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Worley & Obetz bankruptcy, UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster closure hot topics in 2018

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The closure of Worley & Obetz and fraud charges against former company execs were among the biggest stories to come out of Lancaster County this year, alongside the county earning the title of best place to retire in the country and Lancaster city solidifying plans for the revitalization of Lancaster Square.

Early in June, a number of banks including Fulton Financial Corp., Univest Corp. and F&M Trust announced credit losses due to allegedly fraudulent activities at an unnamed borrower. Within the week, Worley & Obetz, of Penn Township, Lancaster County, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors - and the banks confirmed that the energy provider was the source of their losses.

Approximately 150 people lost their jobs as a result of the closure, along with 105 who were laid off a month before. Former executive Seth Obetz later formed Seth Energy, which became a subsidiary of York-based Shipley Energy.

A police investigation into claims of fraud concluded with charges against former Worley & Obetz CEO Jeffrey Lyons and former controller Karen Connelly. Lyons and Connelly are currently awaiting trial.

Diesel Direct of Boston acquired numerous Worley & Obetz assets this September in federal bankruptcy court, selling some of the assets to Lancaster-based Rhoads Energy in Lancaster and others to Shipley.

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The Lancaster city skyline
The Lancaster city skyline - ()

Elsewhere in the county, UPMC Pinnacle announced it would be closing UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster in March. The hospital system said it would begin transitioning the city hospital's services, like surgical oncology and musculoskeletal tumor services, to UPMC Pinnacle Lititz. Employees not retained during the move have been told that UPMC Pinnacle will work with them to find available positions in other local hospitals.

Connexion Health, a Lancaster city startup and creators of a full-body scanner used to analyze posture, balance and other levels of musculoskeletal health, announced its first deal with a professional sports team. The Sacremento Kings of the National Basketball Association were the first to speak publicly of using the Connexion scanner for the team's health regimen. In a statement, the team's director of sports medicine noted that the machines would unlock "deep insights into athletic performance and health."

Lancaster County was named the best place in the country to retire according to U.S. News & World Report. In a ranking of the 100 best places to retire to in the country, the county earned first place because of its affordable housing, the happiness of its residents and access to health care, according to the magazine. Lancaster was up from second place in 2017, beating out Fort Myers, Florida.

Since 2017 Lancaster officials have been working to solidify plans to revitalize Lancaster Square along with the former Bulova building, Hotel Lancaster and the building beside the hotel known as the annex. This year, Benchmark Construction Co. Inc. and the Lancaster Public Library announced the library will be moving into the first two floors of the annex by 2020. 

On Nov. 18, Hotel Rock Lititz, a five-floor, 92,000-square-foot hotel opened on the live-entertainment business campus known as Rock Lititz. The hotel includes 139 rooms, lounge areas, table games and a full-service restaurant and bar. The hotel is open to the public but specializes in serving touring musicians, with black-out curtains and soundproofing in many of its rooms.

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Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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