Natural Gas Processing System to Expand in Utica – EV Energy Partners announced plans on May 12 to expand the capacity of the Utica East Ohio natural gas processing system. The system, comprising plants and pipelines in Columbiana, Carroll and Harrison counties, will increase in capacity from 800 million cubic feet per day to 1 billion cubic feet per day. The expansion is needed to handle natural gas production from new customer American Energy-Utica, and increased commitments from joint-venture partners Chesapeake Energy, Total Gas & Power North America and EnerVest which is the controlling member of EV Energy Partners. Utica East Ohio also has signed a deal to provide gathering, compression and dehydration services for American Energy-Utica in a 145,000-acre area of mutual interest that will entail building 50 miles of gathering lines. American Energy Utica was started by former Chesapeake head Aubrey McClendon. The Utica Shale’s oil window through most of Stark, Tuscarawas and Guernsey counties has an estimated 5.5 million barrels of oil in place per 140 acre well, making it similar to other oil shales, said President and CEO Mark Houser. “The challenge in the oil window appears to be fracture design and minimizing reservoir damage upon completion,” he said. EVEP is watching the results of its joint-venture Parker Well with Chesapeake in Tuscarawas County’s Perry Township, and plans to drill one or two oil-window wells of its own this summer, Houser said. To read more about the expansion of the natural gas processing system in the Utica, click on this Canton Repository article.

Southwest Airlines Converts Two More Destinations and Flights from Akron-Canton Airport – Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the busiest airline operating from Akron-Canton Airport (CAK), will add more seats and convert from AirTran to Southwest aircraft to four destinations from CAK beginning June 8, 2014. Southwest will operate two or three daily departures to New York City (LGA), two daily departures to Boston, two daily to Denver and two daily to Orlando. Additionally, the first of two departures to New York (LGA) converted from Airtran to Southwest on May 13. “It is exciting to see the conversion of four more AirTran markets to Southwest at CAK,” said airport President and CEO Rick McQueen. “We are ready for an exciting future with the largest domestic airline in the United States. Low fares and exciting destinations aboard Southwest Airlines—it just doesn’t get any better than that.” To sign up for a contest drawing for four round trip tickets, click on this CAK press release for the link.

Shearer’s Foods LLC Signs Agreement to Purchase Snyder’s-Lance’s Private Label Business – Shearer’s Foods LLC in Massillon, a maker of branded and private-label snacks, plans to gobble up the private brands business and two North American manufacturing facilities of Charlotte, N.C. based Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. for $430 million. Snyder’s-Lance, a maker of products including pretzels, sandwich crackers, pretzel crackers, potato chips, cookies, tortilla chips, restaurant style crackers, nuts and other snacks, said the sale of private brands business allows it to focus entirely on its branded products. Snyder’s-Lance’s private brands made up less than 20% of its overall revenue last year. It reported 2013 revenue of $1.76 billion. The plants being sold to Shearer’s are in Burlington, Iowa and Ontario, Canada. Carl E. Lee Jr., president and CEO of Snyder’s-Lance, said in a press release that the operating philosophies of Shearer’s are very similar to Snyder’s-Lance, and that “we feel we have found a great home with excellent potential for our people.” To read more about the planned acquisition, click on this Crain’s Cleveland Business article.

Canton Christian Home Expanding Two Buildings – Canton Christian Home plans to add a total of 17,000 square feet to two buildings to modernize its facility. The project will cost more than $10 million. The independent-care facility at 2550 Cleveland Ave. NW has asked the Columbiana County Port Authority to issue $14.5 million of bonds, which includes the refinancing of a $4.5 million bond for a previous project. Work could begin in June. The project will allow the nonprofit Christian retirement facility to expand its licensed 24-hour assisted living facility from 31 beds to 58. It will also be able to serve 15 to 20 more residents in its independent-living apartments, which are occupied by 118 people. The Stark County Port Authority has entered into an agreement with its Columbiana County counterpart for the financing. The Stark Port Authority’s Steve Paquette said the board has other projects it plans to finance and could not assist with the Canton Home project also. To read more about the Canton Christian home’s expansion, click on this Canton Repository article.

Most Canton Early College High School Students Now Graduate with Dual Associate Degrees – On Sunday, May 18, 38 graduates of Canton Early College High School (CECHS) received their degrees at the Stark State College Commencement in the Canton Civic Center. Thirty-six of those graduates were awarded dual Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, as well as their high school diplomas. The award of a dual associate degree is unique among the nation’s 280 early colleges where an average of 30% graduate with an associate degree or other post-secondary credential. Over 80% of all CECHS graduates earned degrees this year. To learn more about the education community in Stark County, click here for the Stark Education Partnership Website.

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