The Meadville Tribune continues its review of the top Crawford County news stories of 2012. It’s likely that all of the stories are familiar to Tribune readers, and more than 100 of you took part in helping to limit the list of headlines to just 15, then choose their order of importance to the community.
We started with the story rated number 15 on Friday, and will proceed through the list to number one, the story voted as most important of the year, in Tuesday’s Tribune.
6-Arsons unsettling for Conneaut Lake area residents
A series of fires that occurred in the vicinity of Conneaut Lake Park during 2012 remains under active investigation by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.
Although a suspect was arrested in June in connection with one of the fires, charges were dropped days before the trial was scheduled to begin in mid-November. A legal motion filed at the time by the Crawford County district attorney’s office noted that the case “lacks prosecutorial merit.”
More than half a dozen fires were under investigation at the time of the arrest; according to the fire marshal leading the investigation, “there have been other fires since then.” No other charges have been filed to date.
5-When will jobless rate show stronger improvements?
Crawford County’s unemployment rate hovered between 7 and 8 percent throughout 2012, raising and dipping only slightly from month to month, usually within tenths of a percentage.
For several years now, the jobless statistics have been high, taking a heavy toll on compensation programs and social-service distributions, as many people remain out of work or underemployed.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released Crawford County’s most recent numbers in October, estimating the seasonally adjusted rate at 6.9 percent, an improvement from the 7.7 percent in September.
In fall 2012, Crawford County saw fluctuations in the total number of jobs in the service and manufacturing sectors.
The majority of local employment fits into the manufacturing, health services trade and government sectors, according to state figures.
Unemployment rates for surrounding counties Erie, Venango, Warren and Mercer also fluctuated within tenths of a percentage throughout the year.
Still, Crawford County’s rates remain better than average compared to Pennsylvania’s overall unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the state and national seasonally adjusted rates for November, approximated at 7.8 and 7.7 respectively.