News from the Associated Press - January 2, 2014

Associated Press
January 2, 2014

NY braces for snow, wind; possible road closings

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - As a pair of winter storms head for New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging downstate commuters to leave their cars home in case major highways are closed for Thursday's evening rush hours.

In a conference call Wednesday, Cuomo told reporters a storm system approaching from the west could drop a foot of snow on upstate New York - while a coastal storm may bring heavy snow to New York City and blizzard conditions to Long Island.

Cuomo said "mass transportation is a prudent option, given that highways may be closed."

As the snow tapers off early Friday, Cuomo said brutal cold may complicate cleanup efforts. The National Weather Service says wind-chill temperatures may dip to 30 degrees below zero in northern New York.


Storm could dump up to 9 inches on parts of Pa.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pennsylvania is bracing for a significant storm that could dump up to 10 inches of snow in the Pocono Mountains and several inches elsewhere, followed by a blast of dangerously frigid air that will see wind chills plunging to below zero.

The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm warning for northeastern Pennsylvania, where it says snowfall will be heaviest Thursday afternoon and evening before tapering off Friday morning. Forecasters say strong northerly winds will cause blowing and drifting and force temperatures into the single digits.

The weather service boosted its predicted snowfall amounts Wednesday, and now says 4 to 6 inches will fall in the Philadelphia area and 6 to 8 will fall farther north. Western and central Pennsylvania could see anywhere from 2 to 7 inches.


Cuomo pardons three men, clearing their records

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pardoned three men he says deserve a second chance without criminal records.

Seymour Hunter of Manhattan, convicted in 1994 of attempted drug sale, finished rehab and probation and for 12 years has worked at a nonprofit housing elderly, low-income professionals and people fighting HIV. A permanent U.S. resident, the 70-year-old seeks citizenship.

Gerardo Alvarez of Lake Peekskill, convicted in 2002 of drug possession, also seeks citizenship. The 49-year-old, married to a U.S. citizen since 1986, has two children in college, held the same job for 25 years and is active in his church.

Rocco Paciello, of Clinton, was convicted in 1988 of statutory rape for sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. They later married, raising two children. He retired from the military in 2007.


Pa. gas taxes rise, but lower 2014 prices are seen

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Taxes on gasoline and diesel in Pennsylvania are now higher, the first of three increases that a new law imposes over three years.

Effective on Wednesday, gasoline taxes are going up by 9.5 cents per gallon while diesel taxes are going up by almost 13 cents per gallon.

Under the law, another increase will take place in a year and then again two years after that, in 2017. The tax revenue is supposed to stem a rising backlog of needed repairs or modernization for bridges, highways and mass transit facilities.

While many fuel distributors and gas station owners say they'll pass along the higher cost, gas prices might be headed downward in 2014, anyway.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration is expecting a slight drop in average prices in 2014.


NE Pa. county lays off 22 to close budget deficit

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania county has laid off 22 workers to help close a $1.4 million budget deficit.

Luzerne County went through with the layoffs on Tuesday. The employees worked in court-related offices and several other departments throughout the county. They are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Officials had originally planned to furlough as many as 36 employees, but recent retirements allowed them to reduce the number.

The county employs about 1,400.

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