March 15, 2013
Service Electric Cablevision Inc. will close its business office in Mahanoy City today, with customers having until 5 p.m. to pay their bills locally. The closing of the office in the town where cable television was founded is a matter of economics and efficiency, according to Service Electric Division Manager Timothy M. Trently, "As you know, two years ago we purchased the Service Electric company (in Mahanoy City) and converted it over to Service Electric Cablevision," said Trently in a phone interview on Wednesday. "We're still part of the Service Electric family, part of the John Walsonavage family."
Trently said the building has more space than is needed to run the operation there. "This was certainly not an easy decision. The reason we are closing the Mahanoy City office is that there are only seven employees working out of that building, that building is very large and we're only using 30 percent of it to run the operation and 70 percent is going to waste. We're paying high electric, heating and air conditioning bills in a building that's not being utilized the way it should be. It's just not cost-effective."
Cable television began in Mahanoy City in 1948 when John and Margaret Walsonavage (Walson) erected an antenna on a nearby mountain to receive television signals from Philadelphia and bring those signals to their store that sold television sets. The mountains blocked those TV signals. Eventually, homes along the cable were also connected, creating the first cable television system. Walsonavage was recognized by the U.S. Congress and the National Cable Television Association as the founder of the cable television industry, according to the Service Electric website. "We built our state-of-the-art building near Hazleton 12 years ago. Everything is under one roof," said Trently. "Our warehouse is here. Our call center is here. All of our electronic gear is here and our satellite dish farm is here. Everything is at this one location, so it made sense to move those seven employees up here than relocate 60 employees down there and spend multi-million dollars there renovated that building for what we already have at Hazleton."
When asked about reaction from Mahanoy City residents about the closing, Trently said, "We've had some reaction. Yes, there has been disappointment expressed that we're closing the doors there, but also well-wishes for the employees and thanking us for all the time we served there. No employees are losing their jobs. We welcome them all to Hazleton." In order to accommodate customers who came to the office to pay their bills, payment drop boxes have been installed at the Mahanoy City Food Store, 28 S. Main St., and at Klingaman's Office Supply, 124 E. Broad St., Tamaqua.
Arrangements have been made to place payment boxes in the near future at McDonald's Lunch, 221 N. Second St., Girardville, and PRO Hardware, 220 S. Lehigh Ave., Frackville. Trently said a payment box site in Saint Clair is being sought. Trently said payments by check can also be mailed to 380 Maplewood Drive, Humboldt Industrial Park, Hazle Township, Pa. 18202, or anyone paying by credit card can call the office at 800-242-3707. Payments can also be automatically be made each month from a checking account or credit card, or individually at the company website at www.secv.com. Call the toll-free number for more information on any payment option.
Trently said that the company continues to upgrade the system that was part of the Mahanoy City-based Service Electric company. "We've just recently completed our addition of the 115 high-definition channels. There with the same basic channel lineup as we have with our Hazleton system," said Trently. "There are many more channels added to the digital tier, and we'll be doing the fiber optics upgrades as soon as our hub gets built in Delano. We'll be increasing the fiber quantities so we'll be able to offer faster Internet speeds, better quality telephone service and, of course, television programming as it becomes available to us." As for the building, Trently said options are being considered, including the possibilities of selling or leasing. "We're certainly look at all avenues to see what the best use of the building could be," said Trently. Hazleton Standard Speaker
Cornerstone TeleVision has named Donald Black its new president/CEO. Mr. Black, who was born in Washington, Pa., and resides in Franklin, Tenn., with his wife and four children, is the latest in a line of presidents including CTVN founder Russ Bixler, Oleen Eagle and Ron Hembree. "We are all thrilled to have Don as part of the Cornerstone family; he is truly an answer to our prayers," said Norma Bixler, who co-founded the ministry 33 years ago in Wall. Mrs. Bixler and the board of directors have overseen the network since Mr. Hembree's death in 2010. "I feel as if I've come full circle," said Mr. Black, whose wife, Teri, grew up in Butler County. "[CTVN] has a legacy of purpose, of destiny, and we want to stay true to that," he said.
According to its website, the Christian network owns and operates seven stations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. There are 115 affiliated stations capable of picking up its programming through cable and satellite, as well as 24/7 streaming at www.ctvn.org. Mr. Black is a graduate of the University of Charleston and Regent University, with a master's degree in communications. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A state representative from Allentown is proposing a new law to allow voters in Pennsylvania to cast their ballots early. Democrat Michael Scholssberg held a news conference in Harrisburg Thursday morning to discuss a bill he unveiled last month. The bill would allow polling places to open a week before election day. Early voting is already allowed in 34 other states. Schlossberg said his bill, which would require early voting polling places to be open for one week before Election Day, would increase voter participation by reducing long waits and polling place confusion, and by giving all groups a bigger window to mobilize voters. "The right to vote is fundamental -- and as a state representative, I take very seriously the responsibility to ensure our citizens have the freedom to exercise their rights," Schlossberg said. "My legislation would ensure that this fundamental right is protected - and greatly enhanced -- for future generations."
State Treasurer Rob McCord announced Thursday that his political-action committee, which seems to be gearing up for a 2014 run in the Democratic primary election for governor, has hired Mike Butler as a senior adviser and fundraiser. Butler helped U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. last year fend off Republican Tom Smith, who dumped $16.5 million into his failed bid to claim Casey's Senate seat. McCord may be thinking that some serious fundraising help will come in handy early in the jockeying for the Democratic nomination. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, another probable candidate, had $3.1 million at the end of 2012. McCord had $1.6 million. wfmz.com; Philadelphia Daily News
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Comcast now nation's second largest advertiser
- Bloomberg: AT&T Says It's Open to Sale of Assets
- Wall Street Journal: Hulu Names Andy Forssell Acting CEO (registration may be required)
- Wall Street Journal: Web Video: Bigger and Less Profitable (registration may be required)
- Reuters: DirecTV drops out of bidding for Vivendi's GVT
- The Daily Pennsylvanian (Univ. of Pennsylvania): Campus video service streams Oscar winners
- pennlive.com: Pennsylvania politicians on the wrong side of the law: A recent history
- Allentown Morning Call: Toomey to CPAC: Still haunted by 2012 presidential campaign