Western Pennsylvania District Provides Example Of Successful School Merger

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United Sta...

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONACA, PA – In a dimly lit steakhouse some 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, two school superintendents – one current and one newly retired – crowd into a booth illuminated by neon signs.

The smell of barbecue permeates the air at PJ’s Bar-B-Q & Steak House, as Nick Perry and Dan Matsook grab menus and talk school mergers.

For Matsook, it’s a familiar setting for such a discussion.

In October 2005, Matsook, then superintendent of the Center Area School District, sat in another restaurant, the Ground Round in nearby Moon Township, where he and school officials from his district and the neighboring Monaca School District laid the foundation for what would be the first voluntary merger of two school districts in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140113/NEWS/301139967/1052#.UtQx2vRDsxI

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Sunoco To Pipe Shale Gas Through Clay, West Cocalico Townships

English: Sunoco Logo

English: Sunoco Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A decommissioned underground pipeline that once carried gasoline across the state and through Lancaster County could see new life from the Marcellus shale gas boom.

Representatives of Sunoco Inc., of Philadelphia, have recently been in West Cocalico and Clay townships doing site surveys and scouting locations for a pumping station needed as part of a statewide retrofit of the pipeline so that it can transport natural gas to a facility in Delaware.

“Mariner East 1 is a project to transport natural gas liquids (NGLs), also called liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs) from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex on the Pennsylvania/Delaware border,” Sunoco representative Jeff Shields wrote in an email Nov. 20.

The Mariner East 1 project would stretch from a Sunoco facility just outside Houston, Pa., in Chartiers Township, Washington County, to its transportation hub in Marcus Hook, Delaware County, or a distance of about 300 miles.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/921971_Sunoco-to-pipe-shale-gas-through-Clay–West-Cocalico.html#ixzz2lJHodFsv

Pittsburgh Suburbs Suffering Poverty At High Rate

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)

Poverty is growing at a faster rate in the suburbs than in the cities, and the Pittsburgh area is ahead of the curve — but not in a good way.

Nationally, about 55 percent of the population living in poverty is outside of cities, but in Allegheny County, 61 percent of people living in poverty are in the suburbs, and the number rises to 79 percent when the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is measured. That area includes Allegheny and its six surrounding counties.

Those numbers come from Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and co-author of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.”

Ms. Kneebone said suburban poverty has been growing since 2000 and became more significant than urban poverty even before the economic meltdown of 2008 and 2009. The recession exacerbated it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/11/18/Suburbs-suffering-at-high-rate/stories/201311180136#ixzz2l1MynVBs

Accumulating Snow Expected Overnight Across Western Pennsylvania

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)

A storm arriving this afternoon will bring rain and then snow to the Pittsburgh district, the National Weather Service said today.

Rain will move in after 3 p.m. and intensify in the early evening, then change to a wintry mix around 9 or 10 p.m. before becoming all snow, NWS meteorologist John Darnley said. In Pittsburgh, as much as 2 inches of snow is possible by daybreak, with 3 to 4 inches possible in the Laurel Highlands.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/11/11/Snow-expected-overnight-across-Western-Pennsylvania/stories/201311110154#ixzz2kMVBLZjn

Southwestern Pennsylvania Transit Merger Report Is Due Out In April

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)

A private firm hired by PennDOT to study the merging of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 10 transit systems — which has drawn interest from county leaders across the region — said on Monday it will present its findings in April.

Officials from outside of Alle­gheny County said forming a regional transit system is a good idea but are wary of taking on the costs of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

“We’ve got to look at it. All of these small transit systems are dying on the vine. There’s no federal and state funding. You want to see if you can consolidate some things, but a lot of details have to be worked out,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi. “I certainly don’t want to absorb (Port Authority legacy costs) to Washington County taxpayers.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4961575-74/transit-county-authority#ixzz2j8v6KQEL
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Western Pennsylvania’s Soggy Summer Ideal For Corn

Picture 486It hasn’t been an ideal summer for sunbathers, swimmers and other creatures who prefer hot, dry weather. But at least it’s been easy on the ears.

Ears of corn, that is.

While farmers have struggled to plant and harvest crops and dry out their hay for baling, the wet weather has been favorable for corn.

“Our sweet corn crop is very good this year,” said Scott Simmons, co-owner of Simmons Farm in McMurray.  “A kind of year like this I’ll take anytime for corn.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/weather/western-pennsylvanias-soggy-summer-ideal-for-corn-699654/#ixzz2cFA3GgRV

Clarion University To Dissolve College Of Education

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Clarion County

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

Clarion University plans to let go up to 40 employees campuswide — including 22 faculty — and dissolve its college of education under a broad restructuring intended to offset sharply lower state aid, rising costs and enrollment losses.

The job cuts are part of a two-year workforce plan that university president Karen Whitney and other administrators say was drafted to help Clarion correct budget problems and position the state-owned university with 6,500 students for the future.

The plan discusses areas where Clarion intends to add resources, among them nursing, and other areas recommended for elimination, including music education. It says departments and programs within Clarion’s College of Education and Human Services would be reorganized into other schools.

The idea is to ensure that Clarion by July 1, 2015, can meet future challenges and “continue serving students, employers and community partners as a public university,” the 32-page document states.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/clarion-u-to-dissolve-college-of-education-699536/#ixzz2c9UiRE6d

Flash Flooding Leaves Widespread Damage In Pittsburgh

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

People in Western Pennsylvania braced Wednesday night for a second round of potentially devastating storms following torrents that dropped as much as 3 inches of rain in some parts of the area during the day.

But all of the foreboding and warnings ended up as mostly just that as a string of storms that arrived shortly after the evening rush hour brought with them less rain than was expected.

“It moved through so quickly,” said meteorologist Brad Rehak, of the National Weather Service.  “It wasn’t as heavy.”

Rainfall that was expected to end just after midnight should be replaced throughout the next three days with drier, more comfortable weather — aiding in crews’ cleanup efforts.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/pittsburgh-area-roads-flooded-closed-as-heavy-storms-move-through-694893/#ixzz2Yktumgsi

West Penn Power Parent To Close 2 Coal-Fired Plants In Western Pennsylvania

FirstEnergy Corp., the Ohio-based parent of West Penn Power, said it will shut down two coal-fired plants in Western Pennsylvania in the next three months.

The two facilities — Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Masontown and Mitchell Power Station in Courtney — represent more than 2 gigawatts of generating capacity, about 10 percent of the company’s total.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/west-penn-power-parent-to-close-2-coal-fired-plants-in-western-pennsylvania-694789/#ixzz2YZHM0Q6W

Pittsburgh-Area Hotels Find Niche In Oil, Gas Workers

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)

To endear a hotel to the oil and gas crowd, give them a place to eat and sleep at all hours of the day, a place to wash their boots, a warm place to smoke in the winter and a cold beer once in a while.

So goes the formula developed by Tejas Gosai, president of the Washington, Pa.-based business Shale Hotel Inc.  The company is managing two hotels geared toward oil and gas workers, building two others and preparing to turn the Monroeville Holiday Inn into an industry destination for workers summoned here by the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas deposit underlying much of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gosai represents a group of four doctors, among them his father, who bought the 187-room Monroeville hotel in June.  His goal is to replicate there what he has helped to do in Bentleyville — attract at least half of the guests from oil and gas fields.

The Gosais have been in the hotel business for a dozen years.  Kam Gosai, a practicing physician in Washington County, co-owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western Garden Inn in Bentleyville.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pittsburgh-area-hotels-find-niche-in-oil-gas-workers-694646/#ixzz2YT5pEbAE

A 16th-Century Method May Revolutionize Mine Drainage Treatment

A technology dating to the 16th century and built with PVC piping available at any Home Depot or Lowe’s soon will be used to enhance and possibly revolutionize the treatment of abandoned mine drainage, still Pennsylvania’s biggest water quality problem.

The technology, called “trompe,” an old French word meaning trumpet, is a water-powered air compressor with no moving parts.  It has been adapted and developed by Bruce Leavitt, a mining hydrologist and professor of mining engineering at West Virginia University, to provide enhanced aeration of polluted mine water, which speeds the cleanup process.

Use of trompe technology is especially applicable to the hundreds of mine discharges flowing out of the Pittsburgh coal seam in Western Pennsylvania, said Mr. Leavitt, during a walking tour of a trompe-enhanced passive treatment system on the North Fork of Montour Run in Findlay, 2 miles south of the Pittsburgh International Airport.

“Trompe can reduce the size and cost of passive treatment systems for mine drainage,” he said, “And it can take a treatment system that’s not working, or not working well, and clean the water better.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/16th-century-method-may-ease-mine-drainage-692917/#ixzz2X9Sy6uym

Some At Altoona Regional Health System Urging Caution In UPMC’s Acquisition

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Blair County

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

UPMC‘s months-in-the-making acquisition of the Altoona Regional Health System may soon be finalized, but the deal is not sitting well with some employees and community residents.

Last week, a petition with some 2,000 signatures was delivered to Altoona Health officials, urging them “to slow down and stop exclusive talks with UPMC in order to re-examine the best future course for our hospital.”

The next day, Altoona president and CEO Jerry Murray sent a letter to the health system’s 6,000 employees that said the UPMC affiliation was on track for a July 1 completion announcement, pending final approval from the board and the state attorney general’s office.

“There are some very well-meaning people in the community who have concerns, and we appreciate the concerns that they have.  Unfortunately, there are also some with self-serving motives,” said Dave Cuzzolina, Altoona Health’s director of marketing and communications.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/some-at-altoona-regional-health-system-urging-caution-in-upmcs-acquisition-692480/#ixzz2WrrppOnu

Chevron Acquires Kmart Property In Moon Township For Possible Regional Headquarters

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

A discount superstore and a large vacant tract of land on a bluff overlooking the Parkway West could become the latest symbols of the region’s growing energy identity.

Global energy giant Chevron has reached agreements to acquire 61 acres of land in Moon, including a Kmart targeted for closing in July, as a potential site for a regional headquarters.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based company made the announcement Wednesday, only days after Sears Holdings Corp. confirmed it would be closing the Kmart. It made no mention at the time that the store was closing to make room for the first major global driller to build a regional campus.

In its statement, Chevron said it expects to close on the acquisitions in the next few months. No terms were disclosed. It said a decision on the use of the properties would be made later this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/chevron-acquires-kmart-property-in-moon-for-possible-regional-headquarters-685784/#ixzz2S9hTaqc3

Saint Vincent Reaches Final Agreement With Highmark

Headquarters of the insurance company in Pitts...

Headquarters of the insurance company in Pittsburgh, , . Address 120 Fifth Ave., Downtown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Those folks at Highmark are gobbling up anything that’s not nailed down!

Erie, PA – The future of Saint Vincent Health System is now in the hands of Erie County Orphans’ Court.

Saint Vincent and Highmark Inc. have reached a definitive agreement for the Erie hospital to join Highmark’s integrated delivery system — the newly named Allegheny Health Network.

Saint Vincent would join Jefferson Regional Medical Center and West Penn Allegheny Health System in the network.  The Pennsylvania Insurance Department announced its approval Monday of Highmark’s takeover of West Penn.

“We look forward to joining the Highmark (network) in the very near future, along with Jefferson Regional Medical Center and West Penn Allegheny Health System, as we work to preserve health-care choice and ensure access to the highest level of quality care for residents throughout all of western Pennsylvania,” Saint Vincent Chief Executive Scott Whalen said in a statement.

Read more:

http://goerie.com/article/20130430/NEWS02/304309961/Saint-Vincent-reaches-final-agreement-with-Highmark

Pennsylvania Approves Highmark-West Penn Allegheny Health System Merger

Headquarters of the insurance company in Pitts...

Headquarters of the insurance company in Pittsburgh, , . Address 120 Fifth Ave., Downtown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department today gave conditional approval for insurer Highmark Inc. to affiliate with the financially ailing West Penn Allegheny Health System, laying the foundation for Highmark’s plans to establish an integrated health care delivery system to compete with UPMC.

Insurance commissioner Michael Consedine, in a release announcing the decision, said, “Our goal from the outset was to have a comprehensive, transparent review in order to make a fully informed and well-founded determination.  We have met that goal.”

In statement, Gov. Tom Corbett said “the goals for the commonwealth are to improve health care access, quality and affordability.  Today’s decision is an important step toward making these goals a reality in Western Pennsylvania.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/state-approves-highmark-west-penn-allegheny-health-system-merger-685517/#ixzz2RreWfl90

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

Thousands Still Without Power In Altoona And Surrounding Area

English: Undetailed map of Altoona, Pennsylvan...

English: Undetailed map of Altoona, Pennsylvania and some surrounding areas From my talk page: :I drew the map of Altoona in xpaint from a map on the Internet and a Rand-McNally atlas. It’s in the public domain. — Djinn112 04:40, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC) –$ 02:38, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC) Category:Altoona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four buildings partially collapsed Monday night in Altoona, according to city police.

Emergency crews kept busy tonight with flooded basements, damaged structures and downed trees and power lines as now-post-tropical Sandy continues its march into the mid-Atlantic states.

The humongous storm also brought a wintry mix as far north as Johnstown.

Around 9:45 p.m. Monday, police said they would likely close Fifth and Sixth avenues near Union Avenue in Altoona for the entire night after winds blew a huge chunk of a brick building onto the roadway.

High winds whipped against nearby pedestrians as emergency vehicles blocked the roads.

Read more: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/565627/-Updated-11-45-p-m—Thousands-still-without-power.html?nav=742

Rural Food Banks Struggle To Meet Need

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Greene County

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

Like the people they help, food pantries throughout southwestern Pennsylvania are struggling — and in some cases, failing — to make ends meet as skimpy federal food supplies, a tighter state budget, higher food prices and more needy clients strain resources.

Food banks around the region are reducing the number of fruits and vegetables they distribute, trimming or even eliminating expensive protein sources such as eggs and peanut butter from the boxes given to their clients, and in some cases, must consider scaling back their operations.

In Greene County, for instance, board members of the Waynesburg-based food bank, The Corner Cupboard, were spared Monday from slashing their food box distribution from monthly to bimonthly only after a last-minute $10,000 donation from natural gas drilling company EQT, according to board member John Jenkins.

“I don’t want to tell people we don’t have food for them, my God, but there’s just nothing we can do right now,” Mr. Jenkins said. “We’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul to try to stay afloat as it is.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/rural-food-banks-struggle-to-meet-need-653436/#ixzz26bApTVGG

Tornado Hits In Western Pa.; No Injuries Reported

CARNOT-MOON, Pa.  (AP) — A tornado touched down outside Pittsburgh on Friday evening, severely damaging nea

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

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

rly a dozen homes and businesses, as heavy weather also caused the collapse of a university sports dome. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the storms, which swept across the state.

The tornado touched down around 5 p.m. Friday near Ligonier, about 50 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. The storm damaged at least three businesses and eight homes, and crews were still assessing the damage, said Sandy Smythe, a spokeswoman for Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety.

Read more: http://hosted2.ap.org/PASCR/a9680d76eb6b41b1aeef10e7559dc261/Article_2012-06-02-Tornado%20Damage/id-aab800cb27b14f029a5eea5294718b4d

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority Transit Facing 35 Percent Cuts In Service And Major Layoffs

The Port Authority has begun preparing for service cuts that are more than twice the size of the reductions that took effect in March, when thousands of riders were stranded and others jammed into overcrowded buses.

CEO Steve Bland told the authority board last week that planning has begun for a 35 percent reduction in service hours that will come next fall if Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature fail to act on a statewide transportation funding shortfall.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11333/1193283-53.stm#ixzz1f949DohH