National, Pittsburgh Region Companies Rally To Extend Charter Of Export-Import Bank

GE Transportation recently signed a deal to build 100 locomotives in Erie — including engines made in Grove City — and sell them in Angola for $350 million.

GE used financing through the Export-Import Bank, which provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance to U.S. companies selling overseas. The bank, supporters say, helps U.S. companies compete more effectively for foreign business.

“If we hadn’t had that financing, the order would have gone to China,” said Richard Simpson, global head of supply chain for the company, who said Thursday that GE Transportation financed $720 million in sales to three other countries last year.

Such deals are in jeopardy, advocates for the 80-year-old bank say. Its charter expires June 30 and observers say it might not come up for a vote in Congress before then.

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Study: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Is Tops … At Being Unhappy

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)

SCRANTON, PA — Feeling a little down in the dumps?

Chances are you are not alone, according to a new study.

According to the analysis, co-authored by Joshua Gottlieb of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region is the least happiest place in the United States.

Local psychologist Robert Griffin says there no need for a region-wide prescription for anti-depressants.

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Deportation Battle Ignites Rally In Erie

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County

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

Friends say Alfredo Ramos-Gallegos lived a spotless life for two decades, raising and supporting two children through hard labor, ambition and kindness.

But even his loved ones acknowledge a big complication: Ramos-Gallegos, 40, of Painesville, Ohio, was in America illegally. Deported to Mexico once, after a factory raid, he sneaked back into the country to be with his pregnant wife about 15 years ago.

Busted again and facing possible jail time, Ramos-Gallegos is at the center of an anti-deportation movement arguing that federal prosecutors are too tough on illegal immigrants who commit no other crimes. Advocates for the law insist that undocumented migrants often swipe jobs from American citizens, use taxpayer-backed social services and undermine lawful immigrants.

“It’s really not fair to all the people who are sponsoring family members or employees using our legal immigration system,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. “I don’t think it’s wrong for the government to undertake prosecution. I wish they didn’t have to do it so many times.”

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Lake Erie Algae: Report Says Toxic Mega-Blooms Could Become The ‘New Normal’

English: Aerial view of Presque Isle State Par...

English: Aerial view of Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie near Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. View is to the east-northeast. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built 55 off-shore segmented breakwaters to prevent the beach erosion problem at Presque Isle State Park that caused the loss of this important recreational site and environmental habitat for wildlife. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: This is an important issue for Pennsylvania.  The algae is problematic for Erie County as a tourist destination and as a wildlife refuge (Presque Isle State Park).

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — It was the largest algae bloom in Lake Erie‘s recorded history — a scummy, toxic blob that oozed across nearly one-fifth of the lake’s surface in the summer and fall of 2011. It sucked oxygen from the water, clogged boat motors and washed ashore in rotting masses that turned beach-goers’ stomachs.

It also was likely an omen of things to come, experts said in a study released earlier this year. The warming climate and modern farming practices are creating ideal conditions for gigantic algae formations on Lake Erie, which could be potentially disastrous to the surrounding area’s multi-billion-dollar tourist economy. The shallowest and southernmost of the Great Lakes, Erie contains just 2 percent of their combined waters but about half their fish.

According to the report, which was compiled by more than two-dozen scientists, the 2011 runaway bloom was fueled by phosphorus-laden fertilizers that were swept from corn and soybean fields during heavy rainstorms. Weak currents and calm winds prevented churning and flushing that could have short-circuited its rampant growth.

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Pennsylvania Ranks Fourth Nationally In Number Of Hotels Breaking Labor Laws: PublicSource

If you’ve stayed at the Heritage Hills Resort in York County while touring Amish country, toasted newlyweds at the Avalon Hotel in Erie or settled in for a weekend of pampering at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the Laurel Highlands, chances are the person who made your bed, poured your Champagne or washed your towels wasn’t being paid minimum wage.

In fact, Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation — behind Texas, Alabama and Florida — for the number of hotels breaking labor laws, according to an analysis by PublicSource, a nonprofit news organization.

York, Erie and Pittsburgh had the highest number of violations by their hotels, with Farmington, Lancaster and the Harrisburg area coming in behind them.

These working men and women, who might have few skills to find another job, are often reluctant to talk about their situations, as PublicSource discovered after making many attempts to reach them.

“These workers are subject to retaliation from employers, and some hotels have nondisclosure agreements,” said Mackenzie Smith, an organizer and executive board member of Unite Here Local 57, which represents hotel workers in Pittsburgh.

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Erie City Council Passes $63.3 Million Budget For 2013

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County

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

The cost of running the city will rise in 2013.

But Erie homeowners won’t have to pay any additional property taxes or fees to fund the operation.

Erie City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed Mayor Joe Sinnott’s proposed $63.3 million general fund budget with no substantial changes.  The budget is about $2.5 million more than the 2012 budget, which included a 1.65 mill, or 14 percent, annual property tax increase.

“Given the current state of the economy, taxpayers couldn’t bear the burden of two tax increases in a row,” Councilman Bob E. Merski said following the vote at Erie City Hall, 626 State St.

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Erie Insurance Posts Strong Quarter

Terry Cavanaugh doesn’t see much mystery in the factors that shaped Erie Indemnity Co.’s $43 million profit in the second quarter.

Cavanaugh, the company’s chief executive, said that profit — down 17 percent from the same quarter in 2011 — was boosted by strong management fee revenues but held back by higher operating expenses and lower investment income.

Erie County’s third-largest employer will likely do what it can to address sagging investment income, which fell 64 percent from $17 million to $6 million.

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Michigan And Ohio To Cooperate On Lake Erie Algae

Lake Erie from satellite 2007. Photograph cour...

Lake Erie from satellite 2007. Photograph courtesy of NASA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials in Michigan and Ohio promised closer cooperation Wednesday in the quest for solutions to massive algae blooms in Lake Erie, a deadly threat to fish and a turn-off for tourists.

Delegations from both states, including their top environmental protection officials, agreed to push harder for reductions in phosphorus discharges from farms, waste treatment plants and other sources while sharing ideas and supporting research. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pledged technical and financial assistance.

“We all agreed that while more research is needed, that shouldn’t be a barrier to taking action now,” said Susan Hedman, chief of the EPA’s regional office in Chicago. “It’s absolutely clear that we need to reduce nutrient loading to the western end of Lake Erie.”

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Presque Isle State Park Ranks Second On Great Lakes Top Beaches List

Florida International University professor Steven Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, has released his first Great Lake Beaches list.  Leatherman has been ranking U.S.beaches for 21 years.  This year he decided to expand his list to include non-ocean beaches.  Leatherman has received countless emails over the years from fans of Great Lakes beaches to include them.

Leatherman received 30 nominations for best Great Lakes beaches.  The winners were:

  1. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
  2. Presque Isle State Park, Erie
  3. Sand Point Beach, Michigan
  4. Bayfield Beach, Ontario
  5. Oak Street Beach, Chicago

To learn more about Dr. Beach and see the ocean beach list, click here:

Presque Isle State Park is a natural wonder.  The seven mile peninsula includes 11 primary swimming areas, hiking, biking, kayaking and fishing, lighthouses, the Perry Monument and the Gull Point wildlife preserve (bird watching).  Presque Isle is accessible from the city of Erie by a paved road which runs through most of the park.  At the entrance to the park is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (great for kids and adults).  It’s an amazing place!


Pennsylvania: Census 2010 Results

Logo for the 2010 United States Census.

Image via Wikipedia

Here are some results from Census 2010 for Pennsylvania.

Top five cities:

Philadelphia 1,526,006 (increase)

Pittsburgh 305,704 (decrease)

Allentown 118,032 (increase)

Erie 101,786 (decrease)

Reading 88,082 (increase)

Top five counties:

Philadelphia 1,526,006 (increase)

Allegheny 1,223,348 (decrease)

Montgomery 799,874 (increase)

Bucks 625,249 (increase)

Delaware 558,979 (increase)

Lancaster County is Pennsylvania’s sixth largest county with a population of 519,445 (increase).

Other 2010 Pennsylvania city/borough census data:

Boyertown’s population increased to 4,055

Royersford’s population increased to 4,752

Collegeville’s population decreased to 5,089

Pottsville’s population decreased to 14,324

Lansdale’s population increased to 16,269

Pottstown’s population increased to 22,377

Easton’s population increase to 26,800

Norristown’s population increased to 34,324

Wilkes-Barre’s population decreased to 41,498

York’s population increased to 43,718

Harrisburg’s population increased to 49,528

Lancaster’s population increased to 59,322

Bethlehem’s population increased to 74,982

Scranton’s population decreased to 76,089

Local townships – 2010 data:

West Pottsgrove Township’s population increased to 3,874

Upper Pottsgrove Township’s population increased to 5,315

Douglas (Montgomery) Township’s population increased to 10,195

New Hanover Township’s population increased to 10,939

Lower Pottsgrove Township’s population increased to 12,059

Amity Township’s population increased to 12,583

Limerick Township’s population increased to 18,074

To view the entire municipal census data, click on this link:

You will see 2010 census results for Pennsylvania municipalities now available.  You can download a read only spreadsheet in alphabetical order by county, then by municipality name.

Pennsylvania will lose another congressional seat.  We will drop from 19 to 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Pennsylvania’s population increased; however, there are other states whose populations are increasing faster.  Pennsylvania’s population grew by 3.4% between 2000 and 2010.  The Commonwealth’s official population stands at 12,702,379.  421,000 new Pennsylvanians were added since the 2000 census.

The national population growth rate is 9.7%.  States with higher population growth tend to be pro-business states.  Pennsylvania’s corporate tax is the highest in the nation at 9.9% which is a huge reason that is slowing down our growth!