Free nicotine patches

Smokers who want to quit can get free nicotine patches through the city Department of Health. Those interested must call the Pennsylvania Free Quitline (1-800-QUIT NOW) and agree to participate in free, phone-based counseling services.

Patches will be delivered by mail to those who enroll. The giveaway is part of the Nutter administration's Get Healthy Philly initiative.

Recycle trees Jan. 3-15

Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson has announced that the city's Residential Christmas Tree Recycling Program will run Jan. 3-15. Residents may drop off their trees at the Streets Department Sanitation Convenience Centers at 3033 S. 63rd St., Domino Lane and Umbria Street, and State Road and Ashburner Street during the two-week program. The centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

Man struck, killed by bus

David Albright, 29, of New Castle, was killed early yesterday by a DART bus on a maintenance run on Market Street near Rogers Road in Wilmington. Police said Albright ran in front of the bus, which knocked him down and then ran over him about 2 a.m.

Police said Albright appeared to have been running from the parking lot of the Gold Club, a local strip club, when he stepped into the path of the bus.

Utility bills likely to increase

Electric bills are expected to increase about 5 percent, or about $5 a month, beginning in January as a result of the Public Utility Commission's approval of Peco's settlements over the increase in electric- and natural-gas-delivery rates beginning Jan. 1, and the company's final electricity purchases.

Customers can compare rates from other electric providers, which they'll be able to use starting in the new year. Check out for more information.

Overall bills for Peco residential natural-gas customers will increase on average about 1 percent, or about $1 a month.

State unemployment falls

The number of Pennsylvanians with jobs continued to grow in November, and state-tax collections remain on track as the budget year approaches its midpoint, Gov. Rendell said yesterday.

Rendell said the state's unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, a 0.2 percent decline that reflected the addition of 5,100 nonfarm jobs.

The national unemployment rate in November was 9.8 percent.

- Staff and wire reports