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LOCAL NEWS FOR THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2013

LOCAL NEWS FOR THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2013

  THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE AND LUZERNE COUNTY'S ORPHANS' COURT HAVE ALL APPROVED A MERGER OF LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK AND GREATER HAZLETON HEALTH ALLIANCE, WHICH OPERATES THE HAZLETON GENERAL HOSPITAL.  THE MERGER BECOMES EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1 AND MEANS THE 150-BED HOSPITAL WILL CHANGE ITS NAME TO LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL-HAZLETON.


  FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR, THE GRAVES OF NEARLY 3000 VETERANS WILL BE DECORATED ON SATURDAY.  "WE ARE GOING TO LAY THE WREATHS AT CEDAR HILL MEMORIAL PARK ON AIRPORT ROAD IN ALLENTOWN," SAYS CAROL RESH, OF LOWHILL TOWNSHIP.  SHE WILL BE LAYING A WREATH ON HER SON'S GRAVE SATURDAY.  MARK RESH WAS KILLED IN JANUARY 2007 WHEN HIS HELICOPTER WAS SHOT DOWN IN IRAQ.  RESH EXPECTS MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE TO TURN OUT TO REMEMBER FALLEN VETERANS AS PART OF THE WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA DAY.


  MORE PEOPLE ARE SIGNING UP FOR INSURANCE THROUGH THE FEDERAL HEALTH CARE LAW'S NEW MARKETPLACES, WITH NEARLY 12,000 PENNSYLVANIANS SIGNED UP THROUGH THE END OF NOVEMBER.  THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES RELEASED THE FIGURES WEDNESDAY.  THAT'S UP FROM 2,200 A MONTH AGO.  BESIDES PEOPLE WHO PICKED A PLAN, THE DEPARTMENT SAYS 74,000 PENNSYLVANIANS SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS TO COVER 137,000 PEOPLE, SUCH AS THEMSELVES, THEIR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN.  ABOUT 40,000 WERE DEEMED ELIGIBLE TO ENROLL IN A PLAN THAT'S PARTIALLY SUBSIDIZED BY A FEDERAL TAX CREDIT TO MAKE IT LESS EXPENSIVE FOR CONSUMERS.  THE FIGURES REFLECT THE FIRST TWO MONTHS OF SIGNUPS AMID TROUBLES WITH THE FEDERALLY RUN WEBSITE, HEALTHCARE.GOV, WHICH IS A PRIMARY GATEWAY TO THE MARKETPLACE.  INSURERS EXPECT THE RATE OF PEOPLE ENROLLING TO INCREASE IN DECEMBER.


  PROPONENTS OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ARE LAUNCHING A CAMPAIGN TO LEGALIZE IT IN PENNSYLVANIA, THE LAST HOLDOUT AMONG THE NORTHEAST STATES.  NEWS CONFERENCES TRUMPETING THE "WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS" CAMPAIGN, SPONSORED BY THE NATIONAL ADVOCACY GROUP FREEDOM TO MARRY AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF PENNSYLVANIA, TOOK PLACE WEDNESDAY IN PITTSBURGH AND PHILADELPHIA.  EVAN WOLFSON, WHO GREW UP IN PENNSYLVANIA AND IS THE PRESIDENT OF FREEDOM TO MARRY, SAID THE CAMPAIGN'S GOAL IS TO ENCOURAGE "NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR" CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WHY MARRIAGE IS IMPORTANT TO SAME-SEX COUPLES AND THEIR FAMILIES.  THERE ARE AT LEAST SIX FEDERAL AND STATE LEGAL CHALLENGES TO THE 1996 STATE LAW THAT EFFECTIVELY BANS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND RECOGNITION OF SUCH MARRIAGES FROM OTHER STATES.


  TOM WOLF HAS BECOME THE FIRST DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE IN PENNSYLVANIA TO REVEAL HIS 2013 FUNDRAISING TOTAL.  THE WEALTHY YORK BUSINESSMAN SAID WEDNESDAY HE HAS RECEIVED CONTRIBUTIONS TOTALING NEARLY $2.9 MILLION WITH NEARLY THREE WEEKS LEFT IN THE YEAR.  THAT'S IN ADDITION TO THE $10 MILLION OF HIS OWN MONEY WOLF HAS SAID HE WILL CONTRIBUTE TO HIS PRIMARY CAMPAIGN.  WOLF SAYS HIS FUNDRAISING SHOWS PENNSYLVANIANS ARE RESPONDING TO HIS MESSAGE THAT HE WOULD BRING FRESH IDEAS TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.  THERE ARE SEVEN OTHER DECLARED CANDIDATES.  CAMPAIGN SPOKESMEN FOR U.S. REP. ALLYSON SCHWARTZ AND FORMER ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SECRETARY KATIE MCGINTY REFUSED TO REVEAL THEIR FUNDRAISING NUMBERS.  THE STATE ALLOWS CANDIDATES UNTIL JANUARY 31 TO FILE DETAILED REPORTS OF THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES FOR 2013.


  THEY CAN'T SAY THEY WEREN'T WARNED.  A WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA COUNTY HAS BEGUN FINING NO-SHOW JURORS $100 EACH, AFTER MONTHS OF WARNING CITIZENS THAT TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE IGNORING JURY SUMMONSES.  CAMBRIA COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATOR WILLIAM VALKO SAYS SIX PEOPLE WERE FINED $100 ON TUESDAY AND 11 OTHERS WERE ORDERED TO RETURN AT A LATER DATE FOR JURY DUTY.  COUNTY JUDGE TIMOTHY CREANY ISSUED A STERN WARNING WHEN 45 OF 215 RESIDENTS WERE AWOL AFTER BEING SUMMONED IN FEBRUARY.  THINGS IMPROVED SOMEWHAT WHEN 28 OF 183 PEOPLE DIDN'T SHOW UP IN APRIL, BUT THE COUNTY'S JUDGES HAVE BEEN MULLING WAYS TO IMPROVE RESPONSES AND, FINALLY, RESORTED TO FINES.  CREANY SAYS "SUMMONSES ARE BEING CLARIFIED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT IT'S NOT AN OPTIONAL THING, THAT THEY MUST APPEAR."


  HERSHEYPARK'S CHRISTMAS CANDYLANE IS CELEBRATING ITS 30 ANNIVERSARY.  PARK SPOKESPERSON KATHY BURROWS SAYS THIS WEEKEND COULD BE THE BUSIEST ONE OF THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON.  "THIS COMING WEEKEND IS GOING TO BE A VERY BUSY ONE FOR US," BURROWS SAYS.  SHE SAYS CHRISTMAS CANDYLANE HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE THE FIRST SEASON, WHEN ONLY THE FRONT OF THE PARK WAS DECORATED AND ONLY A COUPLE RIDES WERE OPEN.  NOW, MORE THAN HALF OF THE PARK IS OPEN, MORE THAN 30 RIDES ARE RUNNING AND MORE THAN TWO MILLION LIGHTS SHINE.


  EAGLES QUARTERBACK NICK FOLES KNOWS FANS ARE ALREADY LETTING THEIR THOUGHTS DRIFT TO A DIVISION TITLE AND PLAYOFF FOOTBALL NEXT MONTH.  HE SAYS THE EAGLES PLAYERS ARE NOT THOUGH.  "WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE, MINOR DETAILS.  WE CAN'T GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES AND JUMPING AHEAD CAN ONLY HURT US," FOLES SAYS.  THE FIRST PLACE EAGLES ARE ON THE ROAD THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON AGAINST THE 3-9-AND-1 MINNESOTA VIKINGS.  KICKOFF IS AT 1 O'CLOCK.

 

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