly meetings for seven years, but they have become more vital now that the police force has dropped from 215 to 168 officers due to spending cuts, Heim said.

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Police Swarm Birdsboro Neighborhood After Report Of Threat

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

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

Law enforcement from around Berks County swarmed a Birdsboro neighborhood Monday night after hearing that a man staying in a house there threatened to hurt himself and his girlfriend.

The 46-year-old man and his girlfriend came out of the house in the 900 block of Denise Drive shortly before 10 p.m. after police contacted them by phone, borough Police Chief Theodore R. Roth said.

They were taken to the police station but not arrested, Roth said. Police planned to transport the man, whose identity they did not release, to Reading Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

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