The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 1, 2014

In the long run

Hospital deal, economic development are top stories

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER COUNTY — The stories were selected by the Herald news staff for their long-term significance.

Sharon Regional Health System has been a staple in the community for almost 100 years and is Mercer County’s largest employer with 1,800 workers.

In August, it announced a tentative sales agreement to for-profit Community Health Systems Inc. of Tennessee.

Sharon Regional officials said the deal would result in capital investments and other resources to give it long-term success.

In recent years, Community Health has bought Forum Health which includes Trumbull Memorial, Hillside and Northside hospitals in Youngstown and Warren, Ohio. Community Health owns, leases or operates 135 hospitals in 29 states with about 20,000 licensed beds. It is one of the largest publicly-traded hospital companies.

According to the health care provider, “good-standing” employees at SRHS would be kept on at the same rate of pay and seniority.

The story garnered 85 points out of a possible 90 from nine voting Herald staffers.

Economic development continued to grab headlines in the past year.

In Hermitage Buffalo Wild Wings will set up business at the old McDonald’s site on the corner of the Shenango Valley Freeway and South Hermitage Road.

At the end of 2012, Levey and Co. of Akron built the infrastructure for a retail development at that location, and anchored the spot with a Kohl’s department store.

The area saw more changes when a Pizza Hut was torn down and later replaced with a new building. A Speedway convenience store is also being built nearby.

City Manager Gary Hinkson said in January there will be some expansion projects in the industrial corridor that will create additional jobs.

“And we continue to be excited about activity at LindenPointe,” he said.

Sharon also basked in a boost of economic growth as three WaterFire events illuminated downtown.

Coinciding with the sprucing up of the area, WaterFire is said to have brought thousands of people to the city. Business owners reported a volume of growth during the events.

Noticeable improvements have been made to downtown not associated with WaterFire, such as the addition of several street lights.

Economic development amassed 73 votes from Herald staffers.

Other top stories of 2013:

• A sewage treatment plant project with a $9 million infrastructure at the “gravel pit” on Interstate 80 and Route 19, East Lackawannock Township, is slated to take shape over the next year.

• Brookfield Schools spent a big part of the year in financial straits, declaring a state of fiscal emergency in the beginning of the year. By the end of 2013, officials announced emergence from the red and into the black.

• The City of Farrell made operational changes under Act 47, the state law that assists financially-stressed community.

• The November election produced a new Mercer County Common Pleas judge in Dan Wallace.

• Many public schools saw changes as superintendents resigned and others moved to different districts. Mark Ferrara left Sharpsville to head Greenville schools, and John Sarandrea left Sharon for New Castle. Sharpsville and West Middlesex schools recently brought in new leaders, while Sharon is working on finding a replacement for Sarandrea.