Donora Demolishing Former Fifth Street School

For more than a decade, Virginia Summers anticipated the day she could gaze across the street from her Donora home and see – nothing.

She is about to get her wish.

The borough on Thursday began demolition of the century-old building known as Fifth Street School. The structure, located at the intersection of Fifth Street and Allen Avenue, has been deteriorating for years and had become a safety issue.

“It’s been a pest,” Summers said. “… It is unsafe and everybody knows it. You could see bricks falling down. We’ve been troubling council for 10 years asking to please get it down, get it down. And I’m grateful they were finally able to make it happen.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmonvalley/yourmonvalleymore/8054591-74/street-borough-building#ixzz3Vb3VVDgV
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Commissioners Lament ‘Divisiveness’ Of Mt. Lebanon Deer Culling Debate

The most disappointing part of Mt. Lebanon’s deer management program that ended abruptly last week was “the divisiveness and mean-spirited rhetoric” that split the community, commissioners said at their meeting Monday night.

“For the good of the community, we must try to reset the dialogue,” President John Bendel read from a letter at the meeting.

But opponents of the program said there is still work to be done.

They again lined Washington Road before the commission’s discussion session and subsequent meeting.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2015/03/24/Commissioners-lament-divisiveness-of-Mt-Lebanon-deer-culling-debate/stories/201503240130

Municipalities Move To Form South Valley COG

Six communities are moving forward on formation of a Lower South Valley Council of Governments.

The success of other government councils in Luzerne County has sparked enthusiastic support for a South Valley organization, said Andy Gegaris, city manager in Nanticoke.

“By the fall, I think we will have this together,” Gegaris said.

Communities that have met and remain in contact largely via emails are Nanticoke, Newport Township, Hanover Township, Plymouth Township, Sugar Notch and Ashley. The towns hope that Warrior Run also will join, Gegaris said.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/municipalities-move-to-form-south-valley-cog-1.1851925

Philly L&I Dodges Questions About 600 Inspections By 9 Rookies In One Week

A group of inexperienced and uncertified inspectors for the Department of Licenses and Inspections conducted around 600 inspections of unsafe buildings in a single week last month, The Inquirer has learned.

Each of the nine newly hired inspectors then recorded their work in L&I’s database under the name of another man, an experienced inspector with the agency.

L&I officials say the inspections were part of a training exercise for the rookies.

The inspections, from Feb. 9 through 13, were performed the same week City Controller Alan Butkovitz released a report criticizing L&I for not inspecting unsafe buildings – those that are badly damaged or deteriorated – in a timely manner.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150323_L_I_dodges_questions_about_600_inspections_by_9_rookies_in_one_week.html#E4ZoYtgCSAIfCJof.99

Gov. Wolf Says Manufacturing Tax Credit Could Boost Pennsylvania Jobs, Industry

Pittsburgh may not be the steel town it once was, with the economy of the state’s second largest city these days tied more to hospitals and higher education than smoke stacks. But manufacturing is still a huge part of Pennsylvania’s economy.

The sector employs more than 571,000 people in the commonwealth — including more than 30,000 in the York-Hanover area alone.

The average compensation for someone who works in manufacturing, not just assembly line workers but plant managers and other executives, is more than $69,000. That’s well above Pennsylvania’s median household income, which was $52,548 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With manufacturing’s above-average wages, new Gov. Tom Wolf has identified increasing the number of manufacturing jobs as one of his top economic priorities.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27743500/gov-wolf-says-manufacturing-tax-credit-could-boost

Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson Gets Raise

The Camden County freeholders on Thursday approved a $66,800 raise for Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson, bringing his annual salary to $230,000.

Thomson’s new contract guarantees that he will stay in Camden until at least 2019, county spokesman Dan Keashen said Friday.

“This is about retaining one of the sharpest law enforcement minds in the country,” Keashen said.

No county funds are used for the operation of the Camden County Police Department, which is paid for by Camden City and the state.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20150321_Camden_s_police_chief_receives__66_800_pay_increase.html#Zl2PFt58e6hq4eVd.99

York RDA Looking To Buy Cupids, Other North George Street Building

York’s Redevelopment Authority board on Wednesday gave its staff the go-ahead to negotiate a purchase of the two buildings at 244-250 N. George St., including the Cupid’s Adult Boutique building, which was partially damaged in a November fire.

The RDA wants to buy the two properties from their owner and find a developer who would redevelop them, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, York’s deputy director of economic development.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27742943/rda-looking-buy-two-buildings-at-244-250

Total Cost Of Pennsylvania’s Proposed Budget: $78.6 Billion

HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania could own a bunch of professional sports team if it wanted.

OK, maybe we’re taking some liberty with that, but there is some math to back it up. If Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget is enacted exactly as he presented it earlier this month, the state’s total operating budget would soar to $78.6 billion, the highest level ever.

To put that in perspective, it’s enough to buy all 32 teams in the National Football League, based on average team values compiled by Forbes.com. And then for fun, the state still could buy all 30 teams in Major League Baseball and have enough left to build a few state-of-the-art stadiums.

Of course, that’s assuming the state would spend nothing on its actual responsibilities, like public education and roads and bridges. But for our purposes, it helps illustrate the sheer volume of state spending that’s on the table.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150319/total-cost-of-pennsylvanias-proposed-budget-786-billion

Wolf’s Sales Tax Proposal To Include More Goods, Services

HARRISBURG, PA — The Wolf administration this morning released estimates of the new revenue the state expects to bring in by expanding the 6 percent sales tax to include more items and services.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, which is the subject of ongoing hearings by the House and Senate appropriations committees, also would raise the rates of the sales and personal income taxes, while cutting corporate income taxes and providing homeowners with relief from school property taxes.

Applying a proposed 6.6 percent sales tax to a host of new purchases would bring the state approximately $1.16 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $2.97 billion in the following year, according to a memo released this morning by the Department of Revenue.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/03/18/Wolf-s-sales-tax-proposal-to-include-more-goods-services-pennsylvania/stories/201503180188

York Residents Complain About Trash Around City

Instead of the first capital, York should be called the trash capital of the United States, one resident told the City Council on Tuesday night.

Soiled diapers, cat waste and other household garbage pile up in alleys and on sidewalks, creating horrendous odors and an appalling situation across the city, said Teresa Johnescu, who lives at 31 S. Queen St.

Two other Olde Towne East residents spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s council meeting, urging council members to address the city’s trash problem.

“I’ve never seen trash like it anywhere else,” Judy Fry said after she addressed the council. Fry, who lives on East Locust Street, said she recently came home and found plastic foam packing materials, paper plates and plastic bags strewn all over the alleyway behind her house.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/yorkcity/ci_27732156/york-residents-complain-about-trash-around-city

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Moody’s Upgrades Montgomery County’s Bond Rating Outlook To ‘Stable’

NORRISTOWN, PA – Moody’s Investor Service upgraded the county’s bond rating outlook from “negative” to “stable” on Monday, according to a press release.

The county is expecting to refund $25.6 million in outstanding bonds in the coming weeks and had its rating “affirmed” to an Aa1 rating, according to the release sent out Monday afternoon.

“With the upgrade, Moody’s is recognizing the remarkable turnaround in the fiscal situation in Montgomery County,” commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro said in the press release.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150317/moodys-upgrades-montgomery-countys-bond-rating-outlook-to-stable

10-Story Bethlehem Building Better Suited For Apartments, Developer Says

When Borko Milosev bought a 10-story office building in Bethlehem in December, he had new plans in mind.

Instead of offices, Milosev thought the upper floors of the Santander building on the corner of Elizabeth Avenue and Center Street were better suited for apartments.

“You have an unobstructed views all around it,” he said. “The views are absolutely gorgeous.”

Milosev and a business partner have submitted plans to the Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board to turn the building’s six upper floors into 48 apartments. The four lower floors would remain offices.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/03/10-story_bethlehem_building_be.html

Study: Reopening PATCO ‘Ghost Station’ Will Cost $18.5M

The estimated cost to reopen PATCO’s long-shuttered Franklin Square subway station in Old City will be at least $18.5 million, a new study says.

That’s about 50 percent more than transit officials expected.

The study, requested last year by PATCO’s parent Delaware River Port Authority, estimates 1,300 riders would use the station each day, but that nearly all of them would be current riders who now use the 8th and Market Street station.

The DRPA has been considering reopening the “ghost station” beneath Sixth and Race streets for years, and the agency included $500,000 in its current capital budget to reexamine the issue.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20150317_Study__Reopening_PATCO__ghost_station__will_cost__18_5M.html#ClKKXBqGrsKBxEf7.99

Homegrown Middle Class: A Neighborhoods Policy For Philadelphia

To John Kromer the city’s persistent poverty is best tackled at the neighborhood level. In a four-part series of commentaries Kromer, an urban housing and development consultant and former city housing director, will explore different policy interventions the next administration can deploy to reduce poverty, stabilize neighborhoods, and finance anti-blight work. Kromer lays the foundation with this first installment:

Mayoral and City Council candidates rarely have to take strong positions on neighborhood issues because other topics, such as taxes, crime, schools, and drugs, are more likely to attract voter interest when presented in a citywide, rather than neighborhood-specific context. Given all the demands of a hectic campaign season, most candidates don’t bother to bring forward substantive proposals for improving the condition of Philadelphia neighborhoods until after the elections.

The lower-priority status of neighborhoods as a campaign issue is particularly unfortunate, because the city’s biggest problem—the persistently high level of poverty in Philadelphia—can only be solved at the neighborhood level.

Organizing a neighborhoods policy that can be effective in reducing poverty levels is doable but complicated. Doing so requires thinking about existing strengths and weaknesses and future opportunities in a new way and seeking to obtain political buy-in for a new approach immediately. Advocates for fundamental policy changes can’t afford to wait until after the inauguration ceremony, after the appointment of planning and development officials, and after the presentation of the new administration’s first budget. Anyone who’s serious about planning to significantly reduce poverty during the next city administration needs to begin now.

Read more:

http://planphilly.com/eyesonthestreet/2015/03/16/homegrown-middle-class-a-neighborhoods-policy-for-philadelphia

Pittsburgh To Participate In Federal Program To Improve Police-Community Relations

The Justice Department picked Pittsburgh and five other cities as sites for a pilot program intended to test police-community relations strategies and policies, the agency said Thursday.

The agency chose the sites based on factors that include the applicants’ willingness to try ideas and their ability to collect data that would provide a scientific evaluation of methods.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton and Mayor Bill Peduto scheduled a news conference for Friday to discuss Pittsburgh’s role in the initiative.

Pittsburgh applied to become a pilot site, and police Chief Cameron McLay is excited about the opportunity, said Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/7958736-74/justice-community-pittsburgh#ixzz3UHoI1PeH
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Bethlehem In Line For 300 New Manufacturing Jobs At Newly Approved Facilities

Two new manufacturing facilities with a likely 300 total jobs will soon be opening in Bethlehem.

The Bethlehem Planning Commission on Thursday approved two new mixed-use manufacturing and office buildings on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land within Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.

Fountain Hill-based Reeb Millwork will occupy one of the facilities, a 175,000-square-foot building on Gilchrist Drive, a new road off Commerce Center Boulevard. Reeb’s new Bethlehem facility will be in addition to its current Brighton Street building, but the company plans to consolidate all operations there in the future when an expansion is built, said Ed Detmer, Reeb’s vice president of corporate development.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/03/bethlehem_in_line_for_300_new.html

Solar Looks For A Sunny Outlook In Pennsylvania

SolarCity Corp., the nation’s largest rooftop photovoltaic developer, is hoping a new day is dawning for solar in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The San Mateo, Calif., company announced Thursday a bundle of new financing options aimed at customers in the Peco Energy Co. service territory. SolarCity and its competitors typically install their systems on customers’ roofs for no money down.

The campaign is aimed at reversing the shrinkage in the Pennsylvania solar market, which went into hibernation after 2011, when federal and state incentives dwindled.

“We have a few hundred customers in Pennsylvania, but it’s been slow to develop over time,” said Leon Keshishian, SolarCity’s regional vice president.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150313_Solar_looks_for_a_sunny_outlook_in_Pa_.html#lSQXTxsBwMKzL3DW.99

Phoenixville Borough Council Targets Crime On Bridge Street

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – After a recent increase in crime along Bridge Street, borough officials, residents and business owners say they’ve had enough and are searching for solutions.

During Tuesday night’s borough council meeting, Councilman Michael Kuznar added his voice to the growing number of people concerned about the borough’s safety. A recent armed robbery at the Save More Discount Center on Bridge Street and bricks thrown at two businesses were examples he used that something needs to be done.

“Since Jan. 1, Bridge Street has had over 900 calls to dispatch,” Kuznar said. “That’s a lot for just one street.”

Residents complained about “shady activity” at the Children’s Plaza at Bridge and Banks streets, too.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150313/phoenixville-borough-council-targets-crime-on-bridge-street

Saint Clair Residents Speak Out On Merger, Board Gives Reasoning

SAINT CLAIR, PA — Seven of about 70 borough residents raised their hands in favor of a merger between Saint Clair Area and Pottsville Area school districts at a borough school board meeting Wednesday.

The school board welcomed feedback from borough residents about the possible school merge after a public meeting Monday describing details from the feasibility study.

Many points and questions were brought up by residents, including what would happen to the school if they didn’t merge.

Various school board officials including Jason Bendle, acting superintendent, Michael Holobetz, board president, and Michael O’Pake, board solicitor, explained that the school would eventually be taken over by the state and go into receivership. The school board would still exist, but an assigned recovery officer would have the ultimate say in decisions.

Read more:

http://republicanherald.com/news/saint-clair-residents-speak-out-on-merger-board-gives-reasoning-1.1846958

Mt. Lebanon’s Controversial Deer-Culling Program Gets Underway

Mt. Lebanon’s controversial deer-culling program began late Monday night with another protest, though all the activity surrounding the cull scared deer away from at least one of the corrals and the rest of the night appeared to pass uneventfully.

About 15 anti-culling protesters gathered starting at 9 p.m. in the parking lot for Bird Park off Beadling Road, hoping to document the arrival of the contractors and their departure with any deer, said Dina Alberts, 27, of Carnegie.

“Our goal is to go to each (commission) meeting with up-to-date information, truthful information, and the only way to get it is to see it with our own eyes,” said Alberts, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon but joined the protesters who feel the culling will be inhumane and ineffective.

The group broke up and headed home by 11 p.m. without seeing any activity, though other protesters who’d visited Robb Hollow Park were approached by police and asked to leave earlier in the evening, said Leila Sleiman, who helped organize the protest at Bird Park.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7909414-74/deer-benner-culling#ixzz3U0JgoFgs
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