UPDATE: Undercover Agents Raid 2 Wilkes-Barre Businesses

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — Undercover drug agents with the state Office of the Attorney General, city police and Luzerne County detectives searched Idley’s Furniture and the Master Barber Shop on Hazle Avenue just after 8 a.m. today.

The two businesses are located across the street from each other.  About 15 undercover drug agents and 10 officers and detectives are at the scene, including the Kingston Police Department’s Canine Unit that is trained in drug detection.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/633462/UPDATE:-Undercover-agents-raid-2-city-businesses

Lehigh County Commissioners Kill Costco TIF

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

The Lehigh County commissioners on Wednesday night rejected tax financing for Hamilton Crossings, possibly closing the door to popular retailers Costco and Whole Foods in the Lehigh Valley.

Developers of the proposed $140 million Costco-anchored shopping center in Lower Macungie Township have said they will walk away without tax increment financing, which required support from the county, township and the East Penn School District.

County commissioners were considered the most significant hurdle to the TIF proposal, which would allow up to $7 million in tax dollars generated by the shopping center to be used to finance the work.

Commissioners shot down the TIF in a 6-3 vote that broke from their usual voting blocs and surprised many. Commissioners Tom Creighton, Percy Dougherty and David Jones voted in favor of the proposal; Commissioners Scott Ott, Lisa Scheller, Mike Schware, Brad Osborne, Vic Mazziotti and Dan McCarthy voted against it.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-lehigh-county-costco-tif-20130626,0,2078873.story#ixzz2XQao9y4y 
Follow us: @mcall on Twitter | mcall.lv on Facebook

Closing Of Newark Star-Ledger Possible

The Star-Ledger

The Star-Ledger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEWARK – Owners of the Star-Ledger plan to close New Jersey’s largest newspaper by year’s end if production unions don’t make concessions in contract negotiations, the publisher said Wednesday.

In a letter to staff, publisher Richard Vezza said the company felt “pushed into a corner” by the unions, whose contracts expire in July.  Vezza said they have until Sept. 27 to make compromises or else the paper will shut down.

“This is not a threat.  This is reality,” Vezza said in an interview.

The paper’s website, www.nj.com, is owned by a separate company and will continue to publish “no matter what happens with the Ledger,” Vezza said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130627_Closing_of_Star-_Ledger_possible.html#bdzrJUzhQ0AOWDGl.99

Pottstown Area Sports Icon Don Seeley Dies At 62

Editor’s note:  Our thoughts and prayers are with Don’s family.

Longtime Mercury Sports Editor Don Seeley died Wednesday morning while doing what he loved — playing golf.

He was 62 years old.

According to friends who were with him, Seeley took ill at Lederach Golf Club and was taken by ambulance to Grand View Hospital in Sellersville.

Seeley retired as The Mercury’s sports editor in February, a post he held for 15 years.  He continued to write for The Mercury, his byline appearing in Wednesday’s edition after covering the inaugural PAC-10 Senior Bowl boys lacrosse game Tuesday night.

For more than 32 years, Seeley’s coverage and perspectives on everything from wrestling to football to baseball (American Legion and otherwise) filled the pages of The Mercury.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130627/NEWS01/130629410/local-sports-icon-don-seeley-dies-at-62#full_story

Reading School Board Makes Budget Progress

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

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

Slowly toiling away, looking at proposed cuts from every angle imaginable, the Reading School Board inched closer and closer to its members’ goal: a balanced budget they can live with.

Following the board’s voting meeting Wednesday night, members stuck around to pick through the administration’s latest proposed 2013-14 spending plan.

They reviewed a list of 18 cuts one by one, taking straw polls to find out which ones have support and which ones don’t.

And, with two days before they plan to vote on a final budget, they appeared to have finally made some big decisions.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487596

Superintendent: ‘Minersville Has Never Been Distressed’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County

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

MINERSVILLE, PA – Superintendent M. Joseph Brady responded Monday night to a June 18 article that ran in The Republican-Herald and the Scranton Times-Tribune that a proposed Senate Democratic Caucus plan may declare Minersville Area as a distressed school district.

Minersville Area School District has never been distressed in all of the time I’m here and I assure you, it’s not distressed now,” Brady said Monday.  “We are financially sound and solid.”

The article states the Senate Democratic minority is proposing to provide special state aid to distressed school districts for a second year in a row in the next budget for six districts in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including Minersville Area in Schuylkill County.

According to a quote by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman, R-34, Bellefonte, senators are looking at how much aid would be provided, how to define which of the 500 school districts are considered distressed and the aid distribution formula.

Read more:  http://republicanherald.com/news/superintendent-minersville-has-never-been-distressed-1.1511313

Our Take: Here’s Hoping For A Wider I-83

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

When a bill is working its way through the Legislature, the specific details should often be taken with a grain of salt as they are fine-tuned and tweaked on the way to being implemented.

But when several of York County‘s state legislators recently outlined some projects that could be funded through Pennsylvania’s transportation bill, we couldn’t help but cross our fingers and toes, and pull out the lucky rabbit’s foot in hopes of one project coming to fruition:

The widening of Interstate 83.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz and state Rep. Mike Waugh released several projects that could be funded through a $2.5 billion transportation bill that has already passed the state Senate.  It will now be discussed by the state House and would need approval from Gov. Tom Corbett.

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/opinion/ci_23543180/our-take-heres-hoping-wider-i-83

Man Shot To Death In Wilkes-Barre; 2 Detained

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — City police are investigating a deadly shooting that occurred late Tuesday afternoon at 32 N. Sherman St., across from the Heights-Murray Elementary School.

One man with an apparent gunshot wound to the head was removed from the house by city paramedics just before 4 p.m. He appeared unresponsive and was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where he was pronounced dead at about 5 p.m.  Police did not release the victim’s identity.

Two men were handcuffed and detained in the driveway.  They sat on the ground before they were placed in two cruisers and taken to police headquarters for questioning.  Their names also were not released.

Police Chief Gerard Dessoye said he believed the community was not in danger.  “We feel we have all the participants involved,” he said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/628705/Man-shot-to-death-in-Wilkes-Barre;-2-detained

Paula Deen’s ‘Today’ Show Appearance Ends In Tears

Despite her teary mea culpa on NBC’s “Today” show, two additional companies decided to part ways with Paula Deen Wednesday afternoon.

Caesars announced its decision to strip Deen’s name from four of its buffet restaurants, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. disclosed shortly after its plans to sever ties with the culinary figure.  The world’s largest retailer said it will not be placing “any new orders beyond what’s already committed.”  The Bentonville, Ark.-based company has carried a range of products under the Paula Deen moniker since 2011.

Smithfield Foods dropped Deen on Monday, while the Food Network announced Friday that it was not renewing Deen’s contract after she had skipped her initial “Today’ show appearance that morning and released a series of apology videos via YouTube that afternoon.

The celebrity chef dissolved into tears during Wednesday’s interview with Matt Lauer as she attempted to explain how she wasn’t a racist- although a deposition filed and leaked last week revealed her use of racial slurs in the past.  It was an odd disparity between the Paula Deen known for her cheery, comforting disposition, and the Paula Deen who appeared on the “Today” show, defeated, exhausted and “heartbroken.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/entertainment/television/Paula-Deen-dissolves-into-tears-during-Today-show-interview.html#xzsWkWCDIPGfUZ1l.99

Car Severely Damaged In Pottstown Drive-By Shooting

1044756_392391437532570_1638549602_nEditor’s note:  I think the headline says it all.  Pottstown leadership needs to take the bull by the horns and get tough on crime.  The incident happened while there was a group of community leaders gathered at the Ricketts Center trying to form a plan to clean up the core neighborhood.  How ironic.  

Here are some comments from Facebook on the subject:

WE WERE AT THE RICKETTS CENTER when the shooting happened, for that CARES Pottstown meeting – the Let’s Clean Up Ward 1 meeting????  Yeah…let’s do.  Is the boro going to hand out bullet proof vests to all the good people cleaning up?  It’s the least they could do.

All other efforts to make things better in this ward pale and seem superficial by the fact that there appears to be no real effort to clean up the root cause of the problems.

The mentality is-cite the property owner for a crack in the sidewalk.  All else doesn’t matter.

I’m beyond irritated by this.  We heard what we thought was illegal fireworks (again) last night. Didn’t look out the window until we went out last night.  Opened the door to find the intersection of Beech and Washington roped off and multiple police cars and officers out and about.  They were talking to people on my block.  We didn’t see anything but were told that it stemmed from an earlier incident that began at the Ricketts Center in the afternoon.

Here’s the paragraph in the Mercury regarding the shooting:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130626/NEWS01/130629487/car-severely-damaged-in-pottstown-drive-by-shooting

Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act

WASHINGTON — In a major victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court today struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.

The other was a technical ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.  That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation’s most populous state in about a month.

In neither case did the court make a sweeping statement, either in favor of or against same-sex marriage.  And in a sign that neither victory was complete for gay rights, the high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states.  A separate provision of the federal marriage law that allows a state to not recognize a same-sex union from elsewhere remains in place.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487453

America’s Smartest Cities

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The ...

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Allegheny River (left) and the Monongahela River (right) join to form the Ohio here. The West End Bridge crosses the Ohio in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Pittsburgh, PA:  The No. 1 spot on our list went to Pittsburgh mostly because of the large number of colleges and universities in the area.

 

See the rest of the list:  http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/smartest-cities/

 

If you want to see the impressive list of colleges and universities in Pittsburgh, click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_Pittsburgh

Edward Snowden In Moscow Airport Transit Zone; Putin Says Russia Won’t Extradite Him

NAANTALI, Finland (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says thatNational Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and will not be extradited to the United States.

Putin said that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border and is free to go anywhere.

Speaking on a visit to Finland Tuesday, he added that Russian security agencies “didn’t work and aren’t working” with Snowden.  He gave no more details.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/edward_snowden_arrives_in_mosc.html#incart_river_default

Costs Associated With May 9 Tanker Truck Fire Increased To $13 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has upped its estimate of the cost to repair damage caused by a May 9 tanker truck fire in Susquehanna Twp.

But, not by much.

District 8 spokesman Greg Penny said the original estimate was $10 million.

That has been increased to $12 million-$13 million.  The original estimate did not include reconstruction costs because it was not known at the time.

G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., of York was the low bidder for the reconstruction at $3.3 million.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/costs_associated_with_may_9_ta.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Core Community Clean-Up Planning Meeting Set For Tuesday In Pottstown

Residents and business owners of the Borough of Pottstown have the opportunity to share suggestions and requests for targeted neighborhood property repairs and general “clean-up” needs during a community conversation to be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 in the Ricketts Center, 640 Beech St., Pottstown.

Read more:  http://evan-brandt.blogspot.com/2013/06/core-community-clean-up-planning.html

Collingswood Loves Its Park-To-Go

Map of New Jersey highlighting Camden County

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

Editor’s note:  We love this idea!!  Kudos to Collingswood for enhancing the quality of life for their residents.

It hasn’t even been around a full week yet, but the verdict is already in:

Collingswood loves its parklet.

Then again, a week ago most people in town probably didn’t know what a parklet was.

In the case of Collingswood, it is a mobile platform complete with tables, chairs and benches, faux wrought-iron trim, and a planter sprouting red and yellow flowers.

Paid for by the borough and the business improvement district, it has been a fixture on Haddon Avenue outside the Grooveground cafe since its debut Thursday.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20130625_Collingswood_loves_its_park-to-go.html

Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia Gets $50 Million Gift For Advanced Care Center

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will announce on Tuesday its biggest gift ever: $50 million toward the $425 million cost of an outpatient center rising on the institution’s University City campus.

The Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care, named for a family that owns a Fort Washington financial-services firm, will become the hub for complex outpatient care in the hospital’s network in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The donation is part of a $100 million capital campaign to help pay for the facility, expected to open in 2015. Remaining costs will be paid through additional philanthropy and money from operations.

Spearheading the family’s gift was Reid Buerger, who said his view of Children’s, frequently ranked among the best of its kind nationally, took on deeper significance when he was looking forward to fatherhood several years ago.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130625_Children_s_Hospital_gets__50_million_gift_for_center.html#d5XYbYJiCEFCdIaI.99

Bus Route From Reading To Lebanon Might Be Ready Soon

English: BARTA bus in downtown Reading, Pennsy...

English: BARTA bus in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, July 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BARTA bus passengers might be able to catch a ride to Lebanon by the end of summer.

The agency said Monday that it’s working with Lebanon Transit to throw together a makeshift Reading-Lebanon bus route to fill a service gap that will result when Bieber Tourways discontinues its Reading-Lebanon-Harrisburg route next week.

The two transit agencies already were developing plans for a Reading-Lebanon route, and the route proposed Monday would be a temporary measure to keep service between the cities alive while details of the permanent route are being worked out.

“What we’re trying to do now is just for the interim,” BARTA executive director Dennis D. Louwerse said. “The longer study is going to tell us if this is really going to work in the long run.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487181

Reading School Budget Would Raise Taxes

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

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

The group of about 25 spectators gathered inside the Reading School District‘s board room Monday, made up mostly of district employees, waited patiently.

They waited as the board discussed an administrative job chart.  Waited through detailed questions about a bond.  Waited through a two-hour executive session where the board discussed personnel.

They waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

“They’re trying to get us to leave,” a member of the crowd remarked.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487166

Daniel Boone Board Member Resigns After Budget Vote

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

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

It took three separate votes, but the Daniel Boone School Board was able to pass the final version of its 2013-14 budget that reinstates the elementary basic skills program.

Moments after the budget was passed, long-term board member Kevin F. McCullough announced his resignation.

“Now that the budget has passed, speaking for personal reasons, I hereby resign from my position on the board, effective immediately,” he said.  “Thank you and good night.”

McCullough then stood up, packed his bag, took a deep sigh and walked out of the meeting without further comment.  He was in his 14th year as a board member, the longest of any current members.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=487183