Susquehanna River Ice Jam Grows To 11 Miles

A massive ice jam clogged the Susquehanna River for miles through the heart of Wyoming County on Tuesday, keeping riverfront residents and emergency management officials on edge.

The National Weather Service extended a flood warning for central Wyoming County, as well as low-lying areas immediately downriver in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, another 24 hours until tonight at 7:15.

“We’re stable for now, but that could change in the snap of a finger,” Wyoming County EMA director Gene Dziak said. “The unpredictability of this thing is just incredible. You just don’t know what it’s going to do.”

The ice jam formed Monday on the river just south of the area in Tunkhannock Twp. where Route 307 intersects Route 92. By late Tuesday afternoon, broken ice behind the jam was backed up to the Vosburg Neck area of Washington Twp., a distance of 11 miles.

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PennDOT To Resurface Another 110-Plus Miles Of NEPA Roads

The McDade Expressway in Scranton, Route 924 in Hazleton and a long stretch of Route 29 in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties are among area roads the state Department of Transportation has targeted for repaving this year.

The three heavily traveled routes are among 28 stretches of road in six Northeast Pennsylvania counties that PennDOT officials plan for routine resurfacing work this year. They’ll pay for it with new transportation funding from higher fees and gradually increasing gas taxes.

“PennDOT will be resurfacing about 110 miles of road this year,” agency spokesman James May said. “If we didn’t have Act 89, the number would be zero.”

Act 89 is the $2.3 billion transportation funding package the state Legislature approved in late 2013. PennDOT did have work on several larger capital pro­jects planned regardless, like the ongoing Keyser Avenue project in Scranton.

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February Was Third Coldest On Record

Last month was the third coldest February on record and it tied for fourth place as one of the coldest months ever in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The average temperature last month was 17.5 degrees as recorded by the National Weather Service at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

January 1918 was just as cold.

Only two other Februaries locally have been colder since 1901, when record-keeping started: February 1934 with an average temperature of 15.4 degrees and February 1979 with an average temp of 15.9 degrees.

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Can The Wyoming Valley’s Platter Hold More Restaurants?

WILKES-BARRE TWP., PA — Five national chain restaurants opened in the area last year and two more are slated to open soon. Two others — Pizza Hut and Lone Star — went out of business last month.

So has area’s restaurant bubble finally popped?

No, said John Bartorillo, president of Maslow Lumia Bartorillo Advertising in Wilkes-Barre.

“Saturated? No,” said Bartorillo. “We have not reached that point yet.”

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Report: NEPA Region Lags In Advanced-Skilled Jobs

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area ranks near the bottom of the list of jobs leading the recovery that promise to revitalize the nation’s economy, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

The Report, “America’s Advanced Industries: What they are, where they are, and why they matter” looked at those jobs in the nation’s 100 largest metros and ranked Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area 92nd.

These important jobs are leaving the area, the report noted, with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s employment in advanced industries falling about 2 percent every year.

Many terms have been used to describe the important sector: high-tech, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and now “advanced industries.” What makes understanding the sector more complex is that the field cuts across 50 industries from certain types of manufacturing and energy to computer software design and health care. A STEM job could be found just about anywhere, such as a computer programmer for a trucking company.

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King’s Confirms Ramada Purchase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — King’s College confirmed Monday that it has agreed to purchase the Ramada hotel property located at 20 Public Square for $2.7 million.

King’s also is seeking $7 million in state funding to purchase and renovate the hotel to accommodate expansion of its physician assistant program.

The college has applied for the funding through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program that is proposed in state Senate Bill 680. The legislation has been approved by the state House and Senate and is now in Gov. Tom Corbett’s office.

If approved, the legislation would provide the project with $7 million in state funding to be matched by the college, making for a $14 million project.

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Corbett: Gas-Line Project Fuels Jobs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Monroe County

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

SWIFTWATER — Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday’s announcement to extend the Route 6/11 Corridor Natural Gas Line is about creating and attracting jobs but, more important, he said it’s about retaining jobs already in Pennsylvania.

Corbett visited the campus of Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi in Monroe County, to announce the $5 million extension project, made possible in part through the recent release of a $5 million Economic Growth Initiative grant.

While Corbett said the project is expected to boost job creation and retention in the Northeast Pennsylvania region, he said by lowering utility costs to large employers such as the vaccine maker the 2,000 jobs at the Swiftwater facility — plus 500 contractor positions — are likely to stay.

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Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Deficient Bridges Won’t Be Quick Fix

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly one of every four bridges in Northeastern Pennsylvania is structurally deficient, a Times-Shamrock Newspapers analysis found.

And, because of decades of neglect, repairing those bridges “will take years to catch up,” a local transportation expert said – even if state lawmakers approve a transportation bill this fall.

“Once a bridge gets to be 50 to 60 years old, you can’t go in and just patch it,” Thomas Lawson, co-chairman of the Focus 81 Committee, said.

Interactive: Search for the most deficient bridges in NEPA

Instead, numerous bridges around the region, which has more deteriorating bridges than the state average, will require superstructure overhauls “at minimum,” he said.

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Morning Call Parent Tribune To Buy WNEP, 18 Other TV Stations

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)

Tribune Co.‘s $2.73 billion acquisition of 19 television station’s from Local TV Holdings includes a major player in Pennsylvania, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ABC affiliate WNEP.

The station, a prominent source for local news in the coal region, is among those Tribune is acquiring in a deal announced Monday that would make the Chicago company the largest TV station owner in the United States.

The deal also significantly increases Tribune’s stake in Pennsylvania.  Tribune, which publishes The Morning Call, already owns WPHL in Philadelphia and WPMT in York.  WNEP will expand the reach of the company’s television assets into 21 northeastern Pennsylvania counties, the state’s fourth-largest television market.

That area has a total of 581,020 homes with television viewers, making it the No. 54 market in the country, according to the Nielsen Co.

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Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Region Cleans Up After Deluge

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)

Heavy rain closed roads, jammed storm drains and pushed the Lackawanna River above flood stage Friday morning to the highest level it has reached since recording began at Scranton’s Parker Street Bridge in 2009.

AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said parts of Northeast Pennsylvania saw 2 inches of rain on average over a period of six to eight hours. Rainfall was heaviest between 7 and 11 p.m. Thursday, Mr. Kines said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Champsey said water near the Parker Street Bridge crested at 9.46 feet at 5 a.m. Friday. By 4 p.m., the river had fallen to 5 feet – below the flood stage of 6 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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McDonald’s Sued For Paying Pa. Employees With Fee-Carrying Debit Cards

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

She spent her days serving up Happy Meals, but when it came time to get paid, Natalie Gunshannon says a local McDonald’s franchisee gave her an unhappy deal.

The Shavertown McDonald’s forces workers to be paid only one way: with a payroll debit card that burdens workers with hefty fees to obtain their hard-earned cash, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Gunshannon and other McDonald’s workers.

Gunshannon and an untold number of current and former employees had no option to receive a traditional paycheck or get paid by direct deposit, she and her attorneys said in the class-action against franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller of Clarks Summit.

“I’m looking for the pay I am owed and for them to understand there has to be an option,” Gunshannon, 27, said Thursday outside her Dallas Township residence.

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Report: NEPA Economy Is Turning Around

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)

The 2013 annual report by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development indicates Northeastern Pennsylvania is showing signs of an economic turnaround.

The eighth annual Indicators Report, to be released and discussed at a forum Thursday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, tracks the region’s performance on an array of categories, including demographics, public safety, jobs and the economy.

“The annual Indicators Report serves as a yardstick for measuring growth and trends in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Patrick Leahy, Wilkes University president and chairman of the institute, which is a partnership among Keystone College, King’s College, Luzerne County Community College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, The University of Scranton, and is owned and managed by Wilkes.

Reports covering more than 120 indicators for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, as well as statewide data, will be discussed next week.  And reports from the institute’s five task forces also will be provided to show data on health and health care, jobs and the local economy, education, housing, transportation and land use.

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Gas Industry In Berks: What’s In The Pipeline

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Re...

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DUSHORE – Now that the major surgery that took place last year in the beautiful northern tier of Pennsylvania is complete, Frank Carr Jr. can tell Berks Countians what it is like to have an interstate natural gas pipeline implanted in your land.

You get paid. You see your land temporarily torn up.  You have the right to object.

Ultimately, though, you may have no choice.

“To me, it just doesn’t seem right that they can come in and tell you where they are going,” said Carr, who co-owns a 500-acre dairy farm in Bradford County.  “But I also know they have got to get the gas to market, and it is all a part of that.”

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Study: Poor Health Habits Prevalent In Northeast Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A project aimed at establishing a benchmark of regional residents’ health reinforced something already known — Northeastern Pennsylvania residents, generally speaking, are not very healthy.

The study, conducted by the Scranton-based Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, was done so the effects of the Marcellus Shale industry on the region’s health can be gauged in the future.

“We wanted to create a baseline on the health of the community to use as a benchmark against future studies to see what effects, if any, and to what extent the industry will have had on the region’s health,” said Bob Durkin, president of the Cancer Institute.

Dr. Samuel Lesko, principal investigator for the survey, said a variety of issues related to “fracking” and other processes used to produce natural gas have contributed to community concerns about potential adverse health outcomes.

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Exchange To Offer Health Insurance To Nearly 81,000 In Northeast Pennsylvania

Exchange to offer health insurance.

Assistance available to those in need.

Nearly 81,000 Northeast Pennsylvanians will be eligible to buy subsidized health insurance next year through an exchange, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The report, “Help Is at Hand: New Health Insurance Tax Credits in Pennsylvania,” by Families USA, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that supports President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, details who will be eligible to obtain health insurance through the Pennsylvania exchange.

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20 Busted In Drug Ring Allegedly Run From Wayne County Golf Course

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Wayne County

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

Editor’s note:  If you would like to see if their face and names, click on the link below to read the rest of the article.

A golf course in Wayne County served as the hub of a trafficking ring that moved more than $1.4 million worth of cocaine from New York City into the hands of area residents, according to the state attorney general’s office.

State narcotics agents on Friday charged 20 people from Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties, including the owner of Red Maples Golf Course, Angelo Pozza, 76, with a host of cocaine-related drug counts.

Over the course of the 2½-year investigation that was eventually nicknamed Operation Penalty Stroke, narcotics agents said they were able to trace the flow of cocaine from the Bronx, N.Y., to Mr. Pozza, who sold the narcotic out of his home on the 136 acre grounds of the nine-hole golf course.

“It’s unique because it’s a golf course, but it’s the same sort of front,” said the state’s prosecutor on the case, Deputy Attorney General Timothy Doherty.

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PA Marcellus Topped 2 Trillion Cubic Feet Of Gas In 2012

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus and other shale wells produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012, continuing a trend of production growth despite fewer drilling rigs in the field.

New production data reported by natural gas drilling companies and released by the state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday showed that 1.1 trillion cubic feet of gas flowed from unconventional wells in the state during the second half of 2012.

The wells produced an average of 6.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day between July and December, or enough to fulfill about 9 percent of the nation’s daily natural gas demand.  The U.S. consumed about 70 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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Sandy’s Impacts Already Being Felt In NEPA

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)

Sandy is knocking on NEPA’s door, and those who can should keep that door shut.  While the rain and wind weren’t strong for the morning commute, they will be for the ride home.  Most area schools, and many other facilities, are closed.  Flights and bus runs are canceled and driving will get tricky as the outer bands of the megastorm known as Hurricane Sandy blow around NEPA.

The National Weather Service says today’s heavier rains will begin after 11 a.m.  The high will climb to near 57.  The north wind at 11 to 16 mph will increase to 25 to 31 mph in the afternoon.  New daytime precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch are possible.  The rain will continue tonight when the low dips to around 48.  It will be very windy, with a northeast blast of 25 to 31 mph, and gusts up to 46 mph.  New nighttime precipitation amounts of between thee quarters and an inch are possible.

Richard Beasley, regional spokesman for PPL Electric Utilities, said some consumers should be prepare for lengthy power outages.

“Even with the best of preparation, people are going to lose power,” Mr. Beasley said.  “We are not talking hours here.  In some cases, we may be talking days, depending on the weather.”

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Hospitals Become Key Players In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Economy

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)

After a massive consolidation of the region’s health care industry, Community Health Systems has become the largest private employer in Northeast Pennsylvania.

With about 6,500 employees at eight area hospitals and nonhospital entities, Community Health Systems has even surpassed Tobyhanna Army Depot, which has about 5,400 workers.

“Whenever you have an employer that size, clearly that has a huge impact on the economy, not just for the people we employ, but those folks go out and buy houses and cars and gas,” said Cornelio Catena, CEO of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Commonwealth Health, the umbrella group for Community Health Systems’ area hospitals.

“It’s a huge economic contributor to our area.”

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Unemployment Rate Up In NEPA; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Only Metro Area In State Above 9 Percent

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)

An increase in job-seekers and a decrease in jobs drove August’s residential unemployment rate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area up two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.4 percent.

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