West Chester Fills Vacancies On Task Force

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

WEST CHESTER, PA – Officials have finalized the list of individuals who will serve on the task force that is updating the borough’s comprehensive plan over the next year.

The 11-member committee was formed after council members participated in more than three hours of interviews Wednesday night.

Council Members on the task force are Bill Scott and Cassandra Jones. Other members selected were: Holly Brown, business representative; Diane Herrin, BLUER representative; and John Theilacker of the Brandywine Conservancy.

Residents on the group include Linda Landenberg, Jonathon Long, Mark Thompson, Courtney Finneran, Jeff Beitel, Dennis Harney.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20140130/west-chester-fills-vacancies-on-new-task-force

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South Hills Village Mall To Get Major Makeover

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

South Hills Village mall will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation as part of its owner’s plan to spruce up some of its shopping centers — to the tune of $3 billion — through 2016, an official said.

“We’re very focused on making our malls completely up-to-date and with the latest customer amenities, and giving our customers the best experience in which to shop and dine and be entertained,” Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group Inc., said on Thursday.

The recession hurt shopping centers nationwide, so retail property owners have been upgrading malls rather than building more of them, said Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York.

“I think 2014 will remain more about redevelopment, as opposed to new development,” he said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5505569-74/mall-renovation-hills#ixzz2rzxz0IyU
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Startup Airline Has Its Eye On Pittsburgh

FAA Airport Diagram of KPIT

FAA Airport Diagram of KPIT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another startup airline trying to get off the ground has its sights set on Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based City Link Air has talked to local officials about starting service from Pittsburgh International Airport, perhaps even seeing it as a potential focus city.

“They’re a startup looking for opportunities around the country. Like we talk to a lot of others, we talk to them,” said Bradley D. Penrod, president and chief strategy officer for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International.

Mr. Penrod characterized the dealings with City Link as “an early discussion. They’ve approached us and they’ve given us a presentation,” he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2013/11/12/Startup-airline-has-its-eye-on-Pittsburgh/stories/201311120077#ixzz2rzvFE9SE

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Legislator Wants Action On Mine Fires

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)

OLYPHANT, PA — Coal heated up the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys’ job market decades ago, and today it’s still making the region hot as no fewer than eight underground mine fires are burning from Carbondale to Newport Township.

The issue has not been taken seriously enough by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Rep. Kevin Haggerty, D-Dunmore, and officials in Olyphant, where one of the fires has been burning for nearly a decade.

During a public meeting Haggerty organized in Olyphant on Thursday, he said he has written a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett urging him to declare Luzerne and Lackawanna counties “disaster areas” so federal and state funding could be freed up to help extinguish the fires.

Three of those fires, all in Luzerne County, are designated as serious by the state Department of Environmental Protection, meaning occupied structures are less than 1,000 feet away. The other five are classified as moderate, meaning occupied structures are at least 1,000 feet away.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1156029/Legislator-wants-action-on-mine-fires

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Company Promises To Reimburse Pottstown Clerk Who Got Robbed

POTTSTOWN, PA — The employee of the Citgo Gas Station who had money deducted from his paycheck after the establishment was robbed twice in one week could get his money back.

Jana Barnett, the lawyer representing Penn Oil Co., and Kathy Heck, the operations manager of the company, said Thursday that a special check was issued Wednesday for the employee. Heck said it was mailed Wednesday to the employee’s attorney, Adam Sager of Pottstown.

“No other money will be taken” from his paycheck, Heck said.

The employee was allegedly beaten during a robbery on Jan. 17. This was the second time the gas station had been robbed in a five-day period.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140130/company-promises-to-reimburse-pottstown-clerk-who-got-robbed

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Family Services Offers Free Income Tax Preparation To Low-Income Individuals And Families

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Family Services, the Montgomery County Asset Building Coalition and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are offering free income tax preparation to low-to-moderate income individuals and families (who earn less than $52,000) through theVolunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The IRS trains and certifies all VITA volunteers to prepare and electronically file incometax forms. VITA volunteers are trained to assist clients in claiming special credits and refunds, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The mission of the program is to help working families improve their finances and increase their self-sufficiency.

“We can help put money back in your pocket,” said Kathy Cael, VITA site coordinator. “By filing your taxes through a VITA site, not only will you save money in filing fees, but you’ll also receive your tax refund quickly. In most cases, tax refunds are deposited directly into your bank account within 7-to-10 days.”

Read more: http://fsmontco.org/news/family-services-offers-free-income-tax-preparation-low-income-individuals-and-families-0

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Montgomery County Community College Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

As 2014 begins to unfold, Montgomery County Community College’s will start to celebrate its 50th year of thinking big and providing high-quality, accessible higher education for the citizens of Montgomery County and beyond.

“Fifty years ago, Montgomery County Community College was founded on the bold belief that education has the power to transform lives and communities. The College’s early visionaries laid the framework for what we are today—a community hub for education, innovation, workforce training and cultural activity,” says MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “We are proud to celebrate our 50th anniversary. This is a special time to reflect upon our accomplishments, thank the people who made those achievements possible and look forward to thinking bigger for the next 50 years.”

More than 50 years ago in 1963, Pennsylvania passed the Community College Act, which provides the legal framework for the establishment of community colleges in the Commonwealth. Even before the ink was dry on the new legislation, a Montgomery County steering committee investigated and confirmed the need for a community college in the County. The College was officially established on Dec. 8, 1964 and opened its doors in October 1966 in the former Conshohocken High School Building at Fayette and 7th streets in Conshohocken. In 1972, it moved to its current location at 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and in 1996, the West Campus in Pottstown opened. In the fall 2013, the College opened its new state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Institute, 1400 Forty Foot Rd., Lansdale. For the future, the College is currently in the planning stages of transforming its existing Physical Education building into a Health Sciences Center.

Read more: http://mc3bignews.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/montgomery-county-community-college-celebrates-50th-anniversary/

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Montgomery County Commissioners Schedule 2nd Annual “Conversations” Caravan

Norristown, PA – The Montgomery County Commissioners have scheduled a series of six “Conversations with Your Commissioners” throughout Montgomery County during February.

Last year the inaugural series of “Conversations” was extremely well-attended and gave residents of the county the opportunity to discuss a wide range of subjects with the commissioners.

The 2014 series of conversations will be held in Lower Pottsgrove, Abington, Ambler, Bryn Mawr, East Greenville and Norristown.

“Last year’s “Conversations” were very successful and gave the commissioners a real sense of what issues were on people’s minds,” said Commissioner Chair Josh Shapiro.  “These sessions are just another way we use to keep residents informed about what we are doing.  We live stream our meetings on line and use social media a great deal to inform everyone about what is going on in the county, but the “Conversations” provide a true, personal level of contact the others do not.”

Shapiro said the commissioners plan to use the sessions to review what the county has done during the first two years of the administration and outline what plans are in store for the final two years.

The schedule is:

Thursday, February 6 at 7 p.m.

Lower Pottsgrove Township Building

3199 Buchert Road

Pottstown, PA

Saturday, February 8 at 10 a.m.

Abington Township Building

1176 Old York Road

Abington, PA

Monday, February 10 at 7 p.m.

Ambler Borough Hall

122 East Butler Avenue

Ambler, PA

Saturday, February 15 at 10 a.m.

Ludington Library

5 South Bryn Mawr Avenue

Bryn Mawr, PA

Monday, February 24 at 7 p.m.

The Grand Theater

252 Main Street

East Greenville, PA

Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m.

Norristown Municipal Building

235 East Airy Street

Norristown, PA

For more information please call the Commissioners’ office at 610-278-3062.

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Gas Worker Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Will Cooperate In Wheeling Jesuit Case

English: Wheeling Jesuit University campus

English: Wheeling Jesuit University campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHEELING, W.Va. — A gas industry worker charged in the beating death of a Wheeling Jesuit University student pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against an acquaintance.

Jarrett Mathis Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., received the maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor. With credit for time served, he will be released Sept. 1.

Police said Chandler and two other shale-gas industry workers, Craig Tyler Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and Tyler Witty, 22, of Illinois were involved in a fight with Kevin Figaniak, 21, a senior business major from Perkasie in Bucks County, and another student after a night of drinking on Aug. 31.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5505916-74/figaniak-chandler-charged#ixzz2ruthWG3y
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Abandoned ‘Goat Path’ Could Become Trail Linking Leola To Lancaster City And Western Suburbs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Municipal leaders, county planners and health advocates gathered Thursday morning to share a vision for a non-motorized transportation corridor that would connect Lancaster city will its eastern and western suburbs.

About half of the proposed Greater Lancaster Heritage Pathway would be on the “Goat Path,” an abandoned bypass built by PennDOT in the 1970s, that stretches from the city to Leola.

The remainder of the 11-mile corridor would link a series of planned trails to carry the corridor to Lancaster General Heath’s suburban campus in West Hempfield Township.

The meeting was called by Lancaster General Health and the Lancaster Intermunicipal Committee. It comes a few months after LIMC received a county grant to study non-motorized transportation.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/conestogavalley/news/abandoned-goat-path-could-become-trail-linking-leola-to-lancaster/article_88d9fb1a-8905-11e3-b9bc-001a4bcf6878.html

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Wilkes-Barre Looking To Develop Downtown Sites

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city is shopping its downtown properties cleared during emergency demolition and sweetening the offer with the prospect of tax exemptions associated with a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

The city condemned its vacant structures last October that were in danger of collapse and entered a $194,861 contract to tear them down while leaving stand two other privately owned buildings located in the middle of the cluster.

Earlier this week, the city put out a request for proposals for development of the properties at 69, 71, 73-75 S. Main St. with a March 6 response deadline. The city would like to see multistory, mixed-use development on the site to include ground-floor specialty retail shops and restaurants and office or residential space above, similar to the University Corners property across the street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1158435/City-looking-to-develop-sites

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Double-Decker Train Cars For SEPTA?

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things are looking up for regional rail.

In an attempt to increase passenger capacity, SEPTA is in the early stages of considering bi-level coaches. With an upstairs and a downstairs, these coaches could transport anywhere from 120 to 170 passengers. Most important to SEPTA, they would provide an efficient remedy to booming regional rail ridership. Silverliner Vs can seat 109 passengers.

Last year alone, SEPTA passengers took 36 million regional rail trips – a record high on the system that has seen 50 percent regional rail ridership growth in the last 15 years. Now, aided by Act 89 funding, SEPTA is looking to increase its capacity and better serve those customers. One way the authority plans to do so is to build up.

“The real elegant solution to dealing with capacity issues, the most efficient one is to utilize the infrastructure you have but go up in the air with the cars so you can increase seating,” said Jeff Knueppel, deputy general manager.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Double-decker_train_cars_for_SEPTA_.html#KFDcsf7hhy75jl8B.99

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US Economy Grew At 3.2 Percent Rate In Q4

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.

The fourth-quarter increase followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter, when the economy benefited from a buildup in business stockpiles.

For 2013 as a whole, the economy grew a tepid 1.9 percent, weaker than the 2.8 percent increase in 2012, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Growth was held back last year by higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

With that drag diminished, many economists think growth could top 3 percent in 2014. That would be the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140130_ap_ef9a502bf87446ee8b002fe557b26ec6.html#wThbbpJD49oI0jQw.99

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Owen J Robert SD Loses $2 Million A Year Under Lowered Coventry Mall Tax Assessment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA— The Owen J. Roberts School Board unanimously approved a real estate tax appeal settlement with Coventry Retail, LP, that lowers the assessed value of the Coventry Mall from $98 million in 2012 to $23.2 million in 2014.

The reassessment will equate to a loss of about $2 million a year in property tax revenues to the district.

In addition to the revenue loss, the agreement is retroactive to 2012, so the district will have to repay mall owners $1,619,799 of taxes paid in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In accordance with the agreement, $650,000 of that will be paid in cash within 60 days, according to attorney David L. Allebach Jr., who represented the board on this matter. The remaining funds will be credited to the mall against future taxes,

District officials had anticipated that cost and have reserved the full $1.6 million, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine. Therefore, the district has the $650,000 on hand to pay back the mall owner. The remaining nearly $1 million will help balance the 2014-15 budget to make up for the tax credit the mall will receive during that fiscal year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/social-affairs/20140129/ojr-loses-2m-a-year-under-lowered-coventry-mall-tax-assessment

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New Hanover School Bus Driver Admits To Manslaughter In Pedestrian Death

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PA — Appearing solemn and tearful at times, a New Hanover woman admitted she acted in a reckless or negligent manner while driving a school bus and unintentionally struck and killed an elderly pedestrian in Lower Pottsgrove.

Donna M. Engler, 64, of the 600 block of Schultz Road, a 16-year veteran of driving school buses, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter and a summary charge of careless driving resulting in an unintentional death in connection with the 7:08 a.m. Sept. 9, 2013, incident at Mervine and North Charlotte streets that claimed the life of pedestrian Shirley Wilhelm, 78, of Pottstown.

“Not a day goes by, or a moment goes by for that fact, that Mrs. Engler doesn’t feel remorse for her actions that day,” defense lawyer Timothy Woodward said on Engler’s behalf after the brief hearing. “She is devastated by the loss of life and she recognizes that this is an unspeakable tragedy that has caused pain and suffering to a number of people.”

Under state law, a person commits involuntary manslaughter if while performing a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner they cause the death of another person.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140129/new-hanover-school-bus-driver-admits-to-manslaughter-in-pedestrian-death

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Allegheny County Receives Upgraded Credit Rating

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Allegheny County’s credit score has gotten another boost.

Financial rating agency Standard & Poor’s issued a news release Monday saying that it was upgrading the county’s long-term rating by one step, from an A+ to AA-.

The upgrade gives Allegheny County its highest rating in nearly 12 years, the county announced today in a news release.

“This is great news for Allegheny County and really reflects that we are heading in the right direction and making headway in improving our financial outlook,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement. “I am really proud of the job we have done in improving the fund balance, having an end-of-year cash balance, reducing reliance on one-time revenues for our budget and working cooperatively to address the issues that have impacted our bottom line.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/01/28/Allegheny-County-receives-upgraded-credit-rating/stories/201401280148#ixzz2rjtZjmzr

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PNC Shrinks Branch Network

PNC Bank shrunk its branch network by 160 offices last year, the most of any bank nationwide except for Bank of America, an analysis released Monday by SNL Financial found.

Collectively, banks cut their branch total by 1,487 locations in 2013, SNL said, as the industry contended with persistently low interest rates, slow loan growth and escalating costs.

Lenders large and small “grappled with weak revenue growth and heavy [regulatory] compliance costs that are motivating them to reduce the fixed expenses tied to large branch networks,” said SNL, a Charlottesville, Va.-based research firm.

PNC, Pittsburgh’s dominant bank and the eighth biggest nationwide, closed 182 branches and opened 22 others across its 19-state footprint in 2013 for a net loss of 160, SNL said. Bank of America, the nation’s second-biggest bank, had a net loss of 189 branches.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/01/28/PNC-shrinks-branch-network/stories/201401280041#ixzz2rjqmajiY

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Hearing Call Of ‘All Aboard’? Experts Discuss Feasibility Of Passenger Rail Service

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)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority President Lawrence Malski said Monday studies show major industries are looking to get out of congested metropolitan areas and move to areas like NEPA.

Passenger rail service that links Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, he said, would be a major factor in attracting those companies to the area. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, suggested the idea on Friday to spur economic activity.

“It’s (passenger rail service) is a major requirement that they have,” Malski said. “When you connect cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton to a major city like New York, major industries will follow that rail line out here because they would have an efficient and reliable form of transportation for workers.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news//1152788/Hearing-call-of-All-aboard

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Comcast Could Buy Time Warner N.Y. Cable Franchises

Logo of Comcast Latina: Insigne Comcast

Logo of Comcast Latina: Insigne Comcast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comcast Corp. could acquire Time Warner Cable Co.’s New York cable-TV properties, along with other franchises on the East Coast, in a deal with Charter Communications Inc., according to sources in the industry.

A deal would expand Comcast’s market power along the I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable-TV company, already offers cable and Internet in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Charter declined to comment Monday. Comcast also had no comment.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140128_Industry_sources__Comcast_could_acquire_Time_Warner_Cable_N_Y__franchises.html#HAyimeAaYY2LBdix.99

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Teen Charged As Adult With Attempted Abduction And Rape In Lansdale Park Headed For Trial

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

LANSDALE, PA — A 16-year-old El Salvadoran citizen charged as an adult with the attempted knifepoint abduction and rape of a woman in front of her three young children at a Lansdale park earlier this month waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday, while prosecutors added another charge to the long list of criminal counts he’s facing and Lansdale detectives revealed more information about the teen.

Handcuffed, clad in a red prison jumpsuit and wearing a sullen expression, Gerson Portillo-Guardado was led by Lansdale police into District Judge Harold Borek’s Lansdale court early Tuesday morning, and after conferring briefly with Ayla O’Brien, his public defender, with the help of a translator — as he does not speak English, police said — Portillo-Guardado waived all charges filed against him for trial in connection with the alleged Jan. 13 incident.

Just prior to the hearing, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office charged Portillo-Guardado with felony attempted kidnapping on top of the 10 charges already filed against him at his Jan. 13 preliminary arraignment — a list that includes felony attempted rape and felony attempted sexual assault, as well as misdemeanor charges of simple assault, unlawful restraint, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct and more.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140128/teen-charged-as-adult-with-attempted-abduction-and-rape-in-lansdale-park-headed-for-trial

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