Two companies have notified state officials that they intend to close their central Pennsylvania plants, laying off a total of 280 workers in early September.

Lancaster-based Lancaster Preferred Partners said in a filing with the Department of Labor and Industry that it will close its plant and begin terminating 211 employees on Sept. 7.

Reading Truck Body LLC said in its filing that it plans to close its Denver plant the following day, affecting 69 workers.

The two notices came under a federal law requiring employers to give at least 60 days notice of a business closing or mass layoff.

The (Lancaster) Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era says Lancaster Preferred Partners assembles axles and chassis for heavy trucks..

Reading Truck Body makes bodies and equipment for utility trucks and vans.


Reactor shut down at suburban Philly nuclear plant

POTTSTOWN — Government officials say one of two reactors at a nuclear power plant in suburban Philadelphia has been shut down after an electrical malfunction.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says a transformer problem in a turbine building led to the manual shutdown of the Limerick's Unit 1 reactor at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday.

The agency says Exelon soon announced an "unusual event," the lowest of four emergency classifications.

The commission says it is monitoring the situation, and is unaware of any complications. It's not immediately clear when the reactor will be back in operation.

The plant is about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia.


Southwest adding Palm Beach flights in Pittsburgh

IMPERIAL — Southwest Airlines says it will add daily, nonstop flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida in February.

Allegheny County Airport Authority officials announced the new daily flights on Wednesday, because Southwest Airlines is now booking the flights even though they don't begin until Feb. 14.

The Pittsburgh airport hasn't offered nonstop service to Palm Beach since 2007.

The daily flights will depart Pittsburgh at 6:55 a.m. and arrive in Palm Beach at 9:30 a.m. The return flights will leave Palm Beach at 12:30 p.m. and arrive at the Pittsburgh airport at 3 p.m., except on Saturdays, when the return flight will arrive at 2 p.m.


Hospitals nix merge after abortion controversy

PHILADELPHIA — Two suburban Philadelphia health systems have called off a proposed partnership after a controversy over providing abortions.

Abington and Holy Redeemer released a joint statement Wednesday saying they would no longer pursue their effort to create a regional health system.

The institutions unleashed a storm of criticism last month after announcing the plan would mean ending abortion services at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Holy Redeemer has Roman Catholic roots and does not offer the procedure.

Doctors at Abington blasted the proposal, saying they were never consulted. Some threatened to leave the hospital. Community members also questioned how other medical services might be affected by the new religious alliance.

The companies had proposed the partnership in an effort to become more cost-efficient and competitive.


Deaths of 2 in Philly probed as murder-suicide

PHILADELPHIA — Police in Philadelphia say the shooting deaths of a man and woman are being investigated as a murder-suicide.

Officers were sent to the man's south Philadelphia apartment after he did not report to work Wednesday.

Police said there was no answer at the door and a maintenance person let officers inside.

The 24-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound to the temple and an unidentified woman in her 20s was found also shot in the head.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.


Philly council staffer charged with theft

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia City Council staff member has been charged with stealing from an elderly woman in her care.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that charges against 51-year-old Nancy Gonzalez, secretary for the council, include theft, records tampering and recklessly endangering another person.

The Philadelphia Daily News says Gonzalez is accused of having taken nearly $25,000 worth of Social Security checks while allegedly allowing the woman to live in squalor.

Gonzalez denied any wrongdoing in May, telling the newspaper that the woman was living "the way she liked to live."

A spokeswoman for council president Darrell Clarke said Gonzalez works as a secretary for the entire council and had no access to city finances. He said he is seeking more information before deciding on her employment status.


First lady in Philly to discuss healthy eating

PHILADELPHIA — First lady Michelle Obama is urging cities, towns and counties nationwide to join the fight to improve children's health.

She made an appearance Wednesday in Philadelphia, where the U.S. Conference of Mayors is having its annual leadership meeting.

The first lady is urging more communities to join in her two-year-old "Let's Move!" effort to combat obesity and improve healthy eating and fitness, especially for young people.

There's a new website where elected officials can sign a pledge to get involved. In exchange they get tips on how to raise funds for their own programs and how to enhance the ones they already have.

Appearing with the first lady were about a dozen mayors of other cities that have established programs to encourage healthy eating and exercise.


ACLU: 1 million Pa. voters lack valid photo ID

HARRISBURG — Lawyers in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's tough new voter identification law says at least 1 million Pennsylvania voters lack the photo ID they'll need for their votes to count in the Nov. 6 election.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania made the claim Thursday after filing its brief in preparation for a courtroom showdown set to begin next week.

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration originally estimated 1 percent of the state's 8.3 million voters lacked a state-issued ID that would satisfy the law, but later suggested the proportion could be as much 9 percent. The ACLU figure is based partly on its own statewide poll and puts the number around 12 percent.

The ACLU and its partners are seeking a court order to block enforcement of the law.


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