First round of shale hearings wraps up, and apple strike ends
Shale round 1
Monday's EPA hearing about drilling the Marcellus shale dominated the headlines in the Southern Tier and beyond today. In the Post-Standard, the Associated Press has a summary of the event and the he-said she-said nature of anti and pro drilling commenters.
The Press & Sun-Bulletin also has a look at the day's events, and break downs of the perspectives represented: those in favor of drilling still want their land to be respected, anti-drilling protesters stuck to their “no fracking way” line, and for the most part, everyone behaved themselves.
There's also a notebook with reports about various themes that developed at the meeting.
The Star-Gazette took a look at how local businesses faired during the hearing:
Restaurant manager Lori Snyder said protesters hailing from as far away as Oklahoma and Denmark came by for their morning coffee. By around 11:00 a.m., she estimated, business for the day had doubled.
They've also got details about students who skipped school to attend the forum and Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan's comments to the EPA.
And finally, if you wish you'd been there and want a minute-by-minute replay, you can check out the Innovation Trail's live blog of the events.
Apple strike ends
Workers at Mott's are heading back to work after voting to accept a contract from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which owns the processing plant. The Democrat and Chronicle says it's unclear why workers suddenly voted to accept a contract that they'd once said was unacceptable:
Key terms of the contract included: freezing wages for three years; maintaining the pension plan for existing employees and reducing the 401(k) retirement plan match from 5 percent to 2 percent; eliminating pensions for new employees and giving them a 4 percent 401(k) match; requiring employees to pick up 20 percent of health insurance premium costs and half of any premium increases above 10 percent.
The Buffalo News has an in-depth piece about the work logs that state workers are supposed to keep in order to qualify for pensions. Sometimes they're terribly detailed – most of the time, they're not.
Officials insist they were not being fraudulent. When the questionable log entries were brought to their attention, some said they were unfamiliar with the requirements, which were strengthened last year, and may have made mistakes on them.
In Elmira, city officials say they're going to be stuck with impossible pension expenses and no way to pay for them if the state passes a property tax cap.
And finally, also in Buffalo, auto parts maker Delphi is being investigated for potentially getting special pension benefits for its workers as part of the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Good news for gamers
Grab that controller kiddos: a new study from the University of Rochester shows that video games sharpen the mind. According to the Democrat and Chronicle:
Fast-paced action videos can develop a heightened sensitivity to the world around you. The result can be a person better trained to perform such activities as multitasking, driving a car or — for that matter — finding a friend in a crowd.
State and federal funding
The Post-Standard has more details about the state-funded research park being built at a former GE site in Salina.
A hotel in Erie County is getting more than $200,000 in tax breaks for a new HVAC system, according to the Buffalo News.
State pork barrel spending gets cut off on Wednesday. “Member items,” as they're called, are pet projects dictated by individual members of the legislature. Gannett's Albany bureau says there was a “scramble” to get requests in under the deadline.
And Binghamton is updating its 25 year transportation plan. It's adding a sustainability component. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that the comment period on the plan is open until September 27.
Farmers under pressure
The Post-Standard reports that farmers are struggling with new paperwork requirements for migrant workers. From the paper:
Jack Torrice, of Oswego, said he “lost a lot of cherries” (he figures about a ton of cherries at a retail cost of $5,000) this year because of what he says is nitpicking on his H-2A application. His application was rejected and he had to “redo things that are miniscule.” So one of his four workers didn’t get to Oswego in time to pick cherries.
Banks are ok
In Buffalo, area banks say they're not going to be affected by new capital guidelines. M&T says it has the cash to cover its lending.
There are more details on PAETEC's acquisition of Cavalier Telephone from the Democrat and Chronicle. The deal adds 17,000 miles of fiber optic cable to PAETEC's stable.
The paper also has a profile of the rising popularity of Kodak's video cameras.