Northeastern Pennsylvania Population Drops Slightly As South Population Rises

A lot of people in this part of the nation swore they’d move south during this year’s harsh winter. It appears many of them already have.

According to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, warm regions regained population growth momentum last year that was lost during the recession. But population fell in the area comprised of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties.

Fourteen of the 20 fastest-growing metropolitan areas were in Florida, Texas or the Carolinas, led by The Villages near Orlando, which grew by 5.4 percent between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014. In contrast, the fastest-growing metro areas in Pennsylvania grew by 0.6 percent.

The bureau estimated that the population in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area fell by 2,159, or 0.4 percent over the year. Within the three-county region, Lackawanna County lost the most, 1,115, or 0.5 percent. Luzerne County’s population declined 1,033, or 0.3 percent, and Wyoming County’s was relatively unchanged.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152599118/

Watch: It’s An Eaglet! First Eagle Cam Egg Hatches, Lurches Around

Thousands got their first peek at the long-awaited first eaglet Tuesday morning when one of the parents stood up in its nest high in a tree near Codorus State Park in York County.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s live-streaming video on its phenomenally popular Eagle Cam captured the moment. To watch live, click here.

Shortly after 8 a.m., the two eagles did what is known as a  nest exchange, altering incubating duties. When one of the adults moved out of the way, a wet gray blob was revealed, partially still in the egg split in half. The adult eagles were vocal right before the eaglet is exposed.

“I saw it wiggle around in the nest. So cool,” exclaimed a viewer on the Hanover Eagle Watch Facebook page. More than 60,000 people have joined that online group to experience the drama playing out in the Eagle Cam nest.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/watch-it-s-an-eaglet-first-eagle-cam-egg-hatches/article_7137061c-d222-11e4-b664-6764e837c516.html

Bolaris: Spring-Like Thunderstorms To Record Cold And Flakes

Get ready for the Jekyll and Hyde month of March to continue. Later this week you’ll need to break out the shorts before you scramble again for the winter coat and scarf.

On Tuesday, we’ll see some clouds to sun — along with a continued chill in the air — as temperatures will remain stuck in the unseasonably cold 40s. (Normal high is around 55 degrees).

On Wednesday, we will see a transitional day as milder air riding up over the chilly Canadian air will produce a few scattered afternoon showers as temperatures nudge into the 50s.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Bolaris_Spring-like_thunderstorms_to_record_cold_and_flakes.html#TRQAJQPx6L5JteRX.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

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

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area Loses Title Of Highest Unemployment Rate In Pennsylvania

After 57 months, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area is no longer dead last in the unemployment rating for Pennsylvania Metropolitan Areas.  After expanding the eligible metro areas from 14 to 18, Johnstown and East Stroudsburg have pushed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre out of last place.  If nothing else, psychologically it gives the beleaguered Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area a lift.

The Lonely Road To Work

The vice president of finance spends his time doing it listening to the radio, most preferably BBC Radio 2, the station he grew used to listening to when living in the United Kingdom.

The attorney recalls doing work and reading the paper while so engaged, except for the time that someone died.

The contractor said he was able to sleep and hold a book at the same time while he was doing it, and the construction supervisor has learned to calculate the amount of time he’ll be involved in it down to the minute — depending on the time of day he gets started.

What is it? The mundane but almost necessary practice of commuting to work.

Read more:

http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20150314/the-lonely-road-to-work

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

Wolf’s State Store Plan An Ambitious Cocktail

Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal Tuesday called for a modernization of State Stores to generate $185 million in additional annual profit by fiscal 2018.

The dramatically increased profits would be used to make payments on a $3 billion bond issue designed to help close the $30 billion gap in the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System, according to Wolf’s plan.

Under it, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, endangered by Republican talk of privatizing the system, instead would have a monumental task – assuming it gains General Assembly approval.

Based on the system’s profitability in the year ended June 30, gross revenue from the state’s 600-plus wine and spirits outlets would have to soar to $5.7 billion in fiscal 2018 from $2.3 billion in fiscal 2014 to generate an additional $185 million in profits.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150307_Wolf_s_state_store_plan_an_ambitious_cocktail.html#rm8GTPsAek3O34kS.99

Weather Experts Say Warmer Weather Is Really Coming

WEST CHESTER, PA – The region dug out Friday from a season-record snowfall Thursday that closed schools, businesses and some municipal offices.

And the good news from the weather experts is that things should be calm and more seasonable for a bit.

Here are the snow totals from late Thursday night: East Nantmeal, 11.3 inches; Malvern, 10.0; Coatesville, 9.8; West Caln, 9.8; Landenberg, 9.3; West Chester, 9.0; Devon, 9.0; New London, 8.9; Thorndale, 8.7 East Coventry, 8.5; Exton, 8.5.

There were some school closings and delays and the highways and other roads were still snow-covered Friday morning. However, bright sunshine was the hope for some melting to make those roads more passable.

Read more:

http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20150306/weather-experts-say-warmer-weather-is-really-coming

CANCELLED – MCCC Hosts Physicians For Social Responsibility Program On Fracking

Blue Bell, PA— Far from the Marcellus Shale fields of southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region has largely escaped some of the direct impacts from the exploration, drilling, transportation and waste handling from natural gas operations—commonly referred to as fracking. However, a proposal of an energy hub in Philadelphia and new pipelines headed to the region may bring it closer to home.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Philadelphia will hold a program at Montgomery County Community College on March 11 at 7 p.m. to review the different operations of fracking, the risks of harm to health, and the exponentially higher releases of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The program, which is free of change and open to the public, will be held in MCCC’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

PSR is a public health, non-profit organization that provides education, training and direct services and advocacy on issues that threaten health and that medicine cannot cure. Andrea Thomas, MCCC alumna and current graduate student in Arcadia University’s Public Health and Medical Science program and PSR intern, will help participants gain a clear understanding of the ways fracking operations can impact health and the environment.

The program is sponsored by MCCC’s Division of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in collaboration with MCCC Diversity Faculty Fellow Natasha Patterson. For information, call 215-641-6445. To learn more about Physicians for Social Responsibility, visit http://www.psr.org.

What You Need To Know About The Bill To Privatize State Liquor Sales

Legislation to end Pennsylvania’s 82-year monopoly on liquor sales is due for a vote Thursday in the state House.

The plan would dramatically change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 466, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, is similar to a proposal that cleared the House in 2013. It would close the 600-plus state stores and replace them with 1,200 private licenses.

“In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes,” Turzai said in a memo to colleagues seeking support.

It was estimated last session that the proposal would generate about $1 billion up front, with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-bill-to-privatize/article_a18654d0-bb6b-11e4-bc93-6bbbd42717b0.html

Pennsylvania Shale Gas Production Eclipsed 4 Trillion Cubic Feet In 2014

Pennsylvania shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014, setting another record despite low prices that have prompted a cutback in activity, the state reported Tuesday.

Producers pulled more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale last year, a 30-percent increase from the year before.

Industry groups applauded the numbers while sounding a cautious tone about what they see as threats to development: depressed prices and a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose two new taxes on sales and production.

“This is a tremendous success story – a story about jobs and opportunity,” said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “We hope the story continues, and that the next few chapters include sensible tax policy and new infrastructure so that Pennsylvania residents can fully benefit from the commonwealth’s abundant natural gas supplies.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7748482-74/based-wells-gas#ixzz3S2v34nob
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As Banking Goes Mobile, Branch Closures Rip Through Local Economy

Phil Arlia has been dispensing medication in Pitcairn since 1968, but he was more than a pharmacist.

He was a kind of banker.

“We always had a courtesy of cashing customers’ paychecks, state checks, any kind of check,” said Arlia, owner of Phil’s Pharmacy on Broadway Boulevard.

But he stopped cashing checks when the borough’s only remaining bank, a Citizens Bank branch, closed last March. Arlia no longer had fast access to cash to replenish his register when it got low.

The branch closure made it more difficult for Pitcairn residents to access cash to spend at local businesses.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7501236-74/bank-branch-banking#ixzz3QcH1zOMS
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Tom Wolf’s Agenda: Raise The Minimum Wage To $10.10 An Hour

Tom Wolf, who was elected governor in November, wants to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

That’s the same rate as the federal minimum wage.

Nationwide, 29 states have a minimum wage above the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

2. Wolf says raising the minimum wage would create jobs.

Wolf’s “Fresh Start” policy plan, released in February 2014, says raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation would raise wages for 20 percent of Pennsylvanians and lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs by 2016.

The plan cites the Economic Policy Institute, which describes itself as dedicated to including “the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions,” as its source for those figures.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_27320709/tom-wolfs-agenda-raise-minimum-wage-10-10

MCCC Offers Notary Public Training & Renewal Courses This Spring

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—A Notary Public is like a safety pin. When you need one, nothing else will do.  If you transfer a car title, for example, you need a Notary Public to certify the document.

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) offers the only bricks-and-mortar Notary Public class in Montgomery County and is one of only three colleges in Pennsylvania authorized to offer Notary Public training by the Pennsylvania Department of State.  The course covers the powers, duties, and obligations of being a Notary in the Commonwealth.

This spring, MCCC will offer its Notary Public Training and Renewal course from 6-9 p.m. on select Tuesdays and Thursdays. The course will be held on Jan. 27, Feb. 3, Feb. 17, March 5, March 24 and April 7 at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and on Feb. 26 and April 14 at the College’s West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The cost is $75.

The Notary Public Training and Renewal course is open to individuals who are interested in becoming Notaries, as well as to those who are applying for reappointment. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also accepts the course as fulfilling three credits of Continuing Legal Education for licensed attorneys.

MCCC will also offer a Notary Signing Agent Training course to provide specialized training in the closing of real estate transactions on two Saturdays, March 7 and April 25, at the Central Campus. This class is for individuals who are already commissioned Notaries Public. Tuition is $159.

To register for either course, visit webadvisor.mc3.edu or call 215-641-6551.

Notaries Public are the first line of defense in the battle against document fraud, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State website. They are people of integrity who are authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “to administer oaths and affirmations, certify copies, and take depositions, affidavits, and verifications upon oath or affirmation and acknowledgments.” Notaries public commissioned in Pennsylvania are authorized to notarize documents in any county in Pennsylvania.

To perform this essential service, a prospective Notary Public needs to be a Pennsylvania resident, at least 18 years of age, and have no felony (or lesser) convictions for five years before applying. And he or she also needs to have completed a three-hour education course offered by a certified provider.

Since 2005, the Montgomery County Community College College has trained more than 500 people to prepare for becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania. The College also offers onsite training at area businesses.

To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics, then select Areas of Study, followed by Social Sciences and Career Training Programs.

Philadelphia Braces For Mind-Numbing Cold

Philadelphians will wake up Thursday to the winter’s first single-digit day. At 4 a.m. the temperature was expected to plunge to 9 degrees. And AccuWeather was calling for a “Real-Feel” temperature of -14 degrees.

But hang in there.

“It will be getting warmer. Or less cold,” said Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, N.J. “I don’t know if 37 will feel warm. But it will feel less cold.”

To get to 37 degrees – Sunday’s expected high – the city first needs to bear a high of 20 degrees Thursday, 34 degrees Friday, and 25 degrees Saturday.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150108_Phila__braces_for_mind-numbing_cold.html#75SbwG1JJzQRxZC6.99

Wolf Brings Urban Policy Expertise

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.

As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.

“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wolf-brings-urban-policy-expertise-1.1803039