From Pennsylvania to Ukraine with coal

New coal deal affects several local companies

From Pennsylvania to Ukraine with coal


Last month, a major deal was struck between a Pennsylvania coal company and a Ukrainian utility.

The arrangement has huge ramifications for local coal mines and for a Port Clinton company called Reading & Northern Railroad.

Andrew Muller, Jr. is the CEO of Reading & Northern, and is a train entrepreneur.

He told 69 News with a laugh, "I played with trains ever since I was a kid, so...I don't want to say I'm playing with trains now but it's sort of close, right?"

According to Muller, business is good.

"Healthy would be an understatement. It's tremendous," he said.

His trains move all kinds of freight.

"If you're using it, we're moving it. From sugar to paper, to chemicals," he said.

They also move coal from local mines.

"This year? I mean we could do a million tons," he said.

That is about double the usual amount, in part because of a big deal recently announced by the Trump administration.

It's hard to even imagine this, but coal pulled out of the ground in our area is being shipped to Reading, down to Baltimore, and then to Ukraine.

"We're talking about approximately 700,000 tons of coal," said Ernie Thrasher, CEO of XCoal Energy and Resources.

His company won the lucrative contract with the Ukrainian utility Centrenergo PJSC, which generates electricity.

The U.S. government helped facilitate the deal, but he says that's where it ends.

"There's no government money involved, no government subsidies involved. It's a true commercial transaction," he told 69 News.

While the deal helps his company, and local mines, it's also part of a foreign policy strategy to lessen Russian influence over Ukraine.

"There's a history of Russia using energy as a foreign policy tool," he said.

"This will free the Ukrainians of that obligation to succumb to that pressure from the Russian coal mining companies."

That all comes back to Andrew Muller.

To help move all that coal to Ukraine, they need his trains.

"We don't own any of the coal, we don't buy or sell any of it. Our role is strictly to move it," he said.

Shop Talk

What's new in the business community!

If you know of local business openings or closings, please notify us here.

·Toys R Awesome, a new retro store in the Village West Shopping Center, has opened on 3022 West Tilghman Street.

The Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp.  will welcome Panther Creek Pharmacy in Nesquehoning to Carbon County. The Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Celebration will take place on Friday, Oct. 25 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the pharmacy at 74 W. Catawissa Street.

ShopRite will open a full-service supermarket on Friday, Nov. 1, with a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting at the ShopRite of Stroudsburg in the Stroud Mall. 

Foundational Health, a holistic wellness center, opened in Bethlehem at 1403 Center Street.  Foundational Health offers personalized nutritional coaching, weight loss plans, group coaching, infrared sauna with halo-therapy (salt therapy) and chromotherapy (color therapy).

Taco Bell to open at site of former Wind Gap Professional Center off Route 33 in Plainfield Township.

· Dr. Joseph Patruno named chief wellness officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network, to address and promote the well-being of healthcare professionals and caregivers at LVHN.

· Big Lots will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 12. It will celebrate the grand opening of five newly remodeled stores throughout the Allentown area.

· The Peppermint Stick Candy Store of Boyertown is opening a second location in the High Street Terminal on 300 E. High Street in Pottstown. The grand opening is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11.

· Madona Antiques Gallery will open in about a month at 283 Fifth Street in Whitehall Township. It will sell antique English, French and American furniture and lighting.

· Mealey's Furniture going out of business and closing all stores

· Green Earth Marketplace to celebrate renovations and new ownership with a ribbon-cutting event on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 9:45 a.m. at 1328 Chestnut Street in Emmaus

· Lehigh Fine Foods to hold grand opening celebration Saturday, Oct. 5 from 12-2 p.m. at 1301 Chestnut Street in Emmaus

· Grand View Health announces 5-year, $210M expansion plan. The most significant investment is the construction of a 5-floor expansion next to the Sellersville hospital, which will include a new emergency department and more.

· Roosevelt's 21st in Bethlehem to close on September 28

· 1847 Financial Lehigh Valley is hosting an Open House Celebration in recognition of the grand opening of their new space in Allentown. The event will take place on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at 1550 Pond Road Suite 140 in Allentown.

· CBRE has arranged a lease for Venture X, a workspace community for entrepreneurs and businesses, at Gateway at Greenway Park in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This will be Venture X’s first location in Pennsylvania. 

· A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for You've Got Maids and The Gathering Place at 351 W. Broad Street in Quakertown on Sept. 26 at noon.

· Fischer's Tuxedo is celebrating 100 years in Quakertown. A ribbon-cutting on their next 100 years is set for Tuesday, Sept. 17 at noon.

· Multisport Fitness will host a grand opening celebration on Sept. 26 from 5-8 p.m. at the gym, located at 2016 South Delaware Drive in Upper Mount Bethel.

· The Vibe: Connect and Thrive fitness studio had a grand opening Sunday, Sept. 8 at 202 S. 3rd Street, Suite C, in Hamburg. 

· Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley has relocated to 2132 South 12th Street, Suite 401, in Allentown.

· LVHN ExpressCare to open in Lehighton on Sept. 3. The urgent care facility at 363 North First Street will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

· Dog grooming service to open along North Sixth Street in Allentown

· NY Gyro opened their second location at 129 E. Third Street in Bethlehem.

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