FirstEnergy the top story of 2013 for Greene County

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Three major employers in Greene County were in the spotlight in 2013, but two homicides also dominated the news last year.

The top story of 2013 in Greene County as voted by the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County office was FirstEnergy Corp.’s announcement in July that it would close its Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Monongahela Township. The company cited the weak demand for electricity, low electricity prices and the costs of bringing the two plants into compliance with environmental regulations.

Local state elected officials organized several hearings, citing concerns not only for the loss of jobs but also the impact the closings might have on the reliability of electrical services. On Oct. 18, the company laid off 110 plant employees, keeping 78 on until December to complete final shutdown activities.

A second major announcement took place in April when agreement was reached between the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Consol Energy Inc. that will eventually result in the restoration of Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park.

Under the agreement, Consol admitted no liability but agreed to pay $36 million to replace the dam and give DCNR eight parcels of land it owns adjacent to the park containing 506 acres, increasing the size of the 1,164-acre park by 40 percent.

The third employer making headlines was Southwest Regional Medical Center, which was forced by unprecedented challenges with reductions in payment from insurers and increases in bad debt, to layoff 29 employees, as well as performing only scheduled surgical procedures and transitioning its intensive care unit ot an intermediate care unit.

Also in the news was Jason William Roe, 32, formerly of Spraggs, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Cordele Edward Patterson, 38, of Daisytown. Roe’s wife, Lana, also was tried but the jury could not reach a verdict. She will be retried early next year.

And, the disappearance of a 16-year-old Skylar Neese of Star City, W.Va., ended in tragedy Jan. 16 when her body was identified as one found off of Morris Run in Wayne Township. Two 17-year-old girls from Morgantown, W.Va., have been charged with her murder.

A complete list of the top Greene County stories for 2013 appears on Page B1.

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