Hazleton Moves Airport Project Forward

HAZLETON, PA — The City Council accepted a $1.3 million Aviation Grant Tuesday night to fund a Runway Safety Area at the City Airport.

As part of the agreement, 5 percent of the project, or $70,000, must be paid for with funds from airport revenues.

A contract for the project was awarded to the only bidder, Hazleton Site Contractors, a member of the H&K Group.

When questioned by several members of council in regard to the airport’s ability to pay for its portion of the project, city engineer Dominic Yannuzzi said the airport had a $56,000 surplus and fuel valued at $60,000, which would be sold for revenue.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153327730/Hazleton-moves-airport-project-forward

Wilkes-Barre Mayoral Candidates Talk Crime

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The five mayoral candidates sat before about 200 citizens Monday evening in the ballroom of Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center to lay out their platforms and answer questions on their plans if elected.

The Wilkes-Barre Downtown Residents Association, a nonpartisan organization, held the two-hour long forum, the first of which to bring all city mayoral candidates together before the public. Eileen Kenyon, coordinator for DRA, said the association sponsored the event to give people in the area a chance to come and listen to what the candidates had to say.

“We have to elect a mayor, and we hope this will let them make an informed decision,” she said.

Each candidate gave a brief opening statement before association members moderated a question-and-answer session during which they broached such topics as unpaid pensions of city employees, how to attract wage-earning residents, their assessments of city hall and city resources, and crime.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wilkes-barre-mayoral-candidates-talk-crime-1.1875532

Financial Picture Improves For City Schools, York City School District Says

The York City School District’s financial picture has started to stabilize during the past several years, said Richard Snodgrass, the district’s business manager.

That’s due to factors that include additional state money and the district’s attempts to control costs better, he said.

Read more about the district’s response to the recovery-officer change.

At the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the district should have a fund balance of about $6.7 million. That helps provide a cushion, he said, as the money the district gets does not all come in at once.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_28043627/financial-picture-improves-city-schools

Scranton Mayor: City Solid, Getting Stronger

In his first “State of the City” address since taking office 16 months ago, Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright delivered a hopeful, optimistic speech Friday at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

Describing the state of the city as “solid and getting stronger every day,” Mr. Courtright said initiatives he, his administration and council are pursuing have the city turning the corner on decades of financial distress, mistakes and “embarrassments” of the past.

“In just over a year, we’ve been able to tell a different story about Scranton. A story of hope and optimism, backed up by real progress,” Mr. Courtright said.

For example, plans to unload the Scranton Parking Authority’s high-debt and under-used garages are advancing and going better than expected, he said, as the city met this week with six firms interested in acquiring them. The goal is to complete a transaction by the end of the year. Another goal is “responsible monetization” of the Scranton Sewer Authority through a sale or lease that this agency is pursuing.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-city-solid-getting-stronger-1.1873948

Plum Officials: District Won’t Inhibit ‘Constitutionally Protected Speech’

Plum Borough School District administrators and borough police walked back assertions they made last week suggesting students could be arrested for “irresponsible” talk or social media postings about investigations into teacher sex abuse allegations.

“The district will not prevent or inhibit any individuals from engaging in constitutionally protected speech,” said Superintendent Timothy Glasspool in a letter the district released Monday. Glasspool did not respond to requests for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said the district’s statement was “more cryptic than we would have liked,” but the group said it accepted the clarification of the issue, according to ACLU-PA legal director Witold Walczak.

The ACLU became involved when local police and high school administrators held an assembly and cautioned students against discussing the investigation publicly, telling them they could be arrested for “irresponsible” and “immature” talk, tweets, texts, emails, or posts to Facebook.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8250483-74/students-police-protest#ixzz3YY08sJbH
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All Pennsylvanians To Pay More, GOP Gleans From Report On Wolf’s Tax Plan

HARRISBURG, PA — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s tax plan would hit all income classes and amount to a “huge tax grab,” said a leading Republican lawmaker.

But John Hanger, Wolf’s policy director, on Friday disputed the Independent Fiscal Office report’s main conclusions. Wolf’s plan “would benefit most Pennsylvania homeowners making up to $100,000 and renters up to $50,000,” Hanger said.

The report released this week makes a key observation when it says all groups would pay more — including a small net increase for the lowest income group, those making $25,000 or less annually, said House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County.

That “directly contradicts” claims by Wolf and testimony of top staffers at appropriations meetings, Adolph said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/8239869-74/tax-wolf-budget#ixzz3YKajHAhL
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Motion To Make Leighton Pay ‘Gas-Gate’ Money Gets No Support At Council Meeting

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Thursday’s city council meeting featured one minute of agenda business followed by an hour-long free-for-all.

Council members, Mayor Tom Leighton, candidates in next month’s primary and members of the public sparred over long-standing hot topics — including a suggestion to sue Leighton to recover money Wilkes-Barre paid in fines for not documenting how city employees used city-owned gasoline.

First, council unanimously approved motions to suspend the city’s open container law for two upcoming downtown events: The Fine Arts Fiesta on May 14-17 in Public Square, and the Osterhout Free Library’s Rooftop Party at the Intermodal Transportation Center on Aug. 7.

The open-container suspensions “only apply to malted and brewed beverages and not to wine and liquors” and only to the sites and times of the planned events: The eastern corner of Public Square from 3 p.m. until close for the four-day Fine Arts Fiesta, and the rooftop and fourth floor of the transportation center’s parking garage, from 5 to 8 p.m., for the rooftop party.

Then the fireworks started with public comments in the packed council chamber.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/motion-to-make-leighton-pay-gas-gate-money-gets-no-support-at-council-meeting-1.1869350

Dennis Benner Proceeding With Plans For 7-Story Building In South Bethlehem

Developer Dennis Benner is proceeding with his long-held plans for a 7-story building at Third and New streets in Bethlehem.

Benner originally intended six floors of offices with first-floor retail on the corner but his new plans submitted to the city show one floor of retail, four floors of offices and two floors of apartments.

His plans will go before the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District for review at 7 p.m. Monday at Town Hall.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/04/dennis_benner_proceeding_with.html

Pennsylvania Pension Funds Could Run Dry In As Little As 10 Years

Without higher contributions from workers and taxpayers, Pennsylvania’s public sector pension plans may not be able to pay for their promises.

And if investment returns fail to live up to expectations, the two pension funds could run dry before the end of the next decade.

Those are the startling conclusions drawn by a pair of researchers at the Mercatus Center, an economic think tank based at George Mason University, which examined Pennsylvania’s Public School Employees Retirement System and the State Employees Retirement System.

The center says PSERS has a 31 percent chance of making it to 2030 with sufficient funding to pay for all the retirement benefits promised to current and former workers, while SERS has only a 16 percent chance of making it that long.

Read more:

http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20150419/pennsylvania-pension-funds-could-run-dry-in-as-little-as-10-years

Bethlehem’s CRIZ Not Living Up To ‘Shovel-Ready’ Billing; Officials Explain Why

Bethlehem received a coveted City Revitalization and Improvement Zone because its application for the state economic development tool was chock-full of shovel-ready projects.

The incentive was expected to allow for plans for a Bass Pro Shops, convention center and second hotel at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to be approved by the middle of last year. Plans for the long-stalled redevelopment of Martin Tower also were supposed to be completed by mid-2014.

But now 16 months after Bethlehem’z CRIZ designation was awarded, most of the projects the incentive was supposed to springboard are still stalled.

Officials say anticipated redevelopment has been slowed by having to start a new city authority, getting answers from the state and by the fact that the CRIZ economic development benefits pale compared to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/04/bethlehems_criz_so_far_not_liv.html

Gov. Tom Wolf Preaches ‘Gospel Of Manufacturing’ During Lehigh Valley Visit (Video)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that students educated at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and Lehigh Carbon Community College will power Pennsylvania’s economic engine.

“If we’re going to have a future in manufacturing in Pennsylvania, what you learn here is really, really important,” Wolf told students after touring LCCC and LCTI, which sit on neighboring campuses in North Whitehall Township.

“I’m preaching the gospel of manufacturing,” he said.  “Manufacturing is making a comeback…Part of the reason manufacturing has a great future in Pennsylvania is because we have really good workers.”

Read more/watch video:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/04/gov_tom_wolf_preaches_gospel_o.html

Giant Supermarkets To Boost Minimum Pay To $9 Per Hour

Giant Food Stores will boost its minimum pay to $9 per hour, effective June 7, the company said Tuesday.

The change applies to 197 non-union supermarkets run by Carlisle-based Giant and its Martin’s division.

Data from a website that tracks wages shows the decision will be worth as much as $1.67 per hour extra for the company’s workforce.

“Our associates are the foundation of our success and we have always believed in paying competitive wages to attract the best talent,” said Giant President Tom Lenkevich in a prepared statement.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/giant-supermarkets-to-boost-minimum-pay-to-per-hour/article_9581413c-e360-11e4-8edd-bfd0cd3f9d3d.html

PREIT Reveals The Gallery’s New Look

Everything about the decrepit Gallery at Market East may be about to change.

Under an intended top-to-bottom renovation, one of Center City’s most notorious dead spots would be reborn as a gleaming glass-and-steel emporium – brimming with brand-name discount fashion shops, destination restaurants, and lively sidewalk cafés.

Even the name would be new. Welcome, shoppers, to the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia.

Details of the plan were provided exclusively to The Inquirer in advance of a series of meetings by government agencies whose support is vital to the project. The news marks a grand unveiling of plans for the Gallery following years of uncertainty and speculation.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150415_PREIT_reveals_the_Gallery_s_new_look.html#ZjuIZxyXWmB7TTV1.99

Hillary Clinton To Run For President

Hillary Clinton is running for president for the second time, a top adviser announced via email to supporters Sunday, ending two years of speculation and flirtations with a campaign that had seemed preordained.

The announcement came about 3 p.m. in an email from campaign chairman John Podesta to donors and other supporters of the former first lady.

“I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” the email reads. It also says that Clinton will visit Iowa and other states with early nominating contests soon, and will host a formal kickoff event next month.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Hillary_Clinton_to_run_for_President.html#eV3CfYuR4qkZTb1k.99

Manager Out, And Chaos Again Rules In Delco Town

Dysfunction evidently rules again in tiny Colwyn Borough, Delaware County.

On Thursday night, its manager was fired at a raucous council meeting; she disputed the action and then locked herself in Borough Hall overnight.

“I don’t believe I am out of a job,” Paula Brown said Friday.

The latest episode followed a contentious council meeting during which Brown and council members shouted at each other and traded accusations – and they still don’t agree on the outcome.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150411_Manager_out__and_chaos_again_rules_in_Delco_town.html#gO5a2o3OhEW8J7VJ.99

Accepting Leadership Award, Gov. Wolf Says Hill School Prepared Him

POTTSTOWN, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf may not have learned everything there is to know about “Beowulf” when he was a student at The Hill School, “but I did learn how to ask questions; I did learn how to think and I did learn how to live.”

Those were among the short lessons Wolf had for the students and guests Thursday night when he accepted the school’s 17th Annual Sixth Form Leadership Award.

“I came to Hill in the fifth form, so I was only here a brief time, but it made a big difference in my life. I came away from this place a much better person that I was when I came in,” said Wolf, who attended the school from 1965 to 1967.

During those years, he was on the swimming and soccer teams, was assistant editor at The Dial and played the sousaphone.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150409/accepting-leadership-award-gov-wolf-says-hill-school-prepared-him

Deadly 2013 Lands Wilkes-Barre On ‘Murder Capital’ List

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city’s bloody 2013 has placed it on a list of the Top 30 “Murder Capitals in America.”

The 13 homicides that took place in Wilkes-Barre made for the deadliest year in city history. The city was ranked 18th on the list.

NeighborhoodScout, an information website which compiles data on neighborhoods and cities throughout the country, used FBI numbers on homicides to create a list of cities with the highest murder rates. The report lists Wilkes-Barre as having 12 murders and does not include a case involving an accidental shooting, which the FBI classified as involuntary manslaughter.

The report says that until recently, major cities ranked among the dominating murder capitals, but this list is “populated mostly by middle-sized cities as well as smaller cities in close proximity to larger ones.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/deadly-2013-lands-w-b-on-murder-capital-list-1.1861214

With Crime On Their Minds, Concerned Residents Again Press Wilkes-Barre City Council On Rash Of Violence

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The topic won’t fizzle out.

Another city council meeting saw yet another gauntlet of pleas from concerned citizens about Wilkes-Barre’s recent rash of violence.

Council members spent most of Thursday’s hour-long meeting assuring residents that police and city administration were doing everything within their power to squash a three-week-long crime wave that produced six shootings, two deaths and six other injuries.

Council Chairman Mike Merritt conceded things will get worse before they get better.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152836901/Residents-press-council-about-crime

Vote Clears The Way For Food Trucks In York City

Free-market ideology narrowly overpowered fears of the unknown Tuesday with the York City Council’s 3-2 vote to legalize and regulate food trucks on city streets.

The decision marks the end of a long and sometimes divisive debate over the financial impact roving restaurants could have on traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.

Where some saw food trucks as a potential boon for a growing downtown business landscape, others saw a potentially diluted customer base wreaking havoc on profit margins.

In the end, mobile food proponents got what they’d asked for and more.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_27869256/vote-clears-way-food-trucks-york-city

Former Police Chief Tony George Urges Mayor Thomas Leighton To Address Wilkes-Barre’s Current State Of “Violence And Lawlessness”

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Citing a “crisis of lawlessness,” former Police Chief Tony George on Monday pressed Mayor Thomas Leighton to restore law and order to the city of Wilkes-Barre in the wake of one of its most vicious weekends to date.

George, a city councilman and Democratic candidate for Wilkes-Barre mayor, urged Leighton in a press release to address the state of public safety by implementing citywide saturation patrols with an emphasis in “the most troubled neighborhoods,” including South Wilkes-Barre, North End and the Heights.

Over six days, two people have been killed and five others seriously injured in five separate shootings.

Show of force

During a press conference at police headquarters Monday afternoon, Leighton said patrols have been ongoing since 2013 and will continue as long as there is violent crime in Wilkes-Barre.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152763481/