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Business Tri-State: Ohio gov.-elect eyes gas riches of Marcellus Shale

Dec. 31, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich says the natural gas formation known as the Marcellus Shale could give a needed economic boost to the state.

The gas riches of the vast Marcellus Shale -- which underlies Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and part of Ohio -- have attracted a rush of drillers to the region in the last two years.

Kasich said Thursday his administration would focus on helping businesses and skilled workers take advantage of any gas deposits.

Kasich says Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., a leading U.S. producer of natural gas, has big plans in Ohio. A message was left with Chesapeake seeking comment.

Kasich says more drilling must be done but it would be in his words a "a God send" for Ohio if the formation yields a significant amount of gas.

Extension Service to discuss farmers markets

CHARLESTON -- West Virginia University agriculture agents want to develop a farmers market in Montgomery.

The Charleston Gazette reports WVU Extension Service offices in Kanawha and Fayette counties selected Montgomery because the town lacks access to grocery stores and the market would be available to residents in both counties.

An information meeting for residents will be held on Jan. 4 at the Montgomery City Hall.

The extension service in Kanawha County also is developing a working group for a potential farmers market to be located on Charleston's west side. A meeting is set for Jan. 13 at Charleston's Emmanuel Baptist Church.

Rise in signed contracts gives housing market lift

NEW YORK -- People are starting to buy homes again, lifting a battered industry that is bracing for its worst sales year in more than a decade.

Signed contracts to purchase homes rose in November, the fourth increase in five months. That should give the housing market a boost in the first few months of the new year because there's usually a one- to two-month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.

Economists cautioned that a major reason for the jump is that people are buying foreclosed homes, which sell at steep discounts and weigh on the broader market. Another obstacle is the sudden spike in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate, which only weeks ago had fallen a 40-year low.

Still many economists expect sales to gradually rise next year as the economy adds more jobs and home prices stabilize.

Delta says its operation returning to normal

ATLANTA -- The CEO of Delta Air Lines Inc. said on Thursday that most of the company's operations have recovered from the big snowstorm on the East Coast this week.

Richard Anderson said occupancy on Delta flights is still high. Airlines have been filling planes and running extra flights to move passengers stranded by the blizzard. The big airlines canceled more than 10,000 flights from Saturday through Wednesday, including more than 3,000 at Delta.

Anderson told workers on a phone message Thursday that the airline benefited from hiring 600 more reservations agents and 1,000 customer service workers earlier this year.

"We've seen the benefits of those additional resources over the last week," he said.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black said Delta expects that over 90 percent of the people who needed a flight because of the storm will have gotten one by the end of Thursday.

A few cancelations were still cropping up on Thursday. US Airways Group Inc. reported canceling 16 flights, and JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 40.

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