No wrongdoing found at GNA
placed in the wrestling room of the Greater Nanticoke Area High School did not
constitute criminal wrongdoing, Nanticoke police and the Luzerne County District
Attorney's Office said Friday.
The cameras in the room were not in a part of
the school where students are allowed to change clothes and were placed there
to monitor reported bullying, according to a press release from Luzerne County
District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.
After school officials learned that
students sometimes change clothes in the area monitored by cameras, the school
removed the cameras, according to the release. The cameras were highly visible
and no footage from them now exists, the release said.
Police started investigating
Dec. 4, the day after a school board meeting when the entire board, superintendent
and solicitor learned about the cameras, which by then had already been taken
The situation began when the school received an unspecified complaint
about the wrestling program. Superintendent Anthony Perrone shared the complaint
with the school board, as is customary. One board member, who school officials
previously refused to name, asked the school's staff to install cameras in plain
view in the wrestling room. Two days later, an administrator ordered the cameras
removed because students might change clothes in the room.
student housing still on drawing board
County Community College officials believe hundreds of students would be interested
in living in dormitories, if the housing were available. And a private equity
firms study backs up that belief. But under Nanticokes zoning laws,
the only place dorms could be built is nearly a mile off campus.
During a contentious
city council meeting Wednesday night, a private developers request for approval
of a 240-bed, $15 million dormitory project along Kosciuszko Street, near the
colleges campus entrance, was rejected because of neighbor concerns and
the fact that part of the city is zoned for only single- or two-family housing.
council was just not interested in making a change from an R-2 zone, and 30 residents
who came out were also not in favor of it, said Nanticoke City Manager Pamela
Alex Belavitz said hes surprised city leaders would reject what
could have been the largest, privately funded development in the city in
a generation one that could have spurred tax revenue and brought
more residents to the city to shop and eat. He noted the citys zoning map
calls for dormitories to be located in an R-3 Zone, the closest of which would
be in the vicinity of East Noble and South Chestnut streets, more than six blocks
from the colleges campus.
Tom Leary, Luzerne County Community Colleges
president, said he and Belavitz spoke of the need for student housing nearly a
decade ago and nothings changed since other than student enrollment is up
and the need is greater.
Its not an absolute necessity for us,
Leary said. But it would be nice.
Since the college draws from
a 10-county area, he said, often times its difficult for students to commute
back and forth; and with a lack of affordable places to live close by, it becomes
a lost opportunity for some prospective students.
Belavitz, the president and
CEO of Facility Design and Development, which has offices in State College, Scranton
and New York, said he and private equity firm Kingsley Equity have been looking
into the communitys needs for some time and believed the property was ideal
and the need real.
The land being considered for the project is Earth Conservancy
property that was reclaimed mine land and is now a Keystone Opportunity Zone,
meaning taxes will be abated through 2017. But the project still would create
jobs and enter the tax rolls in five years, generating close to $75,000 annually,
Belavitz said. While he lamented the citys rejection of the project, he
said the plans arent dead.
We remain committed to see it through,
Belavitz said, though he declined to give details.
Leary said dormitories for
community colleges are rare, though he mentioned Northampton Community College
had a private company build dorms near its campus. He said he hopes the councils
rejection is not the last time the idea is brought to the table.
the city has to realize their zoning is antiquated. He hopes zoning
changes are made and the project could be a viable one once more, he added.
also hopes city council members realize that the concerns certain residents raised
about noise, light and parking are easily addressed, and he said the developer
is willing to work with the city to make the project happen.
council shuts down plans for dorms
council refused to rezone a piece of land on Kosciuszko Street across from Luzerne
County Community College, effectively shutting down plans for a private developer
to build a dormitory there.
At Wednesday night's meeting, Alex Belavitz of
Facility Design and Development Ltd. explained how Kinsley Equities wished to
completely fund the approximately $15 million project, which would have started
with housing for 240 students. Five acres of the land, part of a parcel reclaimed
by the Earth Conservancy, would have been sold to the developer for $150,000,
Conservancy Executive Director Mike Dziak said.
Although LCCC would not be
involved in the project or own the dorms, college officials did approve of it.
In a phone interview prior to the council meeting, LCCC President Thomas P. Leary
said surveys showed several hundred students indicated they could use housing,
because the college serves a 10-county area.
Belavitz said the dormitories,
which would be professionally managed, would be done in three phases, with housing
for freshmen, upperclassmen, and townhouses for older students. He said Kinsley
Equities, which has done similar projects at other colleges and universities throughout
the state, wanted to be a good member of the community and would address concerns
of residents, particularly those on nearby Cherry Drive.
But residents and
members of council concerned over the potential for the development to be used
as low-income housing weren't sold on the idea.
"I want to make sure this
isn't going to be low-income housing. What kind of guarantee can you offer me?"
Councilwoman Lesley Butczynski said.
Belavitz said it could be put in as a
condition of sale, but that didn't convince opponents. Resident Richard Zarzycki
was concerned was that if the dorm didn't work out, it could be sold by the developer
to anyone for any use, including halfway houses or a minimum security prison.
got your money and we've got a pain in the neck to deal with," he said.
much back-and-forth debate, council voted not to allow the rezoning of the property,
which would have permitted higher-density development.
Dziak said that means
the end of the project at that location, since a zoning change was a condition
of the sale.
Although the proposed project site is in a Keystone Opportunity
Zone for the next three years, meaning it is exempt from state and local taxes,
when that expired the city would have stood to take in about $75,000 a year in
taxes from the $15 million project, according to Hank Marks of the city's Redevelopment
Belavitz said he was surprised to be put in such a defensive position:
earlier plans for dormitories in a different location, the site of the former
400 Club, met with approval from council, although the deal for that property
ultimately fell through.
"We had their full support back in May and June
for another site," Belavitz said. "We moved two blocks away, and now
all this opposition."
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
voted down plans Wednesday to turn the property near the entrance to Luzerne County
Community College into a student housing complex.
Alex Belavitz, president
and CEO of Facility Design and Development, Scranton, gave a thorough presentation
of the proposed 240-bed facility. The facility would have included separate dwellings
for freshmen, upperclassmen and older students, and single parents who might not
want to live in a dorm-type setup.
The average cost for a single room would
have been about $550 per month. The facility was to be privately funded by Kingsley
Equity at a cost of $16 million. Kingsley also did a market study of LCCC students
and found that 800 to 900 students would have been interested in the housing.
Northampton Community College added a student housing complex managed by Kingsley,
and the schools enrollment increased significantly, Belavitz said.
is a tremendous loss for the community of Nanticoke, he said. He added that
with the addition of the complex, the city would have seen a boost in the downtown
business area, with the new residents utilizing the goods and services of the
Many residents were strongly opposed to the development, stating that
they were afraid the property would be turned into low-income housing or that
LCCC would take over the property, thus leaving the city with no tax revenue from
raise need for local park
skateboarders want people to take their sport seriously, and they want a park
of their own to practice in without being hassled.
The North East Skate Crew
and Northeast Pennsylvania Skatepark Alliance are having a premiere at 7 p.m.
Thursday at Wilkes-Barre Movies 14 of "Blowin' It," a video by Dallas
graduate Trevor Charles "T.C." Harding. The video features local skateboarders.
The event is to raise funds for - and awareness of the need for - a skate park
in the Wyoming Valley.
James Gidosh of the Northeast Pennsylvania Skatepark
Alliance said the group had to pay for the venue and costs, but hopes to get about
$1,500 to $2,000 to add to an account that includes proceeds from previous fundraisers.
who produced and directed "Blowin' It," has been making skateboarding
videos since the late 1990s with his friend Jon Borthwick, also from Dallas, "but
this is the best one to date."
Harding is a professional filmmaker who
went to film school in Los Angeles and plans to move back there from Wilkes-Barre
in the spring. His goals are to write feature films and "hopefully direct
a couple someday."
People might dismiss skateboarding as a "little
kid thing," but Harding doesn't think they realize how much work and passion
goes into it, and how it can lead to other opportunities.
"I think you
grow up a lot faster than other people do, through skateboarding," he said.
"I think it teaches you to look at the world in a different way."
people don't go on to play professional sports, but you can always skateboard,
Harding said. The best part is hanging out with your friends, but you don't need
a big group, he said.
The trouble is, there aren't any venues in the Wyoming
Valley specifically for skateboarders.
Two potential locations for a skate
park are the Lower Broadway recreation park in Nanticoke and land owned by UGI
Penn Natural Gas Inc. on Water Street near the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, but
both projects are stalled.
In the meantime, local skateboarders are frustrated.
One of them posted to YouTube a two-part video compilation showing himself and
his friends getting kicked off various properties around the county, from Nanticoke
Wilkes-Barre's riverside park is a popular hangout for skateboarders,
to city and county officials' chagrin.
Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority
Director Jim Brozena said they are committing acts of vandalism, and "the
county has to spend dollars to repair things they should not have to repair."
concern obviously is, especially on the River Common, is that they seem to have
become more destructive in the things they are doing, not just to the materials,
but with graffiti and other things," he said.
Brozena said there was an
attempt to put together a consortium with Wilkes-Barre, the county and UGI to
build a skate park at the vacant property on Water Street, but discussions broke
off and nothing came of it.
He said, "We're still interested in seeing
that happen," but "the financial constraints make it very difficult
to proceed at this point."
Nanticoke Administrator Pam Heard said the
city is further along in the skate park process because it is in the master plan,
there is already land set aside for it, and city and state officials have been
meeting regularly with the Skatepark Alliance.
There's one big catch: "It's
all about the funding," Heard said.
Skate parks can be expensive, starting
at approximately $200,000, not including maintenance, she said.
doing our best to find some way to get it done," Heard said.
received a state grant for a walking trail at the Lower Broadway park, but at
the time of application, Nanticoke hadn't finished the process of obtaining ownership
of the land for the skate park.
Heard said the city partnered with the Skatepark
Alliance to try for a grant through skateboard legend Tony Hawk or a share of
the Mericle kids-for-cash money, but didn't receive either. She said they are
still looking at grants, but, with the current economy, "Recreation really
isn't on the priority list for funding right now in Pennsylvania."
is aware of the financial situation.
"I know there's not a lot of funding
to go around," he said. "I think we're probably going to be waiting
a lot longer."
State Rep. Gerald Mullery's Chief of Staff Leigh Bonczewski
said the office is "always there to help the city" and bought some tickets
for Thursday's movie to support the Skatepark Alliance.
Nanticoke is undergoing
revitalization, and the skate park "will be a big piece of it when it all
comes together," Bonczewski said.
"It may take some time, but it
will happen," he said.
The North East Skate Crew and Northeast
Pennsylvania Skatepark Alliance will premiere a video featuring local skateboarders
at 7 p.m. Thursday at Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre. Tickets are $5 at the theater,
or can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will go toward
the construction of a skate park.
blamed for fire
fire Sunday destroyed a double-block house on Coal Street and left two people
The alarm for the blaze came in just before 6 a.m., and firefighters
arrived to find flames in the rear of the building. A second alarm was shortly
Fire departments from Newport Township, Plymouth Township, Hanover
Township and Edwardsville responded to assist Nanticoke.
The fire was knocked
down within an hour, but the house was extensively damaged. The structure was
The fire was determined to be accidental and caused by a
problem with the furnace.
Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, and one
was treated at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and released.
A fund has been
set up to help the residents, and donations can be made to: The Stortz Family
Fund, c/o Vantage Trust Bank, 158 S. Main St., Nanticoke, PA 18634.
clothing for an adult male and female can be dropped at the Nanticoke Fire headquarters
at 2 E. Ridge St.
passes audit, holds tax line
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
citys 2011 audit report of financial statements has been completed by Joe
Aliciene, a certified public accountant from an independent auditing firm.
told council Wednesday night the city has received a clean report
and that it is in coordination with the standard fund balance. Aliciene
added that everything is true and correct within the financial statement.
2013 draft budget has been submitted to council. Property tax millage will remain
at 4.0534 for the upcoming year, with no property tax increase. The general fund
budget is $4.9 million.
In other matters: council has passed a resolution to
forgive taxes for New Horizons, a nonprofit entity, in the amount of $1,800. The
request was submitted by the citys housing authority.
Council gave the
first reading of an ordinance to ban tobacco on Patriot Square. Council President
Steve Duda said there have been numerous complaints regarding the cigarette butts
and the fact that very young people are smoking in the park. Duda further stated
that council has to make it aggressive (so this can) happen for the kids.
Duda also noted that cameras are being used in the park in order to monitor the
The pedestrian bridge at the municipal building is nearly complete,
with only minor finishing details left. As well, the road work at Union and Prospect
streets has been completed. The Public Works Department has utilized 12 tons of
asphalt the patch pot holes within the citys streets.
adopts $4.9M budget with no tax hike
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Published: December 6, 2012
Residents won't see an increase next year
in property taxes or income taxes according to a budget that council passed unanimously
The property tax rate will remain at 4.0594 mills. A mill is a $1
tax on every $1,000 in assessed property value. The income tax rate will stay
at 2 percent.
The $4.9 million budget is about $560,000 more than last year's
The city, like many other county municipalities, has been beset by
income tax problems this year after collection agency Centax went out of business
and didn't distribute tax revenue on schedule. City manager Pamela Heard said
Nanticoke is still due about $500,000 in income tax revenue, and took out a loan
this year to make up the difference.
The city will pay off that loan at the
end of this year and promptly take out another $410,000 loan for 2013.
hoping the courts will do their job and we'll get the money, just belatedly,"
The budget anticipates the city will collect about $180,000 more
in income taxes this year than it budgeted - not what it has collected - last
Heard said she's confident in the estimate, and said the Pennsylvania
Economy League, which is working with Nanticoke as it climbs out of distressed
status, approved the budget.
The city plans to spend about $182,000 more on
its police department next year, which will add several part-time officers to
the department. Heard moved from a finance position to city manager this year,
and her old position was split between two people, saving the city about $47,000,
according to the budget. The city also did not replace a retiring tax department
worker and didn't budget any money for the home-rule transition, which officials
said is near completion.
In other business:
Council is considering banning
tobacco and smoking on Patriot Square. The ban would mean people could not use
any tobacco products, including smokeless products, or engage in any other smoking.
Fines for breaking the law would range from $50 to $300. Council will take a final
vote on the ordinance Dec. 19.
"It's a much-needed ordinance. We have
to start somewhere," said council President Steve Duda. "We're being
proactive and aggressive. It's our youth, our future. If we can do something as
a city, we should."
The city will hold a meeting on its distressed status
at 7 p.m. Dec. 10. The next city council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Dec.
takes over for a legend
Stetz named as successor for longtime Nanticoke head
coach Gary Williams.
John Medeiros - Times Leader
the first time in 23 years, Nanticoke will
have a new softball coach.
Ryan Stetz was named to take over the program from
retiring coach Gary Williams. The school announced Stetzs promotion Tuesday
morning, after the approval of the School Board on Monday night.
really good, Stetz said of his first head coaching appointment. Its
great to feel the excitement of the students at the school and the members of
the team. Also, the support of the faculty and administration has been great.
has served as an assistant with the team the past three seasons, including being
there when the 2010 squad won the PIAA Class 2A state championship. During that
time, the Trojanettes went 69-6.
Obviously, thats a combination
of great coaching on Garys part and great players, Stetz said. It
was a lot of fun to be a part of it.
Stetz is a 1996 graduate of Nanticoke,
where he was a multi-sport standout at the school. He was selected as Athlete
of the Year by the school for the 1995-96 school year and was his senior class
president. During his playing days, Stetz played wide receiver and defensive back
for the Trojans football team, was an all-star guard on the basketball team and
was a standout center fielder for the baseball team.
Baseball was his top sport,
as he was an offensive dynamo while starting for three seasons with the Trojans.
He continued his playing career at Lackawanna College, earning roles with the
Lackawanna baseball and basketball teams. He continued his education at Bloomsburg
University, where he completed his bachelors degree, and then Wilkes, where
he earned a masters degree in education.
In a sense, being a teacher,
you see so many different things, Stetz said. If you had told me five
years ago about softball, I never would have thought about being the head coach.
But there are so many great families involved and a great history in the program.
former players have been in contact with kind words of support.
college, he returned to the Nanticoke school district as first an alternative
education teacher and currently as a social studies teacher. During his 12 years
at his alma mater, he has served as an assistant with the Trojans football team,
and is currently an assistant with the boys basketball squad.
the Nanticoke softball program after 22 seasons with the Trojanettes. He compiled
a 330-166 record and won PIAA Class 2A state championships in 2003 and 2010.
2003, Nanticoke defeated Center High 4-0 in the final. The title was the first
for a Wyoming Valley Conference school in softball. In 2010, Williams led his
squad to an 11-inning, 3-1 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola.
were wildly successful under Williams through his final game, a PIAA semifinal
loss to District 4 champion Warrior Run on June 11. The team completed a perfect
regular season in 2011, losing the District 2 final to Elk Lake.
be a fool not to, Stetz said when asked if he would seek out advice from
Williams. And Ill take aspects of what Ive learned from other
coaches, too. But I will put my own mark on the team, too.
effort ongoing for planned skateboarding park project
a skateboarding park may take some time, but the enthusiasts who believe it will
happen one day are still trying to raise funds for the project.
of the North East Skateboard Pennsylvania Skate Park Alliance said Monday a skateboarding
video will be premiered at Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
event, sponsored by the North East Skateboard Crew, will request a $5 donation,
and proceeds will go to the construction of a skate park in Nanticoke as park
of the Lower Broadway Recreational Area project.
We are having the event
to try to get some steam to get the ball really rolling on the skate park project
and show how much of an interest there is for skateboarding in the area,
Gidosh said Trevor Harding and John Borthwick of Dallas have been
putting together footage all summer long from local skaters.
Gidosh said the
Skate Park Alliance has applied for grant funding from the Mericle funds from
the kids for cash scandal and the Tony Hawk Skate Park Grant, but
hasnt had any approvals to date.
Pam Heard, Nanticoke city manager, said
the Lower Broadway Recreational Area is split into two projects on opposite sides
of the street.
On one side of the road, soccer fields are being renovated and
walking trails installed through a state grant. The project cost is $120,000 and
the city was required to match the state funding.
Heard said the city has title
to most of the property on the other side of the street and all legal issues have
been resolved. What is needed now is more state funding to build the skate park
and other facilities.
A skate park is still in the plans, but right now
we are concentrating on the soccer fields and trails, Heard said. If
someone gave the city the money today, we would put a skate park there. It is
something we are working on, but there are no plans to break ground or announce
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said that several
years ago his office helped secure a $100,000 state grant for the city to study
and plan a regional park in the Lower Broadway section of Nanticoke between the
West Nanticoke Bridge and the Weis Grocery Store.
A citizens committee
helped plan the park that we hoped would add new recreational amenities to the
city, including a skate park, Yudichak said. Early into the project
we faced many legal issues regarding the landowners in the proposed park area.
The legal issues slowed us down considerably, but they had to be resolved before
we could proceed.
Gidosh said the Skate Park Alliance has raised a little
more than $5,000 with various concerts, skateboard contests and other events over
the years to help contribute to the project.
gives city hope for revival
Geisinger Health System breaks ground for facility
Matt Hughes - Times Leader
from left, Marie Grabowski, MD, Pediatrician, Partners in Pediatrics-Nanticoke;
Susan Werner, MD, Family Physician, Geisinger-Kistler Clinic and future Geisinger-Nanticoke;
Michael Ryan, DO, Chairman, Janet Weis Children's Hospital; John Yudichak, Pennsylvania
State Senator; Pam Heard, Nanticoke City Manager; John Gardner, MD, Department
Medical Director, Community Practice, Luzerne County; and Kathy Reposa, Operations
Manager, Community Practice, Luzerne County; ceremoniously break ground for the
upcoming Geisinger-Nanticoke clinic.
planners are hoping a new health clinic in the heart of downtown will help bring
back the citys pulse.
Geisinger Health System broke ground Friday on
a new 12,000-square-foot facility on Main Street that health system officials
said will house two physician offices and provide jobs for 11 new hires.
state and health system officials said the new practice will be a cornerstone
of the citys economic revitalization. The two-story building will go up
on a vacant East Main Street lot next to Luzerne County Community Colleges
Health Science Center, the other base of that redevelopment.
a very strong believer that a good medical practice can be an anchor for a community,
said Dr. John Gardner, Geisingers medical director for Luzerne County. Much
like good schools and churches, a medical practice can be a keystone a community
can coalesce around and build and begin to grow.
City Manager Pam Heard
said the health care building will generate tax revenue for the city, create jobs
and draw people into the city center, bolstering businesses in the area and creating
opportunities for new businesses.
Weve got little businesses springing
up all over town, Heard said, pointing out a T-shirt shop and a coffee shop
across East Main Street, both recent additions to Nanticokes downtown.
Heard said the revitalization will also be advanced by a pending
PennDOT road improvement project on Main and Market Street, which she compared
to the streetscape project in downtown Pittston.
State Sen. John Yudichak said
a group of Nanticoke business owners called the South Valley Partnership, together
with the city and Nanticoke Municipal Authority, envisioned the development of
a downtown LCCC campus and of a health care corridor would be two
pillars of the new downtown.
The first component was accomplished with LCCCs
moving of its health science school into the former Kanjorski Building and its
construction of a new culinary school on East Main Street. Geisingers move
is the first step in the second components development, Yudichak said.
going to put the educational facilities with the health care facilities and create
a new base, Yudichak said. We can attract new businesses to the downtown,
new companies to the downtown, new people.
The $3.8 million building
will provide offices for Dr. Marie Grabowski, who will relocate from her existing
office in Nanticoke, and Dr. Susan Werner, a family practitioner who will move
from the Kistler Clinic in Wilkes-Barre.
It will also be staffed by an advanced
practitioner, four nurses, a phlebotomist to work in an onsite lab, four office
staff and a ProvenHealth Navigator a liaison who advises patients with
chronic conditions on lifestyles and health care management. Geisinger spokesman
Matt Van Stone said those positions would all be filled by new hires.
The new clinic will house Geisingers seventh pediatric
office in Luzerne County and marks the health systems third major expansion
in 18 months. The system recently opened after-hours walk-in clinics in Dallas
and Mountain Top and the Tambur Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at its medical
center in Plains Township.
Geisinger officials said it would bring essential
services closer to the Nanticoke community.
We already provide medical
care to a lot of people in this community, so the idea is to go to the people,
rather than having the people travel to us, Gardner said.
is scheduled to begin Monday. Geisinger expects it will open in late spring.
a space finalist
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
Nanticoke Area High School chemistry teacher Anthony Fleury has been selected
as one of 10 finalists in the nation to participate in a one week space exploration
training program, school officials said at Thursday night's school board meeting.
program will determine the teacher who will be selected to be launched into space,
at a time to be determined in the near future. The program is a private one, not
affiliated with the U.S. government.
Fleury has attended several robotics programs
at NASA and has an avid interest in the subject of space exploration. Grace Corrigan,
mother of the late teacher Christa McAuliffe, who died in the space shuttle Challenger
disaster, spoke at the high school in March 2008.
rejects transfer's appeal to play for Crestwood
a vote of 6-0, Luke Casey was denied eligibility to play basketball for Crestwood
this year at a hearing held at PIAA headquarters in Mechanicsburg on Thursday.
month by a vote of 11-0, the District 2 committee ruled Casey was ineligible to
play basketball after transferring from Nanticoke Area prior to the start of the
2012 school year. The District 2 committee voted believing the transfer was based
on athletic purposes.
Student athletes are not allowed to transfer for athletic
purposes per PIAA rules.
Casey, a junior, is ineligible to play basketball
for one year at Crestwood but is eligible to participate in other sports.
being rejected by the District 2 committee, the local branch of the PIAA, Casey
had the right to appeal the decision to the PIAA.
As a sophomore at Nanticoke
Area, Casey played in 21 games and was the second-leading scorer on the team averaging
9.4 points and in one game scored a season-high 20. He finished the year with
197 total points and shot 62.8 percent from the foul line.
BAG LETTERS FROM READERS
support staff deserve recognition
we celebrate national Education Support Professionals Day. Classrooms are much
more than four walls with students in desks and teachers at the front of the room.
It takes a complete team of hardworking individuals to provide the children with
the skills, resources and support they need to be successful.
of these teams ensures that students have a safe, clean and welcoming environment
for learning. Aides, secretaries, hall monitors, cafeteria workers, custodians,
maintenance workers, crossing guards, transportation assistants, attendance officers,
to name a few, contribute to the well-being of our students.
All too often
their efforts are lost in the daily routines of the classrooms. But on their day
of recognition we thank them for their commitment to the students they work with
on a daily basis.
We ask that everyone, especially students and parents, help
us celebrate Education Support Professionals Day by expressing their gratitude
to education support staff workers for the roles they play in inspiring confidence
in our students and helping them develop the skills that they will need in the
James D. Verazin President
Greater Nanticoke Area Support Staff
steps down as Nanticoke softball coach
Jill Snowdon - Citizens Voice
22 years as Nanticoke Area's softball coach, Gary Williams has helped make an
impact on the athletic careers of countless young women.
But three special
little ladies have made a big enough effect on Williams for him to say it is time
to step down.
"There's a lot of factors, but most importantly, I have
three little granddaughters that I'd like to visit more often," Williams
said on Monday.
Two of Williams' granddaughters, ages 4 and five months, live
in Texas, while his 1-year old granddaughter lives in San Diego.
who retired from teaching chemistry five years ago, will have more free time now
to travel and see the babies.
"When my most recent granddaughter was born,
we were in the playoffs, so I wasn't there for her birth and had to go out after
the season," Williams said.
Williams racked up 330 career wins and just
166 losses with the Trojanettes. In addition, Nanticoke has won seven Wyoming
Valley Conference championships, six District 2 titles and two AA state championships
under his watch.
This past season, the Trojanettes finished 22-4 and won the
Division I East title as well as the District 2 Class AA championship.
Area lost to Warrior Run in the PIAA Class AA semis.
"I've had the opportunity
to coach great kids and coach in some great games," Williams said. "Of
course the state title games will always be right up there, but one game that
always comes to mind is our two-day 21-inning game against Mifflinburg in 2003."
met with the team Monday and informed them of his retirement but also reminded
them that he will remain a big supporter of Nanticoke Area softball and he's just
a phone call away should they ever need him.
There isn't a replacement lined
up just yet for the head coaching position, but Williams endorses one of his assistants,
Ryan Stetz. Stetz, who teaches in the Nanticoke Area School District, has been
with the team for two years and has coached various sports throughout the area.
think Ryan would be a great asset to the program," Williams said. "He
has the capability, the knowledge and the energy and I really hope he gets considered."
Campus Bill Arsenault
AN ALL-STAR Old Dominion junior Kati Nearhouse (Nanticoke) is a case in
point that you dont have to be a big scorer to be a key performer on your
The 5-foot-6 midfielder and co-captain has scored two goals and has two
assists this season but she was named to the Colonial Athletic Association first
team for the other parts of her game.
She is outstanding at both ends of the
field and is a big reason why the Monarchs finished the regular season 14-5, with
a 7-0 mark in the CAA to capture the league title and earn a berth to the NCAA
Division I Tournament.
Nearhouse was a scorer last season (eight goals and
five assists for 21 points) and helped Old Dominion post a 22-3 record. The team
defeated Ohio State (4-0) and Duke (2-1) before losing to eventual champion Maryland
4-0 in the NCAA semifinals. Nearhouse earned second team All-American and All-CAA
Our goal is to make it to the Final Four again, Nearhouse
was quoted as saying on the Old Dominion web site.
And, if the Monarchs do
make it, theyll be playing on their home field. The Final Four is set for
Nov. 16-18 at the Powhatan Sports Complex in Norfolk, Va.
LITTLEFORD LED THE
WAY The Keystone womens soccer team finished with a 3-12-2 overall
record and a 1-8-2 mark in the Colonial States Athletic Conference but the team
got a big effort from Samantha Littleford.
Littleford (Nanticoke) led the Giants
in goals (five), assists (four) and points (14). She was also a junior captain.
is a player with strong technical ability and great field awareness and that makes
her very dangerous to stop, coach Noel Cox said. She was asked to
step into a more attacking midfield role during the course of the year with the
amount of injuries we sustained. She was often the key player we played through
to get our attack going.
Junior Rebecca Dinelli (Nanticoke) was also
a member of the squad. The starting goalkeeper last year as a freshman, she played
midfield this season. She did find time to play in four games, with two starts
as keeper, and posted a 1-1 record. She gave up five goals and had 20 saves.
is the ultimate team-first player, Cox said. After starting in goal
last year she stepped up for her team and saw most of her minutes in the midfield.
She was a strong defensive presence and a key playmaker for our attack. She and
Sam are laying the foundation to help turn this program around.
is easy to prepare if you can spell Schinski
3 talented sisters in its starting six heading into district tourney.
Fox - Times Leader
She stepped onto the court, nervous and unsure of what
to expect. Then again, that would seem to be a common occurrence from a freshman
in her first varsity match.
Thats when Nanticokes Kassie Schinski
took a quick glance around the court and saw big sisters Kayley and Kendell.
pretty exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time, Kassie said. I
dont want to mess up on the court because I dont want to let my teammates
and sisters down. They are great to me. They tell me to just do my best and thats
Its something that you dont see too often.|
you see two sisters on the same team and even on the court -- at the same
time. A set of twins may come up through the system every now and then, too.
at Nanticoke, you have the Schinski girls. All on the court at the same time.
All aligned on the same row during certain moments.
Kayley is a senior, and
a three-sport standout who is looking to major in nursing when she attends college.
She has applied to such institutions like Bloomsburg, Misericordia and Luzerne
County Community College.
Kendell is a junior who loves the sport of volleyball,
and hopes to play in college.
Kassie is the youngest, just a freshman, who
expects to make a difference on the basketball court as well. In her first season,
she has 31 kills, nine blocks, three assists, four digs, 13 aces and 79 service
Now, add to it that all three girls are starters on the varsity volleyball
team, which enters the District 2 Class 2A playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind undefeated
Its something weve always talked about,
said Kayley, who has 140 kills and 133 service points this season. Im
glad that we got the opportunity to play together for one season. It was such
a great experience, especially in my senior year.
Deb Krupinski admits
she didnt know how to handle it.
I had sisters and we were extremely
competitive, the Nanticoke head coach said. And yes, at times, we
did fight. But I dont see it with these girls. They dont fight at
all. For me, it was a change because Ive never had three sisters together
like this. I didnt know how it would work out, and you wonder about it.
At practice, I pulled them on the side and said I was going to look at each one
as an individual and see how each one would fit into our scheme.
watch the girls on the court for one second, and all the questions are answered.
smiles never leave their faces. If one sister is down, the other two run over
to slap her on the back.
I love them. We dont fight, said
Kendell, who has 63 kills and 172 service points. We are so close, and we
do a lot of stuff together. Our family is close. And we work so well together
on the court. We are always there to keep each other up.
each one is different in her own way.
Kayley is outgoing, a great leader
and a role model for her sisters, the head coach said. She is very
mature and easy to get along with. Kendell is very coachable and has a great understanding
of the game. Kassie is so quiet and shy, but she has so much ability. And what
sets her apart is shes the lefty of the group.
Sports are always
the talk around the Schinski house. That, and the possibility of a district title.
sit down and talk about what we did, and what we could do better, Kayley
said. With playoffs starting, we talk about how amazing it would be to win
a title. Its going to be tough because there are a lot of good teams in
the district, and Holy Redeemer is undefeated.
All three sisters know
the volleyball season is dwindling down. Its one game at a time, all must-win
contests. There are no more regular-season contests left.
And that means time
together on the court is almost done.
Im so glad that I had this
opportunity. Im going to miss playing with Kayley next year, Kassie
said. We are all really close, and hang out all the time. It was a big help
to play on the same court with both of them. Hopefully, well be able to
win a district title together.
Area, police deserve commendations
police acted quickly and appropriately in advising Greater Nanticoke Area School
District of a potential threat from a shotgun-toting man on Thursday.
was apprehended in a wooded area of the city's Honey Pot section and he will face
charges. He also will get help in dealing with personal issues that prompted his
alleged firing of the shotgun in the woods.
There was a fear that people connected
to the school system might be targets of the gunman. Police advised the school
district of the situation and the school system also acted appropriately in locking
down its buildings.
In lockdown, the students are safeguarded in their classrooms
while police maintain a presence outside the buildings.
Such precautions may
seem to be an overreaction at times but it is far better to be cautious. The infamous
Columbine High School massacre of April 1999 left 12 students and one teacher
dead and many others wounded in that Colorado community. The mere thought of a
Columbine-style incident is enough to frighten parents, teachers and law officers.
2007 shooting spree at Virginia Tech left 32 dead and 17 wounded. That incident
sparked complaints that university officials did not act rapidly in warning the
university population of the threat. People were killed in two episodes of gunfire
about two hours apart.
Greater Nanticoke Area also merits a commendation for
advising parents of the situation via an automated telephone messaging system.
are sure that other police departments and school districts have taken note. The
rapid response and prompt implementation of safety measures show an awareness
that reflects well on all agencies involved.
Field Artillery is rich in history, service
Paul Golias - Citizens
The recent deployment of 190 members of
the 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery, to Kuwait continues a chain of military
service by area citizens that dates to 1775.
The Guardsmen in training for
service in Kuwait constitute the 10th group of 109th soldiers deployed either
as members of a unit of the 109th or as individual "backfill" servicemen
Those on "backfill" are assigned to other units to fill
their ranks. In either case, as a unit member or a backfill soldier, the duty
gives the 109th yet another presence in a region of conflict or an area where
support is rendered to those in harm's way.
"Some of these men and women
are on their third, fourth or even a fifth deployment," said Staff Sgt. Christopher
J. Keen, 109th unit historian. Keen, of Dallas, also does career counseling, handles
human resources work and can become a gun section chief when necessary.
in his office at the 109th Armory, Market Street, Wilkes-Barre, Keen easily rolls
out overall 109th history and anecdotes, all of which he also shares with Guardsmen
who, he says, are beginning to take a sharper interest in military history.
terror attacks on the United States of Sept. 11, 2001, forced the U.S. Department
of Defense to rely on Army Reserve and National Guard units for direct and support
roles as wars were waged in Afghanistan and Iraq. The latter has officially ended
but the U.S. still has a combat presence in Afghanistan and a wider presence in
the Middle East.
The last direct combat-zone role for the 109th came in 2009-2010
when 30 soldiers went to Iraq in a backfill deployment.
Here are the deployments,
as listed by the 109th, since the terror attack:
n July 2002 to July 2003,
five soldiers to Bosnia.
n July 2002 to March 2003, 85 members of Battery C,
to Germany under what was dubbed Task Force Keystone.
n December 2003 to March
2005, 300 soldiers to Iraq and Kuwait.
n August 2005 to August 2006, 10 soldiers
n July 2006 to July 2007, 50 soldiers to Iraq.
n November 2007
to November 2008, 140 soldiers to Afghanistan and 40 others filled backfill roles
with other units in Egypt, handling a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the
Sinai Desert of Egypt, at the Israeli border.
n September 2008 to September
2009, 100 soldiers of Battery B to Iraq.
n June 2009 to June 2010, 30 soldiers
n October 2012, 190 soldiers to Kuwait in a backfill deployment expected
to last one year.
The total number of 109th Guardsmen deployed to date under
Mideast-related operations stands at about 940.
Keen said that backfill assignments
are filled first by volunteers and then by matching military specialty needs with
men and women and have not been yet deployed. Then, the ranks of those previously
deployed are tapped to fill out the roster.
"Sometimes those deployed
for a fourth or fifth time have served on (active) duty before joining the National
Guard," he explained. "While on active duty, they might have served
overseas one or more times."
Deployments are limited by congressional
action to one year. After allowing for training, the actual time overseas averages
nine months, Keen said.
The makeup of a military unit, its strength and its
base of operations can change repeatedly. The 109th no longer has a Battery C,
for example. That unit having been disbanded following its 2002 deployment. Members
were transferred to other units.
The 109th currently has its Headquarters and
Service Company at the 109th Armory, Battery A in Plymouth and Battery B in Nanticoke.
Each battery has eight self-propelled howitzers. Lt. Col. Scott Mathna is the
109th commanding officer.
The 109th traces its lineage to Oct. 17, 1775, when
the 24th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia was organized by Col. Zebulon Butler.
Connecticut and Pennsylvania both claimed possession of Northeastern Pennsylvania
at the time and the matter was not settled until after the Revolutionary War.
said the 109th is one of only a few military units in the U.S. to carry flags
of two states - Connecticut and Pennsylvania, along with the National colors and
the battalion crest.
"That reflects the unique history of this unit,"
he said, noting that Connecticut carried the local militia on its rolls even after
the post-war land issue settlement.
Over the years, the 109th or predecessors
served in or were activated for these wars or conflicts:
n Revolutionary War:
The 24th won seven battle streamers, including Sept. 11, 1777 at Brandywine under
Gen. George Washington. The unit was decimated at the Battle of Wyoming on July
3, 1778, when attacked by British, Tory and Indian forces.
n War of 1812: Unit
members served on Navy gunboats, including the USS Niagara at the Battle of Lake
n Mexican-American War, 1848: Company I of the 1st Volunteer Regiment
served under Gen. Winfield Scott, winning two battle streamers.
n Civil War,
1861-1865: The 143rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment earns streamers
in eight campaigns, including the major battles at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg,
Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. Two men, Sgt. Patrick Delacey
and Sgt. James Rutter, win the Medal of Honor.
n Civil War, Spanish-American
War, 1898, in training as the war ended; loss of about 20 soldiers to disease.
Mexican border conflict, 1916, as the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry. Converted to
3rd Pennsylvania Artillery because infantry units were not needed. Deployed but
saw no action.
n World War I, 1918, deployed and went into combat in August
as the 109th Field Artillery. Earned five battle streamers. Used French 75mm howitzers,
four of which stand in front of the armory today.
n World War II: Landed in
Europe on July 22, 1944, and fought into Paris, where the unit paraded through
the city. Immediately sent to Hurtgen Forest where nearly all unit soldiers were
casualties of severe weather and fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. The
109th won five battle streamers and a Presidential Unit Citation.
War, 1950-1953: The famous train wreck that claimed the lives of 33 Guardsmen
occurred Sept. 11, 1950, as the unit rode in passenger cars at Coshocton, Ohio,
en route to training in Indiana. The 109th was deployed to Germany to face off
with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
n Post-Sept. 11, 2001: Deployments as
The only break in the chain occurred during the Vietnam War when
the 28th Infantry Division, which got extra training as a Selected Reserve Force,
was not activated. Histories of that war recount that President Lyndon Johnson
was reluctant to call up Guard units because he did not want to admit that the
nation was so deeply involved in a war that required call up of reservists and
The 109th also has done flood disaster duty, including the 1972
Agnes flood that ravaged the Wyoming Valley. The unit was activated in April 1968
when rioting began in U.S. cities following the assassination of the Rev. Martin
Luther King, but the unit was not deployed.
The 1950 train disaster is recalled
annually with a ceremony in front of the armory at a monument to the dead.
its under-strength size due to deployments, the 109th trains annually in the summer,
usually at Fort Pickett, Va., Keen said.
The 109th Armory was opened
in 1932. It has housed varying numbers of National Guard soldiers, covering eras
of horse-drawn caissons and guns, through 105 mm, 155 mm and 8-inch truck-drawn
guns up to today's self-propelled howitzers.
Ironically, the howitzers of today
are with units in Nanticoke (Battery B) and Plymouth (Battery A). The armory houses
the Headquarters and Service Battery. The howitzers are brought to the armory
on occasion for joint drills.
Rumors abound, as they have off and on for the
last decade, that the armory could one day be sold by the state and the historic
109th consolidated into a centralized Army Reserve/Guard center as has been done
in Lackawanna County.
The armory has been a venue over the years for circuses,
trade shows, basketball games, civic events such as the testimonial dinner held
there for U.S. Rep. Daniel J. Flood, and myriad other events.
When built, it
included stables and underground storage for caissons and carriages.
Park, now used by Wilkes University, is state-owned and leased to the university.
It once housed a minor league baseball team and it is famous as the site where
Babe Ruth said he hit the longest home run of his career. In the 1920s, officers
of the 109th played polo against Ivy League schools at Artillery Park.
father, like son
rebuilding of the Nanticoke Area soccer program from the ashes began with a father
and his son.
Head coach Mark Matusek needed a new assistant for the 2012 season.
His longtime second-in-command, Ryan Amos, had been the girls soccer coach in
addition to his duties with the boys program. But when the PIAA moved girls soccer
from the spring to the fall, Amos elected to stay with the girls program, creating
an opening on Matusek's staff.
Matusek immediately sought out Ed Lukowski,
an area club team coach and teacher at Nanticoke Area whose son, Ed, was entering
his freshman year at Nanticoke.
The elder Lukowski played for Matusek from
1993-96 and is still the school's all-time leader with 163 points.
went over to him and said: 'I need an assistant coach,'" Matusek recalled.
"He said, 'yea,' and that was it. He didn't take too long to answer."
Trojans' revival, with father and son on board, was immediate. They went from
0-16 last year to 10-5 this season, while the young Lukowski tallied 17 goals
and 10 assists as a midfielder.
"You can see the impact by the turnaround
from 0 wins to 10 wins," Matusek said. "Other players have factored
into it, but Ed has been the biggest factor."
"When Ed the father
gives instructions, everybody listens. His knowledge of the game, they know they
can gain a lot from that."
The elder Lukowski had his son on the road
to varsity standout from an early age. He purchased the son his first soccer ball
as an infant. When the son learned to walk, he would attempt to kick the ball,
more often than not just nudging the ball forward an inch or two.
son grew up and began playing youth soccer, the father would take the son to Westside
Park in Nanticoke. There, he would run his son through an assortment of agility
At the time, the son did not quite understand what his father was doing.
But the father was doing what came naturally to him: coaching his son.
he has continued to mentor his son throughout the years as the coach of numerous
club and travel teams.
"There is a fine line treating him as another player
and as a son," the father said. "On the field, I know he doesn't like
the way I coach. We always have conflict when he's on the field because I see
things that he doesn't, and he is reading the game differently than I am. Sometimes,
we butt heads during the game, but after the game, we see things eye to eye because
he always sees it my way then."
The son has gotten used to the father's
coaching style, although disagreements are inevitable.
"It's pretty much
a love-hate thing," the son said. "He definitely pushes me harder, corrects
the things I don't do right and tries to help me get better."
immediately established himself as one of the WVC's young stars, breaking the
Trojans' freshman record for goals scored. On the practice field, the father does
not play favorites. The son has to carry the Gatorade coolers out to the practice
field, just like any other freshman.
"He doesn't treat him any differently
than any of the other players," Matusek said. "But the son really looks
up to him. He is very coachable. He wants to keep improving, and he has goals.
He wants to be the best player he can become."
If his freshman season
is any indication, the son might one day eclipse his father in the school's record
book. The son is 119 points shy of the father's points record with three years
"If it happens, I'd be fine with it. Hopefully, later than sooner,"
the father joked. "No, I'd like to see him break it. I'm not holding it that
close. Hopefully, he does because that would mean he has been successful and healthy."
the son: "I do care, but I don't. It's more about playing for the team and
doing my best to win."
The father smiles. He knows his son wants to break
his record but is too modest to admit it. They have three more years together
and plenty of things still to accomplish. The father and son are only getting
parents call for end to bullying
and parents called for an end to bullying and mental health professionals urged
awareness of depression, the root cause of teen suicides, at a town hall meeting
Department of Veterans Affairs psychologist Denise Carey called the
suicides of four local teens within two weeks an anomaly, "almost astronomical"
in light of the fact there are 36,000 suicides nationwide in a year.
doesn't cause suicide, but it is a contributing factor, Carey said. The primary
factor is depression, she said.
"The one thing that we know works is treatment,"
Carey said. "I'm telling you, teenagers, parents, kids, you have to have
treatment if you have diagnosed depression."
There's no shame in seeking
help. Carey likened depression, which stems from brain chemistry, to any other
illness with a physical cause, like diabetes.
Symptoms parents should look
out for include feeling "blah," anxiety, trouble sleeping or sleeping
too much, inability to concentrate, a lack of interest in friends and withdrawal
from things the child formerly enjoyed doing. If the symptoms are persistent -
every day for at least two weeks - they could be a sign of depression, Carey said.
Sims, a mother of four and co-founder of Parents Advocating for Safe Schools,
which held the meeting, talked about her son's experiences being physically bullied,
which left him with permanent leg nerve damage and the need for back surgery.
Guardian Angels Regional Director Scott Koppenhoffer, who was bullied from first
grade through high school, explained the emotional scars it leaves. He said the
Guardian Angels would like to start an anti-bullying class outside of school.
Brown, a classmate of 13-year-old suicide victim Joshuah Delos Santos, had parents
take a pledge to be there to help the kids and guide them.
is getting ridiculous," she said.
Ann Cibo of Northeast Counseling Services
urged students to tell somebody if anybody says they are thinking of harming themselves.
have to keep our ears open," said Monica Thomas, co-founder of Parents Advocating
for Safe Schools, "Kids are crying out for help."
couple of dominant victories
Korch, Yelen take top honors in race
Miner - Times Leader
Tony Korch and Sherri Yelen ran to wire-to-wire victories
in the Benjamin August Memorial 3 Mile Run on Sunday.
Korch, 52, of Nanticoke
broke the tape in 17 minutes and 29 seconds. He outran second-place finisher,
Tony Pszeniczny, 51, of Mountain Top, by 1:37. George Dunbar, 49, of Old Forge,
finished third, 21 seconds behind Pszeniczny.
There were no young kids
here today to worry about so the opportunity was there, said Korch.
And I was able to take advantage.
Korch went out fast right from
the start and never let up.
It was a nice day for a race, said
Korch. There was a head wind on the way out and a bit of a tail wind on
the way back. At the turnaround (Martz bus garage just off Old River Road), I
could see that there was nobody near me. So I tried to keep my pace and run a
good time. My time was faster than my time from last year. At my age, its
nice to be able to win races.
Korch -- who finished eighth in last years
Benjamin August race that featured seven of the areas young runners who
you do have to worry about -- bettered his time from last year by eight seconds.
But this years race featured a light field (15 fewer finishers than last
year) probably due in part to the earlier starting time.
Korch has been
running competitively for 20 years. In May he won the Wyoming Valley Striders
Spring Trail Run at Frances Slocum State Park. Korch is a regular at the trail
runs. And he will probably be running in the Fall Trail Run at the state park
on Oct. 28.
Unlike Korch, who has been running competitively for two decades,
Yelen only started running in area races in June. And shes already chalked
up a couple of wins.
The 40-year-old from Kingston won top female honors easily
with a fifth-place overall finish yesterday in 20:53, outrunning second-place
finisher, Carma Flannery, 52, of Shavertown, by 2:26.
In August, Yelen won
top female honors in the Pauly Friedman Family 5K Run at Misericordia University.
wanted to beat my personal best (in a 3-miler) and I did, said Yelen.
I went out hard right from the start. I had a nice pace going. There were
men running way up ahead of me. I didnt try to track any of them down. I
just got into a nice rhythm. And I kept pushing myself.
She pushed herself
to a decided victory.
board hears more about bullying
Expert, parent tells officials that they can
and should do more to stop the torment.
Susan Denney - Times Leader
Bullying was the topic of concern at Thursdays
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board meeting
when an expert and a parent confronted district officials.
Mental health professional
Jo Ann Stone told the board about the concerns of 60 students who had participated
in a grief counseling session with her at the St. Faustina Parish in Nanticoke
after the suicide of a GNA student in September.
Stone, of Scranton, said many
of the students were angry and felt that bullying was an issue in the students
The kids would like to know what happens to bullies, she
Stone praised the district for its efforts to provide programs on bullying,
but she wanted to know what the district consequences are for students who bully.
kids have to know there are consequences for their actions, she said.
board members mentioned suspension as one of the consequences, Stone suggested
that suspensions are actually welcomed by some students as a holiday.
revoking the privilege of participation in sports and other extracurricular events
would be a more effective punishment than suspension.
Parent Julia Robins of
Nanticoke said bullying was a problem at the high school. She said one of her
children had withdrawn from the school this week because of being bullied.
listed the people she had contacted at the school concerning incidents in which
her daughter had been called vulgar names by other students.
were silent as Robins told of how she had reported bullying early in the week
to the schools police officer and the schools guidance department.
said she had received no feedback about what was being done to the stop it.
too felt that consequences that mattered to the students would stop the behavior.
said bullying today was not the same old stuff. Its a disease.
is the number three killer in America of children aged 10 to 24, she said.
asked, Superintendent Anthony Perrone said that he was unaware of the situation
with Robins child.
Board President Jeff Kozlofski asked high school Principal
John Gorham if he had been told of it. When he said no, Kozlofski said, Make
sure this is ended now.
Gorham assured the board that all reported incidents
Were very consistent with our discipline,
Perrone said the issue of bullying was complex.
begins at home. Its unfair to say that its the schools fault,
Board Solicitor Vito DeLuca suggested that any teacher, administrator
or staff member who hears about bullying should be required to report it to the
is near for Nanticoke
Jon OConnell - Times Leader
council President Stephen Duda said at Wednesdays council meeting a daytime
curfew for school-aged children should be ready for its first reading at the next
Duda said Solicitor William Finnegan, Police Chief William
Schultz and District Judge Donald Whittaker wrote a preliminary draft of the curfew
ordinance, which is in response to the rise of juvenile crime committed during
Council Vice President Jim Litchkofski said after reviewing the ordinance,
council members decided some of the curfews verbiage needed rewriting before
it is ready for public review and a vote.
Duda said the curfew was not intended
to impose on school district attendance policies already enforced; rather, council
members are concerned about children.
"Were not looking to be stepping
on the school districts toes," Duda said. "(Were considering)
the well-being of the children. They should be in school."
Duda said youngsters
studying at home, whether home-schooled or through a cyber school, have been considered
in the curfews draft, though he did not immediately explain how they will
In other news:
Contracts were approved for demolition of the old Rentkos Tavern building
along Ridge Street, a well-known eyesore that the city bought with intent to demolish,
and the Peoples Food Market along South Market Street.
Duda lauded the
citys engineer for the bids on the table. North Penn Distributors Inc. and
Brdaric Excavating, the bid-winning excavators, came in significantly lower for
the two projects at about $18,500 each.
Duda said they expect the demolition
projects to be completed within two months.
Curbing improvements, including
new handicapped-accessible sidewalk ramps, along the citys K Routes and
Hanover Street are to be done Nov. 1. As members voted on winter plowing contracts,
resident Theresa Sowa asked if anything will be done about plowed snow piling
up on the sidewalks ramps.
Sowa said the piling snow makes it impossible
to navigate in a wheelchair, and she has seen wheelchair users forgo the sidewalk
altogether and take to the streets when snow blocks sidewalk ramps.
members agreed they would consider ways to keep the ramps clear in bad weather.
to create recreation park
city of Nanticoke can begin working to create the Greater Nanticoke Area Recreation
Park, after it gained possession of needed land through eminent domain proceedings
in Luzerne County Court.
The planned project, which began seven years ago,
will include sports fields, basketball courts, natural and camping areas, walking
and biking paths and a boat launch and fishing area on the Susquehanna River
declaration of taking proceedings began in April when the citys solicitor,
William Finnegan, filed court papers to acquire 90 parcels of land that will ultimately
become part of the 135-acre park.
Finnegan said no landowners objected to declarations
of taking within a required 30-day notice period, and he recently asked a county
judge to approve a $3,000 payment to landowners the city knows of.
The 90 parcels
are located directly off Lower Broadway Street in Nanticoke across from the Weis
Markets grocery store, and include some of a parking lot currently being used
by Luzerne County Community College.
Finnegan has said the land was used to
house Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers after the Agnes Flood in 1972,
and after the flood the lots were sold off or people left, creating title problems.
court documents filed recently, Judge Richard Hughes approved a requested $3,000
payment to landowners, most of which nearly $2,500 will be paid
to Susquehanna Collieries and the Susquehanna Coal Company, which owned 9.26 acres
of the land.
At least 19 other former landowners will receive $5 for their
small parcels, including the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority for a right of
way and the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.|
Finnegan said the $3,000
payment was determined after an appraisal of the land.
City administrator Pamela
Heard said the park is a work in progress and the city will not apply
for additional grants until work funded by a grant received in December is complete.
city obtained a $60,400 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources that will be used for the construction of a pavilion, parking area improvements,
pedestrian walkway, observation area, rain garden, installation of site amenities,
removal of invasive species, handicap access, landscaping and signage.
on the land the city had already owned is expected to begin sometime in 2013.
entire project is expected to cost around $1.1 million, according to the city.
GNA Community Meeting on Bullying
Greater Nanticoke Area School
District has scheduled a community meeting on bullying and suicide Oct. 4,
7 p.m., at the high school auditorium.
Superintendent Tony Perrone said the
acclaimed short documentary Teen Truth: an inside look at bullying and school
violence will be shown, which includes footage of students in schools.
The film will be followed by a presentation on suicide, including what to look
for. Perrone said the district will have handouts audience members can take home.
The meeting is open to the public and is free. Perrone urged parents and students
to attend. He also noted the district website homepage features a confidential
report form people can use to report bullying or other problems, and that the
district has Student Assistant Teams composed of appropriate professionals to
help students deal with problems.
Church celebrates 100 years
A service marks centennial
of Transfiguration of Our Lord.
Steven Fondo - Times Leader
A large group of worshipers came out on Sunday to observe
the centennial celebration of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic
Church in the citys Hanover Section.
Pastor Volodymyr Popyk hosted the
anniversary event which included a visit by Archbishop Metropolitan Stephan Soroka
of the Ukrainian Catholic Churchs Philadelphia Diocese, who led a procession
of clergy to open the service.
The church was founded in 1912 by Ukrainian
immigrants from the Lemkivshcyna and Peremyshl region, who arrived in the Wyoming
Valley to work in the anthracite industry.
I was baptized in this church,
said Joan Skordy, 69, who co-organized the event. Theres so much history
here. Its an honor for me to participate in this celebration.
Skordy, who recently came back to Northeastern Pennsylvania from King of Prussia
to care for her elderly mother, explained that many people from outside the area
would be in attendance at the anniversary.
My family helped found this
church, said Pat Magi. We drove up from Pittstown, New Jersey to attend
the service today. I couldnt be more proud.
A festive banquet
was held following the service along with a traditional Blessing of the Banners
by the visiting clergy.
gathers to mourn Nanticoke teen
More than 200 little candles burned in the dark and circled
the monument in the center of Patriot Square in Nanticoke as friends and family
gathered Wednesday night at a vigil to mourn the suicide of their friend, son
Joshuah Delos Santos, 13, shot and killed himself at his parents'
Nanticoke home Tuesday morning.
Holding a hodgepodge of candles dripping wax
into glass jars, plastic cups and note cards, the large group listened to classmates
remember a boy who loved drawing, science fiction and entertaining his friends
with nonsensical knock-knock jokes.
Many speaking at the vigil criticized
what they called "bullies" who they said drove Delos Santos to take
his own life. A Facebook tribute page to the teen was ablaze with similar complaints
But police have not been able to find any evidence to corroborate
"There's nothing in our investigation at this point in
time that he was bullied at all," said Nanticoke police Chief Bill Shulz
in a phone interview Wednesday. He asked that anyone with information on the suicide
report it to police.
The Greater Nanticoke
Area School District, where Delos Santos attended eighth grade, has a "zero
tolerance" bullying policy and an anonymous "bullying report form"
on the district website, but Superintendent Anthony Perrone said by phone Wednesday
the teen never spoke up if he was suffering from harassment.
really good at hiding his feelings," Nicole Delos Santos, 15, one of the
boy's sisters said by phone Wednesday. "He didn't let us know."
At the vigil, the Rev. James Nash urged the crowd to help stop bullying as red
flares burned at each street intersection around the square. Several students
wore white shirts and dark ties in a tribute to their deceased friend, who often
did the same in school.
Perrone, with the district for half a century now,
estimated this was the first student to commit suicide in 30 years.
Joshuah Delos Santos used was legally owned by the boy's father and was secured
with a lock in the home, Shulz said.
Friends, family and school officials
all said the tragedy was worsened by the fact the boy never told anyone of his
inner struggles. His sister asked others in a similar situation not to do the
"Stand up for yourself and say something to someone," Nicole
Delos Santos said. "There's always all these different people that will help
units team up in Nanticoke, Hanover Twp.
Paul Golias - Citizens
The barking alone is enough to get a
bad guy to back off.
In Wyoming Valley's South Valley area, the barking may
be coming from more than one K-9 dog, and that often means that more than one
bad situation will not get worse.
Police officers in the Nanticoke City and
Hanover Township police departments are using well-trained dogs both as stand-alone
patrol and search partners and as components of a cooperative program that is
The dogs are handling a variety of challenges, from suspect
apprehension to narcotics searches to building goodwill through community outreach.
Thanks to a $102,000 grant made available via the state gaming proceeds distribution,
both departments were able to buy new vehicles, cages and various K-9 support
items intended to keep the animals safe and comfortable in the patrol cruisers.
Nanticoke's K-9 officer, Patrolman Brian Kivler, and his dog, Vice, and Hanover
Township's officer, Patrolman Mark Stefanowicz, and his dog, Ado, met for a "team
photo" last week. Vice is a long-haired German shepherd and Ado is a Malinois,
related to the Belgian shepherd.
Police Chief Bill Shultz of Nanticoke and
Chief Al Walker of Hanover Township joined the K-9 cops and dogs and then provided
insight into the program.
Kivler has been Nanticoke's K-9 officer for the
last four years. Vice is 4 years old and was trained by Plymouth Borough Police
Chief Myles Collins.
Hanover's K-9 program dates to 1991. Stefanowicz teamed
with Ado, also 4 years old, in 2009 and the dog was trained by Paul Price of the
Northeast Canine Academy, Wilkes-Barre Township. It takes about three months to
go through training, the officers said.
The key value of K-9 dogs is deterrence,
the officers said.
"An individual will take on three police officers,''
Stefanowicz said, "but when he sees the canine, he backs off.''
is enough to threaten to get the dog out of the cruiser or yell to a fugitive
in hiding that "I'm sending in the dog'' to get him to surrender, Stefanowicz
With gun violence escalating in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the value
of K-9 dogs also has grown. And it is in this phase of police work, and in narcotics
interdiction, that the South Valley K-9 Partnership shows its strength. The dogs
can go anywhere in the county.
"Because small towns can't afford dog
programs, the opportunity to use one of our dogs is a great benefit to those towns
and to the county," Kivler said.
The dogs may be called on to search
for a missing person or to do a narcotics search of a stopped vehicle. The dogs
can search houses and other buildings.
From time to time, the K-9 cops will
take their dogs to area middle schools and high schools and do unannounced locker
searches. The dogs can detect drugs in lockers and school personnel then can determine
if illegal drugs are being brought into the buildings by drug pushers.
service is priceless," Stefanowicz said. "The impact on kids is incredible
when police show up to do searches."
Stefanowicz said as many as eight
to 10 K-9 units can take part in such inspections and "it is something to
see that number of K-9 units pull into a school parking lot at one time."
There are other K-9 units in Luzerne County, including Kingston, Wilkes-Barre
Township, at the county prison and a new dog in small Sugar Notch Borough where
the chief, Chris Pelchar, is the K-9 handler.
The Hanover and Nanticoke dogs
have been used as trackers, including a recent case in Nanticoke where a missing
6-year-old was tracked back to his own home.
Stefanowicz said the dogs are
very intense when they do drug searches and they can tire after 30 minutes or
so. Often, a second dog then takes over or does part of the search in a bigger
building, such as a school.
The dogs are not trained to sniff out bombs. Specialized
animals are used in such cases because cops would not know if a dog was signaling
drugs or a bomb if cross-training was used.
The officers do presentations
to scout troops, community organizations and the like. Stefanowicz took Ado to
show his skills at a recent cancer awareness program in Mountain Top.
said Nanticoke and Hanover Township have a long history of cops backing up each
other and the K-9 cooperative is an extension of that work.
Shultz said sharing
of information is vital today and law enforcement agencies are networking to combat
drugs and gangs, the latter an emerging issue that is on the radar of state and
The average career life of a K-9 dog is 10 years. The
dogs live with the officer-handler and most often, in retirement, they pass to
the private ownership of that officer and his family.
Hanover Township residents
became familiar with Rikki and Zeke, K-9 dogs of the past.
State Sen. John
Yudichak, who aided Nanticoke and Hanover Township in getting the state grant,
lauded the regional effort.
"We cannot expect towns to go it alone in
the fight for safe neighborhoods," he said. Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township,
is hopeful that more cooperation and true regionalization will take place.
Walker said the towns are hopeful they can obtain new grants for K-9 and other
community cashing in on sale day opportunities
City-Wide Yard Sale helps support
businesses and offers a way to promote attributes of the city.
Ralph Nardone - Times Leader
More than 100 joined the second Nanticoke
City-Wide Yard Sale this year on Saturday. The event, which was started four years
ago, is becoming an increasingly popular event, according to city officials.
Betsy Cheshinski, city clerk for Nanticoke and primary event organizer, said Mayor
Joe Dougherty and other members of the city administration give their full support
of the event because it offers a great way to promote the citys attributes.
It helps support city businesses, provides a way for residents to participate
in something for the city as well as benefit by selling their treasures,
gives yard sale enthusiasts a chance to go through numerous sales and is also
a chance for local nonprofits to conduct fundraisers, she said. The local Boy
Scout troop and volunteer firefighters participated, she added.
The city is
committed to conducting the yard sale at least once each year and even twice like
this year, depending on how well it is received, she said.
The first yard
sale this year took place in June, she said. Then the public started contacting
her about a fall version a few weeks ago, she added.
We received quite
a few calls from residents requesting we have another one in the fall, Cheshinski
The sale started at 9 a.m. centered in Patriot Park. There shoppers
were able to get copies of a list of the addresses of participating homes and
organizations as well as a detailed map of the city shoppers could use to get
around and find the locations. The map was provided by the city, she added. More
than 200 maps were given out by 11 a.m.
The Rev. Sylvia Thomas from the Berean
Lighthouse Church, where shoppers were able to look over some deals on clothing
and knickknacks, said she thought the sale was a great way to be part of
This gives us all a boost, Thomas said.
added the sale allowed people an opportunity to socialize, getting to know their
neighbors a little better.
Mike Nestorick, who worked at the local Boy Scout
troop booth located in Patriot Park, said the sale is a great day for Nanticoke.
There are a lot of great people who come to patronize us, he said.
Plus its a good time to show the Boy Scouts responsibility and to
get their parents involved, he said.
Cheshinski said she received a
lot of positive feedback from businesses who benefited from the increased customer
traffic. She also said she saw a lot of new young families walking through the
sale. For the day they got to see the benefits of an old-fashioned community,
John Gordon writes about area people for the Meet feature
- Times Leader
Bruce Phair is the manager and technical
director at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center at Wilkes University. Phair, 61,
graduated from Nutley High School in New Jersey and received a degree in music
performance from Wilkes University. He lives in Nanticoke with his wife Karen.
They have a daughter Kyra.
You originally started out in sales after graduating
from college. I went to New York City and worked in that field for four
years before deciding to come back to Wilkes University. I took some more classes
in business. I enjoyed my four years at Wilkes previously, so coming back was
an easy decision.
How did your future path go in a different direction
during your second stint at Wilkes? I really enjoyed acting in plays in
the 70s at Wilkes. I decided to continue taking part in the productions
upon returning. I was always kind of shy and acting was a great way to hide behind
a characters face. People seemed to enjoy my performances so I continued
to be a part of the theater. Eventually, I was introduced to back stage work and
that catapulted me into the position of technical director for the Dorothy Dickson
Darte Center in 1980. I remained in that role for the next seven years. I became
the facility manager in 1987.
What is it that keeps you excited about
the job? When I first attended Wilkes as a student I was one of the new
and fresh faces coming through the doors. Today I see high school graduates coming
in and they are the new fresh faces of the university. Although I am still the
manager and technical director, I feel I am more of a teacher these days. That
gives me the greatest joy.
You also mentioned that there was a key figure
in your hiring. Who was that? Al Groh, who many see as the greatest catalyst
for the rise of the Darte center, was instrumental in my hiring. I felt he saw
something in me that would be a good fit for the school. Al was instrumental in
the center coming into existence and he directed many plays as well as teaching
classes at the university.
Outside of the school were there any other
role models in your life? I would have to say my father for one. He taught
me an appreciation for nature, carpentry and electricity to name a few things.
We really utilized our time together. My wife is another energizing force in my
life. She has been my best friend and supporter in life. There are so many individuals
that helped me. They say what we reap in life is sown by others.
was your favorite role that you ever took on? I would actually have to say
the role of dad. My daughter Kyra is actually in my stage craft class.
What is something you really enjoy when it comes to entertainment? I love
cast recordings of Broadway musicals. I would love to go back to New York and
see some musicals live.
What is your motto? Lead by example.
Where do you like to visit in your spare time? My wife and I like to hop
in the car and try to see places that we have not seen. Our favorite place we
visited was Cape May, New Jersey. It has been our summer vacation the past 15
Where do you like to hang out in Northeast Pennsylvania? I
enjoy my own backyard. I really enjoy the cooler weather and splitting firewood
in the fresh air as well as gardening.
What do you think the area needs
to improve upon most? I would like to see a greater awareness of what the
area has to offer to people who are not familiar with it. I would like people
to have that feeling I have about the culture, mountains and river that drew me
What is one of your proudest moments in life? I would have
to say when my wife and I helped clean carpets and scrub the theater building
after the flood of 1972. That was a life-changing time and it also brought me
and my wife closer together before we eventually married.
Cuts spur protest at GNA board meeting
is a decrease in state funding, a school board member tells parents.
Steven Fondo - Times Leader
A group of concerned parents came out to
regular meeting of the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board on Thursday to protest
recently enacted program cuts that were the result of a decrease in state funding.
The board was presented petitions against the discontinued elementary physical
education, art and music programs.
A number of parents spoke out in opposition
to the cuts and many offered proposals to reinstate the defunct programs through
volunteerism and tax increases.
Elections have consequences, said
board member Tony Prushinski. Many of you wanted change in the last election and
voted for Governor Corbett. Well, look around; you got it.
Tony Perrone told the crowd that even in light of the program cuts, the district
has fared better than many others throughout the state due to its policy of creative
and proactive federal and state grant procurement.
There are 501 school
districts in Pennsylvania, explained Perrone. Each and every one of
them is experiencing similar budget concerns.
Many parents suggested
elementary teachers should include physical activity as part of their daily lesson
I came out for my daughter, stated George Merrick of Nanticoke.
Cutting these vital programs from the curriculum is not what we should be
doing. These kids need these classes at that age. But unfortunately, like most
things, its all about money.
Petition targets GNA arts cuts
Corporal punishment, music education and a failed vote
to retroactively hire and pay a coach who had already been working for the school
district - the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board meeting had a little something
for everyone Thursday night.
While music blasted from a school dance in the
gym across the hall, the board parried complaints from a lively crowd of about
35 residents who were protesting cuts to elementary music, art and physical education
that began last school year. Officials said they were due to Gov. Tom Corbett's
cuts to public education in his first state budget.
Glenn Kipps, 50, of Glen
Lyon led the charge. He presented a petition of nearly 2,000 signatures.
in the crowd asked for higher taxes to pay for the programs, but Superintendent
Anthony Perrone said that wasn't possible.
"We have 60 percent of the
kids in this district who are low-income," he said. "Their parents can't
afford taxes now."
For the first time in several years, the board increased
taxes this summer, which raised about $19,000, but board members said it helped
little for a school district with a total budget of about $28 million.
only way we're going to get those programs (back) is if somebody gives us the
money," Perrone said.
Elementary Center Principal Mariellen Scott said
the cuts were made in favor of saving full-day kindergarten.
As they have
in the past, the board and Perrone urged the angry parents to contact the governor
and ask him to restore public education funds to the pre-cut previous levels.
In an unrelated but bizarre bit of business, Valerie Kepner, 38, and mother of
two children in the district pointed out that corporal punishment is still listed
as a form of acceptable discipline in the elementary center handbook. Board President
Jeff Kozlofski said it was an anachronism that needed to be removed, but because
the books had already been printed for this year, the district would send an addendum
Another strange issue came up at the meeting when the board voted
down a motion to hire and pay a junior high school field hockey coach who had
already worked 25 days for the district. The team was cut due to a lack of student
interest. The board was concerned the coach had not received all her criminal
background and child abuse clearances necessary to work with children before she
started coaching. Kozlofski said the district would pay the coach for every day
she had her clearances.
The district also hired Chester Prushinski, the cousin
of board member Tony Prushinski, to be a crossing guard at an hourly rate of $11.50
for 15 hours a week.
Nanticoke home-ec teacher is right man for the job
For the first time ever, a man is teaching
students in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District how to cook, sew and run
Two years ago, Joe Figlerski was teaching art in the district.
One year ago, he was out of a job. Laid off from his position at the end of the
2010-2011 school year when the district cut elementary art, music and physical
education, Figlerski was rehired this summer to teach Family and Consumer Science,
formerly and perhaps better known as Home Economics or Home Ec.
Anthony Perrone informed him of his new job and pioneer status in the district,
he had one question.
"Is my hair long enough?" he joked, referring
to his shoulder-length mane.|
Figlerski, or Mr. Fig as his students call him,
has the look of an off-beat art teacher. On Wednesday last week, the accomplished
painter and tattoo artist was wearing a baggy shirt and 1970s-era patterned tie,
and was clean shaven, other than the facial hair pouring out his bottom lip and
wrapping around his chin.
Perrone uses words like "unique" and "Bohemian"
to describe the 37-year-old teacher, who is also a Greater Nanticoke Area graduate
and was a student of Perrone's when he served as a guidance counselor for the
When the previous, female Home Economics teacher retired after 37
years last spring, an unemployed Figlerski studied for the state certification
course and took the exam twice before passing and becoming the rare male qualified
to teach Family and Consumer Science. The Wyoming Area School District also has
a man teaching cooking classes, but another instructor of their gender could not
be found in Luzerne County.
It's no secret that the class has historically
been seen as one for girls, but that stereotype is dead, or at least dying, several
of Mr. Fig's students said. Nearly 40 percent of the students are male, and the
course is elective, meaning the students choose to be there.
famous male fashion designers and famous male chefs that are out there, why is
Home Ec any different?" said Chelsea Gronkowski, a 17-year-old senior and
one of Figlerski's students.
The switch from art to Family and Consumer Science
was not a difficult one, Figlerski said, because he can incorporate his art background
into the fields of cooking and sewing. And as the single father of a 4-year-old,
Mr. Fig said he's "pretty domesticated" and spent his off-year caring
for his daughter while he looked for other teaching jobs in the area.
this year of Home Ec, Figlerski's students are recording everything they eat for
a seven-day period and calculating caloric intake and nutrient levels. They will
eventually move on to cooking, as well as household budgeting and repairing clothing
with a needle and thread.
"I think of the class as learning how to fend
for yourself," Gronkowski said.
Figlerski said he would like to modernize
the curriculum by incorporating healthier dishes into his students' cooking repertoire,
although he said one fatty staple of the old classes will remain.
gotta keep pierogies alive," Figlerski said with a smile. "We're all
takes swipe at Nanticoke Area education cuts
Glenn Kipps isn't the most artistic
person in the world. Most of his achievements in the field of arts and crafts
were the paperweights he made for his mother in elementary school art classes.
"My hands aren't really inclined for that," he said. "I never was
a good drawer."
But Kipps, now 50 and living in Glen Lyon, said those
art lessons did teach him to put his young, creative mind to work, and he's worried
the elimination of elementary art classes along with music and physical education
programs in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District will hurt the development
of young students there.
"You're going to have a bunch of zombies walking
around," he said.
To voice his displeasure and also give others a forum
to do so, Kipps recently started circulating petitions at several businesses in
Nanticoke and Glen Lyon protesting the cuts. "SHAME ON OUR SCHOOLS"
reads the top of the petition. Kipps said he has collected about 1,500 signatures
and plans to present them at the next school board meeting Sept. 13.
face an uphill battle. The cuts to elementary "specials" began last
school year, and school officials say their hands were forced by the slashing
of millions of dollars to public education in Gov. Tom Corbett's first state budget
last summer. Those education funds did not come back this year, and so neither
did the programs.
"There's nothing we can do with those," said Superintendent
Anthony Perrone, adding that all elementary teachers are certified to teach art
and music and incorporate the subjects into their home rooms. "Times are
In addition to the program cuts last year, the school district
also laid off 21 employees. It was able to hire three laid-off teachers this year,
but the district also raised taxes on property owners for the first time in several
years. School districts get their local funding from property taxes.
Sorber, 20, has a pair of twin boys who will enter kindergarten in the district
next fall, and has signed Kipps' petition "everywhere I've seen it."
The young father, who attended school in the district before finishing with a
cyber school, is discouraged his children will not get the same opportunities
to nurture their creativity in art and music that he did.
imagination is the most important thing they have," said Sorber, who is not
a property owner and thus does not support the schools with taxes.
vice president and the longest tenured member of the school board, said that is
"Everybody wants everything, but you have to pay for it,"
The school district's tax base is an older and poorer one, he said,
which makes it difficult to raise taxes.
"Believe me, when we cut programs
it's not fun for us," James said. "We don't want to hurt anybody."
At the last school board meeting in August, James said no one from the public
complained about the cuts to specials in elementary school that are now a year
But Kipps, who is a property owner in the school district but has no
children of his own, plans to be there in September. And he hopes to have an army
of supporters with him, too.
rally to help sick kids
Riley Schmidt was born with kidney failure. An organ donation
from his dad failed, so the boy, now 3, must plug in to a portable dialysis machine
every night before bed.
Frequent trips to a Philadelphia hospital have put
a financial strain on the family as they've forced Riley's parents to miss significant
time at work.
But they have had one bit of luck: the Schmidts' mechanic, Rick
Temarantz, happens to be president of the motorcycle charity group Valley with
a Heart Benefits.
The group has raised more than $300,000 for local kids with
serious health problems during its 12 years, and has now added the Schmidts to
those it has helped.
The group has so far helped with some bills and prepaid
gas cards for all the miles logged on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Riley's father,
Daniel Schmidt, said.
On Sunday, more than 400 motorcycles will take the 12th
annual benefit ride from Nanticoke to Sweet Valley and back to raise awareness
and money for Riley and several other sick children.
"Bikers have big
hearts," Temarantz said. "They're not all rough and tough."
The rumbling ride will end at the Holy Child Grove in Sheatown, where a family
picnic will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The picnic features 12 bands on
two stages as well as a mechanical bull, games, raffles, vendors and beer on tap.
Fireworks are at dusk. All proceeds from the event go to help the sponsor children,
along with other kids throughout the year. Temarantz said the event raised about
$17,000 last year.
Anyone is invited to attend the picnic, and all bikes -
even Harley-Davidsons - are welcome on the ride, joked Temarantz, who drives a
To stoke the friendly rivalry, the president of the charity
group announces in his pre-ride speech every year that the Harley riders will
get a 10 minute head start, so they won't get left behind.
"Then I get
booed," he said. "Never had anything thrown at me yet."
District wants public to use pool more often
A high school senior project could lead to a community
swim program for residents of the city.
Anthony Perrone, superintendent of
Greater Nanticoke Area School District, said
the high school pool has been open three days a week Mondays, Tuesday and
Fridays during the summer, and he wants to see it become a bigger community
The pool needs some work, but we hope to generate revenue
through a swim program so we can open it to the public more often, Perrone
said. The student project was a great idea it got a lot of people
of all ages to come in and use the pool.
The pool has been open to the
greater Nanticoke area community since July 16. The last day for the program is
Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a cost of $1 for children and $3 per adult.
There has been a great response with children and adults of all ages using
the pool, said Andrea Medura, whose daughter, Constance, is a member of
the swim team and one of three students who participated in the pool project.
Lap swimmers, recreational swimmers and those learning how to swim have
benefited from the pool this summer, she added.
Swim team members and
others interested in swimming volunteered their time to make this summer program
become a reality.
Medura said participants include a woman who is a 5K runner
and uses the pool to do water aerobics, and two friends, one who has a hip replacement
and the other, a former Nanticoke swim team member, who come in the morning to
And then there are the kids, whose smiles and energy are
contagious to everyone, Medura said. Because of this summer program,
they have a place to go where they are exercising and sharing time with family
In addition to Constance Medura, high school senior Kat
Ferrucci and sophomore brother Adam Ferrucci volunteer three days a week to make
the summer program available. Swim team members also come to help out.
and Kat also ran a swim clinic this past April as part of their senior project,
Medura said. The clinic was offered to the Nanticoke Area Middle School
students. Members of the swim team also were there to help. They were introduced
to the different aspects of swimming and also had an hour of recreational swim
Perrone said the pool area is in need of some aesthetic repairs,
which are presently in the works; however, there are many items that are needed
for swim meets and future programs.
We are seeking donations to help
us reach our goals to bring the pool up to par so that we can provide what is
needed to run the programs effectively, Medura said.
She said some donations
have come in from Janisons on East Main Street, Jerry & Son Market and
attorney Rich Shiptoski.
A wish list has been compiled to improve
the facility for swim competitions. Medura said the swim team also is seeking
alumni or individuals with swimming expertise to help the swim team this year.
Perrone praised the students for the work on the project and he was pleased with
the turnout all summer.
I think we averaged 35 people per day in the
pool, he said. And they were all ages. We want to see more activity
in the pool.
Perrone said with school resuming next week, the public
swim time will end, but eventually reopen when he can assure that lifeguards will
be paid with non-district funds.
I believe the kids in Nanticoke need
an outlet, Perrone said. The pool should be utilized.
Confessions of a kielbasa contest judge
As a Polish
guy from Nanticoke with the last name Kalinowski, I tend to think I know a little
about kielbasa. You kind of have to when it's around during every family function.
If you would have told me a decade ago that one day there would be an entire festival
dedicated to Polish sausage, I would have said no way.
Then it happened. The
community revitalization group Plymouth Alive launched such an endeavor in 2004,
hosting the inaugural Kielbasa Fest, a spin-off of the widely successful Tomato
Festival in Pittston.
I was among the local media members and dignitaries
invited to judge the festival's signature event - the kielbasa contest. I've been
invited back several other times in the festival's eight years.
What an honor
- getting to help crown the Kielbasa King/Queen of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
It's actually serious business for the vendors who enter the contest, hoping for
a year's worth of bragging rights and the boom in business that comes with taking
the title. And it's obvious feelings are hurt and egos are bruised when you look
at the losers after a winner is announced.
The organizers of the event also
put on quite the show, as dozens of area residents pack the banquet room of Franchella's
Pub on Main Street to witness the Kielbasa trophy being awarded.
president of Plymouth Alive, serves as emcee, performing as play-by-play announcer
and color commentator, telling jokes and ribbing the judges as they chomp on piece
after piece of kielbasa. They even let a kielbasa mascot loose to run amok around
the room for awhile. Pete Truszkowski paces back and forth in front of the judge's
table playing his accordion, leading the crowd in songs, notably the Beer Barrel
"Roll out the barrel. We'll have a barrel of fun."
there's beer, too.
The judges use it as a palette cleanser in between the
different kielbasa entries. (And the bar is packed with people afternoon drinking.)
There's usually about 20 judges - half to judge the smoked kielbasa (pink/red)
and half to judge the fresh (gray/light brown). I usually hope for smoked, and
each year that's what I got.
When you sit down at your seat, in front of you
is a scoring sheet, pen, plate, knife and fork. These great hosts think outside
the box and also provide each judge with a large supply of Tic Tacs and antacids,
which are very much needed by the end.
Each kielbasa entry is judged on taste,
texture and presentation.
So the kielbasa can't just taste good and be enjoyable
to chew - it has to look good, too.
Over the years, I've seen kielbasa crafted
into a log cabin, a beach and even a moon landing re-enactment.
if they could do something like this at your next family outing if you want to
I tend not to overemphasize the presentation category because I
think most people want to know if a kielbasa tastes good, not that the maker has
the talent to turn kielbasa into a work of art.
Volunteers of Plymouth Alive
display the entries to the judges while slowly walking past the judge's table.
Then it's time to grab some, dig in, and give it a score. Soon, it's on to the
Judging is conducted by secret ballot and the judges have no idea
what kielbasa they are looking at or sampling. Members of Plymouth Alive swear
only a select few of their members even know.
So there's definitely drama
leading up to the announcement of a winner.
The initial year, one of the two
winners was hometown favorite, Dan Fetch, who operated a supermarket on Main Street,
not far from the festival.
In the years to come, a dynasty of sorts was established
as Bozak's of Olyphant won crown after crown. Komensky's of Duryea, which has
won a few awards too, has seemed to be the most formidable foe.
As a disclaimer,
Jerry's in Nanticoke is the one I get, but don't think they ever entered.
Organizers of Plymouth Alive like to shuffle up the judges from time to time,
especially when the same businesses are winning year after year. And from what
I've noticed, when they switched judges, the same businesses still keep winning.
That shows they have consistency and broad appeal. After I judged a few times,
some colleagues at the paper judged for a few years, then I returned. The rest
of the judge panel has been comprised of people from local television and radio
stations, along with council members, school board officials and magistrates.
A former Citizens' Voice reporter covering the contest a few years back joked
about the "celebrity" panel in his story, saying "it's not Elvis
No, but it sure is fun helping be kingmaker for NEPA's latest
Bob Kalinowski, a five-time Kielbasa Fest judge, can't
make it this year due to vacation. He can be reached at 570-821-2055 or email@example.com.
Hill Park its 'own little world'
Sara Pokorny - Times Leader
OK go up, Katie Murgolis, 5, shouts
to her grandfather Jimmy as he mans one side of the see-saw at Quality Hill Park
in Nanticoke, using just his hands to make it go whichever way she pleases.
Now down, she yells again, not a second after she hits the highest
point of the see-saw.
She loves this, Jimmy Murgolis of Hanover
Township said as he took a break and dusted his hands off. Me? I like when
she relieves me of my duties and I can sit on a bench.
Jimmy said the
duo likes to frequent Quality Hill not only for the playground equipment, but
Its kind of tucked away back here, he said.
Its quiet. Its like its own little world.
little world is a result of a determined group of people that got together 60
years ago with the urge to take improving their community into their own hands.
A bunch of neighbors got together and decided they wanted to do something
for the kids, Kenny Gill, president of the Quality Hill Playground Association,
said, so they overtook some land that belonged to a coal company and built
As the years went on and the original members of the playground
association grew older, the care once given to the area declined. Ten years ago
Gill, along with Nicole Kruczek, Sandy Bohn, and Ryan Verazin, decided to revive
the association and perk the park back up.
Why not? Gill said.
Its a great place in the community. We wanted to continue what the
original organization started.
The association got to repainting the
equipment and began to hold fundraisers to accrue money for park upkeep.
is a private organization, so all the money that goes into the park comes from
personal fundraisers, Gill said.
The park has hosted Easter egg hunts,
Halloween parades, and the annual Picnic in the Park, which will take place from
4 to 10 p.m. Saturday. A ticket gets all-you-can-eat food and non-alcoholic drinks.
The food runs the gamut from hot dogs and hamburgers to haluski and baked ziti,
all made or donated by members of the neighborhood. There will also be a beer
tent, childrens games, a bounce house, live entertainment, dunk tank, and
Chinese auction, among other things.
The Association has one goal in mind
for the money raised.
Wed love to build a pavilion here and rent
it out to people for all types of social events, Gill said.
has plenty of space to do such a thing. It touts not only a playground area with
both newer and older equipment, but tennis and basketball courts and a soccer
What: Quality Hill Park
How to get there: Take the Sans Souci Parkway towards Nanticoke
until it turns into East Main Street. Turn right on Slope Street and follow until
the end, where youll make a left to see the park.
What: Picnic in the
When: 4 to 10 tomorrow
Where: Quality Hill Park, Hill Street, Nanticoke
Tickets: $10 in advance by calling Kenny Gill at 735-0682 or Sandy Bohn at 239-6700,
or contacting any member of the Quality Hill Playground Association. Tickets are
available that day at the gate for $15.
Additional info: One ticket gets all-you-can-eat
food and non-alcoholic drink. There will be a beer tent with malt liquor and jello
shots, as well as live entertainment, childrens games, a bounce house, dunk
tank, and Chinese auction, among other things.
Centaxs bonding firm may aid towns
harmed by late tax disbursement could be reimbursed, receive damages
Municipalities that sustained
financial harm due to the Centax/Don Wilkinson agencys failure to timely
distribute earned income taxes may be able to avoid litigation and obtain reimbursement
from the firms bonding company, the solicitor for the Luzerne County Tax
Collection Committee said Tuesday.
Attorney Jeff Malak said the TCC has already
submitted a claim for $3.2 million with the bond company to obtain funds to pay
municipalities and school districts that have not received the full amount of
taxes theyre owed. Those entities also can seek to recover other damages,
such as costs incurred if they had to take out a loan to cover the shortfalls,
and lost interest on money they are yet to receive.
Several communities, including
Nanticoke and Forty Fort, were forced to take out tax anticipation loans
in order to meet bills due to significant delays Centax experienced in processing
and distributing earned income taxes.
Pam Heard, finance director for Nanticoke
and treasurer of the TCC, said she is collecting information from all municipalities
and school districts regarding damages they incurred to submit to the bonding
Nanticoke had to obtain a $400,000 tax anticipation note after Centax
failed to distribute several hundred thousand dollars to the city. Heard said
she will seek reimbursement for approximately $8,000 in interest the city will
incur on the loan. She also might seek reimbursement for interest the city lost
on money it has not yet received.
There is a lot of lost opportunity.
The city cant spend money it should have had, Heard said.
Forty Fort council members, who voted Tuesday to seek a $256,000 tax anticipation
note, also vowed to seek reimbursement for costs associated with the loan.
Tim Henry, solicitor for Wilkes-Barre, said officials are still considering whether
to take legal action against Centax should the citys credit rating be negatively
affected by the companys failure to distribute $1.1 million the city is
The Standard & Poors Rating Service recently notified the city it
was considering downgrading its A credit rating based on cash-flow
problems the city is experiencing.
Obviously it would have an adverse
effect if our credit rating suffered over this, Henry said. We certainly
would be injured, and that would give us a cause of action.
collecting earned income taxes for all 91 municipalities and school districts
in the county in January as part of changes in tax collection mandated by Act
32, which requires most of the states 67 counties to have one tax collector
for earned income taxes. Previously the tax was collected by tax collectors in
The company has encountered significant problems in processing
payments it has received and recently reached an agreement with Berkheimer Associates
to take over its accounts.
career in the cards
Twelve-year-old from Nanticoke makes magic as youngest
performer in ring.
Susan Denney - Times Leader
Jay fans out the cards and asks you to pick one. You watch it carefully as he
shuffles it back into the pack.
Paying close attention to all of the cards,
you watch him shuffle and cut them several times. He offers you your card back.
Surprise! Its the wrong one.
Then you look up at him and find your card
held between his lips.
At this point, you tend to forget this poised magician
is only 12 years old. But Mr. Jay is an old hand at cards. Hes been performing
this and other magic tricks for three years. Since the age of 10, Mr. Jay, whose
real name is Jarred Kraft, has been a professional magician.
with his mother, Stephanie, father, Fred, and younger brother Frede, who is 10.
The family has lived in Nanticoke since Jarred was 6 months old.
Frede both study with the Agora Charter Cyber School. The flexibility of taking
his classes online allows Jarred a lot of freedom in scheduling his appearances.
Jarred pinpointed the start of his career.
We were on a vacation at
Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. There was a magician there. I asked him how I
could learn more, he said.
The magician invited them to a local meeting
of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, or IBM. In spite of its name, men,
women and children as young as age 7 are welcomed into the organization.
was now hooked. Local groups of IBM are called rings. He is a member
of IBM Ring 30, which meets in Pittston. He feels that he gets a lot out of his
We teach each other magic tricks. And we have lecturers,
Membership in IBM is not like union membership, but Jarred does have
to adhere to a code of ethics, which includes a promise not to divulge any tricks.
For now, Jarred is the youngest in his ring. But he has taught Frede a lot. At
10, Frede is a willing assistant and he has learned some tricks of his own. Jarreds
repertoire includes card tricks, rope tricks, coin tricks and illusions. He has
developed advanced skills in sleight of hand.
Sleight of hand is the set of
techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins.
Jarred said illusions are usually performed on a stage and require bigger and
more expensive equipment. Jarred is beginning to acquire more equipment for stage
magic. But he prefers the work off of a stage.
Id prefer to be
up close and right up in front of you.
And he likes to combine comedy
and magic. Perfecting magic tricks takes lots of time and hard work; but, Jarred
said, I could practice all day.
The young magician is also interested
in learning sideshow stunts. Sideshow is not magic, he said. Its
Although hes too young to begin learning their craft, he
is fascinated by sword swallowers and fire eaters.
Magic isnt a hobby
for Jarred. It is his chosen profession. When asked where he wanted to be 10 years
from now, he quickly said, In Vegas or on a Disney cruise.
Krafts fully support Jarreds career. His stay-at-home mom manages his schedule
and oversees the boys schoolwork. His dad is fascinated with the magic.
He likes it, Jarred said. But he added, He had to get interested
because I cant drive to meetings!
As Mr. Jay, Jarred has performed
magic at parties, political meet-and-greets, and often does Pizza Bella customer
appreciation days. Hes participated in stage shows with fellow IBM members.
He also appears frequently at charity events, including Cancertacular events.
Cancertacular is a Northeastern Pennsylvania organization that raises money for
children with cancer.
Jarred wanted to do a fundraiser for Toys for Tots,
and with the help of his parents, organized a magic show in Luzerne last November.
The members of his ring came out and performed a four-hour show to generate cash
and toys for the U.S. Marine Corps program. Marines in dress uniform helped collect
donations. He plans to do it again this year.
His mom said his earnings for
now are going back into his business. But she said he is allowed to keep tips.
Thats his spending money, she said.
But Jarred was quick
to add that at charity events, even his tips are donated to the cause.
more magic is not Jarreds only dream. When he is 16 he plans to join the
local volunteer fire department. He will represent the fourth generation of volunteer
firemen in his family.
Mr. Jays next public
performance will be at noon Saturday at Pizza Kings at 512 Blackman St.,
Anyone wanting to book Mr. Jay for a future performance may
call 570 592-2062. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his
career on his Facebook page called The Magic Happens.
2 towns receive
Nanticoke and Plymouth will replace aging vehicles in their
area police departments received nearly $80,000 in grants to purchase patrol vehicles
through a federal program for small town and rural communities.
and Plymouth each were awarded the funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Each municipality will buy a sport utility vehicle and car for its department
and replace aging vehicles. Nanticoke received $38,400 and $38,660 went to Plymouth
from the USDAs Rural Development Community Facilities program.
are much needed and our department is well deserving of the funds, said
Nanticoke Mayor Joseph Dougherty during a press conference Friday morning outside
the citys fire headquarters on East Ridge Street.
One of the vehicles,
a 2013 Ford Escape, was parked in front of the fire station.
The city expects
to receive a new Ford Taurus soon and replace what we need to among
its four marked vehicles, Police Chief William Shultz said.
has ordered its vehicles to upgrade the pool of four marked vehicles.
was an unexpected pleasure but its much needed. Our cruisers are in very
poor condition, Mayor Dorothy Petrosky said.
Our cruisers are
getting a little old. This is coming at a great time. Weve been having problems
in Plymouth, which were working at correcting, and this money is sorely,
sorely needed, Plymouth Council President Frank Coughlin added.
the federal and state lawmakers who helped with the funding. The USDA provides
55 percent of the cost of the vehicles and the municipalities are responsible
for the other 45 percent.
Tom Williams, a Nanticoke native and USDA Rural
Development state program director, acknowledged people would question why the
department is involved with police cars.
The Rural Development agency
is the prime financer of rural infrastructure in Pennsylvania and in the country,
In the state the USDA program provided about $40 million in
funding this year, and most of it was in the form of loans to hospitals and schools,
he explained. There was only $250,000 available in grants and the focus was on
emergency responders and police departments that applied for the grants.
try to concentrate on the smaller grants in communities and Nanticoke and Plymouth
-- certainly all municipal governments in Pennsylvania right now -- I think are
stressed, Williams said.
buy police cars for Nanticoke, Plymouth
Nanticoke and Plymouth both received grants from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to purchase two new 2013
Ford sedan police vehicles.
Nanticoke received a $38,400 Rural Development
Community Facilities grant and Plymouth received $38,660. The grants pay for 55
percent of the cost of the police vehicles and the local communities must pay
the remaining 45 percent, USDA Rural Development State Director Tom Williams said
at a press conference Friday morning at Nanticoke Fire Headquarters.
and Plymouth applied for the grants, which are awarded for needs in communities
where 20,000 or less people live, Williams said.
Both Nanticoke and Plymouth
officials plan to replace old vehicles and now have four patrol cars each.
"Our cruisers are getting a little old. This is coming at a great time,"
said Plymouth council President Frank Coughlin. "We've been having a few
problems in Plymouth, which we're working on correcting. This money is sorely
Coughlin said more part-time police officers also will be hired
soon in Plymouth, which will help with growing problems with crime in the area.
Recent crimes in Plymouth have included the July 7 triple homicide at a heroin
deal and a drive-by shooting earlier this month in which at least six gunshots
were fired on West Shawnee Avenue.
Coughlin would not yet say how many part-time
police officers will be hired. Plymouth now has four full-time police officers
and five part-time officers, said police Chief Myles Collins.
Nanticoke officials also are replacing old vehicles that have high mileage. With
crime on the rise, Nanticoke Detective Capt. William Shultz said the vehicles
are used often.
Police patrol the city and Warrior Run 24-7 and transport
prisoners, which leads to a high use of the vehicles, he said.
Development funding also has supported other community uses in rural communities
across Pennsylvania such as fire protection, health care and education. Since
2009, the agency has invested nearly $204 million in rural Pennsylvania communities.
Nanticoke names new finance manager
Fondo - Times Leader
Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to
appoint current city employee Donna Wall as finance manager.
Wall will assume
the finance duties from City Manager Pam Heard at an annual salary of $40,000.
I believe in promoting from within, said Mayor Joseph Dougherty. Donna
has done a great job during her 17 years with the city, and I felt she was more
than deserving of this promotion.
Council President Steve Duda said
Walls appointment would cost the city only about $5,000 in salary due to
the internal promotion.
In other business :
Council announced the
city has been approved for a $38,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help
purchase two new police vehicles. The money will defray 50 percent of the cost
of new cruisers.
Council thanked U.S. Sen. Bob Casey for his assistance in
securing approval for the federal money.
Duda said the city is seeking
a way to resolve the slow receipt of earned income tax due to the states
Act 32, which mandates a single collector in each county for the collection of
Many municipalities have complained of problems receiving revenues
collected by Centax/Don Wilkinson Agency.
Heard said the city is requesting
reimbursement of any fees and finance charges incurred through the tax anticipation
note the city was forced to secure because of receipt problems.
Eleven set to be inducted next Sunday
The Times Leader staff
Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame will induct the class of 2012 at a ceremony
to be held Aug. 19, at the Ramada Inn on Public Square.
Tickets to the 28th
annual induction banquet must be purchased in advance. For more information, call
Football team captain and class president,
he was the quarterback at West Pittston High School, a two-year starter on the
basketball team, and a track and field standout.
His football career continued
as quarterback at Lafayette. He also earned a masters degree from Temple.
A first-team West Side Conference performer in football, he finished third in
the javelin in his senior year.
Bainbridge went on to coach six seasons at
West Pittston and a year as an assistant at Wyoming Area. He was also the head
coach at Spring-Ford for 11 seasons and an assistant at Coatesville for three
seasons and Ursinus College for 13, serving as defensive coordinator.
in 1994 after 34 years serving his communities as a teacher. Bainbridge and his
wife, Alberta, live in Royersford. They have two sons, Merle Jr. and Mark, and
six grandchildren, Ian, Emily, Max, Weston, Mariah and Matthew.
Currently the principal at Nanticoke, he was a track standout for
Wyoming Valley West and Penn State who reached the U.S. Olympic trials in 2004.
With the Nittany Lions, Gorham set a number of records and was a four-time All-American
specializing in the long jump. He won an IC4A championship and placed multiple
times at the Big Ten Championships.
He won a PIAA long jump title as a senior
at Wyoming Valley West, where he was also sixth in the triple jump and a 100 meters
semifinalist. He set a long jump record for the Spartans and District 2
with a leap of 24 feet. Gorham won four district championships at Wyoming
Gorham resides in Kingston with his wife, Tracey, and their four
children, twins Cole and Jack, 9, Noah, 6, and Gracen, 4 months.
The former major league pitcher played in six organizations in a
15-year professional career.
Gryboski was best known for his time with the
Atlanta Braves, where he was a set-up man in their vaunted bullpen during their
dominance of the National League East.
He was also a member of the Mariners,
Rangers, Nationals, Pirates and Giants organizations, and received Rookie of the
Year consideration in 2002 with the Braves. He went 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 57
games in his major-league debut season. He retired with a 12-8 career record and
a 4.07 ERA in 238 major league games.
Gryboski was a two-sport standout at
Bishop Hoban and then Wilkes. The Venetia resident is married (wife Leah) and
has two children (K.J., 7, and Kaylee, 6).
honorable mention as a senior at Nanticoke, he was a member of the schools
Class 3A state basketball championship team, which defeated Hickory Township 56-46
at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg.
James averaged 17 points and 14 rebounds
during his varsity basketball career, scoring more than 1,100 points for the Trojans.
He was the Wyoming Valley All-Star MVP as a senior. He also batted around .333
during four varsity seasons with the Nanticoke baseball team.
He went on to
play Sunday baseball in the Wyoming Valley League and modified fast-pitch softball
in New Jersey for 25 years, winning more than 200 games as a pitcher and batting
better than .400 as a pitcher, center fielder and shortstop.
James is employed
by the New Jersey District Water Commission. He lives with his wife, Anna, in
A standout at Nanticoke, he was a member
of the schools Class 3A state basketball championship team of 1961.
Kiewlak scored nearly 700 points in two varsity seasons with the Trojans and was
an all-state honorable mention. He also played four varsity seasons with the Nanticoke
baseball team, batting .444 during his junior and senior seasons.
on to an eight-year career playing semi-pro baseball, batting .375. He prowess
on the diamond led to a tryout with the Philadelphia Phillies.
from U.S. Steel Corporation and currently lives in Fairless Hills. He and his
wife, Patricia, have been married 46 years. They have two sons, Richard Jr. and
David, and three grandchildren, Eric, David and Ryan.
The two-time all-state basketball player at Nanticoke (1960-61) went on to
play Division I college basketball at George Washington, accepting one of 39 scholarship
offers he received.
Legins scored 607 points as a senior at Nanticoke and
posted nearly 2,000 points during his high school career, which he capped with
a Class 3A state championship in 1961.
At George Washington, he was a three-time
All-Southern Conference selection as well as captain of the Colonials for his
final three seasons at the university.
He became a teacher and coached basketball,
advancing professionally to retire as vice president of Abitibi Bowater Paper
Co., in 2008. He resides in Plymouth, Mass., with his wife, Barbara. They have
two sons, Kenneth Jr. and Keith.
Currently a wrestling official
in the PIAA and the NCAA, he was a three-sport standout at Meyers in the 1980s
for his efforts in cross country, wrestling, and track and field.
was a three-time letter winner in cross country, qualifying for states in 1986.
In track and field, he won district gold and silver while helping the Mohawks
to a state team championship.
His featured sport was wrestling, where he was
95-9-2 including an undefeated record in 55 dual matchups. He won two Northeast
Regionals and twice placed third in the state. He continued wrestling at Bucknell,
where he posted a 12-8 record in two seasons with the Bison.
He also played
nearly a decade of modified softball as a sharp-hitting second baseman. He earned
a bachelors degree from Wilkes and a masters from Misericordia. He
lives in Sugar Notch with his wife, Tracy, and children, Scott and Todd.
He starred in youth baseball and basketball in Hanover Township
and college at Kings, which he sandwiched around time as a student-athlete
Shipula attended Staunton (Va.) Military Academy for high school,
where he played basketball for four years. As a senior, he was the teams
outstanding player. He averaged 16 points and 18 rebounds per game.
he was a starter for two seasons on the basketball team and was a Division II
All-ECAC honoree during his junior campaign. Shipula extended his basketball career
by playing in France in 1977.
Since college, he has been an avid softball
player and coached a number of youth leagues, and has served on the PIAA Oversight
Council. Shipula has been active in the community in a number of causes as well.
He lives in Hanover Township with his wife, Sharon, and three children, Alexis,
David and Alyssa.
Jill Hockenbury Snowdon
A multi-sport athlete in both
high school and college, she excelled at both levels.
Snowdon played three
seasons of soccer at Kings, setting records for goals in a season (15) and
career (37), assists in a season (9) and career (24), and points in a season (39)
and career (98). She was a three-time MAC all-star.
She also played a season
of basketball and was a member of Kings first lacrosse team.
her college career at PSU Wilkes-Barre, where she played a season on the mens
soccer team, scoring one goal.
She played four years of basketball at Bishop
Hoban, scoring more than 800 points and leading the team to the state Class 3A
final. She also played three seasons with the Hoban soccer team, taking her junior
season off to join the track team as a sprinter.
Snowdon lives in Dallas with
her husband, Brent, and children William (6) and Elizabeth (3).
A master of martial arts with three black belts, he overcame injury to resume
a hall of fame career.
Inducted into the Grandmaster Coal Hall of Fame in
1991, he was forced to retire due to injury in 1993 after winning more than 150
He returned to martial arts in 2009 and has added more than 60 titles
since. He is a 10-time state champion, with eight of those titles coming in Pennsylvania.
Snyder had won four national championships and two world championships during
his career. He has qualified for three events at the 2012 world championships
and is ranked No. 1 in the nation in his age group for fighting in Taekwondo.
He works at Nurse Finders and Golden Living Center. Snyder lives in Wilkes-Barre
with his wife, Bettie, and children Brock, 3, and Brooke, 1.
The star quarterback and basketball player at Plymouth High School
recorded one of the longest in state football history.
In a 1939 game against
GAR, Witkoski returned a botched punt 107 yards for a touchdown in a 19-13 victory.
He was an All-State honorable mention selection.
After high school, he joined
the Air Force and continued his football playing as quarterback of the Jackson,
Miss., Air Force Base team.
He went on to operate Eds Market in Plymouth,
and after his retirement, worked for Darings Market in Dallas. Witkoski is an
avid bowler and polka dancer, regularly featured on WVIAs Polka Party.
Witkoski has three stepdaughters, Theresa Flood, Marge Gushka and Suzanne Smith,
and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
GNA adds new support
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Anthony Perrone announced at
Thursdays school board meeting the district has added emotional support
classes to its curriculum.
In addition, there will be three full-time speech
therapists and two life-skills classes available to the students for the new school
year. Perrone said the district has new teachers, new classes and is ready
Perrone also said there will be some changes in the cafeteria
menu this year. The menu will feature whole grain breads, more vegetables and
a maximum of two ounces of meat. The government mandated these changes, Perrone
In other matters: the board:
Approved music teacher Brad Bunnells
request for eight performances or competitions for the 2012-13 school year. The
superintendent will decide individually which competitions the band will attend.
Not all will be approved, due to the fiscal restraints.
Accepted the resignations
of furloughed teacher Ryan Kearney, as of July 10, as well as Henry Turoski Jr.,
strength and conditioning coach, for the 2012-13 school year. The board has also
appointed Neal McMahon as strength and conditioning coach for the 2012-13 school
Approved the appointment of Ed Pascoe as cross-country head coach and
Nick Weron as volunteer assistant. Barbara Lach has been appointed as the girls
Heard Andrea Medura say the schools summer swim
program is a success. The program includes participants between the ages of 3
and 70, and has seen up to 40 children and adults during one session.
Area implements healthy lunch guidelines
Superintendent Anthony Perrone says he expects
to have "a revolution" on his hands this fall.
That will happen,
he predicts, after students sit down for lunch that conforms to the new, healthier
guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture.
munch on more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and consume less saturated
fat, trans fat, salt and meat. Milk must be fat-free or low-fat. Lunches will
have calorie limits. The new rules are the first major changes to school meals
in 15 years, according to the USDA.
Perrone mentioned the changes after the
school board voted unanimously to set the meal prices for next school year. The
cost of a regular student breakfast increased by 25 cents to $1 and the cost of
an adult breakfast rose 25 cents to $1.70. The price of lunches will stay the
same, at $1.75 for kindergarten to grade 5, $2 for grade 6 to grade 12, and 40
cents for a reduced-price lunch.
In other business:
Board members Cindy
Donlin and Anthony Prushinski had a minor dust-up after a vote on summer maintenance
employees. Prushinski asked Donlin if the Nanticoke nepotism policies had changed
after her affirmative vote and said one of the three maintenance employees was
the nephew of a board member. After a brief back-and-forth discussion, Donlin
changed her vote, which had no effect on the hiring. It wasn't clear to whom Prushinski
Some teachers are coming back to the district after furloughs
last year. The board promoted speech teacher Nina Herbst's from part-time to full-time,
and recalled Joseph Figlerski, who had been furloughed, to teach family consumer
science. The board terminated 11 employees, furloughed 10 and demoted one in 2011.
Andrea Medura said the summer community pool program is going swimmingly. The
school pool is open in the summer for the first time in many years, Medura said,
and until Aug. 24, the pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Tuesday
and Friday. Admission is $1 for children, $3 for adults and $5 for a swimming
names Shultz police chief
The veteran officer will replace James Cheshinski,
who died in June.
Steven Fondo - Times Leader
voted unanimously on Wednesday night to approve the appointment of William Shultz
as police chief to replace Chief James Cheshinski, who passed away in early June
after a brief illness.
Shultz has been a police officer since 1974 and spent
10 years as chief of Plymouth Township police before joining Nanticokes
department in 1990. He was second in command to Cheshinski for a number of years.
Im honored to be filling Chief Cheshinkis shoes, and I hope
to follow in his footsteps, Shultz said. I plan to continue to serve
the city of Nanticoke and her residents to the best of my abilities.
Chief Shultz is the most qualified for the position, said Mayor Joseph
Dougherty. Hes hard-working and a dedicated officer. I know hell
make us proud.
Council President Steve Duda said that with the appointment
of Shultz, city officials hope to quickly address the understaffing of the department.
In other business:
Council voted unanimously to approve a $12,000 salary
increase for recently appointed City Administrator Pam Heard. Heards salary
will now be $67,000.
Duda said the raise reflects Heards expanded duties
in the aftermath of former City Administrator Holly Cirkos departure.
Council also voted unanimously to accept a bid of $488,987 from Pennsy Supply
for a paving project along Hanover Street. City officials said work on the project
will begin this month.
Middle Road resident applauds signs of safety
State applies 25 mph road marking
and will install stop sign at a key intersection.
For 20 years, Donald Casterline
has complained about speeding cars and trucks along South Main Street between
Route 29 and the Nanticoke line, especially past his Lower Askam house.
the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is moving quickly to address his
This week, in numerous spots along the two-mile stretch, PennDOT
painted big and bright 25 MPH signs in white lettering onto the roadway
and also fixed two collapsed storm drain grates that drivers swerved around, causing
them to enter the opposing lane of traffic.
The agency also painted a crosswalk
area across South Main Street near the school bus stop at Martin Street.
Thursday, PennDOT announced it would install a stop sign at the intersection of
Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street in neighboring Nanticoke, where South Main Street
becomes Middle Road. That will be done the week of Aug. 13.
like we made some progress, Casterline said proudly on Thursday. More
progress than Ive made in 20 years here.
He noted there is still
one thing PennDOT traffic engineer Keith Williams and assistant district executive
for maintenance Dennis Giordano promised him while at his house for a meeting
July 11 that has yet to occur.
They still owe us a wig wag, Casterline
said, using PennDOT lingo for solar-powered 25 mph signs with flashing lights
that draw attention to the posted speed.
For 45 years, Casterline has watched
bigger and faster vehicles zoom down the narrow, two-lane roadway. He has been
urging elected officials, PennDOT and anyone else who will listen to him to do
something in response.
He said heavy truck traffic, school buses, LCTA buses
and thousands of Luzerne County Community College staff and students have made
the roadway crowded and dangerous for motorists, pedestrians and homeowners, a
few of whom have had vehicle versus house incidents over the years.
wanted PennDOT to install stop signs at various intersections along the stretch
but PennDOT officials said those are not to be used to control speeding and could
But the stop sign at Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street was
selected as a place to help control traffic heading into Hanover Township.
I think it will break the momentum of the cars coming up this way,
Casterline said, adding that stringing the vehicles out a bit will help.
the measures PennDOT has taken are a big improvement. Im happy with
Casterline credited the media with covering his plight and likely
playing a role in the speedy response from PennDOT.|
PennDOT issued a statement
urging people to use extra caution when approaching the intersection over
the next few weeks as drivers adjust to the changes.
Providing skills for low-income
Andrew M. Seder - email@example.com
Tolodzieski wants his daughter Cassandra to make something of her life. And the
best opportunity for that to happen, he believes, is 100 miles away.
11, will soon head to the Milton Hershey School, a century-old institution founded
by its namesake that offers educational and skill training opportunities to children
from low-income families.
The schooling is free, as are room and board, clothing,
medical and dental care and more. Its all paid for from the trust set up
by the chocolate maker and his wife shortly after the school opened in 1909 and
that has now grown to $8.5 billion.
To get her out of the projects,
shell get the education she needs, said Tolodzieski. She has
a great opportunity down there.
Sitting inside Antonios Pizza
and Subs along East Main Street in Nanticoke, Cassandra and three other Nanticoke
girls, each wearing Aeropostale t-shirts, ate pizza and listened to school admissions
counselor Stacey Spangenburg.
She explained school policies, expectations
and offerings, answered questions and told the students that while theyre
making a big commitment to further their education, their family is making a big
Theyre giving a special gift so you can get a
great education and opportunity, Spangenburg said.
Only one of six accepted
Its an opportunity that isnt available for everyone and even for those
that do qualify to apply, only one in six are accepted.
More and more, the
school has branched out to corners of the state from which it had not regularly
Starting next month, Cassandra, Alexa Dunaj, 12, and
Jovina Munoz, 11, all of Nanticoke, will be among the 43 students from Luzerne
County attending the 1,860-pupil school, a number that has increased by 700 over
the last five years.
In addition to continuing efforts to serve urban populations
already familiar to the school, recruiters are turning their efforts to areas
of the state, including Northeastern Pennsylvania, which may not have an awareness
of the school.
The plan is to increase enrollment to 2,000 students over the
next 10 years, school spokeswoman Lisa Scullin said.
We are aware that
there are children from poverty across Pennsylvania who need the education, services
and care we provide. Northeast Pennsylvania is an area where there is need, and
we are working to make sure families here know about Milton Hershey School,
To accommodate that growth, the school will open four new student
homes on its 10,000-acre campus in Derry Township, Dauphin County in September.
Scullin said four more student homes are slated to open next year and the school
has permission to build eight more in the near future.
Spangenburg said having
four students from one small city is not common.
Its a result of one
student spreading positive comments about her time at the school. That student
is Miranda Park, 13, who is entering her third year at the school and will be
in seventh grade this fall.
She began at Hershey in fifth grade and a few
months in got homesick, dropped out and went back to Nanticoke Middle School.
But she quickly changed her mind.
I realized I made a mistake,
she said. So she reapplied and was reaccepted this year. She was able to talk
to her three Nanticoke friends about the school, her difficulties adjusting to
leaving her family and friends and how she coped.
Making the transition
Her suggestions were simple. Keep in touch with your family, busy yourself with
activities and schoolwork and realize that youre there to better yourself
and to take advantage of an awesome opportunity.
Miranda said Alexa, Cassandra
and Jovina will have the added benefit of knowing each other, a support system
she didnt have.
Alexa agreed that while she worries about being homesick
the transition will be easier to cope with knowing she has friends nearby, even
if the girls learned none of them will live in the same home on the sprawling
campus that includes swimming pools, a chapel, art museum, athletic facilities
and both television and radio studios.
According to Scullin, the main
goal for all of our students is that they leave the school well-prepared to enter
society as productive citizens. We want all of our graduates to be good students,
but we also want them to be good people, good employees and responsible members
of their communities. Our graduates continue to reflect this ethic.
She said that more than 90 percent of Milton Hershey School graduates plan to
continue their education at a two- or four-year college or trade school. For students
that will go on to higher education, the school offers scholarship credits during
their high school years to cover most of the tuition, fees and room and board
at universities or trade schools.
The school requires each student to pursue
a career technical education track while there.
Eleven Wyoming Valley Conference softball players were honored by the Pennsylvania
Softball Coaches Association all-state team, which was released on Friday
The team, which is selected based on votes from sports
writers across the state, includes 249 players throughout the state from Class
A to AAAA.
First team selections from the WVC include Tiffany Oplinger
of Lake-Lehman, Maggie Gola of Nanticoke Area, Danielle Tuzinski of Hanover
Area and Ange Hillan of Nanticoke Area, all in Class AA.
a junior pitcher at Berwick, was selected to the second team in Class AAA, while
Nanticoke Area senior outfielder Katie Kowalski and teammate Sammi Gow, a senior
shortstop, as well as Holy Redeemer junior Stacey Warga were named to the
Class AA second team.
Honorable mention selections were Hazleton Area
junior pitcher Becky Demko in Class AAAA, Tunkhannock senior pitcher Ashley Inman
in Class AAA and Northwest Area senior pitcher Rachel Linso in Class A.
was the top hitter in the conference as senior with a .680 average. She finished
the season with six home runs, six doubles, five triples and 21 RBIs and had just
one error at shortstop.
Tuzinski led Hanover Area to its first Division II
championship since 1996 as well as 13-0 regular-season record. She recorded 90
strikeouts and 1.00 ERA and offensively she had 19 RBIs on six doubles, one triple
and a home run.
Gola and Hillan have been starters since their freshman
seasons and led Nanticoke Area to the Division I East Championship, the District
2 Class AA title and a trip to the PIAA Class AA semifinals.
Gola drove in
33 runs on 35 hits, including 10 doubles and a pair of triples.
a perfect season in centerfield for the Trojanettes and recorded 34 hits and knocked
in 19 runs.
hospital honors Nanticoke native
A hospital in Poland has been named for Nanticoke
native Dr. Stanley Dudrick, who pioneered what some consider one of the three
most important advancements in surgery during the past century.
has a long list of medical achievements listed in a biography of his 50-year career,
said he thinks his greatest accomplishment has been training thousands of doctors
and surgeons and helping patients around the world.
a lot of lives, said Dudrick, 77, who now serves as medical director of
the Physician Assistant Program at Misericordia University in Dallas Township
and as professor of surgery in the Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut.
Growing up in Nanticoke, the son of a coal miner, he vividly recalls his mother,
deathly ill with severe rheumatic fever and heart disease.
More than anything,
he was touched and moved by the doctors who made house visits and treated his
mother, and he vowed to grow up to be just like them.
They saved my
mothers life, Dudrick said. I said I wanted to be like these
And so at age 6, he was set on his
career path. By 1961, after graduating from Franklin and Marshall College with
a biology degree, he was enrolled at University of Pennsylvanias medical
After internships and residency he became chief of surgery at the
Veterans Administration Hospital in Philadelphia and in 1972 he moved to Texas
to become the first professor of surgery at the newly established University of
Texas at Houston Medical School. He worked there until 1994 before heading back
east to work at Yale.
He always wanted to come back and work in the Wyoming
Valley and made sure he visited at least twice a year, typically Christmas and
His wife, Theresa M. Keen, a Pittston native he met while the two
worked at Skytop Lodge in the Poconos during their college summers, was a 1955
Through conversations with the school and its president,
Michael A. MacDowell, Dudrick was able to help develop the schools physician
assistant program, and he will come on board full time this fall when the first
class enters. Finally, his dream of working and living in Luzerne County will
Desire to keep helping
As for retiring, something some accomplished
77-year-olds might consider, Dudrick said its not for him.
in the twilight of my career and the twilight of my life, and Im trying
to be as useful as I can for as long as I can, Dudrick said.
he started the latest chapter of his life at Misericordia, he was in Poland in
May and learned that a 28-bed hospital that opened this year in the town of Skawina,
just south of Krakow, was named in his honor.
While there to lecture and participate
in the annual meeting of the Polish Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition,
he was asked to visit a new hospital that was constructed by two Polish doctors
The hospital is located in an area where all four of his grandparents
were born and raised before emigrating to America.
At a surprise unveiling
of a bronze plaque at the hospital on May 24, Dudrick learned of the new Stanley
Dudricks Memorial Hospital.
It was a very emotional experience
for me, Dudrick said. I dont feel I deserve it and I would have
never expected it.
Dudrick, who first visited Poland in 2003, has been
a consultant and member of the Polish Journal of Surgerys editorial board
for almost 10 years and has contributed several scientific papers for publication
in the journal.
Dudrick said he didnt ask for the hospital honor and
was told the name was chosen because the two Polish doctors were inspired by his
Coupled with the fact I had Polish roots and my family was
from that region, it all came together, Dudrick said. It was an act
of respect and gratitude.
Dudrick said its nice to be recognized
for his work, most notably his pioneering research while at the University of
Pennsylvania in development of the specialized central venous feeding technique
known as intravenous hyperalimentation or total parenteral nutrition, which allows
those who cannot eat to be fed through a tube that bypasses the intestines.
Along with open-heart surgery and organ transplantation,
his breakthrough has been called one of the three most important advancements
in surgery during the past century.
The number one love of my life was
to be the best surgeon I could possibly be, he said. Being the best
husband is second.
And its a fact he told his wife while proposing
I told her if she could live with that, would you marry me?
The reply from the English major who would go on to bear his six children was:
Quo Vadis, or where are you going? with the implication
she would follow.
Never once in 54 years has she interfered with me
being the best doctor I could possibly be, Dudrick said.
Name: Dr. Stanley Dudrick
Family: Married to
former Theresa M. Keen, the couple has six children and 16 grandchildren
In Dallas Township, born and raised in Nanticoke
Education: A 1953 graduate
of Nanticoke High School, he earned a degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall
College in 1957 and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961.
Career: Worked as chief of surgery at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia before becoming
the first professor of surgery at the University of Texas at Houston Medical School.
In 1994 he accepted a job at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. and serves as
chair of the department of surgery at Saint Marys Hospital in Waterbury,
Conn. This year he was hired as medical director of the Physician Assistant program
and recipient of the first endowed chair at Misericordia University.
to fame: Many, but most notably he is credited with a new technique called Total
Parenteral Nutrition used to feed nutrients to the ill who could not eat.
Nanticoke defeats West
Side for title
Nanticoke used a three-hit
effort by Colby Butczynski to defeat West Side 5-1 for the Wilkes-Barre 9-10 Rec
Championship on Monday.
Dylan Sczychowski, Austin Norton, Jacob Kruginski
and Jaden Held each produced a hit for Nanticoke. Butczynski picked up the win
on the mound.
Mike OKane, Jim White, Dave Menzel and Jim Harding each
had a hit for West Side.
for downtown Nanticoke unveiled
$5.6 million from feds would help pay for
walks, lighting, ramps and landscaping.
Susan Bettinger - Times
Mayor Joseph Dougherty on Wednesday night presented to City Council
proposed renovations for the citys downtown area.
Daryl Pawlush of Penn
Eastern Engineering detailed the streetscape project, which will make improvements
to Kosciuszko, Prospect, Union, Main and Market streets. Planned improvements
include new sidewalks, curbs, ramps, trees and street lights.
spaces also will be added to the area, increasing the total to 58. Handicapped-accessible
ramps also will be installed at the intersections. The project will bring new
landscaping and sidewalks near the entrance to Weis Markets.
the new lights will utilize LED technology, which will cut down on the energy
used, saving the city a considerable amount of money yearly.
The federal government
will provide $5.6 million of the $7 million project through an earmark and the
city will provide $1.4 million, or 20 percent. A separate earmark of $2 million
is being used to improve Alden Road, which is under construction. The earmarks
were secured by former U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski.
Council President Steve Duda
said the plans are bringing a significant change to the city. He said
that in order to invite commerce to the city, the improvements must be made, and
residents should embrace this change.
Finance Director Pam Heard
said the 20 percent of the funding the city put in was money that has been saved
from the sale of assets, minus expenditures, and excess revenue. Heard said raising
taxes to pay for the project would not be necessary.
Also, there was a first
reading of an ordinance to disband the citys Civil Service Commission and
to establish two separate boards, one for the police department and one for the
names new manager
Citys financial officer replaces Holly Cirko, who
was recently charged with driving under the influence.
Pamela Heard is
the new city manager, replacing Holly Cirko, who was recently charged with driving
under the influence.
Heard, 43, of Mountain Top, will continue serving as
financial officer temporarily.
City Council unanimously confirmed her appointment
Wednesday night. The post pays $55,000 annually.
Heard said Thursday that
she, her husband and two children will move to Nanticoke within one year, as per
the requirement of the citys Home Rule Charter.
There are lots
of good things happening in the city, Heard said.
She said Geisinger
Health System is building a satellite clinic downtown and a streetscape project
will begin soon. She said the federal government will provide $5.6 million of
the $7 million project and the city will provide $1.4 million.
are being repaved this summer, she added.
The Geisinger project will
bring more jobs to the city, and more jobs means more people and more tax revenue,
Mayor Joseph Dougherty said he is looking forward to working with
Heard, whom he called a dedicated employee.
She possesses exceptional
leadership qualities, Dougherty said. Shes not afraid to stay
late to get the job done. I have great faith and confidence in her.
As part of the Act 47 recovery plan, the city formed a manager recruitment committee
to handle the selection process. Cirkos title had been city administrator,
but the title was changed to city manager under Home Rule.
applied and Heard emerged as the unanimous choice of the five-member committee.
I wasnt surprised when that recommendation was offered, Dougherty
The mayor said Cirko, 39, applied for the position, but her application
was received late past a set deadline and the committee did not
Cirko has been on paid leave since crashing her car into a wall
about 3 a.m. June 26.
Dougherty said Cirkos last day of employment with
the city will be Aug. 3.
According to a criminal docket filed in the office
of District Judge Donald Whittaker, Cirko was charged on July 6 with DUI, careless
driving and accidental damage to an unattended vehicle or property stemming from
her arrest on June 26. Her preliminary hearing before Whitaker is scheduled for
Aug. 8 at 2:45 p.m.
According to the state website, The Financially Distressed
Municipalities Act, also known as Act 47, empowers the state Department of Community
and Economic Development to declare certain municipalities as financially distressed.
It provides for the restructuring of debt, limits the ability to obtain government
funding, authorizes municipalities to participate in federal debt adjustment actions
and bankruptcy actions, and provides for consolidation or merger of contiguous
municipalities to relieve financial distress.
Heard said she has been working
with the appointed recovery plan coordinator, and the city could be out of Act
47 status by the end of 2013 or early 2014.
Id like to be out
of Act 47 tomorrow, Dougherty said. We have an exit plan in place,
and the city is in pretty good shape. We just have to watch our finances.
Dougherty said the city, like several other municipalities, has been having difficulty
collecting its earned income tax revenue.
Well get by, he
Nanticokes annual general fund budget is $4.2 million and the
city has 56 employees. Two-thirds of the budget goes to the citys paid fire
and police departments, Heard said.
Heard is a native of Exeter. She graduated
from Wyoming Area High School and The University of Scranton with a degree in
accounting. She is a certified public accountant.
We have a wonderful
staff here, Heard said. They have been invaluable, helping out tremendously
while we are short-staffed.
Proposed streetscape improvements unveiled
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
The project's funding
- $5.6 million of federal money - came thanks to a congressmen who's no longer
in the House of Representatives.
Daryl Pawlush, a principal with Penn Eastern
Engineers, and members of city council heard public comment Wednesday on the proposed
streetscape over several downtown streets, one of the final steps before it starts.
Five years after former U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski secured funding for changes to
Nanticoke streets, the city is close to starting the work.
The project could
put new trees, LED streetlights, handicap ramps, paving, benches and parking meters
in Nanticoke on several blocks of Main and Market streets, Pawlush said.
entire project will cost $6.7 million. The city is paying its share with money
saved for capital improvements and with profits from selling some properties,
said Pamela Heard, the former director of finance who was voted in as city manager
Citizens questioned how some parts of the project would work and
discussion sometimes strayed from the topic at hand as people wondered what good
an improved street would do without businesses to occupy the sidewalks. Council
members said the project is a first step toward bringing new life to the city.
"We must all embrace this. This is a signal change," said council president
Stephen E. Duda. "In order to get businesses into the city, you need good
infrastructure. If we have a good-looking city, it all works together, hand-in-hand."
Duda said Geisinger Health System is close to moving a facility into downtown
and that other businesses are looking at the space. He said he couldn't name those
businesses because negotiations are ongoing.
Want to comment on the plan
for a streetscape in downtown Nanticoke? Stop by city hall during business hours
or go to Mayor Joseph Dougherty's office hours from 5:45 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays,
said council president Stephen E. Duda.
Nanticoke names new city manager
Wellock - Citizens Voice
Council on Wednesday hired a replacement for
the city manager, who has been on paid leave since her arrest in connection with
a drunken-driving wreck.
Council voted Pamela Heard, who was working as the
city's director of finance, as the city manager at a meeting Wednesday. A home
rule committee interviewed five candidates and recommended Heard to the mayor,
and council approved the mayor's choice, said council president Stephen E. Duda.
Heard replaces Holly M. Cirko, who was on paid leave since crashing her car into
a wall about 3 a.m. June 26. Police charged Cirko with driving under the influence,
accidental damage, and careless driving.
Solicitor William Finnegan said Cirko
will soon receive a notice informing her when her last day will be.
has been working as the city's finance director for about three years. That experience
was a key reason she was chosen, Duda said.
As the director of finance, she
worked with the city's budget and with contract negotiations.
not only the best because she was capable, she's already proven herself and worked
hand-in-hand with Holly Cirko," Duda said. "I don't think we'll miss
Heard will make $55,000 a year as the city manager. In the meantime,
she will also continue the financial duties she was performing.
eventually take some specific managerial training, but no plans have been made
for that yet, Duda said.
After months without reliable
tax revenue, Nanticoke council on Wednesday accepted a $400,000 loan from M&T
Bank with an interest rate of 1.98 percent.
Nanticoke had been trying to avoid
taking out a loan, Heard said before the meeting.
However, problems with the
tax collection company implementing a new county-wide collection system meant
the financial vice was tightening.
No place like home
Veterans family donates
residence for other vets
Sara Pokorny - Times Leader
When Mary Ann Standishs brother Barry passed away
in February 2011, she knew she had to do something to keep the memory of one of
the most loved people in her life alive.
Everyone who knew my brother
respected and liked him, she said. He was intelligent, kind, generous,
and always had a smile on his face. If you knew Barry you became familiar with
his fabulous sense of humor and his gentle nature. Although his life became so
difficult after he was disabled, he never complained.
Barry was a U.S.
Army veteran of the Vietnam War and the Nanticoke house he resided in until the
day he died at the age of 69 will now be renovated and used by the NEPA Veterans
Multicare Alliance to help veterans in need.
The West Field Street residence
came into the familys possession in the mid-1940s, when the home was bought
by Mary Anns parents John and Lillian Standish, who raised a total of six
children at the residence.
Barry was honorably discharged from the Army in
1964 after being disabled while serving the country. He was never able to work
again in his profession as a mechanical engineer because of his injury. After
he passed, the home was given to Mary Ann.
When he died, it was really
like the end of an era in terms of that home, Mary Ann said. It didnt
seem fitting that Barry and his legacy would just end like that. I didnt
want it to turn into a rental that might fall into bad conditions, so I decided
to donate the home.
Mary Ann said this is something Barry would have
wanted, as he was always very active in affairs dealing with veterans. He and
Lillian volunteered their time at the Anthracite Chapter No. 5 Disabled American
Veterans Organization for many years and Barry volunteered at the Veterans Administration
Hospital in Wilkes-Barre.
The house will now be known as the Barry B. Standish
Veterans Home and work is currently being done on it. Its a three bedroom
home that, when finished, will provide a space for a veteran and his or her family,
for however long they need it, rent-free.
Karla Porter, vice presidents of
NEPA VMA, said such jobs as a roof and porch floor replacement, new siding, and
replacement of bathroom and kitchen fixtures need to be done. In recent weeks,
the U.S. Air Force 314th Recruiting Squadron has been working on the house.
Theyve been in charge of a lot of the cleanup, Porter said,
and it would be great if we could get people to volunteer some time to help
with the actual renovation.
Porter said anyone willing to help can call
NEPA VMA at 706-2066 or visit the website at nepavma.org. Any type of donation
is welcome, from time to money to actual pieces for the home. Porter said a dishwasher
has already been donated.
Were very flexible as far as when people
can work on the house is concerned. If someone lets us know when they can give
us some time, were willing to work with them to make it happen.
Proud to be patriots
Parade honors those contributing to country
Sara Pokorny - Times
The sun broke through the clouds and
the spattering of rain stopped just in time for the South Valley Patriots Day
Parade to come through Patriot Square.
The event was the first of its kind,
hosted by the South Valley Chamber of Commerce as part of the organizations
community development program. The Chamber represents 32 municipalities; they
will take turns hosting the parade.
The parade is held to honor what is typically
thought of as a patriot, those in the armed forces, but it also represents a much
broader array of people.
We define a patriot as basically anyone who
contributes to this country, Chamber executive director Chris Carey said,
pointing out that that sentiment can reach as far as business owners, municipal
leaders, and even those who cut the grass.
They all contribute to what
makes America, America. We wanted to define it this way so that its broad
and opens it up to celebrate more people.
As the first trucks rolled
down East Broad Street, 8-year-old Billy Emmert stood on the corner clapping,
knowing full well the value of honoring those who serve our country.
brother Johnny is leaving for Kuwait in a couple weeks, he said as he sat
among friends Maddy Rowles and Jeffery Engle, 11, Carleigh Kenne, 10, and chaperone
for the day Sarah Engle, on a bench along the parade route.
Sr., 51, served in the Marine Corps in 1979. He was at the parade with his children
Mitchell Jr., 7, Robert, 4, and Rhiana Fravel, 9. He was appreciative of the day.
Its always nice when they do things like this, he said.
Several local vendors were there, from area food to community organizations and
businesses, as well as a DJ.
The inclement weather cut the festivities short,
ending around mid afternoon instead of the planned 9 p.m.
Landlord shocked to learn tenants charged in killings
It's a nice little house, owned by a nice
old lady who lives next door.
Early Saturday morning, heavily armed police
barged in Rear 178 E. Ridge St. and nabbed two suspects wanted for a triple homicide
Neighbors say they're stunned. The woman was a tough, hands-on
landlord who took over the family homestead with pride - and strict rules. She
wouldn't even let unwed couples move in together. Also, they say, the home, a
block from the city police station, did not seem like a problem property - not
the place two murder suspects from Philadelphia would end up.
as much of a shock to me as it is to you," the landlord, Margaret Romanofski,
81, said Tuesday.
Romanofski, who lives in and owns an adjacent triple-unit
apartment building, said she never saw the two suspects, Shawn Hamilton, 18, and
Sawud Davis, 16, who police say stayed there only a matter of days.
have identified the tenant of the rental unit as Benyall I. Richardson, 30, who
was not home during the raid and had not returned since. He was arrested in Nanticoke
on Tuesday night on unrelated charges.
Saying she was upset and not feeling
well, Romanofski, an avid church-goer and retired nurse, politely declined to
speak much about any lease agreement for the property in the rear.
pulled one over on me," she said.
"The people were happy over the
years. We didn't have any problems with our tenants in all the while," she
added, noting that the properties were in her family for generations and always
Most neighbors agreed.
They said Romanofski had a long-term
tenant in the rear apartment for nearly 20 years, but she moved out two years
ago and Romanofski struggled to find a reliable, trustworthy replacement tenant,
having to evict several.
"She's definitely not a slumlord. The property
is kept nice. The garbage is out on time. The bills are paid," JoAnne Mera,
54, said. "I never saw anything suspicious and maybe she didn't either. I
felt bad for her when it happened."
Nanticoke police say the only time
they were called to the home in recent memory was when Romanofski told police
she no longer wanted Richardson living in the home. Police told her that was a
landlord-tenant matter that would have to be resolved in magisterial court.
One of Romanofski's tenants said he lived in his apartment for 11 years and she
is the best landlord he ever had.
"It seems she got duped," said
the man, who did not want to give his name.
A woman who lives across the street
said she was shocked to hear the address where the murder suspects were arrested.
She said her daughter had previously considered renting the home, but it was not
big enough for her family.
"I thought they had the wrong house. I was
like, 'Are you sure it's not West Ridge?' I was so surprised. It's not a dump.
It's clean. It was well kept," she said. "It's major shock. This woman,
she's older, for her to have that happen to her, I feel bad."
Nanticoke Area claims crown
Nanticoke Area defeated Pittston Township,
4-2, on Sunday in the championship game of the District 16 9 and 10 year old tournament.
The victory in Nanticoke Areas first season after Nanticoke and Newport
Township Little Leagues combined.
Colby Butczynski picked up the win on the
mound, while Austin Norton pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for the save.
hits for Nanticoke were Butczynski, Dillon Szychowski, Chris Ormes, Jayden Held,
Nate Penko and Adam Eckhart.
Delivering hits for Pittston Area were Mike Nocito,
Tony Gorey and Devon Shandra.
Nanticoke advances to the sectional tournament.
Gow credits family
Parental guidance led to Nanticoke stars success
- Times Leader
Pretty much everyone has come
to know that Sammy Gow is a talented softball player.
She has been a staple
in the Nanticoke lineup for four years. Before that, shes played on a number
of championship teams, including the 2009 Junior Division Little League state
But the secret to her success isnt her swing, her glove,
nor her throwing arm. The secret to her success, which includes being named The
Times Leader Player of the Year her parents.
Definitely. My parents
have been at every single one of my games since Little League, Gow said
of parents Janet and Tom. My dad was always my coach (in Little League,
the Keystone State Games and with travel teams), he was always on the field with
me. Hed always be in the backyard with me. Thats why I always turn
to him when I want to work on something, even now.
Heading to Wilkes
in the fall, that tradition will continue. From their spot in the crowd to the
ability to hone skills and enjoy each others company, the Gows will continue
to support their daughter, though theres no longer the need for the catchers
My mom would come in the backyard and be a part of it, too,
Gow recalled. When I used to pitch, she would catch (for) me. She would
inspire me and give me talks. She was the one who would lift me up whenever I
might be down.
I owe them all of the credit. I wouldnt have been
the player I was without them.
Gow gave up pitching well before her
high school career took off. She used to post her fair share of double-digit strikeout
games. But she moved on to the infield, playing second base on the 2010 Nanticoke
state championship team, and starring at shortstop the past two seasons.
dont really know. It used to be a lot of fun, Gow said of her time
in the circle. But I love playing the infield, I love playing shortstop.
I dont know what happened to my pitching.
As a senior, she batted
.347, leading the Trojans in hits (35, tied with Maggie Gola), runs (29) and triples
(4). She was charged with just seven errors, though its unlikely anyone
can recall even one of them.
And when the pressure is on, Gow gets better.
In three state playoff games this season, the senior batted a whopping .778 with
two double, a triple and four runs (all team-highs). Thats nothing new for
Gow, who finished her high school career with a .609 batting average in PIAA Tournament
But that was with a Nanticoke squad that featured some of the same
player who were on her Minor Division teams a decade ago. She will miss her friends
who are heading to other places after Nanticoke, but she is prepared for the chance
to excel for the Colonels.
Over the years, Ive played with some
of the same girls for 10 years, Gow said. But Ive also played
with girls from Tunkhannock to right next door in Hanover. Yeah, I wont
be playing with the same team, but I am excited to be moving on. It will be an
easy adjustment because of all the other players Ive played with on different
Also a standout basketball player, Gows is a natural athlete.
Shes played soccer in the past and wanted to give field hockey a try, though
her busy schedule would not allow her to add the commitment.
love sports, Gow said. I was definitely blessed with the athletic
gene. I would have played every sport if I could.
And she is thankful
her parents nurtured that gene into years of fun and exceptional play.
for avoiding tax penalty draws near
A 10-percent charge will kick in July
9 for Wilkes-Barre, Pittston and Nanticoke property owners.
Property owners in Wilkes-Barre, Pittston and Nanticoke
have until July 9 to pay 2012 Luzerne County taxes without a 10-percent penalty,
according to the county treasurers office.
The office collects county
taxes in the three cities.
The deadline to pay county taxes without a penalty
varies in other municipalities because bills arent issued in one batch at
the same time.
Elected tax collectors handle the receipt of tax payments in
69 municipalities, and Hazleton and home-rule municipalities rely on outside companies
or in-house collection.
The law allows a 2-percent discount for payment within
two months of the tax bill issuance and another two months for payment without
penalty, said Laura Beers, treasurers office manager and tax administrator.
This four-month period technically ends July 8, in the three cities where collection
is handled by the county, but the law requires payments to be accepted the next
business day because the deadline falls on a Sunday, Beers said.
penalty is added after four months, increasing a $500 bill to $550, Beers said.
Property owners in the three cities have the option to pay their taxes online
with a credit or debit card, Beers said.
A convenience charge is added for
the service, but it may be less than the penalty if property owners are able to
pay the debt sooner, she said.
The credit card convenience charge is 2.4 percent
of the amount paid, or $12 on a $500 payment. The Visa debit fee is a flat $3.95.
Credit/debit payments at the non-penalty or face amount will be accepted through
midnight July 9, Beers said. A link for this service is available under the tax
collection section of the treasurers office page on the county website,
Tax payments postmarked by the deadline must be accepted
by tax collectors with no penalty, she said.
Some property owners use online
bill services to have tax payment checks issued to the county, Beers said. These
services often rely on a mail sorting system that omits the postal service time
stamping on envelopes, Beers said. This becomes a problem for payments made close
to the deadline.
Postmark is required for each and every payment we
process after July 9 no exceptions. We must be able to prove to the auditors
that we are following the law, Beers said.
The treasurers office
collected 73.6- to 78.1 percent of county taxes in the three cities as of June
26, or $7.7 million, Beers said. The office expects a 92 percent collection rate
through Dec. 31, which is the last payment date to avoid penalties beyond 10 percent.
The county has received $77.65 million from 2012 property taxes countywide this
year to date, or 86 percent of the budgeted $90.3 million, she said.
Camp guides children
along State Street in Nanticoke on Tuesday, the most eye-catching image is a colorful
Camp Noah sign planted on the lawn of St. John's Lutheran Church.
is hosting Camp Noah's week-long series of activities for elementary school-aged
victims of last September's flooding, many of whom were displaced from their homes
for weeks and months.
Camp officials say the program, functioning as a day
camp, is designed to help kids develop important resiliency skills following traumatic
Jayne Leh, assistant education professor at Penn State in Berks
County, spearheaded the local project with her students in an effort to give the
future teachers the experience of teaching "outside the classroom" and
help students cope with their emotions.
"There's support for adults -
Red Cross, conversation, financial aid - but sometimes after things as dramatic
as a flood, children can't find the right outlet to express themselves,"
While Leh has been involved with Camp Noah since 2007 and has visited
tornado victims as distant as Alabama, 2012 marks the first year she or Camp Noah
have reached out to Luzerne County.
"The damage among these students
isn't as noticeable (as with Alabama children), but we're early in the week as
far as students processing their emotions," Leh said.
From blocks away,
the children, more than 30 kindergartners though sixth-graders could be heard
laughing and playing at a nearby park, where camp organizers made sure memories
of the flood remained distant.
The Rev. Deborah North of St. John's shared
similar praise for the Camp Noah volunteers, saying, "They're running this
camp, we're just enjoying learning from them."
"The main goal for
the camp is to send kids home with a greater sense of wellbeing," North said.
"These kids are gaining the ability to deal with emotional storms as they
get hit with them in life."
Camp Noah and St. John's Lutheran Church
will continue their no-charge program from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.
Any child affected by last year's flood is invited to join for the remainder of
the week to share their stories and enjoy skits, music and games. For information,
script to win for Nanticoke
The team topped Duryea/Pittston Township to win
the District 16 Little League major softball title.
- Times Leader
The beginning was similar. And the end was the same.
The biggest difference, though, was the grand prize the District 16
Little League major softball title.
Nanticoke once again rallied from
an early and small deficit against Duryea/Pittston Township, sealing the game
late for a quick 6-1 victory Monday.
In little over an hour, Nanticoke won
its second consecutive district championship and its first since combining with
neighboring Newport Township. Up next is a trip to the Section 5 playoffs where
Nanticoke will face the D32 champion at 7:30 p.m. on July 3. The sectionals will
be hosted by the D17 champion, either North Pocono or Old Forge.
The two teams
played Thursday, and DPT took a 2-0 lead after one inning before Nanticoke rallied
for a 4-2 victory. DPT again put Nanticoke in a modest hole as Mackenzie Gable
singled home Angelica Singer for a 1-0 advantage in the first.
kind of scenario, Nanticoke manager Jason Rinker said. Even after
a walk, the defense pulls together. Its a complete team effort. It works
out really well.
But after Bella Gorzkowski followed with a single,
Nanticoke pitcher Jenna Lipowski silenced DPTs bats. Gorzkowskis single
to left in the fourth was the only other hit allowed by Lipowski. She pitched
perfect innings in the third, fifth and sixth.
Nanticoke quickly erased the
1-0 deficit in the second inning. Miranda Dunn walked and Megan Murphy reached
on an error, both coming with two outs. Liz Moore followed with an infield single
that scores both girls.
Murphy delivered an RBI double in the fourth to make
it 3-1 before Nanticoke scored three times in the fifth to take a five-run lead.
Morgan Briggs had the big hit in the fifth, a seeing-eye single between short
and third to score Abbie Corcoran and Lipowski. Helping her own cause, Lipowski
hit an RBI single earlier in the inning.
When youre up 3-1 and
you get those three insurance runs, it takes a lot of pressure off, Rinker
said. It makes everything a lot smoother. Its a world of difference
between 3-1 and 6-1.
DPTs Nina Cencetti pitched well in defeat.
She allowed just four hits and fanned six. But some costly errors helped Nanticoke
Area's Gow named softball Player of the Year
Gow works hard for her accomplishments as an athlete, but it's fair to say the
Nanticoke shortstop is a natural when it comes to sports. Whether she was leading
off the Trojanettes' batting order or leading Nanticoke's basketball team in scoring,
Gow has left behind a legacy at Nanticoke.
The four-year starter is The Citizens'
Voice Most Valuable Player after leading the Trojanettes to a 22-4 record, a Division
I East championship and a District 2 Class AA championship.
Gow had seven
hits in two state playoff games for the Trojanettes and finished the regular season
with three triples, four doubles, a .321 batting average, a 390 on-base percentage
and a .910 fielding percentage at shortstop.
Jill Snowdon: As the team's shortstop
and leadoff hitter, your roles were pretty important. What did your duties mean
to you and how did you approach each of them?
Sammy Gow: This year I went
back to playing short after playing at second the past three seasons and it was
nice to get back to where I played pretty much all my life growing up. I didn't
mind playing at second because it was in the best interest of the team, and short
and second are a lot alike, except for the longer throw. But I've worked with
my dad a lot on my footwork and having a quick release (from short) and I think
my glove is one of my best strengths and every batter that came up, I would envision
them hitting to me.
And as a leadoff hitter, I still got nervous at the start
of every game, even though I've been the leadoff since I was a freshman. But I
always had a lot of confidence in my teammates that were after me.
are some of your favorite softball highlights over the past four years?
Definitely winning the state championship my sophomore year. That was the best
day of my life and my only regret is that I didn't take the time during the game
to look around and take it all in. I was younger so maybe that's why, but I really
wish I took the time to cherish all the little moments and details of the day.
Another favorite moment for me was when we beat Dallas in my junior year for the
first time in seven years.
JS: What was the driving factor in your decision
to attend Wilkes in the fall?
SG: I'm going there because I have a seat in
the pharmacy program and my education is first and foremost. But I'm excited about
playing softball and playing for coach (Frank) Matthews. I'm so glad I'll be playing
locally because my parents and grandparents will be able to come to the game.
That was another reason for my decision. And I think it's going to be awesome
to play against Jenn (Harnischfeger) and Amanda (Cardone) when we play King's.
(Both Harnischfeger and Cardone played at Nanticoke and will be juniors at King's).
JS: You were in a self-described slump this season but really came through in
the playoffs. What got you out of it?
SG: I think the turnaround happened
in the playoffs because I knew that every game could have been my last. I play
better under pressure and I think the pressure of knowing that one game could
be the end played a difference. I also worked a lot on my hitting going into the
playoffs and I had a lot more confidence that I think I lost during the season.
JS: The season didn't end as you had hoped (a 14-1 loss to Warrior Run in the
PIAA Class AA semifinals). How hard was it to grasp that your high school career
SG: I still get upset when I think of that game. I don't know what
happened with that game, but I remember walking out of the dugout and crying because
the worst part of it was I wasn't going to play again with some of the girls on
my team. I hated that my senior year ended that way, but it was a great four years,
so I can't complain.
board members' relatives take teaching posts
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board raised
some eyebrows when it hired three teachers with family connections to board members
at its meeting Thursday night.
Board member Ryan Verazin's sister Cara Verazin
and member Tony Prushinski's niece Lauren Dembowski were each hired to teach at
the elementary level. Marya Siergiej, the niece of member Chet Beggs, was hired
as a special education teacher.
The school district does not have a nepotism
policy on hiring. Superintendent Anthony Perrone said he didn't know why that
is, only saying it has never had one.
But Perrone defended the hirings, saying
he and the three district principals, rather than the school board, did all the
interviewing and made the recommendations to the school board on who to hire.
The three board members related to candidates abstained from voting on the hiring
of their individual relatives, Ryan Verazin said.
Board Secretary Cindy Donlin,
however, voted no on all three candidates.
"I've never voted for a board
member's immediate family member" for any job position, she said. "I
just don't think it's right. It's my personal choice."
that because Demboski and Siergiej had substituted in the district, they were
probably deserving. But Cara Verazin had not, she said.
"Years ago, when
board members wanted their family members hired, positions were created. I sat
in the audience as a taxpayer and it aggravated the living hell out of me,"
she said, explaining her distaste for hiring relatives of the board.
district also brought back three teachers whom were laid off last year to fill
a budget shortfall, and hired another two. Donlin said 12 candidates were interviewed
for the five open positions.
The new teachers replace seven retirees who took
a buyout from the school district, and will save the school district about $250,000,
Perrone said, because those they replaced were more experienced and thus more
The hirings were part of the school district's $25.2 million budget
for the upcoming 2012-13 school year, passed by the board Thursday. For the first
time in several years, the budget includes a small property tax increase of 2.3
percent on the millage rate, which translates to about $20 more per year for the
average household, Verazin said.
Facing more state cuts and a dwindling rainy
day fund, the superintendent said the district will probably have to raise taxes
again next year.
"We're not going to do an excessive amount, but we want
to preserve our school district," Perrone said.
Board relatives hired for GNA positions
unanimously passes $25.2M budget that increases property taxes.
Susan Denney - Times Leader
Of five new Greater Nanticoke Area teachers
hired Thursday night, three had close family ties to board members.
also unanimously passed the districts final 2012-13 budget of $25.2 million
that increases property taxes by almost a quarter of a mill.
teacher Cara Verazin is member Ryan Verazins sister. Lauren Dembowski, another
elementary hiree, is member Tony Prushinskis niece. Maria Sergei, niece
of board member Chester Beggs, will be a special-education teacher for the district
in the fall.
All board members voted on the personnel issues, except Verazin,
Prushinski and Beggs abstained from voting for their family members.
Secretary Cindy Donlin abstained from voting on all three, saying she will never
vote to employ someone who is related to a member of the board.
meeting, Board President Jeff Kozlofski defended the hiring of board family members.
He said all the interviews for new teachers hired were conducted by the three
principals and the superintendent. He said the board was not involved.
principals) recommended them to us, he said.
Kozlofski also said the
board has never considered an anti-nepotism clause comparable to the one adopted
by Pittston Area.
The positions were made available because of a memorandum
of understanding between the school district and the GNA Education Association,
which is the teachers collective bargaining unit. The memorandum provided
for early-retirement incentives for seven senior teachers.
Manager Al Melone said the union helped the district balance the budget. The early
retirements also allowed the district to recall three furloughed teachers.
The districts final budget for the upcoming school year will increase the
tax rate to 10.1777 mills compared to last years 9.9295. A mill is $1 tax
for every $1,000 of assessed value.
Melone reminded the audience this was
the first tax increase for the district in many years. He said the average taxpayer
will see an property tax increase of about $20.
Melone also said the district
has retained the homestead and farmstead exclusion reductions provided by gaming
revenues. Those taxpayers who opted into this program will see a reduction of
$141 in their taxes.
In another matter, the board appointed John Gorham to
be the high school principal at a salary of $80,000.
Nanticoke school board approves budget with modest tax
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board unanimously passed a $25.2 million budget
at its Thursday meeting.
The millage rate increases from 9.9295 to 10.1777,
which translates to about $20 more in annual taxes for the average property owner,
board President Jeff Kozlofski said.
The board did not cut any teaching positions,
Kozlofski said. He said he thinks the district dipped into its fund balance, but
he wasn't sure how much of the balance it might have used.
also saw some moves with teachers. The board accepted the early retirement of
seven teachers, posted an open position for one of those retirees, hired five
teachers and brought back three teachers who were furloughed.
now has no teachers on furlough, Kozlofski said.
Nanticoke plan revealed
- Times Leader
Alexander Belavitz, president and CEO of Facility Design
& Development, on Wednesday night discussed with City Council potential plans
for the $16 million housing project whose Phase 1 development should begin after
The multifamily project will not be a low-income development, but
one that is price-sensitive for Nanticoke, Belavitz said. The development will
come at no cost to the city.
Council also approved the purchase 12 speed signs.
The signs will display the speed limit at 25 mph and will be posted along Union
State Street resident Donna Parrish addressed council about illegal
activity that has been occurring around the State and Chestnut streets area. Parrish
said she recently witnessed illegal activity going on and called 911, which would
not connect her with the Nanticoke Police Department, and she said did not receive
a timely response.
She said that by the time she received a response, the
activity had ceased and the suspects were gone.
Parrish requested that an
after hours, non-emergency, direct number to the police department be provided.
Council President Stephen Duda assured Parrish the matter would be handled promptly
and would be discussed with the mayor and the acting police chief.
also said illegal activities have been increasing in that area, and that she believes
many of the landlords on that street are absentee owners.
Fire ravages Nanticoke home
- Citizens Voice
Two families took what they could from their burned
double-block house Thursday afternoon after a fire left their homes uninhabitable
and their lives in uncertainty.
No one was injured, but eight people were
displaced by the fire that started behind 63-65 W. Grove St., spread to the interior
and burned out the upper floors of the building before firefighters extinguished
it, Nanticoke fire Chief Mike Bohan said.
The cause of the fire was under
investigation and the department called in a state police fire marshal, which
is something the Nanticoke Fire Department generally does after a fire, Bohan
The fire was called in at 4:01 p.m. and firefighters arrived at the
scene at 4:07 p.m.
Not knowing if the homes were empty, firefighters searched
the building but found no one. All the residents were either outside or had been
away from the home, Bohan said.
The left side of the building, 63 W. Grove
St., was more extensively damaged than the right side, Bohan said, but both sides
had significant damage from fire, smoke and water. The flames got into the eaves
and up to the attic, and the third floor was severely burned at both addresses,
Behind the house, the second-floor porch at 63 W. Grove St. was charred,
with siding around the porch peeling off. The top story had turned black and the
edge of the attic was broken. Windows were smashed and debris littered the roof
and the ground.
Both families who live in the house said they did not have
Most of what Jennifer and Richard Bonk, of 65 W. Grove
St., could salvage belonged to their 8-month-old son, Christian. Their attic was
gone, their bathroom was lost and the couple's bedroom was half-destroyed - but
Christian's room was untouched, Jennifer Bonk said.
They worked with firefighters
to salvage a few belongings, such as the boxes and baby chair they piled on the
The Bonks' neighbor, Elijah Taylor, 29, was working out when he got
a phone call and raced home to find his home on fire, but - thankfully, he said
- his fiancee and three sons were safe outside. The couple's wedding date was
planned for 10 weeks from now, but will have to be put on hold while they take
stock of their options.
"Now, we basically start over," Taylor said.
The Red Cross helped both families with food, clothing and hotel rooms, said Red
Cross spokeswoman Kara Mowbray.
to honor all those who serve
South Valley Patriots Day Parade will be held
July 15 in Nanticoke.
Matt Hughes - Times Leader
Everyone loves a parade, and the Wyoming Valley is getting a new one.
South Valley Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday it will host its inaugural
South Valley Patriots Day Parade on Sunday, July 15, in Nanticoke. Planned as
an annual event, the chambers 25 member municipalities will take turns hosting
the parade in subsequent years.
The parade is dedicated to area patriots,
a group the chamber defines broadly.
Jerry Hudak, president of the South Valley
Chamber, said the parade will honor the service not only of Americas armed
forces, but of municipal emergency responders as well.
We want to show
the appreciation of The South Valley Chamber of Commerce for these duties, and
for those who have fallen in those duties, Hudak said.
Director Christopher Carey added to that list business owners, municipal leaders
and everyone down to the person who cuts the grass; everyone who does their
duty to make their community better.
The parade begins at 11 a.m., though
activities on and around Nanticokes Patriot Park will continue from 10 a.m.
until 9 p.m.
Starting near Greater Nanticoke Area High School, the parade
will proceed up East Green Street, turn right onto South Market Street, turn right
again at East Main Street and end at the intersection of East Main Street and
Organizers said veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam,
Iraq and Afghanistan will march along with area emergency responders.
around Patriot Park will include food vendors, informational booths from chamber
businesses and community organizations, live music and deejays and childrens
activities, including face-painting, balloon animals, clowns and an inflatable
bounce house. Several ceremonies will also be held throughout the day, including
a flag-raising ceremony and tolling of the fire bell for fallen firefighters.
Hudak said the chamber hopes to provide a public entertainment option in an era
when such offerings are becoming less common.
The fact of the matter
is that a lot of things happened in previous years, such as closings of churches
and recession and the like, which resulted in organizations curtailing social
events that they used to have, Hudak said. And we felt that there
was a need for people to come out and enjoy themselves.
He also said
the event will provide an opportunity for the chamber and its member municipalities
to showcase themselves, as he anticipates business expansion in the area with
the extension of the Southern Cross Valley Expressway planned in 2014.
South Valley probably has the distinction of having more underdeveloped land than
any other area in the county, Hudak said. We want to show this area
Chief Cheshinski recalled as leader and friend
Longtime member of city force
Mat Hughes - Times Leader
a solemn farewell Wednesday to a veteran cop, tireless police chief and devoted
City police Chief James Cheshinski, 60, died unexpectedly Saturday
at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Dozens of police officers from Nanticoke and
surrounding departments, the Pennsylvania State Police and the state Attorney
Generals Office paid their respects Wednesday at his memorial service.
Those who knew him well remembered Cheshinski as a law enforcement veteran of
41 years who had held every rank on the Nanticoke police force and was committed
to improving the department.
Plymouth police Chief Myles Collins called Cheshinski
the kind of guy you could sit down and talk to, and if he could help you,
he was always there for you.
He said the chief sought to build relationships
and coordination among local police departments.
He was instrumental in bringing
a canine unit to Nanticoke, taught children about the dangers of drug abuse in
the D.A.R.E. program and encouraged other officers to become D.A.R.E. instructors
as well, officers said.
But even more so, Cheshinskis co-workers remembered
the chief as an approachable boss who was always willing to offer a helping hand
where he could.
Ive worked a lot of places, but he was probably
the best boss Ive had, said Sgt. Brian Williams of the Nanticoke Police
Department. He was more than a chief; he was a great friend to all of us
He was easy to talk to. He was usually in and his door was always open.
We just didnt talk about work; we talked about life in general. If you had
a problem, he would help you out with it.
He had a great personality,
said Capt. Bill Shultz, Cheshinskis partner of more than 20 years. He
was able to communicate and get along with others, as opposed to some of us. He
was honest; he was a man of integrity, a family man, a husband, father and grandfather;
a great cop and a great boss, too.
He will be sadly missed,
Shultz added. He was like a brother to me.
City officials said
the city will miss the experience Cheshinski brought to the department.
city is at a great loss, said District Judge Donald Whittaker. The
years of experience and background that Jimmy brought to the law enforcement community
of this town is irreplaceable.
He served the city for many years,
Nanticoke Mayor Joseph Dougherty said. He served it with honor and with
integrity. He was an asset to the community and hell continue to be an asset
to the community because of the policies he put in place as police chief.
After the memorial service, an convoy of police cruisers escorted the chief past
the city municipal building where fire trucks stood with raised ladders draping
American flags, and past his home in the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
is survived by his wife, Mary; sons, Kyle and Ryan; daughter Kelly Felici and
her husband, Pete; granddaughters Lexy and Brooke, and several aunts and cousins.
among 24 women serving on Navy submarine crews
Nanticoke native Ensign Abigail Gesecki Holt
is one of 24 women serving on nuclear submarine crews in the U.S. Navy. Her most
recent achievement includes working on the USS Wyoming and pursuing the qualifications
needed for Submarine Warfare Insignia status.
With her junior naval officer
ranking and 15 months of training, Gesecki Holt feels honored to be a part of
the submarine community and prepared for her upcoming missions. Her training included
attending a nuclear power school in Charleston, S.C., a submarine officer course
in Connecticut that was designed to teach tasks outside the engine room and safety
courses in New York.
"The training became more and more challenging as
it went on," she said. "At the very end you need to make sure you have
adequate knowledge to graduate."
As one of only three women serving on
the USS Wyoming nuclear submarine, she does not let the large number of men on
the squad become overwhelming.
"On a day-to-day basis I don't think about
being a female, I think about being a submariner. At the end of the day it is
important that I can do my job well and serve."
Gesecki Holt's husband,
Jordan Holt, a 2009 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, has just been deployed to Japan
while she is awaiting deployment on the USS Wyoming nuclear submarine.
father, Henry Gesecki of Nanticoke, was surprised by his daughter's career choice.
A 2006 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School, Gesecki Holt set her sights
on running track at the University of Pennsylvania, but she also looked into the
Naval Academy. And, after an overnight stay, Gesecki Holt realized joining the
Academy was the right choice.
"After her visit she was sure this was
the right decision," her father said. "Once she completed the first
round of training and education she knew it was the path for her."
memorable career moment for Gesecki Holt was meeting with President Barack Obama
and the first lady on Memorial Day. She and the other women working on submarines
attended a breakfast with the Obamas, during which it was announced that the first
lady would sponsor the USS Illinois, the newest naval submarine.
next goal is to qualify for the Submarine Warfare Insignia pinning ceremony. The
Submarine Warfare Insignia pin is one of three Navy warfare pins.
me I think the whole experience is challenging," Henry Gesecki said. "There
is just so much that she needs to be certified in but I am confident in her skills
and couldn't be any prouder."
Nanticoke police Chief Cheshinski dies
Nanticoke police Chief James Cheshinski died Friday
at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where he had been a patient for the past three
His friends and colleagues remembered him as
fair and honest.
Detective Capt. William Shultz worked
with him for 22 years and had been acting chief during Cheshinskis hospitalization.
This chief was a fair man, fair to his employees
and very reasonable to work with, said Shultz.
two men worked together on criminal investigations and made arrests in numerous
cases, he said.
The chief was a policeman who
was fair and just and I will always admire him for his work as a police officer,
said Shultz. He is a good friend and will be sadly missed.
60, joined the department in September 1972 as a patrolman and worked his way
through the ranks, becoming chief in April 2003, according to the departments
He is survived by a wife, three children and
Nanticoke Mayor Joseph Dougherty
recalled working with the chief and learning from him.
has been not only a colleague, but hes been a friend and mentor over the
last decade, said Dougherty.
The mayor especially
appreciated Cheshinskis candor. He pulled no punches with me,
Dougherty expressed his condolences
to the Cheshinski family, saying, I wish the best to his family. Theyre
just wonderful people, his entire family.
Nanticoke approves new three-year agreement with firefighters
Steven Fondo - Times Leader
City council voted
unanimously on Wednesday to approve a new collective bargaining agreement between
the city and the Local 2655 firefighters.
Council Chairman Steve Duda said
the new three-year agreement addresses wages only at a scale similar to the one
ratified in 2009.
According to city Solicitor William Finnegan, the contract
will be posted on Nanticokes website as soon as it is signed by all concerned
Council also announced the city had recently entered into an agreement
with Geisinger Health System to purchase a vacant parcel on Main Street adjacent
to the Luzerne County Community College Health Sciences building.
business, council announced that state Department of Agriculture farmers market
nutrition vouchers will be available on Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Luzerne
County Community College.
County residents over 60 years old who meet certain
income requirements can qualify for four $5 vouchers good for food purchases at
local farmers markets.
Questions about the program should be directed to the
Rose Tucker Senior Center at 735-1670.
Trojanettes heading to college for next game
John Medeiros - Times Leader
into District 4 territory for its PIAA Class 2A semifinal against that district's
champ, Warrior Run.|
The Trojanettes will play the Defenders at 4 p.m. Monday
on the campus of Bloomsburg University. The winner will advance to the state championship
game Friday at 3 p.m. at Nittany Lion Softball Complex in State College against
either District 7 third-place team Neshannock and District 6 runner-up Martinsburg
The game is the second half of a doubleheader at the site. The early
game, a 2 p.m. start, features a Class A semifinal between District 3 champ Greenwood
and District 4 runner-up Southern Columbia.
2012 GRADUATING CLASS OF GREATER NANTICOKE AREA!!6/8/2012
Nanticoke grads hit a grand slam
For Sammy Gow and 12 other Greater Nanticoke Area seniors,
graduation day was one milestone after another.
Before donning their white
caps and gowns Thursday night, the 13 seniors on the school's softball team had
a do-or-die state playoff game to win in the afternoon - and win they did.
The feat, which landed them a spot in the state tournament's final four, was call
for celebration at Thursday's graduation ceremony at Greater Nanticoke Area High
After a few traditional congratulatory and farewell speeches by graduating
seniors, Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Anthony Perrone opened his remarks
by saluting the team.
"Stand up and give a cheer for the Nanticoke Area
Trojan girls, who won again," Perrone said.
The crowd erupted in applause
for the team, which is eyeing its third state title since 2003.
For the rest
of the 168 graduates, their time as a Trojan is over - time to get ready for college,
the military or the workforce. For these 13 young ladies, they get to represent
the school for at least one more game - and hopefully two.
"When we first
found out we had a state game on the day of graduation, we had mixed emotions
about it. We knew we had to focus on one thing at a time and we sure did,"
Gow said. "Turns out, today is one of the best days of our lives. Not only
do we have a spot in the state semifinals, but 13 of us are also graduating. Today
will definitely be a day we will never forget. Over the years, the 13 of us all
stuck together and tonight we don't just graduate as a team, we graduate as a
Even class Salutatorian Kelsey Rynkiewicz used a softball analogy
in her remarks.
"I would like to think of these past few years of high
school as a softball or baseball game. As ninth-graders, we started out by finally
making it to first base and beginning our journey home. Today, as graduating seniors,
we have finally made it home," Rynkiewicz said.
"However, it does
not end here. Life does not stop after just one run. We have to keep going. All
of us are crossing home plate, but at the same time, we are starting all over
again. We still have more to do and many more times that we need to cross home."
Bartuska's Furniture closure leaves void in Nanticoke
78 years on the same street, downtown Nanticoke landmark Bartuska's Furniture
is going out of business.
Brothers Denis and Jim Bartuska, the third generation
owners of the family business on East Main Street, say they can no longer compete
with larger furniture stores selling lower-quality and cheaper imports from China.
Bartuska's Furniture took pride in exclusively selling quality American-made furniture
in a moderate price range. Amid a weak economy, the Bartuskas said many people
aren't buying furniture at all.
"You fill up your gas tank and you buy
your food and there's nothing left for furniture," Jim Bartuska said.
A lack of businesses and slow-moving plans to revitalize downtown Nanticoke also
contributed to their decision to close, they said. Downtown redevelopment projects
such as Luzerne County Community College's two new buildings - the Health Sciences
Center and the Joseph Paglianite Culinary Arts Institute - have not helped their
business, they said.
"We had hoped with the improvements downtown with
the college coming downtown things would turn around and we tried to hang on,"
Jim Bartuska said. "But we can't hang on anymore."
employed seven, including the Bartuska brothers, who will lose their jobs. They
began a going-out-of-business sale by slashing prices 20 to 50 percent. The store
will remain open until everything is sold. After that, the Bartuskas could not
say what they will do next.
Denis Bartuska said the family business tried
to hang on as the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority tried to spur downtown
development. The Bartuskas hoped an empty lot next to LCCC's two new buildings
would be developed.
Tenants are interested in the property, he said.
going to take so long that it's going to be hard to hang on that long," Denis
"There is development hopefully headed for this town.
But, with the economy, people just aren't buying furniture," he said. "We
had a lot of good years here and we really wanted to stay. If there was any way
that we knew things would turn around in the economy and things were going to
start developing in this town, we would definitely stay. But right now, business
Their grandparents, Peter Bartuska Sr. and his wife, Anna,
opened the store in 1934. They originally sold new and used sewing machines. In
the late 1930s, Bartuska's became one of the first appliance dealers in the area.
The store also sold washers, gas stoves and refrigerators.
Today, it is the
only furniture store left in Nanticoke, which had more than eight furniture stores
50 years ago. Their father, Peter Bartuska Jr., retired in the early 1990s and
Jim, 47, and Denis, 48, have been running the business since that time.
we grew up in the business," Jim Bartuska said. "It was part of our
lives for our whole lives."
Chet Zaremba, vice president of Nanticoke
Historical Society, called the closing of the landmark store "disheartening."
"It certainly leaves a void in Nanticoke," Zaremba said. "They
certainly made their mark on the history of the downtown."
development in downtown Nanticoke has been slow.
"There's a lot of talking
but nothing seems to be getting done," Zaremba said.
President Steve Duda, who is also a member of the municipal authority, said tenants
are interested in empty lots in Nanticoke, but that it's too early to say more
because negotiations are still ongoing.
"We're working to bring business
to the city," Duda said.
At a meeting Monday night, the General Municipal
Authority agreed to buy Bartuska's Furniture's warehouse across the street from
the store for $145,000 to try to spur economic development there. Duda said the
closing of Bartuska's Furniture is unfortunate and "very sad news for the
"They have been a pillar in the community," Duda
said. "They braved the storm for many years."
Sailing into a first
Abigail Gesecki Holt is named
to serve on a nuclear submarine crew.
Matt Hughes - Times Leader
A groundbreaking servicewoman from Nanticoke had
an audience with the president this Memorial Day.
Ensign Abigail Gesecki Holt,
a 2006 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School, is one of the first 24
women named to serve on a nuclear submarine crew. Gesecki Holt and the other female
submariners met with President Barrack Obama and wife Michelle in the Blue Room
of the White House, where it was announced the first lady will sponsor the Navys
newest submarine, the USS Illinois.
Gesecki Holt also attended a breakfast
with the president, first lady, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Navy Secretary
Ray Mabus, and was present when President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier during Memorial Day ceremonies.
It was a banner day for Gesecki
Holt, but her father, Henry Gesecki of Nanticoke, said it was only one of many.
After her graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2010, Gesecki Holt became
one of the first women accepted into the Navys nuclear submarine program.
She was ecstatic for the opportunity to be part of it, Henry Gesecki
said. Theyre a very close-knit group of Navy people in the submariners.
Gesecki Holt said she could not comment without the Navys clearance.
Women had previously been permitted on submarines for only a few days at most,
primarily to perform technical maintenance or for training, but it was determined
that because officers are entitled to a private bunk and an officer-only bathroom,
women could serve in the role if a reversible sign was placed on the bathroom
Gesecki Holt jumped at the opportunity, her father said.
fact her dream if they ever open it up is to be part of the attack sub, which
right now women arent allowed to, Henry Gesecki said. Theyre
fast and small and the accommodations for females just arent there right
Gesecki Holt completed a 15-month intensive nuclear-sub training
program that took her to bases in North Carolina, Connecticut and New York. She
now lives in Jacksonville, Fla., with her husband, 2009 Naval Academy graduate
Jordan Holt, and is awaiting deployment on the USS Wyoming nuclear submarine.
Henry Gesecki said his daughter was attracted to the assignment because its difficulty
sparked her competitive nature. A track star who qualified for the state meet
in all four years of high school and made the All-Patriot-League team in college,
Gesecki Holts athletic prowess helped her get into the Naval Academy, her
Shes been competing since she was a little kid playing
biddy basketball when she was just 12 years old, and she just wanted to be a part
of that kind of environment, Gesecki said.
Henry Gesecki added that
Abigail is not his only daughter to accomplish the extraordinary. His oldest daughter,
Cassandra, 29, is a captain in the Marine Corps and a veteran of Afghanistan who
now works as an assistant public service director for the Corps in Hollywood,
providing technical advice to television and movie producers. Middle daughter
Candice, 26, graduated with a chemical engineering degree from Carnegie-Mellon
University and is now pursuing a masters in nutrition at Johns Hopkins University.
They kept busy, Gesecki said. They dont let any moss grow
under their feet.
Jessica Wilcox of Honesdale, a 2006 Wyoming Seminary
graduate, also was named to a submarine crew and met the Obamas on Monday.
The officers and members of Hanover Fire Company Number 4, Nanticoke Fire Department,
wish to thank everyone who attended and helped make their recent breakfast a huge
success. A special thank you to those who donated bread, cakes and all sorts of
pastries for the bake sale. A very special thank you to the four members of the
Luzerne County Community College culinary arts class for your assistance in the
kitchen area. They are Tessa LaMarca, Zora Low, Mark Williams and Julius Zuckerwar.
John P. Zegarski Sr.
board plans 2.5% tax hike
Increase will generate about $130,000, but projected
shortfall is $872,307.
Susan Denney - Times Leader
Greater Nanticoke Area
School Board members voted unanimously Thursday night to raise the tax millage
rate by 2.5 percent.
This would raise the districts millage rate from
the current 9.9295 to 10.1807 if adopted as part of the final 2012-2013 budget.
A mill is $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
The proposed final
budget was set at $24.25 million.
According to Al Melone, the districts
business manager, the increase represents about $20 of additional taxes per year
for the owner of a property valued at the districts average of $78,610.
Melone said the district is in good financial shape and he praised the board and
Superintendent Anthony Perrone for their fiscal responsibility.
But he also
said the tax increase will generate only about $130,000. The projected revenue
shortfall is $872,307.
That doesnt take us out of the woods. We
have to keep finding ways to reduce cost, he said.
Melone said the district
will have to dip into its fund balance to make up the rest of the shortfall.
After Melones presentation, board member Tony Prushinski blamed Gov. Tom
Corbetts cuts in state education spending for the GNA budget shortfall.
This is Gov. Corbetts tax increase. He raised taxes in Nanticoke tonight,
Melone also reported a renegotiated agreement with Nanticoke city
for tax collection would reduce the districts cost from $32,000 to $15,000.
The board also accepted a bid for re-roofing the high school gym and auditorium
at a cost of $269,130.
In other business, the board appointed Ken Bartuska
as athletic director for the district. He will continue coaching the varsity basketball
Also, a large group of seniors presented their request for an outdoor
graduation ceremony. A representative of the group said the outdoor venue would
be more comfortable and large families would be able to attend together.
said the board would have to discuss the students request.
Nanticoke rejects 3 bridge bids
Bettinger - Times Leader
Council passed a motion
Wednesday night not to award a contract based on any of the three submitted bids
for the pedestrian bridge project.
The pedestrian bridge was to be constructed
from the side of the municipal building leading to the outside area. The lowest
of the bids was from Multiscape in the amount of $78,886.
Steve Duda said that at a time when Nanticoke is looking to cut costs, it
is not advantageous for the city to accept any of the bids.
that, even $78,000 is too high and that it didnt serve
in the best interest of the city.
Council also passed a resolution authorizing
the city to enter into a tax collection agreement with the Greater Nanticoke Area
School District. City Administrator Holly Cirko said the city never had
a written agreement and it is more comfortable to have a formal agreement
In other business, the reconstruction of Main and Market streets
is in the preliminary planning stage, and the city will have to meet with the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to make sure plans comply with state
rules and regulations.
On June 3, the Honey Pot Volunteer Fire Department
will host an all-you-can-eat breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon.
Nanticoke park dreams closer
City files to acquire
land to start long process of creating recreation park downtown.
For years, the city has
been working to create the Greater Nanticoke Area Recreation Park as part of a
revitalization of the downtown.
Now, the city is one step closer to making
the park a reality after filing eminent domain proceedings in Luzerne County Court
to acquire nearly 90 parcels of land.
The $1.1 million plan began nearly seven
The planned park will include bleachers, a concession stand, practice
football field, several pavilions, skate park, tee-ball field, basketball courts,
softball field, sitting areas, open practice fields, natural and camping areas,
walking and biking paths, and a boat launch and fishing area.
The first step
is land acquisition.
No agency will give us funding (to start the project)
if we dont have the land to make something happen on, Holly Cirko,
Nanticoke city administrator said. We wont get funding until thats
over. Until thats done, were kind of on hold.
of taking proceedings filed April 10 in county court includes nearly 90 parcels
of land that will ultimately make up the 134.58 acres of the planned park.
After the Agnes Flood in 1972, William Finnegan, the citys solicitor, said
most of the land on Lower Broadway Street in the city was used to house Federal
Emergency Management Agency trailers for residents to get back on their feet.
After the flood, the lots were sold off or people left, creating title problems.
Finnegan said he doesnt expect any problems in acquiring the land, and that
a meeting will be held soon to update city administrators on the eminent domain
Any land owner who objects must do so in writing to the court
within 30 days. As of Wednesday, no objections were filed.
Finnegan said many
of the parcels are small, which is why so many are needed to make up the proposed
The parking lot (on the property now) alone was 20 parcels,
Construction in 2013
Most recently, in December, the city
obtained a $60,400 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources. Construction on the land the city already owns is expected to begin
some time in 2013.
The DCNR said the funding will be used for the construction
of a pavilion, parking area improvements, pedestrian walkway, observation area,
rain garden, installation of site amenities, removal of invasive species, handicap
access, landscaping and signage.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township,
who has been working with the city on the project, said the DCNR grant will pay
for the 20,000-square-foot area.
The entire project has gained some funding
from the beginning, including a $100,000 state grant used to come up with a comprehensive
The plan, drafted by the Borton-Lawson architectural and engineering
firm, was updated in 2009 with a $15,000 state grant, Yudichak said.
a lot of land, with several different land owners, defunct coal land and rail
land, Yudichak said. With the (states) budget situation over
the last two years, and the elimination of the community development program,
it resulted in a loss of $100 million that curtailed our efforts.
said the DCNR grant is good news, and a way to begin work on the project that
has taken years to put together.
We want to see it done. It would be
a new recreational entrance to downtown (Nanticoke), an attraction for the city,
and would bring the business district closer and the community connected to the
(Susquehanna River), Yudichak said.
Most of the area has undergone environmental
work that still continues with the state Environmental Protection Agency -- testing
soil, monitoring a nearby stream and planning for future flooding of the area,
We want something people of all ages can use, Cirko
said of the park. Were eager to see some construction start (with
the DCNR grant).
Jesse win trail run
Patrick Leonard - Citizens Voice
Korch of Nanticoke won the Wyoming Valley Striders' 21st Annual Spring Trail Run
held Sunday afternoon at Frances Slocum State Park.
The Striders organized
the race differently this year than in races past by using a handicapped start.
Runners didn't begin the race all at once but started in waves.
running approximately sixteen minutes after the first wave of runners took off,
but was able to make up the difference by crossing the finish line in 37:18, nearly
three minutes ahead of second-place finisher, Joe Dutko of Mountain Top.
is one of the best times I have had on this course," said Korch, who has
been competing in trail races for the last 10 years. "The course was dry;
there was not a lot of mud so it made for a fast race."
For many of the
53 runners, including Korch, this was their first experience running in a handicapped
Vince Wojnar of the Striders believes it's the first such race to be
held in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Most felt it was a positive experience.
"I thought it was very enjoyable," remarked Korch, who completed the
Bear Mountain Trail Marathon in New York last week. "You get to see more
people on the course. It's fair and I think it's cool."
For more read
Inmate shares cautionary
tale about drugs at GNA
Sheena DeLazio - firstname.lastname@example.org
When Rotarian Paul OMalia asked Greater
Nanticoke Area High School students if they know someone who does drugs or where
to get them, nearly every hand in the auditorium went up Tuesday.
familiarity with drug abuse is why a Luzerne County Correctional Facility inmate
was brought to school to explain how drugs derailed her life. She told the students
she hoped they would learn from her mistakes by making better decisions.
not worth it, Shannon, 31, said about her lifetime struggle with drugs that
landed her in jail. As soon as I took that first pill, it was all over.
The presentation by the inmate, identified only as Shannon, was part of the Straight-Up
Drug and Alcohol Awareness Program sponsored by the Greater Nanticoke Area Rotary
Club and its Interact Club at the school.
OMalia, district governor
of the Rotary Clubs, and founder of Straight Up, told students they can count
on their dreams being crushed when they open the door to drugs.
Bevan, president of the Interact Club, said he felt Shannons message will
help students make good decisions if they are pressured by peers at the prom and
We also learned about incarceration, and it teaches
us what thats like, said Interact Club Vice President Tyler Fisher,
a freshman. I dont want to be in prison.
as Shannon told them about her troubled teen years, when she smoked marijuana
at a concert with a friends mom. Acid and Ecstasy were next.
I was 17 years old, I went with friends to Philly and I was introduced to crack
cocaine, she said.
I lost my car, my home, (everything) within
two months. I graduated high school, but I dont know how, she said.
It got so bad, she said, that at one point she was snorting cocaine off a textbook
at the back of the school bus.
Shannon joined the U.S. Army, completed basic
training and worked as a combat medic in a hospital. After two years in the Army,
she returned home to the Wyoming Valley, where she met a man, had a job and owned
Then the dream of a good life started to turn into a nightmare: I
started doing cocaine, she said.
A short time later, Shannon said, she
became addicted to the way Vicodin, Percocet and Xanax made her feel. She started
snorting heroin and got violently sick when she didnt have any.
didnt care. I couldnt stop, Shannon said.
hopeless and powerless, she resorted to taking blank checks from her mother to
get money to support her habit. That landed her in jail on forgery charges.
She violated the terms of her work release by not returning to the county prison,
resulting in a two-year prison term in 2010.
She has spent the past three
months in prison on other charges, and hopes to be released in July.
know Im going to stay clean, Shannon told the students. I found
one thing that is going to help keep me clean God.
She has been
clean since January, is on work release and hopes to return as a productive member
modifies pension fund boards
voted unanimously on Wednesday on a pair of ordinances to modify the existing
police and firefighter pension fund boards.
Under the new ordinances, the
two boards will consist of the mayor, a current council member appointed by the
mayor, the police and fire chiefs and two members of their departments.
other business, council announced that Nanticoke will hold a citywide yard sale
on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a rain date on Sunday.
parties may stop by Anthracite Park beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday to pick up a
list of residents who plan to participate in the sale.
King's star overcoming loss of hearing
Jill Snowdon - Citizens Voice
The crack of a
bat. A fastball slapping the inside of a glove. A team celebrating a victory.
Amanda Cardone grew up playing softball and hearing the distinct sounds of a typical
day on the field.
Just a few months ago, however, the sounds of softball and
everyday life around her were no longer the same.
After three surgeries, the
King's College sophomore catcher was dealt shocking news that she was permanently
deaf in her right ear.
Cardone, a Nanticoke Area graduate, has rebounded from
the diagnosis and while she now needs a hearing aid, her intensity and drive to
succeed have remained the same.
She is enjoying a standout season with the
Monarchs where she leads the team and is ranked ninth in nation with 48 RBIs.
King's (28-10, 10-4 Freedom) is the third seed for this week's conference tournament
at Manhattanville College.
"I was really excited when I was told I was
ranked nationally," Cardone, a two-year starter said. "I think because
of what I've gone through the last few months, it was just the confidence boost
I needed. It really made me realize that I can still do things and push on."
Cardone was just settling into life as a sophomore when she was hit with flu-like
symptoms and a nasty sinus infection. She woke up one morning and had difficulty
hearing from her right ear. At first she thought her ear was blocked due to the
cold, but when it got progressively worse, it was time to take action
cause was given to Cardone, but the results were emphatic.
part was finding out that I wasn't going to get the hearing back," Cardone
said. "I was really nervous how it was going to be with school and softball.
But the hearing aid made a huge difference and it's really amazing how it works."
Cardone, a biology/pre-med major, informed her teachers of her condition and now
sits in the front of each class to give her an added hearing advantage.
can be trickier when things get loud, but Cardone adjusts the best she can.
"I really think she has a great attitude about it," King's coach Lisa
Gigliello said. "She might miss some things that are said, but she has a
good sense for things when she's on the field."
Cardone has a .994 fielding
percentage behind the plate. She bats third in the order behind fellow Nanticoke
Area grad Area Jenn Harnischfeger and sophomore Erin Beane. Cardone boasts a team-best
.400 batting average.
"She's an explosive hitter," Gigliello said.
"It's no surprise how well she's doing because she's a great athlete and
we know she'll put the ball in play."
Dealing with her partial deafness
has been a bit easier for Cardone thanks to her teammates. She credits the team's
chemistry as one of its key strengths on the field and credits their friendship
with getting her through a difficult transition.
"I was going through
all of this during fall ball," said Cardone who has started in 63 of 65 games
at King's. "In one game, every time Lisa yelled for me, the umpire had to
tap me on the shoulder to let me know.
"There was some comic relief with
it and I'm good with that because my team is so supportive and genuinely concerned."
The Monarchs are the defending conference champions and have their sights set
on a repeat.
Cardone's bat is a big reason for the Monarchs to feel confident.
And she's the perfect player to pick them up when they face a tough situation.
"I'm very excited about the possibilities for our team," Cardone said.
"We have 19 people and we're 19 people strong. But the best thing is we're
all behind each other. I know that first-hand."
Authority board shuffle puts Nanticoke plans on hold
Plans for the downtown business
district, including the possibility of a new Geisinger Health System facility,
are on hold while lawyers battle over whether the city council president can sit
on the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority board.
Board Chairman Hank Marks
said Monday that Geisinger is interested in an authority-owned parcel of land
at Market Street and Broadway, next to Luzerne County Community College's new
Health Sciences Center. The authority's developer, Scranton-based William Rinaldi,
is working to bring Geisinger in.
Commonwealth Health, which bought up regional
facilities including eight hospitals, has also showed interest in downtown Nanticoke,
The municipal authority is responsible for downtown redevelopment
projects, including LCCC's two new buildings, the Health Sciences Center and the
Joseph Paglianite Culinary Arts Institute.
But the board can't make decisions
on new projects, including the prospective medical facility, until a membership
issue is ironed out.
City council on April 4 confirmed Mayor Joseph Dougherty's
appointments of Council President Steve Duda, Councilman Richard Wiaterowski and
resident Jeff Lewis to fill the expired terms of municipal authority board members
Chester Beggs, Hank Kellar and Marilyn Collacchi.
Wiaterowski declined the
City solicitor William Finnegan said after council's vote that
a Supreme Court ruling and Nanticoke's home-rule charter allow Duda on the municipal
However, during Monday's authority board meeting, authority solicitor
Bob Zaruta told Duda, "I think it goes against the law for you to sit on
Zaruta said the authority's legal research determined Duda's
appointment was invalid, but Dougherty replied that city officials' research says
it is valid.
If the city's and authority's solicitors can't work the matter
out, both sides say they will take it to court.|
Lewis' appointment is not
contested, so he and authority members Tom Selecky and Marks formed a quota to
pay bills. But other business has to wait until it's settled whether Duda can
stay on the board, because if it turns out he can't, authority decisions could
game this weekend
Breaking Benjamins Josh Seibert and Chad Szeliga highlight
stars to be on hand.
Jimmy Fisher - Times Leader
second annual Celebrity Basketball Game will be returning to Nanticoke on Saturday
at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School gym.The event, which is sponsored by
the Clifton R. Lewis Good Life Foundation, will be split up into multiple events
beginning at 1 p.m. The first event is the intrasquad game between two Nanticoke
teams, followed by a three-point shootout. Afterwards a slam dunk contest will
take place, followed by a performance by singer/songwriter Josh Seibert and Breaking
Benjamin drummer Chad Szeliga, and finally the celebrity game.
participating in the event include Pittsburgh Steelers players Steve McLendon
and Darnell Stapleton, and two-time NASCAR Truck Series Champion Todd Bodine.
These participants will take on local athletes and citizens from Luzerne County.
The slam dunk competition will include Sprite Slam Dunk All-Star Carlos Smothers,
Harlem Globetrotters Roscoe Johnson and The Worlds Best Dunker
Clifton R. Lewis, founder and president of the Good Life Foundation,
said he and his co-workers have been working hard to acquire these celebrity participants.
Weve been working day and night trying to get these celebrities for
six months, said Lewis. We got them through the social media such
as Twitter and Facebook and also through word of mouth. I have a friend who golfs
with Darnell Stapleton so that was a big help.
At last years Celebrity
Basketball event Lewis said over 800 people attended, but he hopes to improve
not only this year but in the future, and he hopes to get different talent.
We want to try and get people every year and keep adding year by year,
The Celebrity Basketball game is looking to be an annual event
in Nanticoke, but it is not the only event sponsored by the Clifton R. Lewis Foundation,
as Lewis said they will be having dancing events going on in Minnesota and Arizona
later this year.
Lewis is a native of Nanticoke and started the foundation
in 2010 to help those diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, which he himself was
diagnosed with in 2006. The Good Life Foundation helps families affected by MD
by providing them with the help they need to afford mobilization such as wheelchairs
and scooters. They have helped over 17 families in 14 states.
Nanticoke files proposal for project
Bettinger - Times Leader
City council on Wednesday
night decided to file a proposal for reconstruction on Hill and East Green streets,
from Prospect Street to Market Street, including removal of architectural barriers.
The proposal will be filed with the state Department of Community and Economic
Development, which has given the city a grant of $300,000. The proposed project
will benefit Park Towers, a senior citizen residence.
Council also gave the
second reading to an ordinance setting uniform requirements for contributors into
the citys wastewater collection and treatment system and establishing the
authority of the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority to administer and enforce the
requirements. It also sets fees for the administration and operation of an industrial
pre-treatment program. As well, it establishes the penalties for violations. Nanticoke
is the first city to adopt such a resolution.
Alden Road restoration work gets under way
Work began Wednesday on the restoration
of Alden Road in Nanticoke. Motorists are advised that there will be sewer and
gas line work, along with grading of the road, and are asked to avoid the area
The contractor, Pennsy Supply, also known as Slusser Brothers,
will rebuild Alden Road up to about the Learning Station and Reilly Plating Co.
The $1.9 million project, paid through federal funds via the Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation, has been in the works since 2005 and was started by former
Mayor John Bushko. Delays in state and federal approvals stalled the project.
authority fills three vacancies on board
Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens'
City officials have selected three replacements
to sit on the board of Nanticoke's municipal authority, and the chairman isn't
happy about it.
Mayor Joseph Dougherty submitted the appointments Tuesday
and council confirmed them Wednesday night. Council President Steve Duda will
fill the expired term of Chester Beggs; Councilman Richard Wiaterowski will replace
Hank Kellar; and Jeff Lewis will fill the expired term of Marilyn Collachi.
But Municipal Authority Chairman Hank Marks questioned the legality of putting
two sitting members of council on the authority.
"I contacted our solicitor
and asked him to research the validity of those appointments," he said.
The city's attorney, William Finnegan, says the move is backed by a state Supreme
Court precedent. Third-class city code might have prohibited council members from
serving on an authority, but it no longer applies, because as of Jan. 1, Nanticoke
is under a home-rule charter, he said.
"These two people have made the
decision to go run for office in the city, they have an interest in the city,
and they're willing to serve on an authority that has a role in the development
downtown," Finnegan said, referring to Duda and Wiaterowski. "Those
two individuals obviously have a passion to improve the city."
unpaid municipal authority board is in charge of downtown redevelopment projects.
It owned the former Susquehanna Coal Co. building at Market and Main streets,
which is now Luzerne County Community College's Culinary Institute. It also owned
the former Kanjorski Center on Main Street that is now LCCC's Health Sciences
Marks said the authority recently bought the former CVS building from
the city for $155,000, and has received a $100,000 grant from state Sen. John
Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, for rebuilding a parking lot behind the culinary
Nanticoke mayor fills 3 authority posts
The city council OKs a permit parking
system for three downtown streets.
Fondo - Times Leader
Mayor Joseph Dougherty selected three individuals
to serve on the citys General Municipal Authority at a city council meeting
on Wednesday night.
Appointed to five-year terms to the authority were Jeff
Lewis, Richard Wiatrowski and Stephen E. Duda.
Duda and Wiatrowski both serve
on council, but city Solicitor Bill Finnegan said current state laws allow the
men to hold both positions.
The municipal authority is the business development
arm of the city and was instrumental in Luzerne County Community Colleges
recent move to Nanticokes downtown area.
In other business, council
approved a parking permit order on second reading that calls for permitted parking
along Coal, Orchard and Hill streets in the city. Violators will face up to a
$50 fine for all parking infractions.
The ordinance was enacted in response
to residents concerns with spillover from LCCCs downtown student parking
An ordinance banning the use of cell phones while driving was tabled
until Finnegan researches any possible conflict with existing laws.
company eyes expansion
Brewing Company, the Nanticoke microbrewery inside Marty's Blue Room,
is one step closer to expanding its distribution beyond Luzerne County.
Luzerne County zoning board voted 2-0 - one member was absent - Tuesday evening
to allow a use variance that would permit the microbrewery at 100 Old Newport
St. to expand its building to allow a 900 percent increase in its production.
Benny Brewing currently has a single 31-gallon barrel to brew its three year-round
beers and one revolving seasonal beer; the building expansion would allow for
10 31-gallon barrels.
"I want to look into Lackawanna and some up north
as well," said brewmaster Ben Schonfeld, adding that about 10 locations currently
carry its beer. "Maybe we'll go down to the Allentown area. I guess it depends
on what distributor I choose."
Although there are many other steps left
for construction to begin - getting the OK from the USDA, Liquor Control Board
and planning commission - Schonfeld and his father, restaurateur James Schonfeld,
hope to open the expansion by the spring of 2013.
At first, the Schonfelds
would simply like to produce more of their three trademark beers: amber lager,
india pale ale and wheat. As time progresses, brewmaster Ben might experiment
with limited-edition beers, such as those aged in wooden barrels.
can't keep up with the demand we have right now," said James Schonfeld, owner
of Marty's Blue Room. "We can't make it fast enough."
said the microbrewery is already permitted to sell anywhere in Pennsylvania but,
once the expansion is built, it will be a while before local residents spot the
beers in a city like Philadelphia.
"We'd like to hit other markets slowly
but surely," he said. "It's a slow climb, and it's something where you
have to crawl before you walk. People enjoy it, and then you take it to another
first haircut adds to family tradition
NANTICOKE - At 16 months old,
Dutcher Stigora needed his first haircut. Dutcher's dad knew the right man for
the job: legendary Nanticoke barber, 97-year-old Zelino Vici.
a Nanticoke native now from York County, recalls he and his grandfather going
to Vici for haircuts decades ago. He thought it would be special to let Dutcher
continue the family tradition.
On Monday morning, it was Dutcher's turn in
Vici's barber chair, getting a trim from the old pro.
"Getting your hair
cut by Mr. Vici is practically a rite of passage in our family. He's been cutting
our hair for three generations, beginning with my grandfather, who used to bring
me here when I was a young boy," Stigora, 35, said. "I have fond memories
of growing up in Nanticoke, and I'm happy I can share the same experience with
Stigora and his wife, Jennifer, were recently looking for somewhere
"old fashioned" for Dutcher to get his first haircut and wondered if
Vici was still in business. They came across a newspaper article online about
how Vici was still going strong after 76 years. The couple set up a special appointment
for Monday while they were in town visiting Stigora's mother, Kathleen Smith,
"Mr. Vici's barber shop is an iconic Nanticoke landmark," Stigora
said of the business at Prospect and Church streets.
Dutcher was well-behaved
and calm as his mother placed him in the barber chair's child seat. Then came
the first clip. Jennifer started to cry.
"It's hard. It is," she
later said about witnessing the milestone.
Vici buzzed the sides of Dutcher's
head with a trimmer, clipped a few inches from the top with scissors, and then
combed his hair to the side. Dutcher's first haircut was complete and the gathered
family gave him a round of applause.
"He looks more little boy, than
baby now," Jennifer said.
Vici, who turns 98 next month, said Dutcher
was the best behaved child in all his decades in business.
"I never had
a baby sit so still," he said.
Vici said he was glad to be a part of
the special day in Dutcher's life.
"It means quite a bit. They still
have confidence in me at this age," Vici joked. "A lot of people think
I'm too old to cut their hair.
shop hoping to perk up Nanticoke
Kimberly Coffee was first Main Street business
owner to secure a facade grant.
email@example.com - 570-970-7311
The owner of a new coffee shop could be the small business
poster girl for a renaissance of sorts thats invigorating a tired and worn
Kimberly Coffee is bringing more than just a slice of Miami to
downtown Nanticoke with her trendy, new coffee shop. Shes adding new color
and a fresh look to the southern side of a block of storefronts some of
them empty that hasnt changed much in years.
The Nanticoke native
and University of Miami graduate, who decided to bring some of that Southern Florida
flavor to a Main Street where just a few doors down a pizza and pierogie shop
takes a place of prominence, said now is the perfect time to open a new business
in the city.
For many years I thought about opening something like this.
And when the health sciences building came across the street, and also the culinary
school, I decided to put things in gear so the students have a place to come for
lunch, Coffee said.
Main Street got its first major facelift in decades
when Luzerne County Community College built and opened a culinary arts institute
across the street and a block west of Coffees building in the fall of 2010.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, attended Coffees grand opening
on March 14. He said in a press release that the partnership between between the
city, state and LCCC has led to nearly $20 million in downtown investment with
the $12 million health sciences center and $7.5 million culinary institute.
This is an exciting time for Nanticoke.
These projects are also fostering
an entrepreneurial spirit for business people like Ms. Coffee to invest in the
downtown, Yudichak, a Nanticoke native, said in a prepared statement.
Coffee agreed that the timing couldnt be better for opening her shop.
We get a lot of dental students, nursing students, some of the faculty come
in. And I decided to have our uniforms as chef coats. We were inspired by the
culinary school, so I thought it would be a nice touch, Coffee said.
Some sweet additions
Two of Coffees five part-time employees are LCCC
students; one of them, a pastry arts major, makes some of the delectable desserts
filling a display case.
Students, faculty and police officers love the $5
daily lunch specials, Coffee said, and the smoothies and frozen hot chocolate
are big hits too. But Coffee caters to ethnic tastes as well.
sandwiches are very popular, and in honor of the many people of Polish descent
who live here, we have kielbasa paninis, Coffee said.
But trendy offerings
are the heart of the menu.
a different flavored water
every day. Today it was orange, yesterday we had pineapple water. That is definitely
a signature of Miami. They do that at a lot of hotel lobbies in Miami. Thats
where I got the idea, Coffee said.
Tiger Sauce a spicy mayonnaise
with secret ingredients is the signature condiment upon request, and jalapenos
and jalapeno cheese are also available good toppers for the shops
fat dogs that are twice as fat as regular hot dogs.
employees are all trained baristas, able to properly steam and foam milk for the
cappuccinos and lattes, that is, after a couple weeks of training that included
milk spray on the ceiling, she said with a laugh.
Several two-seater tables
with comfortable chairs, a lunch counter with high-back stools and an overstuffed
loveseat add to the ambiance, along with free wireless internet and an online
I tried to make it trendy for the students. I tried to make
it with a Miami flair, Coffee said.
Adding a little decor
isnt limiting the breath of fresh air to the shops interior. She was
the first Main Street business owner to apply for and secure façade
Were changing all the windows, were doing a whole
remodeling of the front of the building, were putting up a lighted canopy
with our name on and were adding outdoor seating, Coffee said.
City administrator Holly Circo believes the façade grant program is another
good motivator for new and existing business owners like Coffee to invest in the
city. The city and state match will kick in up to $5,000 each to match the business
owners investment in a new façade.
Were excited she
made this investment in our city. Were hoping the community colleges
expansion and Kims opening the coffee shop will help other speculators see
downtown Nanticoke is a place thats growing in the future.
said Bartuskas Furniture, Antonios Pizza and Nardozzos Pizza
& Pierogies also have applied for façade grants and the city is in
discussion with two other businesses. Council President Steve Duda says the program
is a win-win. We invite any business to come and invest in our city. Its
a joint venture. If theyre successful, the city is successful; thats
our philosophy, he said.
Making more moves
Coffee said business
is so good and feedback so positive that shes already considering expanding
the shop into a space next door that she uses for storage.
been getting people who say, This is great, this is just what the downtown
needs, I hope it continues up the street, Coffee said.
Mayor Joseph Dougherty said he sees Coffees shop and the eventual façade
improvements of other businesses as steps toward revitalization, and he hopes
townspeople will support the businesses.
No matter the size, any step
toward revitalization is a positive. Private investment is very important to downtown
revitalization. Id like to see things move quicker, but projects like this
take time. We need to have patience,Dougherty said.
Coffee is counting
on Doughertys support as well.
He said he loved the place. He
said it was awesome. I told him when people come in and ask why I would open a
place like this in Nanticoke, I say, Why not Nanticoke? Coffee
said. He loved that.
Nanticoke officials, home-rule committee settle policy
Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens' Voice
officials and the city's home-rule transition committee amicably resolved their
differences over who can make binding decisions.
Elected officials and transition
committee members disagreed over interpretations of the home-rule charter, which
took effect Jan. 2.
The committee's position was the charter enables them
to enact a personnel policy and select a city manager, but elected officials'
stance was that only council and the mayor had the power to hire, fire and pass
An agreement, signed by council and the committee, confirms elected
officials should make the final decisions on matters that affect the city.
"The parties recognize that entities which have authority to act independently
from the city are not eligible to be covered by the city's insurance policies,"
"Accordingly, the members of the transition committee expressly
acknowledge that their role in the transition process is advisory in nature and
that they do not have any final authority to take any actions which would bind
the city of Nanticoke and therefore are eligible for coverage under the city's
Under the terms of the agreement, the committee will be responsible
for drafting codes and policies such as administrative and ethics codes, conflict
of interest and personnel policies and the competitive bidding process.
city officials will be consulted when these are drawn up, make the final decision
relative to the content of the policies and codes, and give final approval.
The process for selecting the manager is also spelled out in the agreement. A
city manager recruitment committee will be formed, consisting of council President
Steven Duda - who is also on the transition committee - Councilman Richard Wiaterowski,
two members of the transition committee and a neutral third party such as a representative
from the International City/County Management Association.
This search committee
will interview candidates, rank them and give them to the transition committee
to review, then to the mayor, who will select the manager and set a salary.
City council will then have to vote to confirm the mayor's decision.
Bertoni Turns It
On Campus - Bill Arsenault
starting the season 0-7, freshman Sarah Bertoni has won four straight games for
the Millersville softball team.
Bertoni (Greater Nanticoke Area) kicked off
the winning streak by tossing the first no-hitter in Millersville softball history
a 7-0 triumph over Philadelphia University. She followed that up with a
6-1 victory over Holy Family (six hits, an earned run, no walks and five strikeouts)
and a one-hit 3-0 triumph over West Chester.
Last Sunday, the 5-foot-6 right-hander
worked 5 1/3 innings and got credit for a 3-2 victory over East Stroudsburg.
On the season, Bertoni has pitched in 13 games and started 12 with seven complete
games. Shes worked 72.2 innings and has given up 86 hits and 43 runs, 35
earned. Shes walked 11 and struck out 45. Her earned run average has dropped
cafe, Coffee's Coffee, opens in downtown Nanticoke
- Citizens Voice
The name is fittingly simple -
Coffee's Coffee - and the location is great, Kim Coffee says about her new coffee
and sandwich shop in downtown Nanticoke.
Coffee's Coffee opened March 14 at
the site of the former McDonald's Newsstand and is amid its grand opening. Coffee,
who has owned the Main Street storefront since 1993, always dreamed of opening
a coffee shop and thinks the timing is perfect. Luzerne County Community College
recently opened two classroom buildings downtown - its culinary center and health/science
building - drawing large groups of students and staff downtown like never before.
"I always wanted to do this, and when the school came here, it made it that
much better," Coffee said.
The business features speciality coffee, espressos,
cappuccinos, lattes, teas, along with frappuccinos and smoothies. It also serves
breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, soup, big hotdogs called "fatdogs,"
and panini sandwiches. The store is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday,
and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekends.
Coffee said her business was recently
granted approval for one of the state's "facade grants" being awarded
to help revitalize the downtown. She plans to remodel the store front, add a canopy,
install new windows and create outside seating.
Nanticoke passes first reading of permit parking ordinance
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
on Wednesday night approved the first reading of ordinance 3-2012, which would
establish permit parking only on areas of Coal Street, Hill Street and Orchard
The permits, which would be paid for by the council, would make parking
in those areas available solely to the residents.
At present, residents of
those streets often have great difficulty in finding parking near their homes
because of parking by Luzerne County Community College culinary students.
The ordinance will require a second reading before the final voting.
matter, City Director of Finance Pam Heard said the city has received the last
$125,000 reimbursement from the state Department of Environmental Protection/federal
Environmental Protection Agency for the City Hall HVAC grant.
The city also
received a letter from DEP stating that the city will receive an Act 101 Recycling
Program Performance grant of $8,875 for 2011 materials recycled.
said the city has acquired a $60,000 grant from DCNR for the development of a
walking trail and pavilion in the Lower Broadway vicinity.
Mayor Joseph Dougherty
administered oaths to two area firefighters.
Richard Bohan has been promoted
to captain of the Nanticoke Fire Department, while Mark Boncal has been promoted
Resolution 6 of 2012 to approve a home rule transition memorandum
of understanding, has been passed.
This agreement protects all parties involved
in Nanticokes home rule transition.
next meet at 7 p.m. April 18 in City Hall.
Greater Nanticoke Area
School District will conduct kindergarten registration for the 2012-13 school
term April 2-3.
order to be eligible for kindergarten next school year, a child must be 5 years
or older on or before Sept. 1, 2012. Parents should accompany their child. Bring
the child's birth certificate and provide all health and immunization records.
Two proofs of residency also are required. If a child is a foster child or has
a custody paper, bring the original so that a copy can be made for the child's
record. All information is necessary to complete the registration. Copies will
According to the Department of Health, all children must be immunized
with the following in order to attend school: DPT - four or more properly spaced
doses with the fourth dose given on or after the fourth birthday; polio - three
or more properly spaced doses; MMR - two properly spaced doses with the first
dose on or after the first birthday; Hepatitis B - three properly spaced doses,
and chicken pox - two doses of varicella vaccine or a history of chicken pox.
Children will register according to last names. Children with last names beginning
with the letters A to L will register April 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and names
with M to Z will register from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
April 3, last names beginning
with the letters M to Z will register from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and A to L will register
from 12:30 to 2 P.M.
All residents of the Greater Nanticoke Area School District
will attend the registration at K.M. Smith Elementary School, 25 Robert St., Sheatown.
All children registering for kindergarten will receive speech, hearing and vision
examinations. A reading readiness screening will also be done on each child.
Registration for new first grade students will also be accepted at this time.
In order to be eligible for first grade next school year, a child must be 6 years
of age on or before Sept. 1, 2012. Parents should bring their child's birth certificate,
health and immunization records, and two proofs of residency.
packets are available in the K.M. Smith principal's office between 9 a.m. and
2 p.m. for parents/guardians to pick up.
Former Nanticoke Area star playing for Sweet 16 berth
Jill Snowdon - Citizens Voice
The second round
sectional of the Division I NCAA women's basketball tournament may be in Little
Rock, Ark., but the Wyoming Valley has a very close connection.
Area graduate Sarah Acker is a 6-foot-3 senior center on the University of Delaware
squad that will meet the University of Kansas tonight at 9:40. The game can been
seen on ESPN2.
"It's amazing to be a part of something like this,"
Acker said during a telephone interview Monday night. "You always imagine
playing in the NCAA tournament, but to actually be here is really awesome."
Acker played 15 minutes, scored two points and hauled in four rebounds in the
Blue Hens' 73-42 win over the University of Alabama Little Rock on Sunday.
The win over UALR was the first NCAA tournament win for Delaware and the third-seeded
Blue Hens enter tonight's game with a 31-1 record.
Their only loss of the
season came on the road at the University of Maryland.
Acker and her teammates
had a team dinner Monday and finished off the night by reviewing film of Kansas.
A win and Delaware is in the Sweet 16.
"Their post players are very athletic
and they have really quick guards," Acker said of what her team is preparing
for against the Jayhawks.
"Kansas rebounds the ball really well, so it's
going to be tough in the lanes. And we need to contain their shooters."
Acker is in her second season at Delaware, having played as a freshman at St.
Joseph's University in Philadelphia.
She did not play as a sophomore.
The former Nanticoke Area standout played in 23 games this season for Delaware
and averages 7.9 minutes per game.
The Blue Hens' roster also includes Dunmore
graduate Lauren Carra, a 5-9 junior forward who is second on the team in scoring
with 10.3 ppg.
Elena Delle Donne is the team's top player and also is considered
one of the top players in the nation. A 6-5 junior guard/forward, Delle Donne
averages a nation's-best 29.7 ppg.
She was a Connecticut recruit after starring
at Ursuline Academy in Delaware and was the No. 1 college prospect as a high school
She left UConn two days after arriving for summer school, citing family
reasons for her return to her home state. Her story of her close bond with her
sister Elizabeth has been the focus of many articles and television interviews
as Elizabeth has cerebral palsy and is deaf and blind.
Delle Donne was recently
featured on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and she talked of the closeness
she shares with her sister.
After leaving UConn, Delle Donne enrolled at Delaware
but opted not to play basketball, instead she played one season for the Blue Hens'
volleyball team and has since been a star on their basketball team.
played a summer of AAU basketball with her and she amazes me every time she plays,"
Acker said of Delle Donne. "It's great playing with her. She's a great girl
and one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met. And she will be the
first to tell you that we are where we are right now because of the team we have
- from the starters to the bench players. It really is about everyone putting
in hard work."
The Trojanettes went 58-2 in Acker's final two seasons
and she had more than 1,500 points, 1,500 rebounds and 500 blocks.
Support staff substitutes
will get raise
Susan Denney - Times Leader
an effort to attract support staff substitutes, the Greater Nanticoke Area School
Board voted Thursday to raise the pay rate.
Before the raise, all support
staff substitutes were paid $7.50 an hour. Now maintenance substitutes will receive
$11 an hour, janitor substitutes will receive $10 an hour, and all others including
cafeteria, cleaners, aides, secretaries, hall monitors and business office subs
will receive $9 an hour.
In another matter, the school board has approved
the EnerNOCs Demand Response Program, which is intended to reduce energy
use during peak summer months from July through September. If the district can
reduce 500 kilowatt-hours per year over a six-year period, the potential earnings
will be $98,373 in addition to the energy cost savings.
Director of Buildings
and Grounds Frank Grevera said EnerNOC will install demand meters in every room.
He will then be able to monitor room-by-room energy use and can reduce consumption
in unused areas.
The board has appointed the following coaches for the spring
season: girls track head coach Anthony Fleury, boys track head coach Edward Pascoe,
wrestling head coach Joseph Ebert, baseball head coach Dean Myers and girls soccer
head coach Ryan Amos.
Boys volleyball head coach Debbie Krupinski and assistant
coach James Gavin have resigned for personal reasons. Those spring coaching positions
are now open.
The board also posted the coaching positions for the 2012-2013
The high schools newly appointed dean of students, Eric
Speec, reported to the board that discipline is improving on the campus and that
the percentage of students attending their assigned detentions is increasing.
In his remarks, Superintendent Anthony Perrone listed recent academic achievements
by GNA students in regional competitions. He also urged teachers attending the
meeting to invite guest speakers into the classroom and to use the long distance
Board will meet next at 7 p.m. April
fills vacant seat on City Council
Lesley Butczynski appointed to position
that opened when Margaret Hydock resigned
Steven Fondo - Times
City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday
to appoint Lesley Butczynski to fill the seat vacated by the recent resignation
of Councilwoman Margaret Hydock.
Council also authorized the filing of a FEMA
grant application that will provide funds to hire three additional firefighters
for three years.
Council President Stephen Duda stressed that if the grant
is awarded, the city would be under no obligation to continue the employment of
the three firefighters beyond that three-year period at taxpayer expense.
The council also voted to authorize City Clerk Holly Cirko to execute Hazard Mitigation
Grant program documents on behalf of the city.
City officials stated Slusser
Brothers Construction Co. will begin work on the Alden Road improvement project
The Alden Road work is part of a $2 million dollar road improvement
project in the city.
In other business, Interact, the junior arm of the Nanticoke
Rotary Club, gave notice it will be filing the necessary permit applications to
conduct a farmers market on the first weekends of June, July and August in the
citys Patriot Square as a way to attract patronage for Nanticoke businesses.
Theyre living on with prayer, priest says of family
Fire would have killed them had they been home instead of at church, priest says
really was the best place to be Sunday for the Rev. Adam Sexton, his wife and
The rectory where they lived next door to St. John the Baptist
Orthodox Church caught fire while Sexton was conducting the morning service.
He continued on without a second thought of stopping the liturgy. Instead the
chaplain of the Nanticoke Fire Department said he put his faith in the firefighters.
Sexton and Bishop Tikhon of the Diocese of Philadelphia held a special Service
of Thanksgiving for the firefighters of Nanticoke and surrounding communities
who responded to the alarm.
The bishop understood Sextons reasoning..
I think thats what you saw in fathers actions, that prayer to
the Lord and service to him is always foremost, said the bishop. But
we dont neglect taking care of the needful things like putting out a fire.
His trip to the church was not unusual, he said. Having a small diocese, he is
able to travel to most of the parishes.
I did come here more specifically
because of the fire and to be with the community and to be with father,
said the bishop.
The blaze temporarily displaced Sexton, his wife, Angie Rae,
and children: Alyscia, 12, Jacob, 11, Raeman, 10, Josiah, 8, Ilia, 6, Bede, 4,
Gabriel, 3, and Seamus, 1.
They are staying in a hotel and next week plan
to move into a rectory of a closed Catholic church in Nanticoke until their place
Support for the family is coming from all over the country, said
Sexton, who acknowledged being overwhelmed by it.
"Im not accustomed
to being fussed over, he said.
Recalling the fire, Sexton said his initial
reaction was not to panic. He felt an enormous peace upon seeing the
smoke, he said.
Still he had concerns for the firefighters.
tell by the look of the flames this was a very awful basement fire, he said.
Basement fires, as most people know, are lethal and had we been asleep we
would have all been dead. Thank God we were not asleep and we were here praying
The rectory could be repaired, he said he thought that morning.
The firefighters couldnt be. The only thing to do was to continue
to pray and to urge my people to pray for them because these are our protector.
Sexton and the bishop and parishioners joined some of the firefighters after the
service at the fire departments Station 4 on Espy Street, a block away from
police probing LCCC account discrepancy
A financial audit at Luzerne County Community College
has revealed a discrepancy in one of the schools accounts, prompting an
investigation by city police.
After an annual audit at the school, college
officials asked its business consultants to assist in looking into the discrepancy.
The amount of money missing from the schools Public Safety Training Institute
has not been released.
Nanticoke police have asked the Luzerne County District
Attorneys Office to meet with them regarding the funds. A meeting is scheduled
for today, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.
Capt. William Shultz did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
In an email, a college spokesperson said that after college officials reviewed
information from the business consultants it was turned over to the Nanticoke
Money had gone missing from the school in September 2008
when Peter Moses, was charged with stealing more than $17,000 and two laptop computers
from the school.
Moses, who was the associate dean of administration and auxiliary
services, oversaw the cafeteria and Educational Conference Center and was paid
about $73,000 a year.
A Luzerne County jury convicted Moses of related charges
in July 2010, and he was later sentenced to four to 23 months in county prison.
His conviction and sentence is on appeal in state Superior Court. He has remained
free on bail.
Force veteran comes home
Airman 1st Class David Warren of Nanticoke served
5 1/2 months in Iraq and Kuwait.
Joe Dolinsky -
A son reunited with his
family Wednesday after a tour in the Middle East.
Airman 1st Class David Warren,
21, of Nanticoke was greeted by friends and family at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
International Airport after returning home from 5 1/2 months of service in Iraq
A 2008 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School, Warren
worked locally for two years before deciding to enlist in the Air Force Reserve.
His mother, Sharon, recalls that day.
He just came home one day and
said Mom, I joined the Air Force, she said.
father, a retired first sergeant in the Plymouth National Guard, never went overseas
during his time of service.
I was proud. But I was also worried,
Warren spent the majority of his time overseas as a vehicle operator,
participating in convoy operations and movements of various supplies and munitions.
His position called for him to be proficient in cleaning, servicing and operating
military vehicles, overseeing the loading and unloading of personnel and cargo
and preparing operator records and reports.
Specifically, Warren said he drove
tractor-trailers trucks full of supplies from Kuwait into bases throughout Iraq.
I was through about five different bases in five months, he said.
Balloons and digital camera in hand, Sharon said she was just looking forward
to having her son home.
Other than through email, David and his mother had
little to no contact while he was overseas.I just wanted to see him,
she said. And see him safe.
Warren spent his fair share of time
in the air the past week.
He flew out of Kuwait before landing at Ramstein
Air Base in Germany for a four-day debriefing period.
Warren then boarded
a 12-hour flight straight into Dallas, before catching a short flight to his reserve
base in Oklahoma.
From there, Warren would finally board the flight that reunited
him with his family.
After all the flying, Im looking forward
to just being home, he said. And sleep in my own bed.
his first taste of stateside cooking in more than five months, Warren said he
is most looking forward to wings at Green Streets Restaurant in Nanticoke.
He picked a great day to fly home.
Tonights wing night,
His return home is short-lived, however.
Warren will be returning
to Oklahoma March 27 for seven months.
After his enlistment in the Air Force
Reserve is completed in three years, Warren said he plans to go to school in hopes
of becoming a parole officer.
set up for Nanticoke fire chaplain
A fund has been established for the city fire departments
chaplain and his family after a blaze caused significant damage to their residence
The Rev. Adam R. Sexton was giving the liturgy at St. John the
Baptist Orthodox Church at Welles and Front streets in the Hanover section of
Nanticoke when a fire erupted at the rectory at 106 S. Welles St.
Greg Grzymski said firefighters responded to the blaze at about 11 a.m. while
Rev. Sexton, his wife, and his eight children were attending services.
spotted the fire and called 911.
Grzymski said there is significant
damage to the rectory.
When Rev. Sexton was told about the fire, he
continued with the service worrying about the firefighters, Grzymski said.
Grzymski said an investigation determined the fire was accidental.
suffered a minor injury, Grzymski said.
Rev. Sexton has been the fire departments
chaplain for about three years.
Monetary donations can be made to the Adam
Sexton Fire Fund at Vantage Trust Federal Credit Union, 158 S. Market St., Nanticoke,
to help with the family.
Grzymski said childrens clothing and toys can
be dropped off at the Nanticoke Fire Headquarters on East Ridge Street.
Sexton has six boys, ages 16 months, 3-years-old, 5, 7, 8 and 11, and two girls,
ages 10 and 12.
council member steps down
Margaret Haydock cites demands of new career with
Department of Corrections.
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
Councilwoman Margaret Haydock has resigned from her council
seat as of Feb. 15.
Haydock has left the council due to the demands of her
new career with the state Department of Corrections.
Council is looking for
a citizen to fill her seat. The requirements are that the person must be at least
21 years of age and a resident of Nanticoke for at least one year.
of interest should be sent to the Nanticoke City Hall, 15 E. Ridge St., Nanticoke,
attention Council President Steve Duda.
The last day for the letters of interest
is Feb. 26. There will be two stages of interviews for the prospective members.
In other business:
Council approved Thomas Wall for a position with
the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.
Analysis of the lands in Lower
Broadway will begin in early spring. The grants for the work have come from the
state Department of Community and Economic Development and Department of Environmental
Protection. City Administrator Holly Cirko said the phase 2 grant of just under
$9,000 will be used to check the grounds to make sure that they are suitable for
recreational purposes. Certain lands in the Lower Broadway area would be taken
and turned into an area where residents can enjoy bird watching, walking trails,
and other leisure activities.
Director of Finance Pam Heard has asked
residents to be patient while changes with the new web-based tax system are taking
place. Heard also reported the property tax bills were mailed out on Feb. 13,
and the new tax collector for 2012 will be Don Wilkinson. The last year to file
with Berkheimer, was the year 2011.
Recovery Plan Coordinator Joe Boyle
said that under the Act 47 Recovery Plan, there is no limit to the amount of earned
income tax or real estate tax that can be charged to residents. The states
recovery plan, has been enacted as a way for distressed areas to get back on a
The next council meeting will
be at March 7 at 7 p.m. In addition, the Home Rule Transition Committee will hold
its meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.
Nanticoke officials, home rule panel clash over policies
elected officials are clashing with the home rule transition committee over who
has the power to pick a manager and decide how city employees should act.
When Nanticoke's home rule charter took effect on Jan. 2, the study commission
became the transition committee. Its members say the charter enables them to enact
a personnel policy and select a city manager, but elected officials say only council
and the mayor can hire, fire and pass legislation.
If not resolved, the matter
could be decided in court, but committee solicitor Jeffrey Malak hopes it can
be resolved amicably.
Malak said at Tuesday's transition committee meeting
that he received a letter from city solicitor William Finnegan clarifying three
concerns city officials had.
One issue was taken care of when the committee
voted to put out requests for proposals for a professional consultant, legal advisor,
recording secretary and insurance to cover errors and omissions. The committee
previously hired Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance as consultant, Malak as solicitor
and Donna Wall as secretary. But city ordinances require advertising for professional
services and the committee hired without putting the services out for bid.
The committee voted to appoint NEPA Alliance, Malak and Wall on an interim basis
until proposals are received.
Although they put the insurance out to bid,
the committee will also check to see if it can "piggyback" on the city's
The other two issues - the process of recommending, drafting and approving
the administrative code and what the committee's role is in it, and the search
for and recruitment of a city manager and whether the committee has authority
to hire one - might not be as easy to resolve.
The charter calls for an administrative
code that includes conflict of interest, personnel and purchasing policies, a
code of ethics and a competitive bidding process.
The city already has a full-time
administrator as required by its state-mandated financial recovery plan. Committee
members say the charter gives them authority to draw up qualifications for and
hire the first manager. However, the charter also gives the mayor and council
the ability to replace the manager at any time.
Council President Steve Duda,
who is on the transition committee, asked what other home rule municipalities
in Pennsylvania created transition committees empowered to pass legislation or
Nobody could answer the question. NEPA Alliance Chief Executive
Officer Jeffrey Box said they would have to research the matter. NEPA Alliance
Government Services Manager Joe Chacke said a home rule commission can enact any
law as long as it is not in conflict with the state constitution.
he and Finnegan will meet with some members of the transition committee and key
city officials to try to resolve the issues or "at least narrow down where
there may be a difference of opinion."
"I'm hopeful and confident
that everything will work out," he said
GNA board takes hard line on coach clearances
directors want updated background checks for sports program personnel.
Denney - Times LeaderThe Greater Nanticoke Area
School Board on Thursday night voted down an agenda item appointing coaches
for the 2012 wrestling, baseball, track and field and girls soccer teams.
Several board members were concerned that many of the candidates have not provided
updated clearances and background checks.
Board President Jeff Kozlofski said
that if the district allows coaches or volunteers to have contact with students
without clearances, were liable.
When voting no on the agenda
item, board member Chet Beggs said, You have clearances or you dont.
Board Solicitor Vito DeLuca prepared a new policy on background check procedures,
which he presented at the meeting and the board adopted.
He said the new policy
will apply to all coaches and sports program volunteers. It states coaches or
volunteers who are not in compliance with background check requirements will not
be permitted contact with students.
The following clearances are required
by law: a state police Criminal History Record, a Department of Public Welfare
Child Abuse Report and a Federal Criminal History Report or FBI report which includes
DeLuca said, The law was amended at the end of 2011. We
want to make sure were in compliance.
According to DeLuca, the
background check process is more complicated at GNA.
Our district is
a little different. Our coaches are appointed by season. We reappoint each year.
Board member Ken James said, The public needs to know that these people
have clearances. They dont have updated clearances.
also decided that all clearances must be approved by district Athletic Director
bar cited with multiple violations
Tavern where cops say woman was slashed
cited by state police bureau.
A tavern where police say a woman was slashed in the face
early on New Years Day was cited with multiple violations by state police
Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.
In a news release issued Monday, state
police said they cited the Prospect Street Caf? at 23 S. Prospect St. with excessive
noise and operating in a disorderly manner on multiple dates in 2011, and on Jan.
1 when Jennifer Mieczkowski was severely injured.
The tavern also was cited
with permitting minors to frequent the business and furnishing alcohol to minors,
operating gambling devices and failing to abide by an agreement reached with the
state Liquor Control Board on Dec. 6 that allowed the tavern to remain open.
Mieczkowski, 30, said she entered the tavern with Rickey Wells to buy a 12-pack
of beer to take home. While she was talking to friends, a fight broke out and
a woman slashed Mieczkowski numerous times in the face and neck, police said.
No charges have been filed in the slashing.
Police obtained a video surveillance
system that may have captured the assault.
Mieczkowski and Wells have filed
separate civil lawsuits against the tavern and owner Paul Halliday.
was beaten with a pool stick when he tried to help Mieczkowski, police said.
Halliday could not be reached for comment Monday.
Citations filed against
the tavern on Monday add to 16 others since 2004, according to online records
maintained by the state Liquor Control Board.
The LCB ordered the tavern to
shut down after a series of administrative citations but successful appeals by
Halliday allowed the business to stay open.
In the latest appeal, a three-member
panel of the LCB objected to renewing the liquor license in September based upon
the 16 citations and nine disturbances at or near the tavern.
Under a conditional
agreement signed on Dec. 6, Halliday pledged to remain in compliance with the
liquor code and to employ a security guard every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m.
to 2:30 a.m.
State police allege the tavern did not adhere to the agreement
on Dec. 20 and Jan. 1.
While the news release does not specify the agreement
violations, police said Mieczkowski was slashed on Jan. 1 and Lee David Antonik,
35, allegedly assaulted Vincent Rodriguez with a pool stick on Dec. 20.
Nanticoke Housing Authority finds QVC purchases on credit
finding questionable purchases on the Nanticoke Housing Authority credit card
- including more than $2,000 in unspecified items from a television shopping network
- the authority's board decided to bring in an outside accounting firm to give
the books a thorough examination.
During a special meeting Thursday, board
members Josephine Battista, Enes Centurione, Tony Prushinski and Chairwoman Dorothy
Hudak voted to seek proposals for a full forensic audit of the authority's finances
for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
A forensic audit, which involves going through all
the authority's financial records line by line and item by item, will help determine
whether any funds were spent incorrectly. Solicitor Vito DeLuca said authority
officials consider it "prudent to know exactly what happened and whether
the expenditures were appropriate or weren't appropriate." He noted that
the audit could go further if necessary.
"The further you go back, the
more expensive it's going to get, so we're starting off with the three years,"
The board also ratified an earlier decision to hire former Luzerne
County Manager/Chief Clerk Doug Pape as interim executive director at a salary
of $78,000 plus benefits.
Pape replaces Jean Ditzler, longtime board member
who served as executive director from July 2007 until her abrupt termination by
the board on Jan. 19.
DeLuca confirmed Ditzler was suspended and dismissed,
but would not explain why or give any other details, calling it is a personnel
Ditzler, who did not attend the meeting, said she had "really
no comment to make, not at this moment."
The board recently became aware
Ditzler may have used the authority's credit card for items that might not have
"The executive director typically has authority to
make purchases up to a certain amount," DeLuca said. "When we stumbled
on some purchases that were a little bit questionable, I looked into them further."
Credit card statements for the Nanticoke Housing Authority's Bank of America account
for 2010 and 2011 obtained by The Citizens' Voice show that between August 2010
and Nov. 2011, a total of 23 payments for $2,111.75 in merchandise from QVC appears
to have been charged on the card.
The items were not identified on the statements
and no receipts could be located in the housing authority files.
recently that those were personal purchases made by the former executive director,"
He said Ditzler paid the housing authority back for all the QVC
items. From his conversations with the office staff, DeLuca said he believes the
authority was reimbursed immediately after each purchase.
said, "I don't believe a government credit card should ever be used for personal
purchases at all. â?¦ You're using housing authority credit. If you
carry it over, you're getting a private or personal benefit from the government
DeLuca said neither he nor any of the board members had any
knowledge at the time that the items were being bought.
as many records as we can and looking to reconstruct some of the things that have
gone on," he said.
The authority receives approximately $1 million a
year from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development for management
and operations of the authority's six buildings containing 268 elderly high-rise
apartments and 149 low-income family apartments.
It was unclear what source
of funding was used to pay the credit card bills. DeLuca said the forensic auditors
will determine exactly where the money came from.
Most expenses charged on
the card appear legitimate. Receipts showed orders from the Oriental Trading Co.
were for craft supplies for the senior high rises the authority oversees. Hotel
rooms, airline tickets and gasoline were related to business trips such as Pennsylvania
Association of Housing and Development Agencies conferences.
officials are checking to see if there are any remaining purchases that should
be reimbursed, including numerous meals from Johnny D's and Pasquale's and a $102.50
purchase from Valley Seafoods on Jan. 6, 2010, for which no receipt could be found.
"I could tell you that maybe an argument could be made that they are housing
authority expenses. I don't believe that," DeLuca said.
DeLuca said if
authority officials discover any act they believe to be criminal, it will immediately
be reported to authorities.
elected tax collector unhappy
The city's elected tax collector, whose position was eliminated
under the city's new home rule charter, isn't happy about the transition.
But city officials say he's welcome to take part in creating a new, more streamlined
and efficient finance department.
Albert Wytoshek told council Wednesday he
would like to continue in the position he "did a great job" in for 12
Council President Steve Duda said he understood, but "we all have
to realize home rule changed the whole scope of government in this town."
Wytoshek, who turned 81 on Monday, said Mayor Joseph Dougherty discriminated against
him and his "age, gender and beliefs" by putting the city's Finance
Director Pamela Heard, who is 42, in charge of tax collection.
William Finnegan said if Wytoshek feels he is being discriminated against, he
should hire an attorney, but indicated it is not the case.
"I know this
has been explained to you, Al, 10 different times," Finnegan said.
home-rule charter, which took effect Jan. 1, calls for the mayor to appoint the
tax collector. It is part-time and can either be independent or "incorporated
into an existing staff position."
At the same time, it allows for the
elected tax collector to complete his term of office, which pays $6,500 a year.
The charter states, "The mayor shall resolve any disputes that may arise
between the elected Controller and elected Treasurer and the individuals and/or
departments to which their duties and responsibilities have been assigned."
Finnegan said Dougherty sent Wytoshek a letter inviting him to help with the transition,
but Wytoshek swore he never received the letter.
Finnegan countered Wytoshek's
claim that Heard was getting $48,300 a year to be tax collector, saying she would
not receive any extra compensation for taking on the additional duties. The $48,300
is her total salary in the 2012 budget.
Wytoshek also attacked Heard's tax
collector certification from the state Department of Community and Economic Development,
saying the city should be reimbursed.
City Administrator Holly Circo said
the state course Heard took, which cost about $100, had been included in the budget
for staff training and was approved by council.
"I think training employees
is a good thing, and I don't think it should be criticized," Circo said.
She said tax collection is being consolidated with the finance department to increase
In a Jan. 31 letter to Dougherty, Heard stated that planned tax
collection improvements include converting to the less expensive system used by
Luzerne County and 71 of its tax collectors; using a bar code scanner to post
payments automatically; installing security cameras at the cash collection points;
and working with PNC bank to bring in a check scanner to give the city immediate
access to funds and eliminate the need for trips to the bank.
Heard is a licensed
certified public accountant with a degree from the University of Scranton.
Mayor rebuts age
Nanticokes change to home rule cited as reason for removal
of tax collector.
Steven Fondo - Times Leader
Former city tax collector Al Wytoshek at Wednesday nights City Council meeting
accused the mayor of age discrimination in his removal from office.
who served as tax collector for 12 years, alleged Mayor Joseph Dougherty ousted
him because of bad blood in a closed-door decision process.
Mr. Wytoshek was replaced under a transition process
due to our move to home rule, said Dougherty. He was fully informed
about the decision and was invited to participate in the transition.
Dougherty reiterated Wytoshek will still be paid $6,500 per year for the next
two years of his term, whether he participates in the transition or not.
City Solicitor William Finnegan said the home rule charter mandated specific changes
with its inception. One of the changes deals with tax collection at the
Were following the dictates of the voters, said
Finnegan. Home rule brought a lot of changes.
Also, City Council
voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance that will authorize the development
of land along Lower Broadway in the city for a municipal recreation area which
will include walking paths and a picnic area when completed.
must pass a second vote before council can begin the process of acquiring the
In another matter, Dougherty read a formal proclamation honoring the
Nanticoke chapter of the Eagles for their generous support of the citys
The Eagles are a great example of a civic organization,
said Dougherty. They do a lot of good for our community.
Ex-county official gets Nanticoke spot
Doug Pape, who was chief clerk/manager,
getting $78K as interim authority manager.
Former Luzerne County chief clerk/manager Doug
Pape has been hired as the Nanticoke Housing Authority interim manager, a $78,000
position vacated by the termination of Jean Ditzler
Authority Solicitor Vito
DeLuca, also a county solicitor, said he recommended Pape because the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, told him it was imperative
for someone to oversee operations in the interim.
The permanent position must
be filled through the state Civil Service system, requiring a test. DeLuca said
he notified the state of the vacancy but does not know how long it will take to
complete the process to find a replacement.
Pape said he has not decided whether
to apply for the permanent position.
DeLuca said he suggested Pape because
he has a masters degree in public administration, oversaw county government
and was available.
His education, background and experience speaks for
itself. We certainly were in a crisis situation, and it was the right choice.
I stand by it, DeLuca said.
DeLuca said he knows Pape professionally
but does not consider him a close friend.
I would never do anything
inappropriate to get a friend or family member a job, DeLuca said. In
the best interest of the authority, he is the best man for the position without
any doubt in my mind.
Ditzler was terminated a little over a week ago,
though DeLuca said he cant publicly disclose the reasons.
board independently interviewed Pape multiple times and agreed to appoint him,
DeLuca said. The authority has five members, but one seat is vacant. The remaining
board members are Dorothy Hudak, Tony Prushinski, Enes Centurione and Josephine
Pape earned $72,000 as county chief clerk/manager until home rule
was implemented Jan. 2.
He declined an invitation from some county home rule
transition committee members to consider serving as interim home rule manager,
saying he couldnt commit because he was exploring potential private sector
Pape said Monday was his first day on the authority job.
want to dive in with all the HUD regulations and make sure were doing everything
by the book, Pape said.
The authority oversees about 419 low-income
apartments in six complexes, he said.
Earth Conservancy to rehabilitate land
Nonprofit group hopes to clean up part
of a former strip mine in Nanticoke.
Earth Conservancy plans to rehabilitate another
plot of mine-scarred land in the southern Wyoming Valley.
nonprofit will host a public meeting Feb. 1 at its headquarters to accept public
comments about its plans to clean up part of a former strip mine in Nanticoke.
Earth Conservancy wants to re-grade and resurface a 20-acre parcel of a larger,
389-acre tract of land on the Nanticoke/Hanover Township border near the intersection
of Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road to prevent acid mine drainage from escaping
the property into surrounding waterways.
Properties previously remediated
by Earth Conservancy have been sold or donated to public and private entities,
including Luzerne County Community College.
Jacqueline Dickman, director of
public affairs and development, said Earth Conservancy doesnt have any immediate
plans to develop the property, but hopes it will eventually attract commercial
or mixed-use development.
The site is near the proposed terminus of the South
Valley Parkway, a bypass the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will build
to alleviate traffic on Middle Road. Dickman said the land may become more marketable
for development when the roadway is complete.
Eventually, Earth Conservancy
hopes to clean up the entire 389-acre Nanticoke property, which the roadway will
pass through, she said.
The nonprofit must hold the public hearing because
the project is being funded with a $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant from the
state Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to $40,000 from Earth Conservancy.
Earth Conservancy hopes to begin cleanup at the site in the early spring and complete
work within 12 months.
If you go
hearing on Earth Conservancys remediation of former mine land in Nanticoke
When: Feb. 1, 4 p.m.
Where: Earth Conservancy office, 101 S. Main St., Ashley
More information: A complete project analysis is available for review at Earth
Conservancys office or online at www.earthconservancy.org
Nanticoke officials target eyesore for demolition
Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens Voice
In an ongoing
war on eyesores and problem properties, the city is planning to get rid of a longtime
nuisance at 66-68 W. Ridge St.
Solicitor William Finnegan
said the city will purchase the site, demolish the vacant house, then sell the
property through a public bidding process.
Holly Cirko said the money will come from a fund earmarked for removing blight.
She said acquisition will be about $5,000 plus $6,000 in back taxes, and estimates
the bid for demolition, transportation, disposal and backfilling should come in
around $31,000 to $32,000. The project will be bid out once the city has control
of the site. The property owner, who lives in New Jersey, has been taken to court
and the site has been a problem for at least six years, said councilman Rich Wiaterowski,
Nanticoke's former code enforcement officer.
Joe Dougherty and council have an ongoing commitment to cleaning up Nanticoke,
council President Steve Duda said.
"We don't want
any abandoned properties or properties that aren't up to code in the city."
teen in Punt, Pass and Kick finals
Tom Brolley - Citizens Voice
Alec Norton spent last weekend watching the NFL playoffs,
his favorite sport.
Norton could have the chance to be a small part of this
Sunday's AFC divisional round game between the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens
at M&T Bank.
Norton is one of just four national finalists in the 12-13
boys age group in the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition this Saturday night
at the Ravens' team facilities.
If Norton is lucky enough to win his age group,
he'll join the nine other champions for an award presentation that will air on
CBS, between the third and fourth quarter of Sunday's game.
Norton said he
has no expectations going into Saturday's finals.
"I'm going to go out
there to do my best," he said.
He'll still get to attend the game with
his father Todd even if he doesn't win.
Forty finalists, in 10 groups, will
compete in the PPK finals and two finalists will come from the area.
Seely from Berwick will join Norton in the finals in Baltimore. She'll compete
in the girls 14-15 age group.
Seely won a local event, a sectional event and
the Philadelphia Eagles team event before the Patriots game on Nov. 27.
demonstrated her arm strength this past May during track season, finishing finished
sixth in the javelin at the District 2 Junior High Championships last spring.
Norton, 13, also won the a local event, a sectional event in Allentown and the
Philadelphia Eagles team event.
Norton was especially excited to win the Philadelphia
event because the Eagles are his favorite team.
All 32 NFL teams crown champions
in each of the 10 groups and the field was narrowed down to four finalists with
the best scores.
Norton had the fourth best score in his age group to advance
to the finals.
Norton's best throw traveled 108 feet, his best kick went 136
feet and his best punt flew 115 feet.
Norton, the son of Todd and Sherri Norton,
is an eighth grader at Nanticoke Area where he's an high-honor student and he
plays football, basketball and baseball.
He plans to play all three sports
next school year at Nanticoke Area High School.
Norton and his father will
drive to Baltimore Friday night and the competition will be held at 4:30 p.m.
at the Ravens' team facilities.|
Finalists in the five age divisions on both
the boys and girls will have two punts, two passes and two kicks with the scores
based on distance and accuracy in feet.
The top scorer in each group will
be crowned national champion.
All participants and their guests are provided
airfare, hotel accomodations and tickets to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game in
"I'm excited to just be there and to go to all the stuff in
Baltimore," Norton said. "And I'm excited to go to the game."
Prospect Cafe surveillance
investigating the slashing of a womans face inside a Nanticoke tavern have
seized the bars surveillance system, according to a search warrant affidavit.
District Judge Rick Cronauer authorized the search warrant filed by Nanticoke
police and the Luzerne County District Attorneys Office late Friday afternoon,
two days after a request was made to attorney Michael Yelen for the surveillance
Yelen represents the Prospect Street Cafe and its owner, Paul Halliday.
Police Detective Capt. William Shultz said Monday the surveillance video of the
assault early New Years Day was taken from Yelens law office on West
Market Street, Wilkes-Barre. The video is in state police custody to be forensically
Police said Jennifer Mieczkowski, 30, of Nanticoke, was assaulted
by an unknown female with a box cutter inside the tavern at about 2 a.m. on Jan.
1. Mieczkowski suffered several severe slash wounds to her face and neck.
Mieczkowski said she went into the tavern with her friend, Ricky Wells, 30, of
Mountain Top, to buy beer to take home. While she was talking to friends inside,
a fight broke out and a woman slashed Mieczkowski numerous times in the face and
neck, police said.
Mieczkowski said the slash on her neck was a half-inch
away from the carotid artery. She underwent emergency surgery at Geisinger Wyoming
Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, and will need further medical procedures
on her face.
Shultz said police are actively investigating the vicious assault.
The District Attorneys Office is assisting the investigation along with
the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to determine if the tavern
can be closed as a nuisance bar.
An estimated 20 people who were inside the
tavern have been questioned by investigators.
Mieczkowski estimated there
were 50 people present, and she criticized the patrons for not coming to her aid.
Wells, who Mieczkowski said did come to her aid, was dragged outside and beaten
with a pool stick. He suffered a broken jaw, police said.
According to the
search warrant affidavit:
A state police liquor enforcement officer conducted
an inspection inside the tavern on Jan. 4 and observed interior cameras affixed
at various locations.
Halliday told the enforcement officer the surveillance
system was within a room in the kitchen area. After the fight on Jan. 1, Halliday
allegedly told the enforcement officer he removed the (surveillance) system and
gave it to his lawyer, Yelen.
The District Attorneys Office contacted
Yelens office on Jan. 4 requesting the surveillance equipment to have it
examined by the state police computer crimes unit. Two days after the request,
police and the District Attorneys Office obtained the search warrant for
Yelens office after they did not receive a response, the search warrant
Yelen did not return a message for comment, and Halliday could
not be reached at the tavern on Monday.
Luzerne County's distressed municipalities on way to
County's three financially distressed municipalities are on track to shed their
Nanticoke City, Plymouth Township and West Hazleton Borough
have all been making financial improvements and could emerge from their state-designated
Act 47 status this year or next.
"I don't see any reason for us not to
get out this year," Nanticoke Mayor Joseph Dougherty said. "We're in
better shape than we have been in decades, and our audits prove that."
The state Department of Community and Economic Development makes the decision
whether or not to grant distressed status. West Hazleton was declared Act 47 in
November 2003, Plymouth Township in July 2004 and Nanticoke in May 2006.
the designation, all three municipalities have been required to maintain balanced
budgets, follow plans drawn up by their financial recovery coordinators and adopt
better accounting practices, among other things.
Professionals with Pennsylvania
Economy League, recovery coordinator for Nanticoke and West Hazleton, and Northeastern
Pennsylvania Alliance, which is Plymouth Township's, say the municipalities are
really making progress.
"We're hoping by the end of this year (Plymouth
Township) will be in a position to present its case to the state for exit of distressed
status," said Alan Baranski, vice president of community and government services
at Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance.
Joe Boyle of Pennsylvania Economy League
said emerging from Act 47 will happen. "Clearly in the next year or two for
Nanticoke and West Hazleton."
The three municipalities just need to keep
doing what they're doing, he said.
Even natural disasters
couldn't keep Plymouth Township down.
The township's financial situation has
improved to the extent officials were able to handle infrastructure expenses such
as damage to roads, sewers and drainage systems, created by flash-flooding on
July 3, Hurricane Irene on Aug. 28 and severe flooding from Tropical Storm Lee
on Sept. 8-9.
"Even despite the recent flooding event they had there,
which normally would have crippled them - which would cripple a financially healthy
community - they're doing well," Baranski said.
Disasters are nothing
new to the township. It suffered flooding in September 2004, April 2005 and June
2006, plus there was a Dec. 17, 2004 fire that ruined the public works garage.
"You almost have to say we've been tested, and tested, and tested,"
supervisor Chairwoman Gale Conrad said.
It was overspending in the aftermath
of the 1996 flood that started Plymouth Township on the road to financial distress.
A previous administration spent money on things such as road repairs, without
governmental guarantees they would get the funds back.
That taught the current
administration a lesson: "We are determined not to spend what we do not have,
and until we are approved for things by the government, we do not do it,"
This time, township officials worked hard to get grants and find
other sources of money to ensure there would be no negative effects on residents'
pockets, Conrad said.
"Those days are gone," she said. "The
people have given enough with this earned income tax."
rolled up their sleeves and did what they had to do in terms of cleaning up, engaging
the right professionals and using the federal and state emergency management agencies
to get the damage assessments in for the hazard mitigation grant program, Baranski
Supervisor Joe Yudichak, who is head of the road department, "is
doing an excellent, excellent job," Conrad said. She said for weeks after
the flood, he ran machinery on his own time, unpaid, to help the department get
a handle on the huge amount of work to be done.
Money is starting to trickle
in, Conrad said. She estimates at least 90 percent of the businesses - the backbone
of the township's revenue - have bounced back.
Conrad said Plymouth Township's
home-rule charter, which kicked in this year, is crucial to the recovery. It changes
very little, but it allows the township to keep the 1.5 percent earned income
tax it would have to give up when it gets out of Act 47.
The township's home-rule
charter more or less institutionalizes the changes township officials have been
following under the Act 47 plan, Baranski said.
"It is a big step to
stabilize the financial condition of the township for the future," he said.
"This is huge: realizing the recovery practices have worked for them. We're
proud of the results there."
Plymouth Township has persevered through
all the adversity and is better as a result of it, Baranski said.
hope this year will be one of recovery and emancipation," he said.
What stands out about Nanticoke's most recent audit - for 2010 - is what isn't
The independent auditor, Certified Public Accountant Joseph Mazzoni,
wrote in his report for the 2003 audit that conditions "do raise substantial
doubt about the City's ability to continue as a going concern."
the last audit had no such dire warnings that the city might have to shut down.
For years Nanticoke was plagued by a cycle of borrow and spend. City officials
borrowed more and more to pay its bills. The bills kept accumulating to the point
the city would run out of money by July and have to borrow still more.
catches up to you after a while," PEL Executive Director Gerald Cross said.
Add to it a former tax collector who was found guilty of stealing thousands of
dollars from the city's coffers, and it was a recipe for financial disaster.
Gone are the days of slipshod record-keeping and defaulting on tax anticipation
notes, according to PEL.
"The city is now on a firmer financial footing,
with professional management and a dedicated council and mayor," Cross said.
Boyle credits City Administrator Holly Cirko and Director of Finance Pam Heard
with making an impact, noting, "When you put professionals in there to do
the job and support them, they will make progress."
the city's new home-rule charter, which took effect this year, will help the city.
"Act 47 was the vehicle that helped us become financially solvent,"
he said. "But now that home rule is passed, we have the ability to do what
we need to do. We are always trying to improve our finances. Continually, as the
Nanticoke's charter, which is more comprehensive than Plymouth
Township's, calls for numerous changes including a strong-mayor form of government.
The charter allows Nanticoke to keep the 1.5 percent earned income tax that is
permitted under Act 47 but would revert back to the state-mandated level of 0.5
percent without home rule, and formalizes the city administrator position to make
Boyle called Nanticoke "an excellent example of how Act
47 can work" if city officials take it seriously and cooperate with DCED
and their financial recovery coordinator.
Dougherty gives kudos to PEL as
"Did I always agree with what they wanted to do? Absolutely not.
But it worked," he said.
Things look good financially
for West Hazleton in the upcoming year. The budget calls for income of $1.9 million
and expenses of $1.85 million, which means an anticipated $76,948 surplus. There's
no tax increase, either. The fire department is changing over from partially paid,
with the retirements of fire Chief Robert Ward and an engine driver, to all-volunteer,
which will save about $132,000.
But in contrast to his Nanticoke counterpart,
West Hazleton Mayor Frank Schmidt doesn't have much faith in Act 47 and doesn't
think it helped the borough.
He said West Hazleton has debt of more than $1.5
million, including a $300,000 interest-free loan from the state and a $1 million
loan taken out 15 years ago. Schmidt said the previous administration that took
out the $1 million loan kept refinancing it instead of paying it down, which is
how the financial trouble started.
The borough had to give up its 1-percent
earned income tax, "and now we have to really struggle to survive, without
raising taxes," Schmidt said.
Home rule would have allowed the borough
to keep it, but West Hazleton voters struck down a ballot question to form a study
commission, so the earned income tax rate reverted back to the state-mandated
Schmidt calls home rule a big gamble: you don't know who's going
to run, who's going to get elected, and whether they're qualified to make changes.
"As mayor, I would be glad to give up my position if I knew somebody was
going to come in and do a good job," he said.
Schmidt said he would like
to see changes made in Harrisburg that would allow municipalities like West Hazleton
to keep higher earned income taxes.
"The last thing we want to do is
raise taxes on homeowners, because they've been taxed enough," he said. "We're
hoping the state changes Act 47 and gives us permission to get that 1 percent.
We wouldn't have to worry ever again."
Despite attacks, Nanticoke calm
Even after he was brutally clubbed in a carjacking
last June, Mayor Joseph Dougherty looked forward to his nightly walk.
I got attacked it did not deter me, he said Saturday before he headed downtown.
The New Years Day slashing of a woman in The Prospect Street Caf? wasnt
keeping him inside and residents havent raised concerns about an increase
of violent crimes in the city.
I was a victim of circumstance. I was
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Police are investigating the assault
of Jennifer Mieczkowski, 30, of Nanticoke. She has to undergo additional reconstructive
surgery on her face.
Dougherty sympathized with Mieczkowski, who waits for
police to file charges in her case. I wasnt happy waiting a couple
weeks, he said.
Police arrested three men who pleaded guilty on Dec.
29 to charges related to beating Dougherty and stealing his company car as he
sat in it on South Chestnut Street near his residence. The men will be sentenced
next month in Luzerne County Court.
Nanticoke Detective Capt. William Shultzworked
Doughertys case and has been working on the Mieczkowski case.
dont know all the facts yet, said Shultz.
He said investigators
are attempting to talk to people who were in the bar at the time of the slashing,
he said. As many as 50 people may have been there.
many people takes time, said Shultz.
His department is getting assistance
from the state police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement and the county District Attorneys
Office, he said.
Shultz declined to comment on whether there has been an increase
in the number of violent crimes in the city.
The latest data available from
the FBIs Uniform Crime Reporting Program showed a decrease.
Nanticoke reported 58 violent crimes compared to 74 in 2009, according to the
reports of offenses know to law enforcement. The violent crimes in 2010 were:
nine forcible rapes; 11 robberies; and 38 aggravated assaults. The totals for
2009 were: one murder/non-negligent manslaughter; five forcible rapes; seven robberies;
and 61 aggravated assaults.
A few blocks from where the slashing occurred,
Luigi Carannante works behind the counter of his business, Antonios Pizza
& Subs on East Main Street.
He has read and watched the media reports
of the attack. Things happen in every town, he said.
street Fran Stavetski showed the pepper spray she keeps near the register at On
the Rise Gifts and Novelties. The store also installed security cameras and posted
signs on the door indicating they are in operation.
The measures were taken
when stores were selling bath salts that have since been banned. The store did
not sell them out of concern that it could be targeted for a robbery.
didnt want that, said Stavetski.
Vigil is held for slashed woman
that attacker at Prospect Street bar be brought to justice.
When Rilee Ruminski saw the bandages, she kept
her distance from Jennifer Mieczkowski.
The face so familiar to the 3-year-old
Rilee was partially hidden to protect the slash wounds Mieczkowski received early
Sunday morning when she was attacked during a fight inside the Prospect Street
As police continue to investigate the assault of the 30-year-old hair
salon owner and mother of a 7-year-old daughter, nearly 100 people, including
Ruminski and her grandmother Paula Shemanski of Nanticoke, gathered Friday night
at a vigil for Mieczkowski on Patriot Square a few blocks from the bar.
demanded that her attacker be brought to justice and planned to raise money through
a bake sale and other benefits to pay for the medical treatments still needed
for Mieczkowski, who has not health insurance.
My son goes to her shop
and (Mieczkowski) loves (Rilee) so much, said Shemanski. Shell
cut her hair and do her nails for nothing.
Shemanski, like many of those
who held lit candles, knew Mieczkowski and were shocked by the slashing.
started crying as soon as I saw her, said Shemanski.
One of Mieczkowskis
cousins told Joe Iraca of the attack.
It just blew me away, said
Iraca, of Nanticoke.
Theres no way to make sense of it,
he said. Im just hoping something good comes out of this.
Mieczkowski and a friend, Ricky Wells of Mountain Top, stopped in the crowded
bar to pick up beer to take out shortly before 2 a.m. While she spoke to friends
a fight broke out and a woman slashed Mieczkowski in the face and neck multiple
times with a box cutter. Wells was dragged out of the bar and beaten, suffering
a broken jaw.
Wells was the only one who came to her aid, she said.
it wasnt for him, I wouldnt be right here in front of you because
I would have been killed, said Mieczkowski.
She thanked her family,
relatives, friends and strangers for attending.
They werent coming
out to look at my face, she said. Instead they came to offer support and
demand that the person who wounded her be held accountable.
get justice for whats been done to her, said her cousin Denise Pearson
of Nanticoke before leading the crowd in The Lords Prayer.
Mieczkowskis 25-year-old sister Ashlee organized the vigil and said she
was planning a benefit to be held at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard armory
My family is ridiculously close, said the younger
She and her sister were raised by a single mother who imparted a lasting
piece of advice: She said, At the end of the day, all you have is
The younger Mieczkowski expressed frustration with
the lack of an arrest.
My sister identified someone Monday night and
still nothing has been done, she said.
Byorick returns to receive the ultimate honor
Paul Sokoloski Opinion - Times Leader
The game has
changed for Ali Byorick since she last stepped on the basketball court at Nanticoke
That doesnt mean she cant play it.
the scoring star anymore that she was at Nanticoke, where she put up more points
than anyone else ever did including the greats from the schools storied
But her current team at Lehigh University, where shes averaging
6.1 points through the first 14 games of her senior season, depends on Byorick
as much as the Trojanettes did when she was shooting the lights out every night
in high school.
Just in a different way.
I think playing Division
I ball, its a challenge, Byorick, 22, said Tuesday. Its
hard to play. Its such a huge transition. Youre playing with people
who are all Division I basketball players.
Meaning they were all high
Not all of them stay in the spotlight. But not all of them get
their old number retired, either, which is partly why the Lehigh womens
team was on hand in the Nanticoke gym Tuesday to watch Byorick receive such a
Its something you dream about, Byorick said.
You dream of this as a little kid.
Her old No. 15 went up on the
wall, where future generations of Trojanettes, and Trojans, can always aspire
to reach such esteem.
I remember coming to the varsity games and looking
up to her, current Nanticoke player Katie Wolfe said. She basically
inspired me to keep playing basketball.
The mere sight of Byorick working
her magic on a high school floor stirred pure joy in anyone fortunate enough to
She finished with 2,272 career points before graduating in 2007,
led Nanticokes charge into two PIAA playoff tournaments and was the engine
driving the Trojanettes to identical 29-1 records during her final two seasons.
In doing all that, Byorick became as dominant in high school as anyone the Wyoming
Valley Conference has seen.
Thats why Byorick became the first girl
to have her jersey retired by Nanticoke, even without winning a state championship
like the girls on the 1990 team she so revered.
She was fantastic. She
really was, said Nanticoke head coach Allen Yendrzeiwski, who didnt
coach Byorick but sure watched her play. A six-foot guard who could step
out and shoot 3s. Just a phenomenal player.
Byorick hasnt lost
her touch, as she led Lehigh with 48 three-point field goals as a junior last
season and is second on the team with 19 three-pointers early in this one.
The daughter of Dan and Trish Byorick of Nanticoke isnt the go-to girl at
Lehigh, where Emily Gratch and Alexa Williams both average more than 10 points
to pace a team picked to finish second in the Patriot League.
But Aly Byorick
could still play the big scorer when she wants to. She hit for 15 points in a
victory over St. Peters and had 11 in a loss to Rutgers to lead Lehighs
scorers in November games.
Every player wishes they can go out and score
20 points a game, Byorick said. Thats not my role at Lehigh.
And I really wouldnt change anything.
Im just very blessed
to have the opportunity to play Division I basketball.
She still plays
as hard as she ever did, whether the cheers come for the baskets she scores of
the ones her teammates put in.
Because it may not always lead to a championship.
But it forever leaves the mark of a champ.
New Nanticoke council members officially sworn in
Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens Voice
The first council
under the city's new home-rule charter is in the saddle and ready to ride.
On Tuesday, Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker swore in new council members
Stephen Duda and Richard Wiaterowski, and also Kevin Coughlin, who stepped down
as city controller to become the fifth member of council, replacing Mayor Joseph
Dougherty. The other two councilmen, James Litchkofski and Jon Metta, are incumbents.
The new form of government, replacing third-class city code, calls for a strong
mayor. Dougherty said he's up to the challenge. He is particularly looking forward
to talking with residents, and plans to hold an open house in his office from
5:45 to 7 p.m. each Wednesday, with additional hours in the future.
will now have a chairman to lead it instead of the mayor, and Duda was selected
as the first to fill the role, with Litchkofski as vice-chairman. Duda will also
serve on the home-rule transition committee, which will help ease in the new form
of government. Nanticoke residents voted in May 2010 to form a home-rule study
commission, then, in November 2011, to pass the charter drawn by commission members.
One of the main factors behind the home rule movement was to keep the higher earned
income tax - 1.5 percent - the city is allowed under its state designation as
an Act 47, or financially distressed, city. The alternative would be to hike the
property tax substantially. Dougherty said the city's finances are improving.
"We will be able to get out of Act 47 this year," he said. "The
sooner, the better."
budget includes property tax increase
Because of the transition to home rule,
new five-member city council has until Feb. 15 to amend budget.
At its last meeting
before the new home rule government assumes power, Nanticoke City Council passed
its 2012 budget at a special meeting Saturday morning.
Council was required
by state law to pass the budget by the end of the year, but because of the transition
to home rule, the new five-member city council will have until Feb. 15 to amend
the spending plan after taking office.
The budget includes a property tax
increase of .35 mills, or approximately $17.50 on a home assessed at $50,000.
A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
income tax and other tax rates will not change.
The budget allows for about
$4.3 million in expenditures, about $22,500 less than the 2011 budget.
of Finance Pam Howard said the city raised taxes so it could put $50,000 into
a capital expenses account for contingency expenses because council has vowed
not to take out a tax anticipation loan in 2012.
Treasurer and Tax Collector
Al Wytoshek criticized the tax hike, saying the city should look to reduce expenses
instead. The city spent about $260,000 on attorney and legal fees and the salaries
and benefits of the city administrator and finance director in 2011, he said.
We just cant afford that; not this small a city, Wytoshek said.
In other business, council also approved, subject to solicitor review and approval,
an agreement with the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board to bring 10
employees and a supervisor to work with the city road department for six weeks
at no cost to the city.
Council also approved the sale of the old CVS building
on East Main Street, assessed at $160,000, to the citys General Municipal
Authority and the sale of 24 S. Prospect St.
The city will host an auction
at the municipal building this month to sell the property, with bidding starting
at the buildings assessed value of $106,000.