Allentown to See Substantial Economic Change in 2015

Allentown is on the top 20 list of towns to see a jump in job growth in early 2015 – a huge boost for the city where 27.8 percent of residents live under the poverty line and 4.8 percent are unemployed.

Allentown shares the number 11 spot with Dallas, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Knoxville, Tennessee; San Antonio, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas. The towns are expected to see a 17 percent increase in employment during the first quarter of 2015, according to a comprehensive list by Manpower Group.

“Staffing plans are much stronger than quarter 4 when the net employment outlook was [7 percent],” said Manpower spokesman Michael Pinkasavage.

The increase in employment comes after a welcomed, steady decrease of unemployment in Pennsylvania.

Allentown’s mayor credits the city’s investment in the downtown with the rise in job growth.

“We have invested over a billion dollars worth of new development and millions in office space. We have close to a thousand new jobs that have been created here,” Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said.  “So far this has been a dramatic change for the positive over the course of the last several years and we hope to see more to come.”

The survey included interviews more than 65,000 employers worldwide to gauge growth in 2015.

Employment in the Northeast has been more stagnant than other regions in the United States, according to data collected by the Manpower Group

While most industries report an increase in employment outlook, the Northeast reports the lowest percent of employers looking to increase staff and the highest percent of employers planning to decrease payroll in the first quarter.

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Annual Tree Recycling Program is Here to Make Clean-Up Easy

It’s official: the holiday season is over. Thankfully, the Philadelphia Streets Department is offering a Christmas tree recycling program to assist with decoration clean-up.

Philly residents are encouraged to drop their trees off at any one of Philadelphia’s 23 pick-up locations between Jan. 10 or Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The National Christmas Tree Association offers a variety of ideas for tree recycling at home, although they may be best suited for the experienced gardener.

“A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden,” according to the National Christmas Tree Association. “If you have a neighbor with a chipper, see if he will chip it for you.”

Additionally the leftover trees make good goat snacks. So, if you happen to have a few goats, recycling the trees into tasty treats may be a viable option.

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2 Masked Gunmen Hold Up 8 Convenience Stores in 4 Weeks: Police

Police suspect that two men are behind eight armed robberies that occured at various convenience stores throughout North Philadelphia in a one month span.

The masked gunmen entered New Life Food Market, located at 2101 York St., on Nov. 15 and demanded money and cigarettes from the store clerk before fleeing the scene, authorities said.

Four days later, the suspects hit another store, North 19th Grocery at 1821 N. 19th St., and took off with a .40 caliber handgun, along with cash and cigarettes, police said.

The pair allegedly repeated the crime at least six other times, hitting Jaer Grocery at 1262 N. 29th St. on Nov. 18; Perelta Grocery at 2938 Oxford St. on Nov. 26; Rodriquez Grocery Store at 1350 N. 29th St. on Dec. 9; Karen Mini Market at 1400 N. 30th St. on Dec. 12; Torres Grocery at 1900 Ringgold St. on Dec. 17; and B & R Grocery at 2601 N. 23rd St. on Dec. 18, officials said.

A dark-colored late model Ford Taurus was spotted circling B & R Grocery prior to the Dec. 18 robbery, investigators said.

Surveillance video shows the suspects covering their faces, but they are both described as roughly 20 years old wearing black hoodies.

One suspect is estimated to be approximately 5-feet 9-inches to 5-feet 11-inches tall with a thin build, and wearing black and oragnge track pants with reflective trim, a black Nike hooded sweatshirt and sneakers.  Investigators describe the second man as 5-feet 11-inches to 6-feet 1-inch tall with a stocky build, wearing a black Nike zip-up hooded sweatshirt, capri-length jeans and sneakers.

Police urge the public to avoid confronting the suspects. If anyone has information on the men’s identities or the robberies, they can contact police at 215-686-8477.

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Boys Banned From Allentown School Field Hockey Teams

No boys allowed. A school board in Lehigh County confirmed a committee’s decision to ban boys from its field hockey team after concerns they caused injuries to girl players.

The Allentown School Board ruled 8-1 that boys would be prohibited from playing on school-sponsored teams that are usually all-female in the United States.  The vote upheld a decision made by a school committee in the Pennsylvania county Sept. 4.

“We had an injury where there was an incidental collision between a boy and a girl,” Russell Mayo, Allentown School Board president, told NBC10 earlier this month. “Upon legal counsel, we decided that we would err on the side of safety.”

The PIAA – the state’s governing body of high school sports — decided earlier this summer that boys who do play on girls’ teams are not allowed to participate in post-season games.

But not everyone in the Allentown School District, which includes William Allen High School and Louis E. Dieruff High School, is in agreement with the decision.

“The girls were disappointed because [the boys] were a great part of the team,” Inez Seyler, Dieruff’s field hockey coach, told “I’m disappointed because they don’t really have a sport that is comparable to field hockey for boys.”

“It’s going to be heartbreaking to them,” added Karen Nilson, William Allen’s coach.

Mixed gender teams are allowed under the PIAA’s rules, but only under special circumstances that protect girls on the team from injury or disqualification for size differences from potential male teammates.

Other standards for Pennsylvania schools, under the Pennsylvania Department of Education, support the right to a “physical environment for safety.” This includes physical standards along with social, emotional and intellectual. These policies are intended to protect students’ wellness and physical health.

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Six Men Charged in Scheme to Defraud South Philadelphia Woman’s Estate

An intricate plot to steal property from a deceased woman in South Philadelphia fell through — now six men are each facing multiple charges.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force charged six men on Thursday with various offenses, ranging from forgery to theft by deception. The men charged were allegedly trying to steal the estate of Dorothy Kennedy, a recently deceased woman from South Philadelphia.

An attorney, a real estate agent, two funeral home workers and two others face charges.

“The facts in this case are disturbing and extremely sad” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “It’s hard to believe that these people would steal a dead woman’s house and personal property.”

Andrew Kaufman, the lawyer facing charges, used his position to organize the scheme while Vincent Marciano, a real estate agent, put together a “sham sale” of the woman’s home, according to prosecutors.

The Public Corruption Task Force started investigating the scheme in 2013 after receiving an anonymous tip. They uncovered a complex attempt to exploit the woman who had no heirs or will, according to investigators.

The scheme would have taken over the woman’s estate, thus defrauding the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Romanoff Quarles, one of the six men charged, lived around the corner from Kennedy. He decided to acquire her home after her 2010 passing and recruited friends for help, said investigators.

Antoine Turay and Marvin Kimble each face charges of tampering with public records and deceptive or fraudulent business practices for false alleged creation of a funeral bill.

Damion Rivers faces the nine charges for his alleged involvement in trying to take control of Kennedy’s vehicle with the assistance of Quarles.

The deceased woman did not have a will or any surviving heirs. Per Pennsylvania law, her estate should have been directed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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