History in the making
The Strip District's historic (in a long-lived sense) produce terminal could be historic in a more official sense, thanks to a preliminary vote by the city's Historic Review Commission to nominate the terminal as a city historic structure. If that nomination is approved, it will deal a blow to the plans of the Buncher Co., which wants to demolish 535 feet of the five-block-long Smallman Street terminal as part of a $400 million residential and office development along the Allegheny River, says the PG's Mark Belko.
Up in smoke, Part I
FirstEnergy Corp.'s announcement that it would shut down two southwestern Pennsylvania power plants -- one in Washington County, and one in Greene -- within three months was less about the glut of cheap natural gas, or strict emissions restrictions, and more about electricity demand -- or, rather, the lack of it. "FirstEnergy's demand has been stagnant since 2007," according to George Farah, vice president of fossil engineering and construction. "The economy in this region didn't seem to be recovering." About 380 people will lose their jobs.
Up in smoke, Part II
UPMC's 63,000 employees, plus thousands more volunteers, med students and contractors, won't be able to smoke during their shifts as of July 1, 2014, as UPMC installs a new, strengthened no-smoking policy -- not on their breaks, nor during off-campus lunches. The health system says the policy will boost employee health, and improve the health care experience for patients by eliminating third-hand smoke and employees who "smell of smoke during [their] shift."
Critics say the policy is a step too far.
Quote of the week
"If you arrive at work smelling of smoke, you will be expected to eliminate any odor of smoke, which may include changing clothes, refreshing yourself or possibly returning home."
-- Part of the Q&A that UPMC distributed to employees, explaining that those who smoked before their shift, or carpooled with smokers, would be subject to the policy, as well.
Flood damage fluctuates from year to year, but on average major flooding events cause $8.22 billion in damages every year in the U.S. Yet most people don't have flood insurance -- and many people, like those in Pittsburgh swamped by last week's rains, learn the hard way that standard homeowner's policies do not pay for flood damages. To learn more about flood protection policies, call an insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
In case you missed it ...
... visit www.post-gazette.com/business to read about which retailers are already advertising back-to-school sales. They may be aided by an improving economy, reports the PG's Teresa F. Lindeman -- fewer customers will be clipping coupons and fewer families "expect the state of the economy to impact their back-to-school spending." On the other hand, a survey found 25.7 percent of families will be trying to reuse book bags, clothes or other goods from the last school year, up from 23.5 percent a year ago.
Bill Toland: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2625.