Pennsylvania’s Stagnant 2013 Growth Has Political Repercussions

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’‍s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Pennsylvania’‍s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.

Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/06/19/Pennsylvania-s-stagnant-2013-growth-has-political-repercussions/stories/201406190114#ixzz356R8ZzWX

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Pittsburgh Weighs Submitting Bid To Host Democratic Convention

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh will take the first step in pursuing a possible bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. But you might want to hold off on the balloons, banners and buttons for now.

There’s no shortage of political and logistical challenges still to overcome if the Steel City is to land its first major political convention, not to mention tough competition from other cities, including those in neighboring Ohio, a key battleground state.

Mayor Bill Peduto intends to submit a letter of interest to the Democratic National Committee by Saturday’s deadline, spokesman Timothy McNulty said Thursday.

Pittsburgh was one of three dozen cities invited to bid for the 2016 convention by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz earlier this month.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/02/28/City-weighs-submitting-bid-to-host-Democratic-convention/stories/201402280132#ixzz2udR8dNTK

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Steubenville Principal Pledges Community Service For Dismissal In Rape Case

Map of Ohio

Map of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A school principal charged with failure to report suspected child abuse in the wake of two Steubenville rape investigations won’t be prosecuted if she does community service work.

Ohio prosecutors on Wednesday agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge against Lynnett Gorman, principal of West Elementary School in Steubenville, by June 1 if she complies.

Ms. Gorman, one of five adults indicted in the aftermath of the rape convictions of high school football players Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, was set to go to trial Wednesday.

The Ohio attorney general’s office said she failed to report suspected child abuse in regard to the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by a group of baseball players in April 2012, four months before the Richmond and Mays case.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/01/08/Steubenville-principal-pledges-community-service-for-dismissal-in-rape-case/stories/2014010801180000000#ixzz2pughCy8X

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Consol Selling 5 Coal Mines, River Transport Business In $3.5B Deal

English: Consol Energy Center

English: Consol Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the world’s oldest coal companies is selling off the business that gave Consol Energy Inc. its name, giving up five West Virginia mines and its river transport arm in an effort to transform into a growth-oriented gas business.

After weeks of speculation, Cecil-based Consol confirmed it is selling its Consolidation Coal Co. subsidiary to an Ohio mining competitor in a deal that includes $850 million in cash. The company will keep five mines to help supply overseas demand and use the capital it’s freeing up to reinvest in exploration and production of shale gas.

“We’ve kept the jewels for our shareholders,” CEO J. Brett Harvey said. “It’s important for you to understand that.”

Harvey said Consol retained an advantage over drilling competitors by retaining what it considers its best coal assets. The five mines it will hold, including its Pennsylvania operations, can supply both electric and metals makers, allowing it to sell at the best price and get more money to keep growing gas production by 30 percent annually, Consol executives said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4960070-74/consol-coal-billion#ixzz2j27tk12V
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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.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/hunting-fishing/erie-algae-report-says-toxic-mega-blooms-could-become-the-new-normal-706852/#ixzz2hHcUmdjs

Cleveland Kidnapper Castro Commits Suicide In Prison Cell

Map of Ohio

Map of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CLEVELAND, OH (Reuters) – Ariel Castro committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet in his prison cell, an Ohio coroner said on Wednesday, just one month into a life sentence for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three women he kept imprisoned for a decade.

The former school bus driver, who pleaded guilty to 937 counts in July, was found hanged in his cell at an Ohio prison late Tuesday.

An autopsy on Wednesday confirmed the cause of death was suicide by hanging, said Dr. Jan Gorniak, the Franklin County coroner.

Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-ohio-missing-20130903,0,4885370.story#ixzz2dyu835s2
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Ohio Police Chief Says More Bodies Could Be Found

Map of Ohio

Map of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Searchers rummaging through vacant houses in a neighborhood where three female bodies were found wrapped in plastic bags should be prepared to find one or two more victims, a police chief said Sunday.

Police Chief Ralph Spotts told the volunteers to brace themselves for the smell of rotting bodies and to look out for trash bags that might conceal a body.  He declined to elaborate on his comments about the possible additional victims.

When asked about Spotts’ remark, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said authorities have “lots of reasons” to suspect there are more victims, but he refused to say why.

A 35-year-old registered sex offender in custody is a suspect in the deaths, Norton said.  The suspect, who was arrested Friday after a police standoff, has indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and sentenced to death, Norton said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/693363/Ohio-chief-says-more-bodies-could-be-found

Western Pennsylvania’s Rural Areas Increasingly Struggle With Population Loss

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James DeBlasio has lived all 88 of his years in southern Lawrence County, where he’s a longtime Taylor Township supervisor and has seen many of the people he grew up with move away or die — with no young people coming in to replace them.

Like most of rural Western Pennsylvania, and the non-urban sections of West Virginia and eastern Ohio as well, his is an area where census counts and estimates have noted a population decline due to multiple factors that appear hard to reverse.

The trends have been especially rough in Taylor, which experienced a 13.6 percent population decline between 2000 and 2010.  Of its 1,052 residents, more than twice as many are over age 65 as under age 18.  That ratio is practically unheard of among municipalities and doesn’t bode well for the township’s future.

“I don’t think there’s been a new house built here in 10 years, maybe longer,” Mr. DeBlasio noted.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/western-pennsylvanias-rural-areas-increasingly-struggle-with-population-loss-681566/#ixzz2PAdHb86b

Two Teenage Girls Face Charges For Threats After Steubenville Rape Trial

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Two teens accused of sending threatening messages on social media following the Steubenville rape trial will appear in court on the charges later this month.

Steubenville police were notified about the posts, both on Twitter, and on Monday arrested the 16-year-old girl, a relative of Ma’lik Richmond. The 15-year-old turned herself in the same day, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.

Ma’lik and another Steubenville High School football player, Trent Mays, were found guilty Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl after a drunken party in August.

The girls appeared at a detention preceding this morning in Jefferson County Juvenile Court. They are charged with intimidation of a victim, a felony, aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment, both misdemeanors.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/two-teenage-girls-face-charges-for-threats-after-steubenville-rape-trial-679963/#ixzz2O18PJ1dA

2 Ohio HS Football Players Convicted Of Raping Drunken Girl; Charges Against Others Possible

Map of Ohio

Map of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Two members of Steubenville’s celebrated high school football team were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl, and Ohio’s attorney general warned the case isn’t over, saying he is investigating whether coaches, parents and other students broke the law, too.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison in a case that has rocked this Rust Belt city of 18,000 and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High team, which has won nine state championships. Mays was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the underage girl naked.

They can be held until they turn 21.

The two broke down in tears after a Juvenile Court judge delivered his verdict. They later apologized to the victim and the community, Richmond struggling to speak through his sobs.

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/rape-trial-of-2-ohio-high-school-football-players-ends-judge-to-announce-verdict-sunday/2013/03/16/1b282264-8e9b-11e2-adca-74ab31da3399_story.html

Amish Sect Leader Mullet Sentenced To 15 Years In Beard Attacks

CLEVELAND — The leader of a breakaway Amish community in which 16 people were convicted in hair- and beard-cutting attacks was sentenced today to 15 years in prison.

“Sadly, I consider you a danger to the community because of the control that you possess over others,” U.S. District Judge Dan Polster told Samuel Mullet Sr., 67.

Mullet was convicted under a federal hate crimes law. He spoke in court today for the first time since he was charged.

“My goal in life has always been to help the underdog,” he said. “That’s been my goal all my life and now I get pushed up to where I’m at. If somebody needs to be punished for this and I’m a cult leader, then I want to take the punishment for everybody.”

He didn’t get his wish.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/amish-sect-leader-mullet-ready-to-take-the-punishment-for-everybody-in-beard-attacks-673950/#ixzz2KLSUqvAU

‘Frankenstorm’ Threatens East Coast

WASHINGTON — An unusual nasty mix of a hurricane and a winter storm that forecasters are now calling “Frankenstorm” is likely to blast most of the East Coast next week, focusing the worst of its weather mayhem around New York City and New Jersey.

Government forecasters today upped the odds of a major weather mess, now saying there’s a 90 percent chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday.

Meteorologists say it is likely to cause $1 billion in damages.

The storm is a combination of Hurricane Sandy, now in the Caribbean, an early winter storm in the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North. They’re predicted to collide and park over the country’s most populous coastal corridor and reach as far inland as Ohio.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=423263

Marcellus Shale Reserves Larger Than Expected

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)

PITTSBURGH, PA – There’s been plenty of debate over the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, but new research adds a twist that could impact political and environmental battles.  Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn’t just the biggest natural gas field in the country – it’s the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

One of the reports adds that the Marcellus reserves that lie below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York are far larger than recent government estimates, while another said the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation.

The Marcellus could contain “almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S.,” a report from Standard & Poor’s issued this week said.

Another recent report from ITG Investment Research, a worldwide financial firm based in New York, found that a detailed analysis of Marcellus well production data suggested that federal government estimates of its reserves “are grossly understated.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gas-drilling/marcellus-shale-reserves-larger-than-expected-1.1391569

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.”

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/ap/618886_Michigan–Ohio-to-cooperate-on-Lake-Erie-algae.html#ixzz1r8KLtV1j

Merger? Harleysville And Nationwide

Location of Lower Salford Township in Montgome...

Image via Wikipedia

There is much speculation that Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company is looking to swallow up much smaller Harleysville Insurance (HGIC).  These rumors caused Harleysville‘s stock price to jump 24 percent last week.  Harleysville is based in Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County.  Nationwide is based in Columbus, OH.

Harleysville had a large loss in second quarter this fiscal year.

An interesting side note – the same man who founded Harleysville Insurance Company also founded Harleysville National Bank.  Harleysville National Bank recently merged with Buffalo, NY based First Niagara.  What a sad coincidence it would be if this company succumbed to an out-of-state merger and disappeared as well.

Growing Amish Community Heading West

The number of Amish is growing!  A recent study estimates the Amish population has increased 10% in the last two years.  It is believed there are 249,000 Amish in North America.  In 1992 there were 124,000.  Land in Lancaster County is hard to find and very expensive.  This has forced many Amish to look elsewhere for farmland.

The Midwest is attracting more and more Amish.  Farmland in Lancaster County can cost $15,000 an acre compared to $2,000 – $3,000 an acre in other parts of the county.  That being said, two-thirds of the Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  Pennsylvania has the largest population.

Amish families tend to have 5 or more children which accounts for their swelling ranks.  Half of the Amish population is under 18 years old and 85% of young adults remain in the church.

South Dakota is the latest state to get an Amish settlement. 

Go West, young Amish.