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PNC to close 200 more branches this year

Published: Thursday, March 07, 2013 @ 9:22 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 07, 2013 @ 9:22 AM

PNC Financial Services Group plans to close about 200 more of its bank branches this year to cut costs and better focus on serving customers in a digital world, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday.

PNC’s president and incoming CEO William Demchak announced the plan Tuesday.

PNC closed 65 branches last year across 19 states and Washington, D.C. The bank has about 2,900 branches, Demchak told analysts at a Citigroup financial services conference in Boston.

PNC also will open some branches this year “where it makes sense,” such as in underserved markets, said Mr. Demchak, who officially takes over as chief executive of the Pittsburgh region’s biggest bank in April, the newspaper reported.

Muslim man sues Little Caesars for $100M over 'halal' pizza dispute

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 10:30 AM

Geri Lavrov/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

A Muslim man in Michigan is suing Little Caesars for $100 million, claiming he was served a pizza labeled "halal" that contained pepperoni made with pork.

The halal label means the pizza should be prepared in a way that follows Islamic law, and shouldn't contain pork.

>> Read more trending news

The lawsuit was filed by Mohamad Bazzi Thursday and seeks class-action status, The Detroit Free Press reported. Bazzi claims he was twice served "halal" pizza containing pork.

In a statement, Little Caesars said the chain "cherishes our customers from all religions and cultures" and considers the lawsuit to be "without merit."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ohio leaders ‘disturbed’ at reports that John Glenn’s body was mishandled

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 8:59 AM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 5:14 PM

Annie Glenn, viewing her husband’s casket.

Air Force officials are investigating a disturbing allegation that a mortuary employee allowed others — or offered to allow others — to view John Glenn’s remains before his April 6 burial, according to a report in a military newspaper.

The Military Times said it obtained an “internal memo” written by Deborah Skillman, the Department of Defense’s director of casualty and mortuary affairs, stating that “the employee’s alleged actions were ‘clearly inappropriate and personally shocking.’” The publication said the document is dated May 11.

RELATED: Coverage of death of John Glenn

A former astronaut and U.S. senator, Glenn was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in early April, about four months after he died Dec. 8 in Columbus. He was buried on the 74th anniversary of his marriage to wife Annie.

According to the Times, while the Air Force had custody of Glenn’s remains, on Feb. 28 and again on March 2, William Zwicharowski, the mortuary’s branch chief, “offered to allow the inspectors to view the deceased.” Skillman was apparently among those who heard the offer, the paper reported.

The inspectors declined Zwicharowski’s offer to view the body, said the Times, citing unnamed officials.

RELATED: John Glenn, what you need to know

RELATED: John Glenn, an American hero

The paper quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying, “The Air Force takes extremely seriously its responsibility to fulfill the nation’s sacred commitment of ensuring dignity, honor and respect to the fallen and care, service and support to their families. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Air Force will determine what further corrective actions, if any, may be necessary and appropriate.


Glenn’s children asked for privacy after the news broke Friday.

“Dave and I spoke with the Secretary of the Air Force yesterday. The Air Force is taking complete responsibility and is conducting an investigation. we are asking that our privacy be respected,” Glenn’s daughter, Carolyn Ann “Lyn” Glenn said on behalf of her and her brother David.

“This alleged behavior is extremely troubling. To say that I am shocked and appalled is an understatement. While this behavior should never be tolerated in any circumstance, it is especially disrespectful to a man who gave so much to our state and nation,” said Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, an Air Force veteran.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also said the news was “disturbing.”

“This report is disturbing, and I urge the Inspector General to thoroughly investigate what occurred. I will closely monitor the investigation as we work to ensure all our heroes are treated with the respect they deserve,” Portman said.

“Good grief!” said Dale Butland, Glenn’s long-time press secretary and aide. “If protocols were violated, it is in some ways an unfortunate sign of the times. Clearly, something like this violates all standards of decency – if it’s true.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he was “disturbed” by the news.

“The Secretary of the Air Force has spoken with the Glenn family and personally committed to completing a full investigation,” Brown said. I will be following up with the Air Force to ensure the investigation is swift and thorough and that appropriate steps are being taken to ensure all fallen servicemembers are treated with respect and dignity.”

Temperature swings, recent rains worry Ohio farmers

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 4:15 PM

            Small corn plants try to grow in standing water Thursday in a farm field in Clark County. Bill Lackey

More than eight inches of rain since April 24 has put many Ohio farmers behind in their planting and left some scrambling to get their crops in the ground before June.

Adding cold temperatures in early May to the high rainfall has been a recipe for disaster for many corn farmers and soybean farmers are playing catchup as rain continues to fall.

Brandon Bowser, regional manager for Harvest Land Cooperative, which has 26 agronomy locations in Indiana and Ohio, said planting was off to a fast start in the second half of April, before 8.19 inches of rainfall and lower temperatures erased early optimism. He estimates about a third of his region’s corn will be replanted, and surviving seedlings are at risk of blight.

“It’s the worst corn replant in our area I’ve ever seen in 28 years,” Bowser, 47, said. “Bad conditions got worse with rain on Thursday. There are lakes in some fields.”

Clark County farmer Brian Harbage did not have to replant a large amount of corn, but said he heard other farmers who had to replant 75 percent of their crop. He added a day or two can make a big difference.

“The main thing is that you either have crops that have been washed out or the crops have a hard time getting out of the ground. The rain seals the surface and the crops can’t get out of the ground. No-till versus tillage seemed to impact the crusting over of the soil and not letting the plants grow. Also, excess moisture causes the seed to rot,” Harbage said.

Aaron Overholser is a grower in Darke County, the highest producer of corn in the state by county and second in soybean production.

“This spring we had an early window to plant. In our area, from April 11 to April 28 it was fairly dry and planting conditions were very good. We got started April 18 which is normal for us, but some were hesitant to get started that early. By April 23 to April 28 everyone had a ton of crops planted.”

The problems started to arise in late April with the amount of rainfall the farms were seeing, and the cold weather that proceeded in the first weekend of May.

“We had five and a half inches of rain and the temperature reached a low of 30. In the second weekend in May it got down to 32 one night and 20 the next,” Overholser said.

Due to the weather, Overholser had to replant about 10 percent of his corn, while the soybeans he planted remained stable even after the rain.

Ohio State University’s Extension Educator Sam Custer said early weather in April helped many farmers successfully plant but cold temperatures influenced how the plants grew.

“This cold weather stunted or killed plants that had previously emerged and made for a very cold and wet environment for the seedlings that were trying to emerge…plus the stressed plants that are up are going to be subject to diseases because of the early life of the plant being so difficult,” Custer said

In Darke County, 130,000 acres of corn and about 142,000 acres of soybeans are planted each year.

Most farmers are now planting soybeans, but recent rainfall has kept them out of the fields. Farmers may get a chance this weekend, according to WHIO meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

“Scattered showers are predicted this weekend, with warmer weather ahead, hopefully providing some relief to farmers as they try to replant their crops,” Zontini said.

A recent survey of Southwest Ohio farmers shows 80 percent have planted all of their corn and only 50 percent have all of their soybean seeds in the grounds.

The weather remains the controlling factor on whether farmers should plant this weekend or wait it out to conserve pricey seeds.

“The biggest changes I see will be for farmers to try and equip themselves to plant their crop in 10 days or less because that seems to be the window available for suitable growing conditions most years,” Custer aid.

However, spring weather is not the ultimate driver of a good harvest. July and August, when corn and soybeans pollinate and mature, hold all the aces.

“It really isn’t so much the conditions now,” said Peter Thomison, corn expert for Ohio State University Extension. “It’s what we experience in July and August. If we have mild conditions … we could still have a decent crop.”

The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.

Memorial Day grillers to get hot deals on meat prices this year

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

            Memorial Day meat price will be lower this year.KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF

As the grilling season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend, amateur grill masters will see some deals on burgers, steaks and chicken prices at area groceries and butcher stores.

Meat prices have dropped slightly from last year and are expected to remain steady throughout the summer season as livestock herds continue to recover from a devastating drought in 2012. Ground beef cost an average of about $3.68 per pound in April, a decrease from $3.82 at the same time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Other meats prices also are dropping. Pork chops decreased in price, averaging about $3.44 per pound compared to $3.70 at the same time in 2016. Chicken cost $1.44 per pound in April, while about $1.50 last year. Turkey saw a slight increase last month, costing $1.60 per pound compared to $1.49 in April 2016.

Joe Neuhauser, general manager of the meat department at Dorothy Lane Market in Oakwood, said customers are getting good deals on prime cuts for the summer season. As the economy continues to recover, he said customers are reaching for more expensive cuts of meats including New York strip steak and rib eye steak.

“We’re definitely getting busier,” he said. “It has been picking up.”

During holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the store prepares by adding additional staff in the meat department and increasing the orders for popular grilling meats like hamburger grind and steaks. Customers will also see good deals on beef tenderloin this weekend, he said.

“We shouldn’t have a shortage this year,” he said.

Popularity for grilling fluctuates depending on the season, Neuhauser said. If it’s a rainy summer, people are less likely to get outside and grill themselves — that’s when they come to market to get their meats grilled for them. A popularity in cooking shows and websites like Pinterest have also brought more people into the store who want to replicate a recipe they’ve seen online or on television, he said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, retail prices for ground beef are continuing to drop slightly after prices skyrocketed in 2015. Industry leaders predict prices will not drastically decrease within the next year, but are not likely to increase in coming months.

Ten years ago, ground beef averaged $2.24 per pound, but prices started to increase each month starting in 2011. An extensive drought in 2012 decimated pastures, depleting feed supplies for cattle herds. A decrease in the size of herds caused retail beef prices to hit an all-time high in February 2015, USDA data showed.

In comparison, the pork industry rebounded faster after the drought. Though high feed prices depleted the hog and cattle inventory, hog production rebounded faster than cattle due to length of life cycles, according to the USDA.

Economists and industry experts are predicting that the low prices and rebounding popularity are here to stay. Over the past 10 years, beef consumption in the U.S. dropped by 15 percent, pork consumption fell by 4 percent, while chicken consumption increased by about 5 percent. The drops were driven by skyrocketing prices, according to the USDA.

But meat consumption is likely to shift over the next decade as prices decline and production of beef and pork continue to grow, according to Flavius Badau, economist for the Agricultural Policy and Models Branch in the USDA Market and Trade Economic division.

Beef production and pork production are projected to grow by 11.7 percent and 10.3 between 2016 and 2025. Prices for beef are expected to drop by 10.6 percent and pork by 11.6 percent in the period, Badau said.

Emily Bir, spokeswoman for the Ohio Pork Advisory, said consumer demand has a lot to do with the season — and grillers can buy and grill pork chops for good prices int he coming summer months.

“Pork is an easy meat to grill,” she said. “People are making sandwiches out of it, using it on salads and it’s just an easy meat to make light summer recipes with. It’s just a great time to get out and grill.”