Study: Mohegan Sun Arena Pumped $62 Million Into Economy In 2013

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, PA  — A new study reveals that Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza contributed $62.6 million to the economy in 2013, and expansion of the concourse is expected to pump in an additional $7 million this year.
 
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance was contracted by the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, the governing body of the arena, in May 2014 to conduct the study on behalf of the authority. The NEPA Alliance released the study Thursday.
 
The economic impact analysis considers three things:
 
The overall impact of the operations of the arena, which includes the impact from visitors traveling from outside the impact region (farther than 15 miles).

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-local-news-news/153910780/

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Winter Storm Puts Northeast Pa. In Crosshairs

There will be snow and rain and everything in between.

The big unknown is how much of each.

Northeast Pennsylvania is under a winter storm warning through Thursday morning as a system developing along the mid-Atlantic coast pushes inland today with the potential for significant snow, sleet and freezing rain.

The National Weather Service said total snow accumulations could hit eight to 12 inches, with the higher amounts in the higher terrain and less in the valleys.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/winter-storm-puts-northeast-pa-in-crosshairs-1.1799879

Diversity Lacking In Scranton, Wilkes-Barre Police

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)

One.

That’s the number of racial minorities on the 143-officer Scranton police force.

Meanwhile, Scranton has morphed into a fairly diverse city in recent years.

The 2010 census reported the city was more than 5 percent black and 3 percent Asian. More than 80 percent is white. About 10 percent of the population is Latino.

With the mostly white police force in Ferguson, Missouri, making headlines while trying to quell protests from the mostly black town residents after a white officer shot a black teenager last month, the lack of diversity in police departments, and the problems that come with it, have been pulled back into the public eye.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/diversity-lacking-in-scranton-w-b-police-1.1748937

Blight Poses Challenges For Distressed Cities

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 is a city of 76,000 people with a housing stock largely built before 1940 for a population almost twice that number.

It has the blight to prove it.

As the financially strapped city struggles to combat blight and the host of ills it fosters, Scranton finds itself in a position common among many Rust Belt communities: many old buildings, too few people willing or able to keep them up and limited resources to press aggressively for a comprehensive solution.

The region’s other two major cities, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, are dealing with similar issues, though their circumstances don’t precisely mirror Scranton’s.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/blight-poses-challenges-for-distressed-cities-1.1744585

Unemployment In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metro Area Down, Lowest Since October 2008

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 unemployment rate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area edged down by one-tenth of 1 percent in July to 6.8 percent, the lowest since October 2008, according to figures released today by the state Department of Labor & Industry.

A year earlier, the rate was 9 percent.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/50204988/Unemployment-in-the-region-down-lowest-since-October-2008#.U_z2hvRDsxI

Fee Could Raise $4M For NEPA Counties

Northeastern Pennsylvania‘s seven counties could collect more than $4 million per year for transportation projects starting next year if officials assess an optional $5 vehicle registration fee on their residents.

The state’s $2.3 billion transportation bill authorizes counties to collect the optional fee. State Department of Transportation records show the region’s drivers registered 826,694 vehicles in 2012.

Leaders in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, which together could collect $2.36 million of that total, initially sounded more open to the idea than their more rural counterparts.

“Right now, we are reviewing the legislation and taking a look at it, so we just started that process,” said Jim Wansacz, chairman of the Lackawanna County commissioners. “We’ll see what can be done and what type of revenue would be associated with it.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/fee-could-raise-4m-for-nepa-counties-1.1619430

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Scranton, Wilkes-Barre Area Roads Among Bottom Third In Mid-Sized Cities Nationally

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)

A national research group ranked the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area’s roads among the bottom third of the nation’s mid-sized cities.

More specifically, TRIP ranked both cities and the surrounding suburban areas 17th worst among 62 urban regions with populations between 250,000 and 500,000.

Thirty-two percent of the region’s roads are “in poor condition and provide a rough ride,” according to the report that TRIP released Thursday.

The average motorist in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area pays $539 annually in vehicle maintenance costs related to the substandard roads, which TRIP ranked 18th nationally.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-wilkes-barre-area-roads-among-bottom-third-in-mid-sized-cities-nationally-1.1563220

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.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-tribune-buys-tv-stations-20130701,0,5253381.story#ixzz2XuuiHSK7
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With No Sellout For Opener, Commissioners Pump Up RailRiders Debut

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)

With Opening Day for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders fast approaching, the Lackawanna County commissioners raved about the new PNC Field and plans for the baseball season at their meeting Wednesday.

They said fans will love the new $43.3 million stadium and its amenities, though plenty of tickets remain for the return of minor league baseball to the region on April 4.

Commissioner Jim Wan-sacz said club- and suite-level seats are sold out for the next three years, but conventional seating is still available.

“There’s probably about another 2,000 tickets available for opening day,” Mr. Wansacz said. The stadium seats 10,000.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/with-no-sellout-for-opener-commissioners-pump-up-railriders-debut-1.1464686

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area Residential Unemployment Up In January

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)

Residential unemployment in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area increased three-tenths of a percentage point in January to a seasonally-adjusted 9.8 percent, the highest rate of joblessness among the state’s metro areas for 33 consecutive months.

That’s eight-tenths of a percentage point higher for the region than January 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

It’s not as bad as it looks, experts say.

The increase was due to the growing number of people joining or rejoining the labor force and looking for work. The labor force grew faster than the number jobs available during the year.  The number of people working or looking for work grew 10,400 for the trailing 12 months, while the ranks of the employed increases 7,100.  The difference – 3,200 – were counted among the unemployed.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/scranton-wilkes-barre-area-residential-unemployment-up-in-january-1.1460466

Minimal Losses In Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming Counties In Latest Census Estimates

Every county in the region lost population from 2011 to 2012, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

Data released by the government Thursday indicates nominal population losses in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties.

Pike County was the region’s largest population loser by proportion – 1.15 percent – and Monroe County experienced the largest population decline, 1,188. Wayne County, the third leg of the area’s Pocono Mountains territory, lost 365 residents, or 0.7 percent.

Susquehanna County‘s population decreased by 385 residents, or 0.9 percent, according to the data.

Read more:   http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/minimal-losses-in-lackawanna-luzerne-wyoming-counties-in-latest-census-estimates-1.1458576

One Dead, Thousands Without Power; Roads Remain Closed 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)

8-year-old Susquehanna County boy died Monday when wind from superstorm Sandy knocked a tree limb onto him north of Montrose, authorities said.

And while widespread power outages have left nearly 150,000 in the dark, Northeast Pennsylvania, for the most part, escaped the devastation Sandy left in many other areas.

“We can report back that everything is in really good shape,” Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien said at a 6 a.m. briefing.

In Lackawanna County, eleven 911 dispatchers and two supervisors handled 1,313 calls from 3 p.m. Monday through 6 this morning, with downed power lines being the main source of problems.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/one-dead-thousands-without-power-roads-remain-closed-1.1395736

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.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/sandy-s-impacts-already-being-felt-in-nepa-1.1395476

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.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/hospitals-become-key-players-in-region-s-economy-1.1387891

Default Looms For Scranton Parking Authority As City Council Refuses To Pay SPA’s $1.4 Million Debt

Default is looming for the Scranton Parking Authority as city council refuses to release $1.4 million the authority needs by June 1 to pay debt, officials said.

SPA notified the council last fall it would have a budget deficit in 2012 and would need council to fill the gap. Council set the funds aside in a contingency account that only council can release, thus forcing SPA and Mayor Chris Doherty’s administration to come back to council for the funds.

As the city backs the SPA debt in question – and with the June 1 deadline fast approaching – the administration on May 10 requested emergency legislation from the council for the $1.4 million.

But the council refused and demanded that SPA executive director Robert Scopelliti and city Business Administrator Ryan McGowan first appear before council on May 17 to explain why the funds are needed. Councilman Pat Rogan and council Solicitor Boyd Hughes went so far as to say SPA should be allowed to go into default.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/default-looms-for-scranton-parking-authority-as-city-council-refuses-to-pay-spa-s-1-4-million-debt-1.1318104

Lackawanna County And Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Reach Tentative Agreement On New Stadium

Cap logo of the New York Yankees

Cap logo of the New York Yankees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lackawanna County and SWB Yankees LLC have reached a tentative agreement that officials believe will keep the New York Yankees Triple-A baseball team playing in Moosic for decades to come, the county announced Friday.

The two sides resolved the final outstanding issues late Thursday night and handed the deal over to lawyers to reduce to a formal, written contract, Commissioner Corey D. O’Brien said. Both sides are confident enough in expecting a final written agreement that they have invited contractors to move in equipment to start work on the up to $40 million new stadium, where the team would play starting next year.

“It’s a substantial step forward,” Mr. O’Brien said. “We still need a signed document.”

A county announcement said the two sides “are on the verge of an agreement,” but Mr. O’Brien and Commissioner Jim Wansacz agreed with the characterization of events as a tentative agreement

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/county-baseball-deal-close-enough-to-prep-for-demolition-1.1296307#ixzz1rMzp7p4f

Scranton Falls Victim To Outdated Lackawanna County Property Assessments

The City of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s seventh largest city, is a distressed municipality under Act 47.  Further hampering Scranton’s recovery efforts are the 40-year-old property assessments being used by Lackawanna County.  These out-dated assessments are literally starving Scranton for cash.  Scranton is facing a $5.2 million dollar deficit in 2011 and $5+ million dollar deficits for several more years down the road.  In the last 16 years the assessment value of city properties has increased less than one percent while market values have risen 35%!

The other sad part of the story is the nobody has the $8 million dollars to pay for the reassessment implementation.  The reassessment has been completed and it will take about six months to get an acceptable range.  However, this is useless information until funding is secured. 

Scranton and Lackawanna County need to find a way to pay for the implementation.  As the largest city in Lackawanna County and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area, Scranton can not be allowed to go under.  The burden of a failed city will fall on every taxpayer in Lackawanna County and beyond.  We all will have to pay through increased taxes and fees.

As a distressed city under Act 47, where is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in all of this?  Some help is needed here if we ever want Scranton to recover and get off Act 47.  Our cities are vital to the prosperity of Pennsylvania.  Considering some of the crap in the state budget, I would think we could find money to fund or partially fund something as important as this.