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Sept. 5 edition of Marcellus Business Central now available!

Read about the Utica Shale Boom, Marcellus Leasing Trends, American Exploration’s move into Clearfield County, and our spotlight on the Northern Tier region of Tioga, Susquehanna and Bradford counties.

American Exploration expands to Clearfield County, expects continued growth

CLEARFIELD, PA — In 1997, American Exploration Company based in Plymouth Meeting, Mongtomery County, purchased about 120 wells and property from Dominion. Those wells were drilled in the late 1950s and early 1960s, according to Tim Matthews, Executive Vice President of the company. In 2010,

Utica Shale: Another Bakken in the making

The Utica Shale play in eastern Ohio is one of the fastest-growing natural gas plays in the nation. Last month, in recognition of this status, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) added the Utica to its monthly drilling productivity report. The total production in the

Northern Tier sees economic growth since Marcellus Shale boom

WELLSBORO, PA – Tioga County and neighboring Bradford and Susquehanna counties have been a large focus for the Marcellus Shale industry for a number of years. As exploration and drilling increased, the region found itself trying to accommodate the number of visitors to the area,

From Backyards to Brownfields: How landscape architects are reshaping the landscapes of Pennsylvania

The term “landscape architecture” might conjure up images of upscale backyards with perfectly manicured shrubbery, colorful flower beds, stone walkways, extended patio decks, fish ponds, pavilions, and perhaps a cabana near the in-ground pool. While some landscape architecture firms focus on residential and commercial projects,

Sept. 5 edition of Marcellus Business Central now available!

Read about the Utica Shale Boom, Marcellus Leasing Trends, American Exploration’s move into Clearfield County, and our spotlight on the Northern Tier region of Tioga, Susquehanna and Bradford counties.MBC Sept 5

American Exploration expands to Clearfield County, expects continued growth

CLEARFIELD, PA — In 1997, American Exploration Company based in Plymouth Meeting, Mongtomery County, purchased about 120 wells and property from Dominion. Those wells were drilled in the late 1950s and early 1960s, according to Tim Matthews, Executive Vice President of the company.

In 2010, American Exploration sold those wells to EQT out of Pittsburgh – but continues to maintain and repair those wells and associated pipelines.

“Currently, we do some explorations of natural gas, but not in the Marcellus,” Matthews explained. “We are primarily an oil and natural gas field company. We have changed our focus from exploration, and we are going to the construction side.”

American Exploration has grown from 12 employees in 2013 to 50 in 2014.

“We employ about 50 people,” Matthews said, adding that some of those employees also include management of a subsidiary company – American Landfill Gas — in Kersey, Elk County. “We run that plant for the current owner.”

And as the price of natural gas continues to steadily increase, Matthews said his company will likewise grow to meet the demand for gas-related construction projects.

American Exploration purchased the former Butler Chevrolet building located on the Clearfield-Curwensville Highway in early 2014 to accommodate current and anticipated growth.

“We bought that shop in Clearfield because we needed to be closer to the main roads,” Matthews said. “As we have expanded pretty substantially in the past year, we bought that shop to service our equipment.”

American Exploration rented out the front of the building – which was the dealership’s showroom front – to locally-owned Catamount Consulting, owned by Sam Scribe and his wife, Angel. Catamount’s business is largely based upon safety training, with specialty in OSHA, MSHA and Safeland USA.

“We rented out the showroom front to Catamount Consulting because we really only needed the back space,” Matthews said. “Catamount did all of our safety training for our people, so it was a natural fit.”

Matthews said he anticipates that his company, along with others in the region, will continue to grow.

“We do pipeline work, but not a lot of gas installation. We’re dependent on the industry for continued exploration, and I think the oil and gas industry absolutely will continue to grow,” Matthews said. “I see a lot more exploration as the price of natural gas continues to go up.”

american exploration builidng

 

 

Utica Shale: Another Bakken in the making

The Utica Shale play in eastern Ohio is one of the fastest-growing natural gas plays in the nation. Last month, in recognition of this status, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) added the Utica to its monthly drilling productivity report.

The total production in the Ohio natural gas region, which includes production from the Utica and Point Pleasant formations plus legacy production from conventional reservoirs, has increased from 155 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) in January 2012 to an estimated 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in September 2014.

The EIA’s drilling productivity report uses recent data on the total number of drilling rigs in operation along with estimates of drilling productivity and estimated changes in production from existing oil and natural gas wells to provide up-to-date oil and natural gas production figures for seven key regions: Bakken (bah′-ken), Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian, and Utica. (see table)

These seven regions accounted for 95 percent of domestic oil production growth and all domestic natural gas production growth during 2011-13.

EIA’s approach does not distinguish between oil-directed rigs and gas-directed rigs because once a well is completed it could produce both oil and gas. More than half of the wells in the shale plays produce both.

In 2012, it was the anticipation of drilling oil shale that led Chesapeake Energy, which has the largest number of drilling permits in Ohio, and other E&P companies to pull some rigs from Pennsylvania and Texas and move them to Ohio and other states where shale formations showed promise of producing more oil and natural gas liquids.

In the past two years, Chesapeake has spent $17 million alone to widen, repair and build new roads to transport equipment and workers to and from its well sites in Ohio.

The Utica shale play, now in its third year, is producing an average 37,000 barrels of oil per day. By comparison, the Marcellus shale play, which is in its seventh year and covers a much larger area, with many more active wells (6,391 vs. 553 for the Utica), is producing 50,000 barrels per day.

For new oil production (the first 30 days a well comes online), the Utica surpasses the Marcellus, Haynesville and Permian shale plays.

The Utica is now producing almost as much natural gas as the Bakken Shale. The Utica has an estimated 38 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey; however, the Bakken has significantly more estimated recoverable oil (4.3 billion barrels vs. 940 million barrels for the Utica).

The Bakken formation is rock from the late Devonian to Early Mississippian age, which occupies approximately 200,000 square miles under parts of Montana and North Dakota in the U.S., and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada. It’s named after Henry Bakken, a farmer in Tioga, North Dakota, who owned the land where the formation was first discovered while the farm was being drilled for conventional oil.

The Utica formation took its name from the city of Utica, N.Y., where it outcrops at the earth’s surface. The Utica was deposited in a deep ocean basin about 450 million years ago during a period geologists call the Ordovician.

Ohio was one of the first states where the oil and gas industry originated. Standard Oil, the famous oil company of John D. Rockefeller, was established in Ohio in 1870. Over the past few decades, Ohio’s once-active oil production has been steadily declining, but now eastern Ohio, home to Point Pleasant, the liquids-rich “sweet spot” of the Utica shale play, is changing that.

As with the Bakken, it was long known that oil existed in the Utica shale, and hydrofracturing was already pulling up oil from the wet gas in southwestern Pa. and other shale plays, but it wasn’t until oil prices jumped to more than $100 per barrel in early 2012 that oil exploration in the Utica became economically feasible.

Conventional crude oil is relatively cheap to produce and refine, and it produces most of our transportation fuels.

However, drilling the oil shale in Ohio turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. Some the oil located in oil shale region of western Ohio was too shallow to provide enough pressure to come up through hydrofracturing. The deeper oil found in the Utica proved more difficult to permeate the shale rock than natural gas.

“We haven’t really unlocked the code yet as to how to get the oil out of the shale, it’s harder to get oil molecules to move through rock than gas molecules,” said Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA).

OOGA is a trade association with more than 3,300 members involved in the exploration, production and development of crude oil and natural gas resources in Ohio.

“We have to figure out what kind of technologies we need to put in place — the frack fluid, the pressures, how long to drill the laterals– there’s a lot of things that need to come together in order to extract the oil from the shale,” said Chadsey

“We have a good understanding of the dry gas and the wet gas, we just have to figure out the oily gas, so it’s coming — our companies are working on it, and we’ll eventually get there.”

It’s the oil that’s mixed with the “wet gas” that’s now being extracted in the Utica.

E&P companies have drilled for natural gas in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with 198 wells being drilled in the Utica/Point Pleasant formations. Carroll County has the most active wells in Ohio, with 87 wells drilled.

In Pennsylvania, Bradford County has the most active wells, with 1,142 — more than twice as many as all the gas wells in Ohio. However, as in other shale gas producing counties in the Northern Tier, the Marcellus wells produce only methane, the “dry” component of natural gas, which is less valuable than “wet gas.”

“Our dry gas extends over the Pennsylvania border, and as you move west, you get into the wet gas window and then farther west, you move into the oil shale window, though the oil shale has had limited if any exploration thus far, but that will change in time, particularly as oil prices rise,” said Chadsey. (see map)

The good news for drillers is that nearly all the shale in the Point Pleasant “sweet spot” in the east-central Ohio counties of Belmont, Harrison, Gernsey, Monroe, Jefferson, Carroll and Washington contains “wet gas,” methane mixed with natural gas liquids (NGLs), which adds value to the gas.

The NGLs can be broken down into individual components through processing, and those components such as butane, isobutene, propane, natural gasoline, and ethane have uses in various products and industries. Butane is used in cigarette lighters, propane for heating, and ethane can be “cracked” into ethylene, which is the chief feedstock for the plastics and polymers industries.

According to OOGA, the oil and gas industry has spent nearly $12 billion in Ohio in the last two years, developing processing plants and pipelines to process Utica wet gas and transport it to markets in Canada and the Gulf Coast.

The bad news for the drillers is that due to the low price of methane or “dry gas,” many companies have decided to focus on wet gas in Ohio, southwestern Pa. and elsewhere that the price of NGLs is also dropping.

The Wall Street Journal recently characterized the ethane market as “collapsing,” and said that energy analysts expect NGLs to sell at low prices for years to come.

“The bottom line on the ethane market is that the region that includes the Ohio Valley, eastern Ohio, western Pa. and northern West Virginia needs a cracker facility, which will assist our producers in getting the product to market, and that facility will also attract plastics and polymer manufactures to the region, which means new jobs,” said Chadsey.

“Two companies, Shell and Oderbrecht, have already announced plans to build cracker plants in the Appalachian basin, Shell in Pennsylvania near the Ohio border, and Oderbrecht in northern West Virginia.

“Time will tell if they intend to follow through with their plans, but as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, there should be plenty of wet gas production to justify building a cracker plant or two.”

Northern Tier sees economic growth since Marcellus Shale boom

WELLSBORO, PA – Tioga County and neighboring Bradford and Susquehanna counties have been a large focus for the Marcellus Shale industry for a number of years.

As exploration and drilling increased, the region found itself trying to accommodate the number of visitors to the area, along with the demand for services.

Julie VanNess, Executive Director of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, described business growth and expansion as “steady.”

“Some businesses have seen substantial growth, while others are seeing slower increases,” VanNess said. “Businesses directly impacted by the gas industry, such as Tioga Central Railroad and Wellsboro Johnston Airport, have seen and continue to see growth and expansion.”

In addition to an abundance of Shale gas available beneath the ground in the Northern Tier, VanNess said Tioga County offers new business and industry many advantages, including newly constructed interstate highways, a regional airport, an active railroad and most importantly, a viable workforce.

She explained that the

“The Marcellus industry impact on Tioga County varies,” VanNess said. “The industry boom a few years ago had a significant impact on the county but has since slowed down. The local hospital, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, added a new emergency room to meet the growing needs of the area.”

The Macellus drilling boom has brought a few new hotels and restaurants to Tioga County in the last few years, bringing additional jobs to the area.

“Many of the existing businesses took advantage of the boom by adjusting to the needs of the industry,” VanNess said. But she added that while some new Marcellus businesses seemed to show up overnight, many also moved with the industry when the price of natural gas bottomed out a few years ago and drilling seemed to wane.

But VanNess said the Northern Tier should not be referenced only as a Marcellus-driven and dependent area.

“Tourisms is  significant to many of our businesses, most of which are privately owned, who count on the tourist industry,” VanNess said. “The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and the many events hosted by the Chamber attract thousands of visitors each year.

“Tioga County boasts a variety of attractions and activities, vibrant and well-maintained communities, as well as owner-operated shops, restaurants, and lodging.”

From Backyards to Brownfields: How landscape architects are reshaping the landscapes of Pennsylvania

Landscape - pool

The term “landscape architecture” might conjure up images of upscale backyards with perfectly manicured shrubbery, colorful flower beds, stone walkways, extended patio decks, fish ponds, pavilions, and perhaps a cabana near the in-ground pool.

While some landscape architecture firms focus on residential and commercial projects, others design parks, bikeways and town squares. Some work on reclamation projects involving brownfields and acid mine drainage sites, while others have found a new niche in serving the Shale gas industry.

What these various landscape architects share in common is the desire to lead the stewardship, planning and design of our built and natural environments.

The Pennsylvania-Delaware chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) was founded in 1959 in Harrisburg to advocate for members studying and practicing landscape architecture in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The chapter is comprised of 581 members from four geographic areas: western, central and eastern Pennslvania and all of Delaware — plus 189 student members from six colleges including Penn State, which offers degrees in landscape architecture at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Adam Supplee, landscape architect and a principal owner in KMS Design Group, LLC in Phoenixville is the president of the PA-DE ASLA chapter.

A relatively recent trend Supplee has noted is the number of landscape architects who are doing work for the Shale gas industry such as sedimentation plans and wetlands surveys.

“This is especially true for landscape architects that work for engineering firms, some of which now specialize in shale work, and that’s helped to keep several of our members’ businesses open during the recession,” Supplee said. “Small landscape architecture firms have also picked up work from the Marcellus shale play, and for them it’s been a real saving grace since it helped them weather the financial storm.”

Some of ASLA’s members specialize in public projects, like parks, town squares, open meeting spaces, and restoration projects.

“That public work is still there, though there aren’t as many government dollars available, so you have more firms bidding on the same jobs, which makes public projects more competitive,” Supplee said. “However, we are starting to see that market rebound in Pennsylvania as more dollars for public projects have become available through the gas industry impact fees.”

Reclamation projects are a main staple of landscape architecture.

“Being a Rust Belt state, we have a lot of industrial sites that are being redeveloped for other uses. Redeveloping brownfields and also redeveloping towns by taking an abandoned old building and making into a modern space are what many of our members do,” said Supplee.

The D.I.R.T. Studio

One of the premier reclamation projects in Pennsylvania was the Vintondale AMD & ART Park in Cambria County, a project that spanned from 1995 to 1998, with construction completed in 2004. The site was an abandoned 40-acre floodplain covered with acid mine drainage alongside the polluted Blacklick Creek.

The brainchild behind the project was T. Allan Comp, historian and director of the non-profit AMD & ART, who put together an interdisciplinary team of artists, designers, scientists, local historians, watershed groups, state and federal agencies, and AmeriCorps volunteers to collaborate on a model redevelopment initiative for post-coal mining regions.

“Allan wanted to finish the work of the generation that inherited this polluted legacy,” said Julie Bargmann, the internationally renowned landscape architect who worked on the project.

Bargmann’s work has been featured in TIME, Newsweek, and she has been a guest on CNN.

In 1992, she founded a landscape design practice named D.I.R.T. Studio (Dump It Right There), based in Charlottesville, Va., which focuses on designing reclamation and revitalization projects in marginalized communities and urban areas.

“We had just formed D.I.R.T. and we were looking for a pilot project, and we found one in Vintondale, which was built in 1892 by the Vinton Colliery Company as a coal mining town, and that provided just the kind of social and cultural context we were looking for,” said Bargmann.

“Geographically, Vintondale has a regional rail-to-trail route alongside it, which made it ideal for both a local park and a regional destination.”

To give the site a distinctive look, Bargmann took the “ooey gooey” basins and redesigned them to form large triangles and trapezoids, which like the large-scale ancient drawings on Easter Island can only be fully recognized by flying overhead.

“Since this was a public project, and a labor of love, everybody worked pro bono, but we still had to do some creative financing to fund the project,” said Bargmann. “We received a generous federal brownfields grant, but we were still short of funds, so we bartered with some of the mine tailings they call ‘boney’ that had been left there, which has fuel value, and we told the contractor that if you grade the site, you can take the boney.

“We also got a lot of town residents to volunteer to help out and AmeriCorps volunteers.”

As a teacher and researcher at the University of Virginia, Bargmann was an idealist, who wasn’t afraid to “slam” developers who were only interested in “putting lipstick on a pig,” and not preserving the social, industrial or cultural history of a reclamation site.

Working on a revitalization project at Ford’s River Rouge plant in Deerborn, Michigan helped open her eyes to the legal and political aspects of doing reclamation.

For generations, autoworkers toiled at the 1,200-acre plant on the River Rouge, where hundreds of cars and trucks continue to roll off a renewed assembly line. William Clay Ford Jr. envisioned the opportunity to transform this industrial icon of the 20th century into a model of sustainable industry for the 21st.

Rather than construct a new plant on a suburban greenfield, the historic Rouge Complex was revitalized by incorporating ambitious ecological systems to make a sustainable site.

“I would get slightly too righteous and scold developers for doing things half-way, without listening to them about the pressure they were under,” said Bargmann.

“For example, when I worked with the Jerry Amber, the head of Ford Motor Land Services, on Ford’s River Rouge plant, he would literally cringe when I came in the door.

“He would say, Julie, the pressure I have from the EPA is intense, they want things done a certain way, which doesn’t mesh with your plan.

“So I became more emphatic with him, and when he explained the jurisdictional and legislative issues that was causing him problems, we actually looked for a way to relieve those pressures.

“We managed to shift the project from federal jurisdiction to state jurisdiction, and the state took a lot of unnecessary red tape away, which allowed us to proceed with our plans.

“It’s the project that I’m most proud of, because the next time I saw Jerry Amber I was on a panel with him at the Wildlife Habitat Council. That’s a bit of a change for an industrialist.”

Landscape II

Landscape architecture was one of the first industries to feel the economic downturn because of construction and housing development slowing down, however, for Landscape II, a full service landscape design and installation firm in Boalsburg, it was as if the Great Recession never happened.

“Our business has been doing better during the past five years than it has in the past 20 years,” said Lara Kauffman, head landscape architect at Landscape II.

Kauffman has worked at Landscape II for 20 years, she served on the State College Borough Design Review Board for seven years, and graduated from Penn State in 1993 with a B.S. in landscape architecture.

“What we’ve seen is that many people chose to invest in their homes and make their outdoor living spaces a special place they can share with their family and friends,” said Kauffman.

“Instead of spending money on expensive vacations to exotic locations, they decided to put that money into their home and take a home vacation by making their backyards a more exotic place.”

Each project starts with a free one-hour site consultation for clients living in the State College area.  After getting an idea of what the client wants to do with his property, a technician will take images of the site, and then using an advanced landscape imaging program, Kauffman or one of the other two landscape architects will show the client a three-dimensional perspective of what the landscaping will look like.

Next comes the preliminary design, which is a scaled drawing that includes the preliminary design features of the new plan. Items included in this may vary; however, typically include all of the “bones” of the garden (i.e. fences, decks, patios, walks, walls, bed lines, and critical plantings).

After the preliminary plan has been approved, Kauffman will draft the master plan. This includes plantings and specifications of the “hardscaping” (i.e. paver and wall choices, fence and trellis details), choices of trees, shrubs, and critical perennials.

A third phase is a detailed plan that includes precise specifications on all detailed areas and the decking design, intricate hardscapes and perennial and cut flower gardens.

After all the details are “set in stone,” the installation begins. The final cost of the project can range considerably depending on the intricacy of the design and the choice of the materials used.

“We don’t dictate what the yard projects should look like or what materials to use, although the topology and soil of some landscapes will determine that to some degree, but rather each project is a collaborative effort between our three landscape architects and the client,” said Kauffman.

“Our emphasis is on using native plants as much as possible and creating a sustainable design, but ultimately, it’s the clients who determine what goes into a project, because it’s their home and we want them to be happy with it.”

Region’s freight projects approved for $8.1 million in state funding

HARRISBURG, PA – Governor Tom Corbett announced on Aug. 15 that 39 rail freight improvement projects that will help sustain nearly 34,000 jobs across Pennsylvania were approved for funding from two PennDOT-managed programs.

The State Transportation Commission (STC) voted to approve nearly  $35.9 million for 13 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and 26 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). RTAP is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds and RFAP is underwritten through the new Multimodal Fund, created by Act 89.

Of the $35.9 million, a little more than $8 million was approved for rail projects in The Pennsylvania Business Central’s 22-county readership area.

“Transportation is a proven economic driver and these investments will help these companies maintain and create more jobs,’’ Gov. Corbett said. “Ensuring that these facilities and assets are ready to meet consumer demands is vital to keeping our state competitive.”

Last November, Corbett signed Act 89, a far-reaching transportation program that clears the way for significant investments in all transportation modes.

Following is a by-county list of the local region’s approved rail freight projects under the programs with the state share:

 

* Cambria, Clearfield, Clinton and Indiana counties: RJ Corman Railroad Group PA Lines — $4.3 million to install cross ties and switch ties, renew several  crossings, install  bridge ties and other track work.

* Westmoreland County: Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation — $1.5 million for the second of three phases for an improvement project, replacing 3.2 miles of rail and associated work.

* Blair County: Hollidaysburg & Roaring Spring Railroad — $295,942 to repair two bridges and improve  public grade crossings.

* Bradford County: Northeast Freight Transfer, Inc. — $697,417 to install 1,800 feet of track, a new switch, two conveyors and a track scale.

* Bradford and Wyoming counties: Lehigh Railway LLC — $353,500 to rehabilitate, raise, line and surface rail sidings at the Wyalusing Terminal.

* Centre County: SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority — $250,000 to complete improvements including track and turnout construction, upgrading rail and installing drainage.

* Lycoming County: Jersey Shore Steel. — $224,000 to construct 800 feet of track providing new rail service at the Montoursville facility.

* Union County: Heller’s Gas Inc. — $250,000 to construct a turnout, 500 feet of track as well as improvements for offloading rail cars.

* Westmoreland County: Lehigh Specialty Melting, Inc. — $229,026 to reconstruct 850 feet of outside track and 200 feet of track inside the forge shop and associated engineering.

Four projects have been approved in the 8-county region of Central Pennsylvania served by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) and its private operator, North Shore Railroad Company. The four are among the rail freight projects receiving funds, according to Steve Kusheloff, public information manager at SEDA-COG.

The $250,000 awarded to the JRA in Centre County will be used for improvements related to Graymont’s expanding lime operations in Pleasant Gap. Plans include track and turnout construction, drainage, and upgraded rail.

Heller’s Gas, based in Berwick, Union County, was also awarded $250,000. The RFAP grant was matched with $107,143 from Heller’s. Construction on the project is expected to begin next spring, with completion in the fall.

Another RFAP project was approved for $224,000 to construct 800 feet of track at Jersey Shore Steel’s Montoursville, Lycoming County facility. Jersey Shore Steel matched the grant with $67,200. Kusheloff said the project will allow raw materials to be transported to the plant by rail.

 

Home health services growing with aging population

In the year 2000, there were 600 million people in the world aged 60 and over. By 2025 that number is expected to jump to 1.2 billion and by 2050, 2 billion. It is now the “Golden Age of Aging”

In the U.S. census of 2010, more Americans 65 years and over were counted than in any previous census. Between 2000 and 2010, the 65+ population grew at a faster rate (15.1 percent) than the total U.S population (9.7 percent). In Pennsylvania, which has the fourth largest 65+ population in the U.S., the over-85 segment is growing ten times faster than the general population.

People are living longer because of new medications, research and medical devices, and with home health care services, patients are able to manage chronic conditions that 20 years ago would have been terminal.

Aging Baby Boomers present a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs and job seekers as the need for home care health services increases.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Industry, the two fastest growing occupations in the U.S. are personal care aides and home health aides. By 2020, the number of personal care aides and home health aids will have grown to more than 1.3 million—a 70 percent increase from 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares with a growth rate of 14 percent for the overall U.S. job market.

Personal care aides work for home care agencies and help clients with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and cooking. They get paid on average of $20 per hour in Pennsylvania.

Home health aides, which includes nurses and therapists – physical, occupational and speech — provide medical care in the patients’ home.

Mark Baiada was one of the first entrepreneurs to identify the need for home care services for the growing elderly population. In 1975, he founded RN Homecare and opened his first office in Philadelphia, and later began offering franchises. Now named BAYADA Home Health Care, the company is headquartered in Moorestown, NJ. BAYADA has more than 18,000 home health care professionals, serving communities in 22 states from more than 280 offices, 70 of which are located in Pennsylvania.

BAYADA specialty practices include home health, adult nursing, assistive care, pediatrics, hospice, and rehabilitation.

“In 1973, I worked for two companies in marketing and research, but my long term goal was to have my own business,” said Baiada.

“So I asked myself, how much money do you have, and the answer was $16,000. I was 25 and I thought I had enough experience in business that I was confident I could do it. But if you have a business, you have to start out with some end in mind. So my first criterion was that I wanted my business to span coast to coast.

“I also wanted it to be a business that helped people, and one with long term growth potential, so I first looked at childcare centers, which were quickly growing during that period, but I didn’t do that because I didn’t have any childhood education training.

“Then I came across home healthcare, which had a low cost of entry, it was a business that helped others, and it had great growth potential since families were moving from extended to nuclear and becoming more geographically dispersed, so who’s going to take care of mom and dad?

“I did a careful analysis to make sure the business met all my criteria, and in my mind’s eye, I could see agencies going from coast to coast.

“I was so surprised because I was in research, and I never hired anybody or fired anybody, and now here I was in the personnel business.”

Baiada was a quick learner; today BAYADA Home Health Care is one of the largest home care agencies in the country. From 2010 to last year, the company’s annual sales have increased 35 percent to $815.6 million and the number of employees has grown 25 percent to 38,627.

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association in Lemoyne has 700 members, from small agencies with 10 patients to large national for-profits such as Bayada Home Health Care.

“Home health aid agencies receive reimbursement from Medicare, but non-medical home care agencies are either private pay or are funded through Medical Assistance,” said Jennifer Haggerty, Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s communications director.

“So what these agencies pay their caregivers depends on their level of reimbursement and their operational costs.”

Pennsylvania has 515 licensed home health agencies, 1,370 licensed non-medical home care agencies, and 202 hospice care agencies.

The consolidation going in the healthcare industry, with hospitals affiliating with large medical centers such as Geisinger or UPMC and physician groups associating with hospitals, is also occurring with home health and home care agencies. The Affordable Care Act encouraged these partnerships.

“One of the provisions of the ACA was forming Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs, which consist of hospitals, doctors, home health agencies, life programs, adult day centers, with everybody working together,” said Haggerty.

“We’re seeing home health agencies partnering with hospitals and physician groups and other community health care providers where the idea is to be patient focused rather than how it used to be where the patient would pay for every test and every surgery.

“Now it’s about focusing on the patients and the care they need, and that’s how payments are being arranged, and that’s how providers are working together to save costs.”

Another franchise home care company is the Advantage group of companies, which together deliver a wide range of health care, nursing, therapy, and social services.

The Advantage companies include AdvantageCare Rehabilitation, Advantage Home Health Services and AdvantageCare Consulting. Each franchise is locally owned and operated, which gives the staff flexibility to customize services to meet the specialized needs of the patients and to immediately respond to their changing needs and circumstances.

Advantage was founded by Amy Hancock in 2006 to serve the ongoing nursing and therapy needs of patients as they left hospitals and long-term care facilities. Advantage has offices in Pittsburgh, Washington and Hollidaysburg. The Hollidaysburg office serves Blair, Bedford, Centre, Huntingdon, Cambria, Somerset, and Indiana counties, and part of Clearfield County.

Hancock was named one of Pennsylvania’s Top 50 Women in Business in April 2009. The same year she was awarded the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Professional Services category for Upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia region.

“Home health probably pays slightly less than if a nurse would work in an institutional setting such as a hospital or nursing home, but for therapists – physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists – home health actually pays more for those professionals,” said Sheena Henry, director of nursing at Advantage Home Health Services’ office in Hollidaysburg, Pa.

“Even though nurses get paid slightly less for home care, they have more flexibility in their schedules. So they might be able to do things such as pick up their child after school or take courses toward an advanced degree during the day or evening whereas nurses in hospitals generally work 10 hour shifts, four days on, three days off.”

Working in a home setting also changes the nurse’s relationship to the patient.

“Working in a home setting is quite different than a hospital or nursing home because you are in the person’s home, and for most patients, that’s where they want to be,” said Henry.

“Often nurses become friends with the patients or family members because they see them so often whereas in a hospital, you might be working one floor one day and another floor the next, and the patients generally don’t stay very long in the hospital.

”So even though the nurse might be performing the same kinds of services she would in a hospital – drawing blood, taking vitals, checking catheters, etc. – home health fosters a different relationship with the patient.”

Despite the shortage of nurses in the state, Advantage has had no problem recruiting new staff members.

“Right now, we are staffed proportionally to the number of patients we serve, but with Pennsylvania’s elderly population rapidly growing, we may need to add staff in the future, and that could make recruiting health professionals more competitive if new entries into the nursing and therapy professions don’t keep up with demand.”

Nominations sought for Women Making a Difference!

WMD_revisedSTATE COLLEGE, PA – Once again, The Pennsylvania and Marcellus Business Central is proud to present the fourth annual “Women Making a Difference” publication scheduled to appear in the Sept. 19 edition.

It was announced earlier this week that nominations are now open for the very popular “Women Making a Difference” that showcases some of the most successful women in the region.

This marks the fourth year that the publication has teamed up with St. Francis University to seek nominations for “Women Making a Difference” so that the stories of some of the most successful women in the 22-county coverage area can be told!

Nominations are being sought from readers, community leaders, Chambers of Commerce, local businesses and community organizations to nominate women who make a difference within their own companies and the community.

Once collected, nominations will be presented to a third party independent committee spearheaded by St. Francis University’s school of business. The selection committee chooses the finalists, whose success stories will be published in The Pennsylvania Business Central on Sept. 19.

In the past, readers have presented dozens of candidates who were worthy of recognition.

Nominations can be obtained by visiting the PBC Web site: www.pabusinesscentral.com. Click on the “Women Making a Difference” tab to download the nomination form. Nomination forms can be e-mailed to newsdesk@pabusinesscentral.com, faxed to (814) 278-1303, or submitted verbally by calling (814) 278-1321 or (814) 278-1323

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 5.

$haring the wealth: How local governments spend Impact Fee money

By Julie Benamati, MBC Editor

Municipalities in the Commonwealth are cashing in on about $135 million in Act 13 Impact Fees that were distributed by the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) on July 1.

Local governments received on average about an 11.5 percent increase statewide from last year’s figures. To date, the impact fee has generated a total of $630 million in new revenue for the citizens of Pennsylvania since its enactment in February 2012.

The fee provides for the imposition of an unconventional gas well fee (also called an impact fee), and the distribution of those funds to local and state governments. It also contains 14 provisions regarding how the impact fee may be spent at the local level:

  • Construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of roadways, bridges and public infrastructure
  • Water, storm water and sewer systems, including construction, reconstruction and repair
  • Emergency preparedness and public safety, including law enforcement and fire services, hazardous material response, 911, equipment acquisition and other services
  • Environmental programs, including trails, parks and recreation, open space, flood plain management, conservation districts and agricultural preservation
  • Preservation and reclamation of surface and subsurface waters and water supplies
  • Tax reductions, including homestead exclusions
  • Projects to increase availability of safe and affordable housing to residents
  • Delivery of social services
  • Judicial services
  • Records management, geographic information systems and information technology
  • Deposit into the municipality’s capital reserve fund if the funds are not used soley for a purpose set forth in Act 13 of 2012
  • Career and technical centers for training workers in the oil and gas industry
  • Local or regional planning initiatives known as the state Municipalities Planning Code

Washington County collected the largest amount of impact fees this year – in the amount of $6.11 million. The county’s Union Township will receive the highest allocation at $207,988, followed by Fallowfield Township with $139,363. California Borough will receive $100,615, Donora will get $86,781, Monongahela will receive $71,136 and Charleroi will receive $63,572.

Nearby Westmoreland County is getting $1.7 million, including $348,228 for greenways and parks.

Clearfield County received just short of $1 million, and Chest Township supervisors there have already earmarked their share of impact fees in the amount of $14,492. The board authorized donating $1,800 to each of the three volunteer fire departments that serve the township, with the remaining funds set aside to be used for maintenance and repair of township roads.

State Rep. Fred Keller (R-85) said the $81,000 in impact fees received by Union and Snyder counties would be welcomed.

“This more than $81,000 is a tangible investment in safer roads, cleaner water and better trained emergency responders that will directly benefit the very taxpayers who are directly responsible for the revenue that makes our local, county and state budgets possible,” Keller said in a statement.

The northeast portion of the state received the largest percentage of funds. Susquehanna County, which received $5.4 million, is planning to upgrade heating and cooling and electronics at the county jail, improve the county’s 911 center to meet state requirements and expand the county’s GIS program.  According to Commissioner Alan Hall, the county used last year’s fees to cut property taxes by 20 percent.

Bradford County commissioners hadn’t yet decided how they will spend their $7 million, Commissioner Daryl Miller said. Municipalities in Bradford County cumulatively will receive almost $5 million more than the county government.

Lycoming County also receives a large chunk of the pie at a whopping $5.1 million.

Lycoming County Government has established a Mini-Grant Program to fund a limited number of community park projects – up to $20,000 each – using a share of the county’s Marcellus

Shale Legacy Funds. These natural gas impact Legacy Funds were provided to the county for this purpose by the PUC.

The county has recently notified municipal officials and is now inviting members of organizations that are responsible for community parks to nominate projects.

A candidate park may be owned by a municipality or a community organization, and must be open to and benefit the entire community.

The nomination deadline is Aug. 15. Award notifications will be sent the second week of September. Every project nominated will be retained by the county for future consideration of other funding sources.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

 

 

 

New Pig Energy products provide engineering control to prevent spills, injuries

By Beth Powell

TYRONE, PA — There have been numerous studies regarding hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination. Surface spills, however, are one area where industry, regulators and environmentalists tend to agree on the risk. Sources of oil, fuel, fracturing fluid and flowback spills at the well site include the drilling rig, mud tanks, diesel tanks, frac tanks, pumps, sand kings, generator sets, light stands, contractor vehicles, and blowouts at the well head.

The risk of surface spills can be mitigated by secondary containment, which is a safeguarding method in addition to the primary containment system (storage tanks, pipes, drums, blowout preventer). Depending on the liquid, secondary containment may be required by federal and state regulations. New Pig’s focus is 100 percent on safely, effectively and efficiently containing these chemicals to prevent to contamination of the ground and surrounding water.

New Pig Energy (NPE), founded in 2013, manufactures secondary containment liners for the shale gas industry to protect the environment while keeping workers safe on the job. The company’s products provide an engineering control for operators, service companies and regulators to prevent spills and reduce slips and falls. New Pig, the parent company, is the world leader in liquid control and containment—and has been for nearly 30 years. By leveraging that experience and applying it to the shale industry, the team of leak and spill experts deliver the best secondary containment solutions on the market.

From tank farms to well pads, NPE has designed containment systems and furnished onsite support for some of the world’s largest and most respected companies in the United States and abroad. Along with design and manufacturing, we provide training and keep current on the latest regulations and certifications to help our customers stay in compliance. From the stone used on the pad to the equipment that removes the liner, we are actively involved and always improving.

Award-winning PIG Well Pad Liners

Named as Environmental Protection’s New Product of the Year for the past three years, the patents-pending PIG Well Pad Liner is engineered and proven to perform under real-world conditions. he unique layered composite handles long-term, multiphase deployments under the harshest conditions— offering up to four times the tear resistance and seven times the puncture resistance of standard HDPE liners.  Secondary containment is the safeguard if anything happens to the original containers, which means the secondary containment must be watertight even under heavy traffic. NPE pioneered the composite structure and its lifespan from air rig to fluid rig to completions to production.

Each layer in the composite is formulated—with all materials made in the USA–and constructed for specific properties, such as toughness, long-term chemical compatibility and cold-crack resistance.  Beyond the physical properties, how a material interacts with the workers is critical. Unlike plastic, our composite liner is designed to be thermally stable to maintain a flat work surface–it will not grow and shrink causing tripping hazards as the temperature changes.  In fact, safety was why we got involved in well site containment in the first place. Plastic can effectively stop a spill but it quickly becomes an ice-skating rink in the winter leading to near misses and lost-time accidents. The top layer is 20-year old New Pig product proven to reduce slips in falls in manufacturing environments. The PIG Well Pad Liner is only liner certified by the National Flooring and Safety Institute (NFSI) as a high-traction work surface to help prevent slip and fall accidents.

Beyond the liner manufacture, NPE engineers and modifies tools and equipment for installation and removal.  We designed cleaning, cutting and winding equipment to efficiently remove the liner. Instead of requiring up to ten dumpsters, we can fit a typical site into two containers with one going for recycle.

New Pig Energy’s Legendary Service Advantage

• PIG Well Pad Liners are always in stock and available for warehouse pickup or hotshot 24/7.

• NPE is headquartered in the heart of the Marcellus Shale play to provide personal service, hands-on training and support.

• NPE works with our customers every step of the way, from assessing needs and explaining regulations to installation support and post-install maintenance

• NPE doesn’t believe in the “lay and walk away” approach to containment.The oil and gas industry runs 24/7, so NPE provide sonsite service and support 24/7— even after installation.

• The PIG Well Pad Liner is 100 percent American made—zero imports, zero offshore!

• NPE has warehouse locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wyoming to support the Marcellus, Utica and Niobrara Shale plays.

Beth Powell was appointed vice president and general manager of New Pig Energy in January 2013 to focus on the specific needs of Shale drilling. She is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a BS degree in chemical engineering and an MBA.