Plan urges Nanticoke park space - A
consulting firm presents its improvement proposal to city leaders.
Michael McNarney - firstname.lastname@example.org
The people of Nanticoke want more
trails for jogging and walking.
Conversely, there are no trails for jogging
and walking in Nanticoke.
So shows the city's park and open space plan, presented
to a handful of people at City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
The plan, drafted by
a Bethlehem-based firm and expected to be adopted by City Council next week, is
only a guide and doesn't contain any mandates.
But making sure Nanticoke is
connected to proposed area trails and making sure the city plays a key role in
park development along the Susquehanna riverfront are among the strongest recommendations
contained in the plan.
"There's a lot of activity up and down the Susquehanna,"
said Paul Driscoll, vice president of the consulting firm Urban Research &
Development Corporation. "It would be good to see that Nanticoke is and remains
connected to that type of planning."
Almost 44 percent of residents who responded
to a survey for the study said jogging and walking trails were what they wanted
to see the most. Of the city's 10,955 people, just 218 responded.
trails were a popular idea, it's not clear how many people would actually use
them. A majority of the survey respondents said they "never or very seldom" use
Patriot Park generated the most interest among respondents. The
study recommended that even if the city doesn't have any money, city officials
should raise money from businesses and keep the Civic Pride Committee refurbishment
effort at the forefront.
Safety issues - real and perceived - at Patriot Park
were a big topic of discussion. Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski said security cameras
have been discussed, but not installed.
Bernie Szot, a member of the committee
that helped put together the plan, told of a recent confrontation he had with
some young toughs who blocked the sidewalk as he tried to pass.
"I said, 'somebody's
going to get hurt,'°" Szot said. "I said, 'Maybe me, but somebody's going
to go with me."'
Nanticoke residents break even on taxes for 2004
By Elizabeth Skrapits
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke City residents will not have a tax
increase in 2004, but they most likely will not have a decrease either.
unanimously passed the final reading of the approximately $3.2 million budget
at a special meeting Monday night, and voted 3-1 to keep the tax rate steady at
a total of 60.38 mills.
Councilman John Bushko, who voted against the tax
rate, said since two bonds will be paid off by next year, the millage should be
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski said there is a petition in court due
to come up next month for a $1 million loan the city wants to take out.
the court approves the loan - which will be used for bills and debts - the millage
that would go toward the previous bonds will now go toward paying off the new
If the city does not get the loan, it will have to drop millage, Bozinski
Councilman William Brown said the problem is the city does not have
enough money coming in.
Mayor John Toole said Nanticoke takes in $13,000 on
a mill of taxes, while, for example, Pittston gets $39,000 per mill.
attributed it to low assessment, except on newer homes.
"This year we're really
going to have to stick by the budget," Bozinski stressed.
She asked city administrator
Greg Gulick to make sure department heads submitted monthly reports of their expenditures.
Rising health care costs are one of the city's problems. Toole said it costs $28,267
a month for health insurance for retirees, administration, and the fire, street,
and police departments.
A resident asked whether the city could ask for co-payments,
but Toole said the fire and police departments had been "adamant" against the
To take the matter to arbitration could cost the city a lot, and
Bozinski pointed out that municipalities don't usually win in arbitration, especially
with fire and police departments.
In other business, council voted to take
out a six-month tax anticipation note in the amount of $300,000 from PNC Bank
at a 2.55 percent interest rate.
Council voted to award a $197,849 bid to
Slusser Bros. for the Broad Street sewer project.
Council accepted the resignation
of Fire Chief William Ives, who was deputy chief for five years and chief for
"He's been a real asset to the department," Toole noted.
to put Deputy Chief Mike Bohan in place as temporary chief; Toole said union issues
had to be resolved if Bohan was made chief permanently.
Council also accepted
the resignation of Controller Joseph Dougherty, who will be taking a seat on council
Jan. 5, replacing Walter Januszeski, Jr.
Toole said council will discuss finding
a replacement for Dougherty as controller at the next regular meeting in January.
Guardsmen receive gift: Get to spend Christmas with families
Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Pennsylvania Army National
Guard soldiers from the First Battalion, 109th Field Artillery, who will be soon
deployed to Iraq, got an early Christmas present this year: To be able to spend
Christmas Day with their families.
It almost didn't happen. The guardsmen
were initially scheduled to leave before the holiday for a six-week training period
at Fort Dix, N.J. Now they will depart on Dec. 30 for at least a one-year tour
Two families of guardsman from the Bravo Battery, Nanticoke, Bob
Donahue, 19, and Ron Bruza, 22, gathered on Thursday to speak about what this
Christmas means to them.
"We went from tears to happiness. We got our wish
that he would be here with us," said Bob Donahue Sr. about his son.
our Christmas come true our present. We don't need anything else," said Tierney,
the guardsman's mother.
Bruza's parents also expressed appreciation their
son is home for Christmas, but noted his pending departure will be tough to handle.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster. It's joy, and then not so much sadness,
but you don't know what to expect," said Bruza's father Ron Sr.
to be really special," said the guardsman's mother, Yvonne, "for a while."
Bob Sr., who served in the Marines, said he'd have a talk with his son in the
next few days about the upcoming mission.
"I was in the service, he is in
the service, we understand this stuff," he explained.
Bruza's father, Ron
Sr., rightly worried as a parent, feels proud of what his son is about to embark
"He takes a challenge and runs with it," Ron Sr. said. "He always would
tell me 'I can do it and I will.'
Bob Sr. said his son is the same way. "If
he sets his mind to it he does it."
This mentality and work ethic enabled
Bruza to be the captain of the football team and Donahue the captain of the basketball
team during their time at Greater Nanticoke Area
Any challenges they faced before don't compare what they
will be soon up against, they agreed. But they aren't backing down from this new
"When the call came," Donahue said, admitting to being somewhat
shaken up, "I knew that's what I signed up for - that it was a possibility."
"We realized we were going over to do what we were trained to do," Bruza added.
They realize their lives will completely change very soon. Both enlisted in the
Pennsylvania National Guard to earn money to help pay for college.
just completed a semester at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, where he is a freshman.
Bruza was halfway through his junior year at King's College, ready to begin student
They will put these parts of their lives aside for now to join Operation
Iraqi Freedom. They probably will still be deployed next holiday season.
Christmas is going to be special because we almost didn't have it," said Bruza.
"I think it's going to mean a lot to our families knowing next year we're probably
not going to spend Christmas together," Donahue added.
Kindergarten students get help writing to Santa
By Debby Higgins
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
How would you feel if you had to write a letter
to let Santa know exactly what you wanted for Christmas, but you haven't learned
how to write?
Sounds pretty frustrating, right? Well, students at Greater
Nanticoke Area Elementary Education Center empathized with the plight of kindergarten
students who are still working on their writing skills.
But, thanks to fifth
and sixth grade and kindergarten teachers and Principal Dr. Maryellen Scott, the
older students were able to offer some help for the little ones.
was to have the older students mentor with the younger ones to compose a letter
to Santa,'' explained project creator fifth grade teacher George Tensa.
in fifth grade classes were given time to visit kindergarten classrooms to interview
kindergarten kids who told them all about their Christmas wishes.
each kindergarten child was assigned to a fifth grader who conducted an interview.
The fifth graders wrote down all the requests then composed a letter addressed
to Santa Claus.
"I asked Santa for 13 presents. No, 14,'' said kindergarten
student Colton Caravella.
"How is he going to get all those toys to your house?''
asked fifth grade interviewer Nicole Booth.
"I think you know he has a bag
full of toys. He waves his hand and makes them all with magic,'' Caravella explained.
"Most of the kids asked for stuff that's popular. We did get a couple requests
for toys that were unusual,'' interviewer David Warho.
"I think the little
kids took the letter idea seriously. I did get one unusual request for a toy quad,''
interviewer Brandon Schenck said.
Tensa said the idea for the letters was
definitely holiday related, but it came with a well-hidden lesson tucked inside.
"The older students were very enthusiastic and dedicated to the project. If one
of the kindergarten children was absent and didn't have a chance to be interviewed,
the older students made sure they completed their interviews,'' Tensa said.
After the first draft of the letters was finished, copies were given to sixth
grade students for review.
"The sixth graders made corrections and returned
the copies to the fifth graders who made the changes. We wanted to make sure Santa
received perfectly written letters,'' Tensa added.
Toys were at the top of
the list for the little ones.
"I think they were just worried about getting
something they really wanted. They didn't want us to forget anything,'' offered
fifth grader Sarah Bertoni.
For the older students, their Christmas wishes
were a little different.
Fifth grader Ebony James wished for her brother to
come home for Christmas.
"He's in the Army and I wish he comes home so we
can have our family together,'' James said.
Nanticoke, Newport Twp. eye police pact
By Robert Kalinowski ,
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke City and Newport Township are negotiating
a potential deal where the Nanticoke Police Department would acquire policing
duties from Newport Township Police Department, according to Nanticoke Mayor John
Toole said talks have been in the works since about this time last
year at the request of Newport Township officials.
If the deal is completed,
it would be a way for Newport Township to save money and to begin regionalization
of police forces, he said.
Since the talks began, both sides have looked at
financial numbers of the possible merger.
"They have been making offers, but
we don't know if we can do it," said Toole.
Toole admitted Nanticoke City
wouldn't make much, if any, money on any pact.
"We have to make sure we could
at least break even," said Toole.
Money is not the important thing here, he
explained. The future is.
"I'm all for regionalization. This would be a start,"
Toole said Nanticoke is already helping Newport Township police.
Late Tuesday night, the lone Newport Township police cruiser struck a deer and
Toole authorized the city to lend Newport Township a police
"We didn't have a police car six years ago," said Toole, recalling the
grim days when the city received cars from Wilkes-Barre, "now we're loaning them
He said that before the proposed agreement could be completed, the city
must get approval from the police union to hire some part-time officers.
has full-time cops but would need to hire part-timers if they merged, he said.
He noted that Newport Township could benefit from the use of Nanticoke's detectives
"For now, it's just preliminary talks," said Toole. "We're seeing
if we can get the financial numbers to make it work."
Tough questions for Nanticoke officials
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke officials are seeking a $1 million loan to pay
off debts, but there are concerns that more debt may not be the right answer to
the city's financial questions. On Dec. 16, Nanticoke solicitor Bernard Kotulak
petitioned Luzerne County Court to take out a 10-year unfunded debt loan of $1
million. A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at the Luzerne County Courthouse.
Nanticoke councilman John Bushko said the purpose of the loan is to pay off $500,000
the city owes on a tax anticipation note, and also $400,000 in bills. In addition,
the city has borrowed $4.3 million from the sewer fund, which will take 20 years
to pay off, Bushko said. He feels by taking out the $1 million loan, the city
is only shuffling its debt around, and sooner or later the facts of the city's
financial position will have to be faced. "We're like alcoholics living in denial.
That's my opinion," Bushko stated. He said the city simply does not collect enough
money to cover all its expenses, which is why something has to be done. "This
is what I don't understand, and I try to get this across. None of the bills are
going to come down," Bushko said. "They're taking the $1 million loan out, and
they're going to pay off the TAN and the bills from this year. But where is the
money going to come for next year's bills?" Nanticoke Mayor John Toole claims
the situation is not as bad as it seems. For one thing, Toole said the bills are
not from this year - they go back up to six years. The TAN is also not recent,
but goes back two or three years. Toole said the money was used for a new ladder
truck for the fire company. Toole said a lot of money has been spent on the city's
infrastructure throughout the past few years. "I often ask where's the money going
to come from," Toole said. "There's just so much work to be done with infrastructure
repairs. If it had been kept up, we wouldn't have this problem." When Toole took
office about six years ago, he said Nanticoke had no police cars - the department
had to borrow Wilkes-Barre's vehicles. The fire department's ladder truck didn't
run, there were other problems with equipment, and the city hall roof was leaking,
he recalled. Within the past few years, the city paved a few roads, which cost
$250,000 from the general fund. "That's a quarter of a million dollars right there,"
Toole said. Bushko has a different take on why the city is struggling financially.
"Costs went up - everything goes up. And taxes stay the same," he said. "Our costs
keep escalating and our millage has to stay the same. Something has to be done."
Toole thinks the budget for 2004 looks good, however. "We don't have a spending
deficit per se," he said. "The budget is just about balanced. We'll see what happens
if emergencies come up." Bushko and Toole did agree that the city would not raise
taxes. The current tax rate is 60.38 mills, Toole said, and the city has to petition
the court each year to maintain the additional 30.38 mills over the legal limit
of 30. Toole explained that the city has two bond issues totaling about $1,700,000
that are being paid off - one this year, and one next year. "Actually, when we
were working on (the budget), we thought the millage was going to decrease by
two or three mills," Toole said. "Next year there's also a bond issue paid up,
I think, and the millage will probably be decreasing." The city has asked for
assistance from the Governor's Center for Local Government Services, which sent
expert Joe Krumsky to help Nanticoke get its act together. Before the city submitted
the petition for the loan, Krumsky "went through everything," Toole stated. "And
he said really, it's not as bad as it looks because we're working to address the
problems." Toole added, "And we're doing it on our own, without any large grants."
Krumsky has not yet submitted a report, but when he does, Bushko said it would
give recommendations and show what the city can and can't do. Bushko is hoping
Nanticoke will follow Scranton's example: by following the recommendations from
the state, Scranton is working on making a comeback. He said when the report is
in, what Nanticoke will probably have to do is go to distressed city status, and
start making cuts. Bushko believes a lot of services can be outsourced, like big
businesses do. The city already has an outside contractor collect garbage, and
Bushko said sewer repairs could also be done by outside sources. "A lot of times
private industry could do it a lot cheaper than the government," Bushko noted.
City officials will have to make serious decisions in the upcoming year, which
Bushko said might be "like cutting your throat politically," but is their responsibility.
Body found in Nanticoke
The frozen body of a 19-year-old Nanticoke
man was found Thursday by a person walking in a wooded area behind a parking lot
off Broadway Street in Nanticoke.
Charles Stas, Orchard Street, was identified
as the man, according to county Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Lisman.
there doesn't appear to be any foul play involved.
There is no indication
at this time that Stas suffered any trauma or injuries that caused his death,
Further tests, he added, will begin after the body thaws ina
day or two.
Nanticoke police received a call at 10:13 a.m. from a person who
discovered the body near a wooded area behind a parking lot on Lower Broadway
Street, according to Det. Sgt. William Shultz.
Nanticoke closer to demolishing problem property
By Lisa Napersky ,
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke City officials are one step closer
to demolishing a partially collapsed building on South Hanover Street that has
been considered a health and safety hazard for some time. Luzerne County Judge
Ann Lokuta signed an order Wednesday authorizing the city to publish its intent
to tear down the former T.P. Jones Furniture Store, which has been in a dilapidated
state for the last several years. If nobody responds to the publication in 60
days, the city will get the green light to raze the property. The building's owner,
Randy Jenkins, whose last known address is a now defunct post office box in Peoria,
Ariz., has refused to take service of legal documents sent to him by the city.
He is also wanted on criminal charges for failing to respond to numerous citations
on the structure. City Solicitor Bernard Kotulak said Jenkins owes the city more
than $50,000 in fines for building code violations. A warrant was issued for Jenkins'
arrest after he failed to show up for a hearing before District Justice Donald
Whittaker on July 31. Kotulak explained that the city must publish the demolition
notice in Arizona newspapers once a week for the next 60 days, satisfying a legal
obligation to try to contact the building's owner. The city had also hired an
Arizona detective to track Jenkins down, but those attempts were futile. A hearing
on the demolition will be held Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. before Judge Lokuta, who will
be asked to sign the final order turning the structure over to the city for demolition.
The property was purchased last March, sight unseen, for $7,600 through an eBay
Internet auction from an unknown seller in New York. The official owner of the
property is listed as the Arizona-based Church of a Different Spirit, with Jenkins
listed as the contact. The city's engineer determined the structure was unsound
after the roof collapsed on June 6. City officials estimate that demolition will
cost approximately $144,000, but until the city assumes ownership, it cannot raze
the structure nor seek funding to cover the cost of demolition. "Once we've taken
the proper legal measures, we will obtain an order to knock down the structure,
and we'll start taking bids for the project," said Kotulak. "The city is committed
to getting rid of this problem property." In the meantime, City Administrator
Greg Gulick said he is continuing his crusade to clean up the city. Gulick said
that since he took office in February, 65 city properties have been cited for
code violations or cleaned up and repaired. "Now that word's out we're not messing
around - that we're going to court on these matters - people are cooperating with
us," stated Gulick. The city administrator noted the city's next project is to
see the former Ellis Skate-a-Rama on Washington Street renovated. Code enforcement
officer Richard Wiaterowski said the city was working with the owner to get the
building up to code so that it could be turned into a cold storage facility. "We're
going block by block with our effort to clean up the city," said Gulick. "Some
of these legal matters take a long time, but it will be worth it in the long run."
Cops' station renovation saves ailing city thousands
cost to public, officers raise funds, modernize their quarters.
WEISS - email@example.com
They have been trained to patrol streets and round
up criminals, but city police officers have found other skills helpful in improving
Officer Mike Roke is a novice electrician. Officer Kevin
Grevera is handy with a paintbrush. And officer Joe Guydosh dabbles in carpentry.
Their efforts, combined with the volunteer work of all the city's officers, helped
turn the city's police station from a stuffy, deteriorating base to a organized,
They remodeled the station's holding cells, installed
DUI and evidence processing rooms with the proper equipment, bought computers
and performed numerous maintenance tasks.
All of it came at no cost to the
city taxpayers because the officers got the materials with their own money, grants
or through donations. They also did the work themselves, on their own time.
"We don't do this on city time," said police Chief James Cheshinski.
started the project because they understand the city's financial status makes
it unable to pay for the work. The city's deficit has reached $1 million.
Without the repairs, the department would have continued to deteriorate, with
parts of a ceiling falling, messy storage areas, and dimly lit areas.
problem near the parking garage was one of the first things Roke wanted fixed.
The problem forced officers to swerve their vehicles around spots - until he got
off duty one day, bought a few bags of cement and fixed it himself.
government always moves in slow motion," Roke said. "We've learned to be pretty
Among the work the officers performed:
Donated tires for
Grevera donated his former personal vehicle to the force
to use as an unmarked cruiser, with Roke and Guydosh installing the police equipment.
Hoagie sales helped them raise $1,500 to buy stop sticks - used to flatten the
tires of a fleeing vehicle in a chase - and a metal detector, and donate funds
toward a coal miner memorial, a children's safety program and sports teams.
Built a barracks, equipped with two cots and two showers for officers working
long shifts at the station.
Purchased three computers with grant money.
Improved the shooting range, and installed additional windows to improve ventilation
at the station, located in the basement of the municipal building.
just happen overnight," Roke said. "Everybody did something."
One of the biggest
improvements was renovating a storage area near the holding cells. They painted
the holding cells; added lights; and built the DUI, evidence and fingerprinting
processing units behind the cells. The addition contains a video recorder, lockers
for weapons and safety mats.
The processing center allows officers to handle
drunken driving suspects at the station instead of taking the suspects to Wilkes-Barre
The new area also prevents the officers from parading criminals
though parts of the station where the public might be.
"It all goes back to
pride," said Cheshinski, who noted his office furniture is all donated. "Nothing
in this office is city property - except for the phone line."
figure they saved the city at least $9,000 in material, plus labor, which could
have costs thousands more.
"We feel like we want to give back to the community
that stood by us," Grevera said.
Cheshinski said the work also has increased
camaraderie and efficiency in the department. The officers plan to continue to
make improvements in the department. Roke said he will try to keep most of his
electrical work to the Police Department.
"I'm not gonna be going door-to-door
asking people if they need receptacles replaced," a joking Roke said.
vows shooters will face arrest
By MICHAEL McNARNEY mmenarnev@leadernet
Vandals who shot out at least 70 windows of cars and buildings with a pellet gun
in Nanticoke may have done tens of thousands of dollars in damage, police said
Damage complaints were still coming in Monday, Nanticoke police officer
Kevin J. Grevara said as he typed reports into a computer in the basement of City
Hall. A pellet gun was used, Grevara said.
Grevara, who got the case when
he came on duty at 7 a.m. Sunday, said police have about 60 cases in Nanticoke
alone. He said the vandals - identified as three adult men and an adult woman
- also shot out windows in Newport Township, Plymouth Township and Warrior Run.
The officer said he's waiting to arrest the culprits until all the victims turn
repair estimates in to the police department, but people shouldn't fear that the
vandals will walk.
"Before we had half of the calls on this one we had the
case solved," Grevara said. "I guarantee you that every person responsible will
Newport Township Police Chief Carl Smith said five vehicles were
damaged in the township's Alden section, and a window at Bink's Sheatown Service
Station was shot out.
Plymouth Township police Chief Robert Lehman said he's
received seven complaints about damage to autos and buildings.
police did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Grevara said the damage
estimates he has seen range from $200 to $900, averaging around $250 each.
That puts the total at around $17,500 -- well beyond the $5,000 threshold necessary
to file felony criminal mischief charges.
Leonard Marshallick, 74, came out
of his East Washington Street home Sunday morning to find the driver's side window
shot out of his silver Chevrolet Impala.
Destined for Mass at the Polish National
Catholic Church on Prospect Street, Marshallick and his wife took heir vintage
BMW - undamaged and parked in the driveway - instead.
Still, Marshallick said,
the whole thing is a pain. The auto glass repair man wanted to come to the house
today to fix the window, but it conflicted vith Marshallick's trip - he's a Korean
War veteran - to the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
So the garbage
bag will stay draped over the window until wednesday, Marshallick said. he estimated
his cost, after deductible, at about $50.
Grevara said anyone with damage
should call police at 735-2200.
Nanticoke cars targeted in shooting spree
By Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
Numerous Nanticoke City residents had a rude awakening Sunday when they discovered
the windows of their vehicles had been shot out with what police believe were
pellet guns. "Just about everyone's been very upset coming out in the morning
and finding their windows broken," Nanticoke Police Officer Joseph Kosch said.
"A lot of people were coming out to go to church." Police said more than 30 vehicles
had their windows damaged. The vandalism most likely occurred in the early hours
of Sunday morning, according to Kosch. "We're estimating somewhere between midnight
and four in the morning. That's when the first one was called in," he said. Police
believe more than one person was responsible; they say several suspects have been
identified and will soon be arrested. Resident Linda Letizi said she was alerted
by a neighbor out walking her dog early in the morning to the fact that her husband
Paul's car had been damaged. "We thought we were the only car until I called 911,"
Letizi recalled. "I said to the lady, 'I hate to call 911 because it's not an
emergency' - she said it was going to be a while because there were so many incidents
in Nanticoke." Letizi thought at first the damage was caused by someone "out to
get her," but police told her the window shootings were random. In fact, she later
learned that at least five cars belonging to her neighbors along the street had
also been shot. "They must have gone right around town," Letizi said. Kosch noted
the damage was not restricted to a particular area. "It was over the entire city.
The tally is still coming in," he said. People whose vehicle windows were damaged
are being asked to come forward and assist in the investigation. Kosch said the
higher the dollar amount of the damage, the more serious the charges will be when
they are filed against the suspects. Nanticoke police are tracing vehicle license
plate numbers to their owners, but it is very important for people to contact
police anyway. "It only gives us so much information to go with, and if they're
not in the phone book, we're stuck," Kosch said. Victims should report to Kevin
J. Grevera, the investigating officer, at the Nanticoke police station as soon
as they can. The station opens at 8:30 a.m. Monday, and there will be someone
at the desk until 4 p.m. Victims can also call 735-2200, but police would prefer
if they came in personally. Police ask that victims provide their vehicle year,
make, license plate number, and their name, date of birth, phone number and address.
In addition, victims are asked to bring an estimate for the cost of the window
repair, if possible. Letizi said the incident Sunday was the third time this year
one of her family's cars was damaged. "My insurance company is probably going
to think, 'What the heck is going on here,'" she said with a laugh, before growing
serious again. "It's really a shame."
Turn the page
By: Elizabeth Skrapits
A small city is a dynamic thing,
subject to phases of boom, decline, occasional stagnation - and revitalization.
To study the past and look to the future of Nanticoke City is to view a portrait
of an American downtown that is both typical and distinctive.
was born in 1908 in the Hanover section of town, a second-generation Nanticoke
native. Her grandfather, Frank Patrzykowski, left Poznan, Poland in 1884 to escape
Immigrants flocked to Nanticoke at the turn of the century because
of its many collieries: the Susquehanna, Auchincloss, Bliss, and Truesdale. Znaniecki
said that at Ellis Island in New York, they were directed onto northeast Pennsylvania-bound
trains by coal-company agents who were stationed there.
"During the train
ride - they said, 'that is Europe. That is the way my country looks.' This came
especially from the Slavs-Polish, Russians, Ukrainians - they loved the ride from
New York," said Znaniecki. "But when they reached Nanticoke, it was a different
story. It was a mining town, dirt roads, wood planks for sidewalks, smoke and
pollution in the air."
Immigrants like Patrzykowski, who went on to become
a councilman, became active in civic affairs and set the foundations for the transformation
of Nanticoke in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
"In time they learned they
had to take part. They went to night school and learned English. Those who were
adept did very well," Znaniecki said. "They knew how to do things, and it didn't
take them long to pave the roads and put in sidewalks and deal with epidemics."
At the turn of the 20th Century, Nanticoke's economy was mainly based on coal
mining and farming, but many immigrants opened their own businesses. Znaniecki
said there were saloons all over town, and numerous grocery stores. During World
War I when the men went off to war, the textile industries were started.
to the history of Nanticoke that Znaniecki wrote for the city's 1976 U.S. bicentennial
book, Nanticoke was incorporated as a borough in 1874.
By 1924, Nanticoke
qualified to become a third-class city under Pennsylvania code, and in 1925 the
current government of a mayor and four-member council was established.
wrote that in 1926 Nanticoke contained 22 churches, 11 public schools, five parochial
schools, six collieries, four banks, four silk mills, two shirt factories, and
a cigar mill. That was the General Cigar Co. on West Church Street, which made
White Owl and Robert Burns cigars. The building was demolished this past July.
In the age of the streetcar, people came from all over the area to shop in the
main commercial district of Nanticoke, centered around Market, Main and Broad
There were department stores and specialty shops; Znaniecki remembered
W. D. Jenkins's The Leader Store, Leventhal's Men's and Boy's Wear on East Main
Street, and lots of other clothing stores catering to women and men.
I was in high school in the 20s, we worked at Newberry's or the shoe stores or
Kirby's, and our wages were 50 cents. Everything was a nickel," Znaniecki said.
After graduating from East Stroudsburg University, Znaniecki became a teacher
in 1928, until she married her husband Vincent in 1937. Dancing and going to the
movies were favorite diversions.
"We had three theaters. The State Theater
was the big one down here on Main Street. It was just recently demolished," Znaniecki
recalled. "There was the Casino Theater, and the Rex Theater up on Market Street,
near the park."
There were lots of places to go dancing, too, like the dance
halls down on Broadway, and bands would play at the Armory.
"We never knew
what it was to go to Wilkes-Barre in those days. We had everything on Market and
Main," Znaniecki said. "It was a flourishing town in the 20s."
And the growth
continued. Nanticoke's population hit a peak in the 1930s that lasted into the
1940s. The U.S. Census shows a 1930 population of 26,040 and a 1940 count of 24,244.
But after the 1930s and 40s, the decline was slow and steady. In 1950, Nanticoke
had 20,160 residents; in 2000, there were only 10,955 - in 50 years, the city
lost nearly half its population.
Chester Zaremba, former chief of police and
current vice-president of the Nanticoke Historical Society, has lived in Nanticoke
his entire life, and his son and daughter-in-law also chose to live in the city.
"They want to live here because it's a nice, clean, safe, attractive city," Zaremba
He remembered his childhood in 1950s Nanticoke. Zaremba's father worked
the afternoon shift, 2-10 p.m., at the Huber Breaker. On Fridays, Zaremba would
go downtown with his mother and brother.
The afternoon would start with a
treat such as pizza or pierogies, then on to the shopping district, which stretched
from Walnut Street to North Market Street, then from South Market Street all the
way to the park.
"At that time, I remember every conceivable kind of shop
you could want," Zaremba said. "You just ran out of time on a Friday night in
Nanticoke. There was so much to do."
There were the big stores like Woolworth's
and lots of specialty shops - the hobby shop was Zaremba's particular favorite.
On Saturday nights, downtown Nanticoke was hopping. The line for movies at the
State Theater would wrap all the way around the block.
"You were shoulder-to-shoulder
on the sidewalk many times," Zaremba recalled.
Today, downtown Nanticoke is
no longer thronged with shoppers and entertainment-seekers, and many of the buildings
that once housed thriving businesses are now vacant.
Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski
(D-11) is a native of Nanticoke and former city solicitor.
definitely been going through a transition," he admitted. "It suffered, like all
of Northeastern Pennsylvania, from the devastation of the coal mining industry,
and that happened probably in the late 40s when gas and oil became standard fuels,
Zaremba believes the population drop was caused by
an exodus resulting from the closing of the mines, increasing education - particularly
at the high-school level - and parents encouraging their children to seek better
"Everybody was going to New Jersey to get a job," Zaremba
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole moved to the city in 1972, when he married
his wife Elizabeth, a lifelong resident. In the early 1970s, after Tropical Storm
Agnes, there was a small real estate boom because the city was out of the flood
"I remember when looking for a home in Nanticoke, you really couldn't
find one," John Toole said.
Znaniecki wrote in 1976, "Nanticoke today is a
pause between the old and the new with none of the old grandeur and charm. Gone
are the opera house, the ballrooms, and the hotels. The urban redevelopment bulldozer
has razed these monuments to the past. In their places are rising new modern buildings
with the latest conveniences and facilities. This did not happen overnight."
Meanwhile, Nanticoke continued to lose residents. U.S. Census reports show 14,638
residents in 1970 and 13,044 in 1980.
Gerald Cross of the Pennsylvania Economy
League said the population of Luzerne County, as a whole was 341,956 in 1970 and
343,079 in 1980. That shows a .3 percent loss in population for the county and
10.9 percent for Nanticoke, Cross noted.
"It's not so much that people were
leaving the county as leaving the city," Cross said. "But that is symptomatic
of third-class cities. You'd find that Hazleton, Nanticoke, Pittston, all suffered
a similar decline."
Elizabeth Toole said part of the problem is that there
is a large senior citizen population in Nanticoke, and often when elderly people
pass away, their families move out of town and sell the houses.
explained that the American trend of leaving cities for suburban areas is a factor.
"What has happened in Nanticoke is basically in transition from a thriving center
core population to a bedroom city," he said.
The decline of Nanticoke's downtown
is representative of what is happening throughout the U.S., Kanjorski, the Tooles,
and Zaremba all believe.
"When the malls came into being, that hurt the downtowns
in I would say all of the cities. I think it was more of a national trend," Toole
Zaremba noted that downtown Nanticoke suffered as activity moved from
the city to the shopping centers, then to the malls. He remembered forsaking downtown
Nanticoke for the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville when it first opened.
"You shifted; you were looking for something different, I think," he said.
In the 1950s, Zaremba's family had one car, which his father would take to work,
so he walked to town with his mother and brother. Today families have three and
four cars, he said.
"If you wanted a record player, you went to Bergman's,"
Zaremba said. "Now you go to Circuit City."
Increased mobility, as well as
the advent of the highway system, encouraged outward migration, Kanjorski said.
On the other hand, that same issue of mobility and roads could be an asset to
Kanjorski managed to get the all clear for a four-lane highway
to connect state Route 29 and Nanticoke Highway and run to Newport Township. Eventually
the highway will be designed to go to state Route 11, up to Shickshinny.
believes the highway will afford opportunities for other areas, especially on
1,600 acres of former mining land now owned by Earth Conservancy, on which a 2,000-acre
multi-purpose park is scheduled to be built. There is also the possibility of
an industrial complex containing everything from offices to technology companies
and perhaps hotels.
Kanjorski said in the future there will be a complete
transition of Nanticoke from a 1930s-40s coal-mining town to a more diversified
municipality, with people living in the city and various industries located around
In order for Nanticoke to continue to grow and prosper, attention
must be paid to the infrastructure, by keeping public improvements up to date
and making a long-term commitment, Kanjorski said.
Making plans and keeping
to them will form the foundation for Nanticoke to make a tremendous recovery,
"I look back and think if I return to Nanticoke after 20 years,
the downtown will have several new buildings, boutique shops and retail stores,
parking to accommodate them, houses up to standard," he said. "(There will be)
a high quality of life, and a periphery of jobs and parks around the community
and new communities around those areas ... Assuming the area can attract the kinds
of jobs and industry that will sustain this kind of growth."
One aspect of
Nanticoke that already draws favorable comment from neighbors and visitors is
the pride most residents take in their homes.
"If you drive around the city,
you'll see that people take good care of their properties," Elizabeth Toole said.
"It is a beautiful town. In the past few years, we've paved more streets and torn
down more dilapidated buildings than ever before."
Zaremba said the city is
starting to focus on something important that has been neglected: code enforcement.
City Administrator Greg Gulick and Code Enforcement Officer Richard Wiaterowski
have been on a mission to actively deal with problem properties and eyesores.
John Toole said dealing with decrepit buildings was one of the first major things
he addressed when he took office. In the past six years, he estimates 20 or 25
buildings have been demolished.
But it does not pay to get too overzealous
about getting rid of old buildings, many of which help give Nanticoke its distinctive
"All of our frame buildings have been torn down. They should have
kept one," Znaniecki lamented.
The Lincoln building was constructed in 1912,
the high school in 1914 - both are gone. The 1924 Kosciuszko building was the
first to go, Znaniecki recalled.
"I'll never forgive them for taking down
the high school," she said. "We could have had so much there, using different
parts of the building. But they sold the land and CVS is there now."
also believes there should be more of a preservation effort. He said one of the
reasons the Nanticoke Historical Society was founded in 1996 was because landmark
buildings such as the State Theater and the junior high school were being torn
"All the buildings we knew - who didn't go to the State Theatre? Who
didn't go to the high school? When those buildings went down, they took a little
of us with them," Zaremba said. "Once it's gone, you're never able to build it
New towns have sprung up all over the U.S.; Kanjorski pointed out
that they may look nice, but they're not real communities - Nanticoke is.
He gave as an example the town of Celebration, near Orlando, Fla.
is a carefully planned community featuring pre-1940s architecture; it was created
by a subsidiary of the Disney Corporation in 1994 with the intent of blending
the atmosphere of a traditional old-fashioned small town with contemporary innovations
and modern amenities.
"In reality, all the characteristics of homes, streets,
porches, sidewalks in Nanticoke are very analogous to Celebration, Fla., but ours
are the real thing. They're not façades," Kanjorski said. "Nanticoke will
represent what so many people in America are looking for - a return to the idyllic
life that Celebration is trying to create."
He concluded, "We don't have to
reconstruct it - we have it."
Nanticoke officials share a vision for a prosperous future
Nanticoke may be in a slump right now, but there is already evidence
it is pulling out of it - and hopes are high for the future.
"I really think
we're on the right track," said Chester Zaremba, a lifelong resident who is vice-president
of Nanticoke's Historical Society.
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole said a reason
for the region's decline is that people have to move away to other states to get
"We don't have room for expansion," John Toole said. "There's very little
space for large businesses and industrial parks. The present buildings can be
used; there is some space, but not to the extent where you would see a major employer."
But there are improvements, both already made and still to come. "You can say
we have some very good things going on," said Nanticoke native Congressman Paul
He pointed out the recent renovation of Weis Markets. "They recognized
Nanticoke is going to grow and provide the kind of shopping capacity that warrants
that kind of investment,'' Kanjorski said.
Over the last 10 years, some employers
have been brought in, such as Health Now, which took over the old Traveler's building.
There are also two pharmaceutical operations and plans are underway for commercial
Kanjorski said there are two very promising prospects for offices
in downtown Nanticoke, which he said, is working on moving along as fast as he
There is $2 million in grants for Market Street - part of, which is a
Keystone Opportunity Zone - which John Toole said, has been "sitting there for
"We've had a lot of plans for Market Street, and they just haven't
taken off yet," John Toole said. "I always have people contacting me, and the
(chamber) does too, looking for small or certain-sized spaces to lease."
Toole believes from his research about urban flight and suburban sprawl that downtowns
can make a comeback.
"I've been saying all along that Nanticoke is a great
place to live, and people who come to visit say, 'wow, what a great city.' But
it's not a big destination," John Toole said.
"Like Jim Thorpe - can we ever
get to be like that someday? I don't know," his wife Elizabeth Toole added.
She was one of the organizers of MusicFest, a four-day summer music festival,
which is one attempt to make Nanticoke a "destination." Another is carriage rides
Elizabeth Toole said many plans - such as for a dam project,
recreation areas, and a nine-hole golf course - had to be abandoned or put on
hold because funding never came through.
In the future, when 16,000 acres
of former mining land now owned by Earth Conservancy is reclaimed, it will give
Nanticoke a tremendous boost, according to Kanjorski. He expects that to happen
within the next 15 years - but the trouble is, things are moving excruciatingly
Zaremba said when he started working for the city as police chief after
23 years in the Pennsylvania State Police; he got his first exposure to how slowly
city government works.
The city needs "an impetus, a go-getter attitude,"
Zaremba said, and admitted, "I'm starting to see somewhat of a turnaround."
"What Nanticoke will transform into is basically a suburban community, because
it will no longer have a commercial downtown," Kanjorski said. "There will no
longer be a situation where it will be like a shopping center.''
he predicts Nanticoke will have an increase in boutique-type shops and small business
The proposed improvements would not only lead to a better quality
of life for Nanticoke residents, but could set an example for other communities,
such as Wilkes-Barre and the West Side, Kanjorski said.
"Nanticoke in a way
will lead the comeback," he said.
"We're never going to have a thriving retail
district again any more," Zaremba admitted, but noted that instead, "Specialty
shops that can't be located in a mall, can't pay the kinds of rent in the malls,
will find their niche."
He concluded, "You're not going to be able to fill
your Christmas shopping list in Nanticoke, but you can shop somewhere else and
come home and have a nice Christmas here."
A dangerous street has Nanticoke worried
By KASIA KOPEC - firstname.lastname@example.org
Frustrated that police patrols, educational campaigns
and begging haven't slowed speeding drivers on Kosciuszko Street, school officials
and parents are considering installing new stop signs or speed bumps.
main artery from Main Street to Luzerne County Community College, Kosciuszko Street,
has worried parents, crossing guards and school officials for years.
Tony Perrone and others say the problem has intensified, and they fear someone,
probably a child, will be injured or worse if something isn't done to slow down
Children walking to the high school, middle school, or
two elementary schools on Kosciuszko Street cross at the crest of a hill, right
at a blind spot for motorists.
"I was out there the other day and I saw this
girl speeding up the hill and she actually had to zig-zag to avoid hitting one
of our crossing guards," said Perrone. "I don't know where her mind was."
It wasn't an isolated occurrence.
Veteran crossing guard Leo Prezworski said
drivers regularly ignore him. So he's resorted to shouting at drivers or frantically
waving his stop sign to get their attention.
"I step out there early to try
to give them time to stop," said Prezworski. "If they're going 40 or 50, they
need time to stop. But it seems like a lot of people just don't care."
Rooney Saunders, whose three children walk to school from their Green Street home
a few blocks away, said she has lost count of the near misses she has witnessed.
"I've seen women pushing baby strollers have to sprint across the street to avoid
oncoming cars," said Saunders. "And last summer, while my children and I were
volunteering to move books to the new library in the Elementary Center, we saw
two accidents in the span of less than two hours."
One of those wrecks involved
a child on a bike, she said.
Perrone blames cell phones and cigarettes for
distracting teen drivers on their way to the high school or the community college.
Elementary school Principal Mariellen Scott has been working with community college
officials to resolve the problem, but Perrone said more needs to be done.
Perrone advocates installing permanent stop signs at Noble and Ridge streets where
they cross Kosciuszko Street, to force traffic to stop on either side of the crest
of the hill.
Nanticoke city Administrator Greg Gullick said if the district
requests the stop signs in writing, council will consider them.
"It's a local
road, so we can do whatever we want in terms of stop signs," said Gullick. "If
they ask us to install them, we'll certainly take a look at it."
But the Nanticoke
Police Officers Association does not support the installation of new stop signs.
In a letter to the Times Leader, the association quotes PennDOT as saying, "Unnecessary
stop signs cause accidents, breed contempt for other necessary stop signs and
increase, rather than decrease speeds as motorists try to make up for lost time."
Officer Richard Vietz, who was patrolling Kosciuszko Street Tuesday morning, said
police are severely limited in what they can do to enforce existing traffic laws
the way it is.
"With two guys on a shift, it's hard," he said. "We get here
when we can, but if there's a domestic dispute going on ... we can't be here passing
out speeding tickets."
Saunders said some members of the parents council have
been talking about installing temporary speed bumps as an alternative to stop
signs, but she doubts either measure would do much to deter speeders.
have crossing guards, human beings, standing in the middle of the street with
stop signs in their hands and cars still don't stop," she said. "Are they going
to stop for a bump in the road or a sign on side of the street?"
Plans to raze dilapidated structure in Nanticoke in legal limbo
Owner of property on South Hanover Street is a no-show at hearing; neighbors
By Lisa Napersky Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
City officials will likely have to wait a few more months before they can authorize
the demolition of a partially collapsed building on South Hanover Street.
The owner of the former TP Jones Furniture store, Randy Jenkins, failed to show
up for a hearing before Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta Wednesday morning to explain
why he feels the building shouldn't be torn down, so the city must continue its
efforts to contact Jenkins.
Jenkins, whose last known address is a now defunct
post office box in Peoria, Ariz., is also wanted on criminal charges for failing
to respond to numerous citations on the dilapidated structure at 428 S. Hanover
Jenkins owes the city in excess of $50,000 in fines for building code
Nanticoke Solicitor Bernard Kotulak requested that the hearing
to determine whether the structure should be razed be continued until the proper
legal steps are taken to notify Jenkins, including hiring an investigator in Georgia.
If Jenkins doesn't respond in 60 to 75 days, Kotulak will ask the court to issue
an order to demolish the building.
The delay has angered some area residents
who have been fighting for several years to have the building razed because it
is a health and safety hazard, but Kotulak said his hands are tied.
has refused to accept service of the legal documents we sent him," explained Kotulak.
"Under Arizona state law, we can't take his property without giving him due process
of law. We have to follow proper legal procedure."
The property was purchased
in March, sight unseen, for $7,600 through an eBay Internet auction from an unknown
seller in New York.
The official owner of the property is listed as the Arizona
based Church of a Different Spirit, with Jenkins listed as the contact.
building's roof collapsed on June 6 when the city's engineer determined the structure
was unsound and recommended demolition.
City officials estimate that demolition
will cost approximately $144,000, but until the city assumes ownership, it cannot
raze the structure nor seek funding to cover the cost of demolition.
Jenkins failed to show up for a criminal hearing before District Justice Donald
Whittaker on July 31, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he remains a fugitive.
Kotulak said the hiring of a private investigator would cost the city about $200.
The next step will be to try to notify Jenkins through publication in Arizona
"Once we've taken those steps, we will obtain an order to knock
down the structure, and we'll start taking bids for the project," said Kotulak.
"The city is committed to getting rid of this problem property"
In the meantime,
city Administrator Greg Gulick said he is continuing his crusade to clean up the
Gulick was in court Monday for a summary violation involving a dilapidated
garage at 204 Welles St. Gulick said that since he took office in February, 65
city properties have been cited for code violations or cleaned up and repaired.
"Now that word's out we're not messing around - that we're going to court on these
matters - people are cooperating with us," stated Gulick.
The city's next
project is to see the former Ellis Skate-a-Rama on Washington Street renovated,
the city administrator said.
Code enforcement officer Richard Wiaterowski
said the city was working with the owner to get the building up to code so that
it could be turned into a cold storage facility.
"We're going block by block
with our effort to clean up the city," said Gulick. "Some of these legal matters
take a long time, but it will be worth it in the long run."
The hearing on
the demolition of the T.P. Jones building was rescheduled for Dec. 17 at 10 a.m.
Tribute to coal miners of area
monument unveiling will be in Nanticoke; Alma Berlot led fund-raising drive
By STEVE MOCARSKY - email@example.com
Alma Berlot's fond memories of her father include him coming home from
a day of work in the coal mine and treating her to half a sandwich or an orange
covered in coal dust that he saved for her in his lunch pail.
But it was a
coal mine tour at McDade Park in Scranton not long ago that prompted Berlot to
spearhead a drive to honor men such as her father for the work they did.
I saw the conditions the coal miners worked in - the filth, the rats ... I was
terrified," Berlot recalled.
She became determined that a monument should
be erected in her hometown to honor the men who often sacrificed their health
or lives to provide for their families and further the state's and nation's industrialization.
That determination has paid off. The monument will be unveiled Sunday.
and her husband Alvin visited cemeteries and monument companies to get ideas for
a monument and found that prices ranged between $45,000 and
day after a visit to such a company, Berlot saw a picture of a sculpture that
artist Alan Cottrill created to commemorate the 2002 Quecreek mine disaster in
Somerset County. The five-day underground entrapment of nine miners after a cave-in
and their successful rescue made national headlines.
Berlot contacted Cottrill
and eventually persuaded him to create a monument for display in Nanticoke. The
price tag will be about $38,000.
Berlot said some scoffed at the prospect
of raising so much money. Even requests to the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board
and the Mill Memorial Library for a donation of land on which to erect the monument
But Berlot wouldn't be deterred. She made about 500 coal sachets
and sold them outside area stores. And as word of the project spread, community
Nanticoke Police Officer Kevin Grevera offered to send donation
requests to all Nanticoke residents. And Sam Marranca, county director of veteran
services, agreed to place the monument on his property at Kosciuszko and Main
Grevera, Alvin Berlot and Nanticoke Streets Commissioner Paul Ushinski
dug a hole for the monument's foundation. Shawnee Concrete donated materials.
Wilkes-Barre Area Vo-Tech teacher Michael Vnuk and six students built the monument's
base, and Joseph Yudichak donated use of a crane.
About $25,000 in donations
poured in from the community. And Sunday, a monument committee had a polka party
fund-raiser at American Legion Post 350 with Jolly Joe and the Bavarians.
Berlot said she was overwhelmed by community response when more than 350 people
showed up for the party; only 150 were expected.
While polka dancing was the
main activity, those attending also paid tribute to the miners. The band played
"Coal Mine in the Sky" as actual coal miners and children attired in costumes
provided by coal miner historian Joseph Keating took center stage. Women dressed
as angels walked through the crowd as a prayer was read for deceased miners.
Nanticoke native Gene Gomolka traveled from Naples, Fla., to attend the event.
"My father ... died of black lung at 65. He worked in the mines from the time
he was 12 years old ... When I heard (Berlot) on the radio talking about this
project, I thought it was great she was doing this," Gomolka said.
said family members came from Gettysburg, Tennessee and Virginia to attend the
party. She shared stories with Gomolka and others about her father and her husband
Casimer when they worked in the mines.
The unveiling of the monument - a 5-foot,
10-inch sculpture of a coal miner - will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday by CVS Pharmacy
at Kosciuszko and Main streets in Nanticoke.
Steve Mocarsky, a Times Leader
staff writer, may be reached at 459-2005.
HOW TO HELP
may be sent to Coal Miners Memorial Monument, c/o Citizens Bank, 75 N. Market
St., Nanticoke, Pa. 18634.
October 6, 2003
Officials Break Ground On Lexington Village
State Senator Ray Musto
and Pennsylvania State Representative John Yudichak joined developer Dominick
Ortolani and local officials to break ground for a new luxury senior apartment
complex, Lexington Village in Nanticoke.
Lexington Village will offer 55 unique
luxury senior apartments in a 12.5-acre campus style community
has begun and occupancy is planned for 2004.
Both Senator Musto and Representative
Yudichak have been actively working with the developer during the planning stages
for the complex and to secure state funding in support of the project.
row from left are Janet Ortolani, Joseph Dougherty city controller; Representative
John T Yudichak, Dominick Ortolani, developer; State Senator Ray Musto, Kathy
Rose, project administrator; second row: Shawn McHale, Weller Banking; Councilman
William Brown, Mayor John Toole, Russ Bilby engineer; and David Balzer, architect.
on Fri, Sep. 05, 2003
Nanticoke moving on decrepit building
is crumbling, trees are growing through a roof destroyed by fire more than a decade
ago, and pigeons roost in the windows of this ruined building the size of a city
But what differentiates the old Duplan silk mill on Prospect Street
from other eyesore properties in the city is that it remains open for business.
The front of the mill houses L.S. Bowl-A-Rama, where anyone brave enough to lace
up a pair of bowling shoes and hurl a ball down a lane in the direction of the
fire-damaged section is welcome.
City Administrator Greg Gullick said the
bowling alley is up to code and poses no danger to patrons. "It's just the back
portion there, where the owner used to have a roller skating rink and some storage,
that we're concerned about."
But Code Enforcement Officer Richard Wiaterowski
said he is uncertain how sound the building is and awaits a report from the city's
engineer before deciding whether to close it.
Wiaterowski filed a complaint
against the building's owner, George Ellis Jr., with District Justice Donald Whittaker
on Thursday morning. "He said he hired a contractor and he is going to start construction,
but I filed the complaint just in case."
Ellis said he understands Wiaterowski's
position and agrees the building is an eyesore. He has hired an excavator he said
is preparing to tear down the third floor and remove debris in advance of the
installation of a new roof. Ellis rebuts any suggestion the bowling alley portion
is in jeopardy, and said he has been assured the steel beams supporting the decades-old
building are sound.
"After the fire, we had OSHA and the Department of Labor
and Industry and everybody in here checking it out," Ellis said. "They told me
this place was built to withstand a world war. So it isn't going anywhere."
Renovations are expected to begin in about a month after environmental testing
"We have to make sure there is no asbestos or pollutants or
anything of that nature in there before we start with the construction," Ellis
said. "Of course, if they find any of that, we'll have to take a different route."
Officials have tried for years to force the building's owners to fix it up. They
even issued an arrest warrant for George Ellis Sr. in 1995 after he didn't respond
to a complaint about the condition of the property.
Wiaterowski said though
his predecessors made an effort to address the violations, they never followed
through, and he promised things will be different.
Senior home complex set for Nanticoke
Lexington Village scheduled to include
52 apartments and a 66-bed personal care center.
If all goes according to plan, Kosciuszko Street will be the location of a
new $12 million housing complex for the elderly called Lexington Village.
Developers Dominick and Michael Ortolani of Plains Township plan to build a 52-apartment
independent-living home and a 66-bed Alzheimer's and personal care treatment facility
on 12.5 acres.
The apartments are slated for completion in 2004, with the
long-term care home scheduled to open in 2005.
"It's great to see people investing
in the community," said Mayor John Toole.
The development will contribute
much-needed money into the city's tax coffers, said state Rep. John Yudichak,
Yudichak and State Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston Township, said
they helped woo the developers, adding they would seek money for cost overruns
from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today on the site across the street from Luzerne County
The development is expected to employ 70 to 75 people and
have a $500,000 annual payroll, Yudichak said.
"All the things we were looking
for, we found there," said developer Michael Ortolani. Nanticoke is a quiet community,
he said, and the proximity to LCCC will help enhance the "campus effect" of the
The 52 two-bedroom apartments will all have 9-foot ceilings, eat-in
kitchens, hot-water-circulated baseboard heat, air conditioning, walk-in closets,
a garage and attic storage. Residents will have access to the multi-purpose room
at the care home once it is built.
"I think we're going to be successful beyond
our imagination," Ortolani said. "We didn't spend a penny in advertising" and
two-thirds of the apartments have already been leased, he said.
Properties of Baltimore is managing the property. The apartments will likely cost
$750 to $800 a month.
Personal-care patients will live, eat and exercise separately
in the nursing home from Alzheimer's patients, Ortolani said.
unit has the very latest features," because they will be built with the special-needs
patients in mind. For example, patients recall colors better than numbers, so
doors will be painted different colors, he said.
He and his father have developed
homes, condominiums and strip malls in New Jersey, he said. It will be their first
project for housing for the elderly. J.W. Weller Mortgage Banking Corp. of West
Orange, N.J. will provide the financing.
Mayor Toole said he hopes the project
will spur other investment. He said he recently met with developers interested
in building townhouselike residences on the former Consolidated Cigar property
on West Church Street.
The owner has nearly finished clearing rubble from
the demolished factory, and has said he will then donate the land to the city
Resident stymies paving
Dr. Michael Kotch talks about the problems with Middle Rd. in Nanticoke. He
hopes that the city will fix the pothole problem.
Richard Buttrick has thwarted
the city's attempt to pave pothole-plagued Lincoln Avenue using grant money, and
he's proud of it.
"For the last 40 years I've been trying to better the city
in other ways. Sometimes self-interest takes precedence."
Buttrick wants the
city to redirect the money to demolish the partially collapsed former T.P. Jones
furniture store on South Hanover Street. His wife, Christina, owns the house next
door, which she rented to her brother. He had to move in with her after the store's
roof fell on June 6.
A spokesman with the state Department of Community and
Economic Development confirmed Lincoln Avenue can't be paved with federal Community
Development Block Grant money because fewer than 51 percent of its residents are
low- or moderate-income.
And Buttrick takes the credit for tipping them off.
He said he told the state that census figures from 2000 show 46 percent of the
street's residents have low or moderate incomes.
"I felt the city should have
to comply with the requirements everyone has to comply with."
Lincoln Avenue are despairing that no fix is on the way for their ruined road.
"It's disgusting. It's getting worse and worse all the time," said Robin Muth
of 1601 Lincoln Ave. Her daughter Samantha, 11, said she can feel the potholes
when her school bus drives over parts of the street.
It's also a safety issue,
Muth said. "I come up on the wrong side of the street to avoid potholes."
Michael Kotch's driveway is near a spot drivers swerve to avoid. "There must be
five or six (potholes) in front of my driveway that my car falls into every time
I move it." He said he doubts the road will survive another winter.
to rebuild Lincoln Avenue could have begun next week. Instead, it will be canceled,
said Mayor John Toole. "I'm not happy. This was all set to go. There are a lot
of unhappy campers that use that road. They're getting flat tires. I hope we can
do it next year."
Buttrick, a city resident and independent community development
consultant, said he tried for two months to convince the city it was ineligible
before going to the state.
After Buttrick derailed the project, he sent the
mayor a letter. "You should be thanking me," his letter read. "The City would
have had to pay that money back from its General Fund" for the improper use of
But city officials say Buttrick might not have his way. They
have other plans for the money.
"We'll be changing it to another road project,
I would think," Toole said.
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski said she'd like to
see if Lincoln Avenue could still qualify. "What we possibly could do is see if
people have moved out of the area. Or send staff to go door-to-door on these streets."
Volunteers are being sought to conduct a survey of the area to determine whether
or not it in fact meets the low income requirements.
Toole said the T.P. Jones
building will be knocked down, maybe just not as quickly as Buttrick might like.
About $100,000 in a demolition fund, though promised for other projects, could
be used, Toole said. Or the city could take out a loan from the state.
in August, council voted to petition the court for an order to tear down the building,
which is owned by a church in Las Vegas. If a request to expedite the court hearing
is approved, the city could have permission to raze the building this month.
"I don't know what he was thinking," Toole said. "Selfishness, I guess, comes
officials, resident disagree over paving project
By Elizabeth Skrapits
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke City officials want to fix up a main
street in town, but a resident believes the grant funding would be better spent
Nanticoke had received permission to use Office of Community Development
Community Block Grant money to pave Lincoln Avenue, which Mayor John Toole said
the city and its engineer determined was a main traffic artery.
told council at Saturday's work session that resident Rick Buttrick sent in a
complaint to OCD, which caused the agency to change its mind.
risk a lawsuit, city officials will have to find another road to improve.
"Council will talk about doing another project to see if we can get it in, in
time for the construction season," Toole said. "There's enough streets to do;
it's just that Lincoln Avenue is a heavily used street."
Lincoln Avenue can be paved if the city is willing to do an income survey.
"They're required to make sure 51 percent of the people who benefit from an OCD
activity are low or moderate income," Buttrick said. "On its face the project
is not eligible, because according to the 2000 census, the area is 46.5 percent.
However, that does not preclude the city from doing a house-to-house income survey
to see if the 2000 census was correct, or the demographics have changed over the
past three years since the census was completed."
If the survey determines
the Lincoln Avenue area to be at least 51 percent low to moderate income, the
city could use 2004 OCD money, Buttrick pointed out.
Toole said Buttrick was
right, but it would take a while to do the survey, and by the time it was finished
and everything was approved by OCD, it would be too late to do the project this
Toole said the city did an income survey once before, about three years
ago, in order to use OCD money to buy a new pumper truck for the fire department.
He said the department was sent out to cover the entire city: they went door to
door, making residents sign documents to verify their income.
of the survey showed 59 percent low to moderate income, so the city was able to
use the OCD money to purchase the new fire truck.
But Toole said it had involved
a lot of legwork.
"Then you have to have a majority of people sign, and make
sure they're telling the truth about their income, and people are reluctant to
do that," he noted. "We did do it before, but that's not saying how the survey
is going to come out."
If Lincoln Street does not qualify for OCD funding,
it would have to be put off indefinitely, because the city does not have enough
in its general fund. Toole said the project would cost about $150,000 for the
Buttrick said if the OCD money could not be used to pave Lincoln
Avenue, it should be used for demolition of the former T.P. Jones furniture store
on South Hanover Street.
Buttrick's wife owns the house next door to the T.P.
Jones furniture store.
"Obviously, given this time of year, if it is not possible
to bid new construction contracts that require paving, they can use the money
for demolition," he said.
The building, which is owned by an Arizona-based
entity called Church of a Different Spirit, partially collapsed three months ago.
"There have been two other minor collapses since," Buttrick said.
next door could hear the rumbling of material falling into the building."
A Greater Nanticoke Area school bus stop near the building has recently been moved
a block up, owing to possible danger.
Toole said while it was common knowledge
the building had to be demolished, it could not be done because the city does
not own it.
At the July meeting, Councilmen John Bushko, William Brown and
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski voted to have Solicitor Bernard Kotulak petition
Luzerne County court to allow the city to demolish the building.
he met with Kotulak Thursday and there was nothing new to report.
is that even if the judge authorizes the city to demolish the building, the city
says it doesn't have the money to demolish it," Buttrick said. "I've been saying
for three months that they can use community development block grant funds to
demolish the building."
Toole said in speaking with OCD, he learned the city
does have close to $100,000 in a specific demolition fund, but the city would
have to "re-balance" some other demolition projects to use it.
"You can also
petition the office of OCD to take a loan, if it came to that," Toole said.
However, the city must gain legal control of the building first, because it does
not want to risk a lawsuit.
"We're doing everything we can. Everyone agrees
the building has to come down. It's just coming up with the funding to do it and
do it legally," Toole said
Fire destroys home in Nanticoke
A fire destroyed a two-story home at
424 E. Washington St., Nanticoke on Tuesday night.
Nanticoke Assistant Fire
Chief Mike Bohan said fire crews responded to the home around 8:30 p.m. and encountered
flames on the second floor.
It took firefighters less than an hour to bring
the fire under control.
Chief Bohan said the home is a total loss, with heavy
fire damage on the second floor and heavy smoke and water damage on the first
Firefighters were throwing burned debris out a second floor window
that measured two to three feet deep on the ground along side the home.
Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross will assist the three people who lived
in the home, Chief Bohan said.
No injuries were reported
Chief Bohan said
the state police fire marshal will be called to investigate the cause of the fire.
Assisting Nanticoke were firefighters from the Hanover
Township Fire Department.
Historical marker recalls career of Pete Gray
By Tom Venesky , Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
it in professional sports, athletes have to overcome formidable odds and make
the most of their athletic ability.
Former Nanticoke resident Pete Gray is the ultimate example of how to overcome
adversity and realize your dream.
Gray, who passed away last year at the age
of 87, lost his right arm when he was six. Despite the handicap, he grew up yearning
for a chance to play major league baseball.
In 1945, Gray's dream became a
reality when he played 77 games for the St. Louis Browns.
In honor of his
accomplishment, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) dedicated
an historical marker to Gray. PHMC Commissioner Dr. Robert Janosov said the marker
would be located on Front Street, in the Hanover Section of Nanticoke, where Gray
During a dedication ceremony prior to the Red Barons game on Sunday
at Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic, Janosov told the crowd the location is
a fitting place to ensure Gray's legacy lives on.
"It will stand near the
Little League baseball fields where new generations of baseball players will be
inspired by the marker's message and Pete's accomplishments," he said.
Barons General Manager Rick Muntean called Gray an "American legend" and said
it was an honor for the Red Barons organization to be involved in the dedication.
"For any man to play this game with one arm is remarkable," he said.
he is widely known for his accomplishments on the diamond, Gray is also remembered
for his outgoing personality.
Although his handicap prevented him from enlisting
for service in World War II, Gray contributed to the war effort by visiting army
hospitals and speaking with amputees to reassure them they could still lead a
His baseball career ended in 1949, when he retired and returned
home to Nanticoke.
Author William Kashatus, who wrote the 1995 biography "One-Armed
Wonder: Pete Gray, Wartime Baseball and the American Dream," spoke about his first
meeting with the legend in 1966.
Kashatus was six years old at the time and
remembers how Gray showed him how he could catch a baseball, remove it from his
glove and exchange it to his throwing hand in one swift motion.
"I sat in
awe as he asked me to remember him when I made it to the big leagues," he said.
"Pete respected my dreams and became my very first hero."
with Gray continued into his adult life, when he knew him as a "card shark, scratch
golfer and loyal friend."
"The marker will serve as a reminder to young people
that if a man with one-arm can make it in baseball, then nothing should discourage
them from their dreams."
The marker is the newest of 1,900 historical markers
located across the state. Janosov noted that each marker establishes an important
link to the past.
"It's my hope that the 'Pete Gray' Wyshner marker will not
be the end of the story but will, instead, provide encouragement for further study
and discussion about our rich heritage," he said.
Nanticoke residents paying price for crimes committed by ex-tax collector
By Lisa Napersky , Citizens' Voice
Many Nanticoke residents received an unpleasant surprise in the mail this
week - notices that their houses were being placed on the upcoming tax sale list.
Although city and county officials couldn't say for certain why the notices were
sent to residents who have paid their taxes, there seems to be no question that
the problem stems from a former city employee who pocketed thousands of dollars
in tax revenues. Brenda Davis, East Field Street, pleaded guilty last October
to theft, forgery and default as tax collector. She admitted to stealing an undetermined
amount of tax money in her position at the Nanticoke tax office, where she was
employed from 1993 until her suspension in June 2001. Davis was scheduled to be
sentenced in April, but prosecutors agreed to delay sentencing until Nov. 13 when
a restitution amount should be determined. Officials decided to wait and see if
any taxpayers who properly paid their taxes in the Nanticoke office have their
properties listed for tax sale in September. The logic was that if homes are listed
and no one comes forward with proof of payment, these amounts could be deducted
from the restitution total. An alternate plan to perform an extensive audit was
scrapped because it could have cost in excess of $100,000. The audit would have
been paid for by the three taxing bodies involved - the city, the county and Greater
Nanticoke Area School District. In the meantime, the confusion is causing a great
deal of stress for many Nanticoke residents who were sent letters saying they
could lose their homes. Reportedly, the Luzerne County Tax Claim Bureau, which
generated the notices, has been inundated with phone calls and visits from frustrated
taxpayers. "I had to go to the courthouse today to prove that I paid, and they
told me they've been getting calls left and right, people crying and upset," remarked
one resident who asked not to be identified. "I'm very upset because I had to
take a day off work to straighten this out, and no one seems to want to be held
accountable." Nanticoke Solicitor Bernie Kotulak said the notices were inadvertently
sent out as a result of a glitch in the county computer system, although he admitted
the problems might be related to the Davis case. "If these people paid their taxes,
they only have to go to tax claim and present proof that they paid," noted Kotulak.
A clerk in the Nanticoke tax office would only say it was a county problem and
refused to comment further. A call to Mayor John Toole was not returned. Employees
in the Tax Claim Bureau referred questions to Virginia Augello, bureau director,
who could not be reached Thursday because she is on vacation. Debra McNulty, who
now works in the county treasurer's office, was tax claim director when the Nanticoke
problems first surfaced. She said there were at least three years of tax revenues
in question, and some people might be getting a second tax sale notice even though
they already verified that they paid their bills. "Until the case is resolved
and the money is paid back, the questions over who is delinquent will continue,"
said McNulty. "If people get notices, they should take care of it as soon as possible
to get their names off the list before the ads are printed." An employee in the
tax claim office confirmed that a total of 8,000 notices were sent out Monday
to county residents who are three years delinquent on their taxes. She said the
annual Upset Price Sale would be held Sept. 30, and that the list of properties
for sale would be advertised on Aug. 29, 30 and 31. County Controller Steve Flood
said several county employees spent a great deal of time last year trying to help
the city determine how to allocate $30,000 in uncashed checks and $15,000 in cash
that was found in the municipal tax office. "We tried to do what we could to help
them, but we are not responsible for this," explained Flood. "One of the problems
is that many people in Nanticoke paid by cash, so it couldn't be traced. I don't
think we'll ever know how much money Brenda Davis actually stole over the years."
County accounts manager Joan Hoggarth said that some of the recent notices might
have been sent out in error by the tax claim office, but the bottom line is that
it might be a while before Nanticoke tax woes are resolved. "We really can't tell
exactly what she did or trace how much she actually stole until these people who
got notices come forward," noted Hoggarth. "We can't remove the delinquencies
until the issue is resolved."
©The Citizens Voice 2003
Nanticoke mud flow stirring debate
A 5-foot long
smear of dirt and rocks collected outside Eugene Letukas' Hanover Street home
after Monday's deluge. Tuesday found Letukas shoveling the mess into a wheelbarrow,
just as he has after every heavy rainfall this year.
The dirt comes from a
barren rear lawn at 1500 Lincoln Ave., neighbors say.
Homeowner Celia Cavalini
of 1500 Lincoln Ave. did not answer her door and could not be reached by phone
Tuesday. The elderly woman so rarely leaves the house that several longtime residents
said they wouldn't recognize her.
Four years ago, Cavalini's neighbor, Joe
Kowalski of 1509 S. Hanover St., got so sick of the mud running across his lawn
and driveway that he built a $4,000 retaining wall, he said.
Now the redirected
dirt flows out into Hanover Street and rushes down the hill, settling in front
of Letukas' house at 1540 S. Hanover St. On Monday "it looked like a muddy creek
just flowing down the street," said his wife, Alyson.
Letukas doesn't fault
Kowalski for building the wall. "He had to do what he had to do."
said, the city needs to step in.
"We just need to have something done." Letukas
called the mayor Monday, and attended last week's council meeting with a small
group to complain about Cavalini's yard.
"I don't see how the city can do
anything," said streets Commissioner Paul Ushinski, who has noted some of the
residents' complaints. "If I was the homeowner, I would get bales of hay to stop
the erosion. But who am I to say?"
One resident suggested neighbors should
just learn to live with it.
"It used to aggravate me. You pay for your property
here," said Fred Stanski of 1424 Lincoln Ave.
But he's had a change of heart.
"She and her husband built the house, then he died. She's 80-some years old and
didn't want to leave," said Stanski, who has shoveled snow for Cavalini. "People
shouldn't feel this way. They're gonna get old, too."
Nanticoke man files suit over accord to sell lot
Joseph Simone is asserting
Nanticoke municipal authority has backed out of a contract.
By KASIA KOPEC
A city man has filed a lawsuit alleging that the General
Municipal Authority and Redevelopment Authority reneged on an agreement to sell
him an empty lot on South Market Street.
According to the complaint:
Simone of East Church Street approached the municipal authority on Jan. 25, 1999
about purchasing the lot.
The lot separates two properties owned by Simone:
the former Blue Bird restaurant and a card shop. Simone wanted to buy the lot
and use it for parking for the two businesses.
The municipal authority voted
on June 25, 2000 to have the lot appraised and to sell it to Simone for the appraised
value plus costs.
Penn Laurel Real Estate appraised the property at $8,000.
Sometime before May 29, 2001, it is alleged that the defendants found a problem
with the title and filed a suit in the Court of Common Pleas to rectify it.
About three months later, Simone was informed the municipal authority decided
not to sell the lot.
Simone, through his attorney, Maurice Cardone, claims
that although a traditional agreement of sale was not prepared, the actions undertaken
constitute a contract.
Simone could not be reached Monday, and Cardone declined
Garry Taroli, the municipal authority's solicitor, would not comment
on the pending litigation, but he said an answer to Simone's complaint was filed
No further action has been taken by either party and no court date
has been set.
Run-down garage could get man jailed
That was the stern warning District Justice Donald Whitaker issued to Larry
Stadulis, who owns a dilapidated two-car garage on Espy Street.
The city has
ordered Stadulis to demolish the garage as part of a crackdown on negligent property
owners. More than 50 property owners have been cited since June, and back-to-back
hearings for eight, including Stadulis, were held Tuesday.
Stadulis, who also
owns and operates the Larmel Inn at 301 Middle Road, said he wants to comply with
the judge's order but he doesn't know how he is going to manage it.
in a real catch 22, here," Stadulis admitted at a hearing Tuesday morning. "My
ex-wife's name is on the deed so the bank won't lend me the money to knock it
down without her approval. And I can't reach her."
Stadulis concedes his garage
needs to come down, but says his ex-wife, Melanie Stadulis, lives in Alabama and
he has no way to reach her.
Also, he doesn't have the cash to cover demolition
costs. "I would need $8,000 or so. And I haven't been able to find anybody willing
to do it on the cheap."
Whittaker said he would delay action on the case for
30 days, but if the garage isn't taken down by then, Stadulis faces a fine of
up to $1,000 per day dating to June 11, when the city's Code Enforcement Officer
Richard Wiaterowski issued the citation.
"You might as well put me in jail,
because there is no way I can pay that," Stadulis said.
Whittaker said if
it comes to it, he will issue a warrant for Stadulis' arrest, but he advised him
to take care of the problem himself instead.
"Get four or five guys with sledge
hammers and go at it," Whittaker said.
Stadulis asked if his ex-wife also
faces prison if the property isn't demolished, but Whittaker said it is unlikely
she will be extradited from Alabama. "You could move to Alabama too," he offered.
Reached Tuesday afternoon, Stadulis said he has no plans to leave the state, but
that he will probably follow Whittaker's advice to demolish the garage himself.
In another hearing, Whittaker ordered William Shirk and Leonard Radziak, owners
of 120-122 Rear West Noble St., to demolish their property within 30 days. The
building, which is adjacent to the former T.P. Jones Furniture store, was scheduled
to be torn down by Popple Construction crews after a portion of it collapsed in
June. But when it was determined the building could be stabilized, city officials
opted not to use public funds for demolition and go after the building's owners
for the money instead.
That demolition has been put on hold because representatives
of the Church of the Free Spirit (listed on tax records as Church of the Different
Spirit) based in Las Vegas, which owns the building, failed to show for a hearing
on the property Thursday.
A warrant for the arrest of Randy Jenkins, who is
listed on tax records as an officer of the church, has been issued said City Administrator
Greg Gullick. "We're working with the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office,
our sheriff's department and the sheriff out there to enforce the warrant."
The Las Vegas church owes the city more than $50,000 in fines stemming from its
failure to demolish the former furniture store, Gullick said.
Six other property
owners were ordered to trim weeds, pick up trash, make repairs or otherwise rehabilitate
their properties to bring them into compliance with the city's building codes
Nanticoke cracks down on owners of run-down properties
Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
In the latest battle in Nanticoke City's ongoing war against problem properties,
District Justice Donald Whittaker handed down rulings against seven property owners
City Administrator Greg Gulick, who has been working with
Whittaker and Code Enforcement Officer Rich Wiaterowski to deal with Nanticoke's
eyesores and hazards, believes the hearings went very well.
"I think people
will get the word that Nanticoke City will be enforcing the code," Gulick declared.Charles
Vanderlick, who owns a property overgrown with weeds and containing a dilapidated
garage at 239 Pine St., failed to appear for his hearing. He will be confronted
with fines of $300 per day and court costs.
The same penalty is faced by Toni
Annunziata, who didn't show up, either, and whose 5-7 W. Green St. property has
weeds and high grass around the premises.
A property at 256 E. Noble St. is
nearly in compliance; all owner Robert Adams has to do is remove an old swimming
pool and clean up a bit and he won't be fined.
Lawrence Stadulis claims his
301 rear Middle Road building will be razed within the 30 days allotted by Whittaker.
So does Leonard Radziak, who said he has contracted with Popple Construction for
demolition of his dilapidated structure at 120-122 rear W. Noble St.
the properties have had their mortgages foreclosed on, so Whittaker determined
Wiaterowski should find out within 15 days whether the deed holder or the bank
is the legal owner in each case.
Wiaterowski must also check out the other
five properties to make sure they are in compliance.
Whittaker's rulings will
be held in abeyance with the condition that the owners take care of the problems
within the 30-day deadline.
If they do not, the owners will be found guilty
and sentence will be imposed based on the date of the hearing.
the option of appealing Whittaker's decision to county court.
noted there are more nuisance property hearings to come, with two or three more
scheduled for next week.
"When these are cleaned up, we'll go around and pick
out the next batch," he said.
"We'll take care of it - bring 'em in here,
give 'em 30 days or $300, and they'll clean 'em up. "Gulick said residents who
wish to report problem properties might call either him or Wiaterowski at
targets problem properties
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
The double-block house in Honey Pot, Nanticoke, across from the Ted Hiller ballpark,
sticks out amid the rest of the neatly kept properties along Garfield Street.
The roof of 435 Garfield St. barely exists, except for a few scattered boards,
and the second floor of the house has fallen through to the first. Bushes grow
rampant over the sagging front porch and are pushing their way through the broken
door and into the house.
In the rear, the kitchen has collapsed completely,
exposing a battered and rusted aluminum sink leaning beside a huge hole in what
is left of the floor.
Nanticoke officials are waging a war against the problem
properties that have been plaguing the city and its residents, sometimes for years.
When the Arizona-based owner of the half-collapsed former T.P. Jones Furniture
store on Hanover Street failed to show up for a hearing Thursday, District Justice
Donald Whittaker issued a warrant for his arrest.
The city will bring the
owner, Randy Jenkins of the Church of a Different Spirit, from Arizona to Pennsylvania
"Nanticoke City is enforcing the codes, and it's best to abide
by them, or due process will follow," City Administrator Greg Gulick said.
Gulick said he, code enforcement officer Richard Wiaterowski and Whittaker plan
to work together to eliminate problems.
"We're not using city money, just
our time," Gulick said. "That's what we're paid to do."
Demolition or renovation
will be paid for by property owners, not the city, unless the property belongs
to the city. For instance, the city is awaiting bids for demolition of two vacant
properties it owns in the 400 block of East Washington Street, having petitioned
the court to do so.
The legal processes on the properties can drag on, however.
The double-block at 433-435 Garfield St. is one example
Wiaterowski said the
property has been a problem for the city since 1999 and, for fed-up neighbors,
even longer. There was a small fire in the building five years ago, which led
to it being condemned.
However, the property was in a legal tangle caused
by the son of the late former owner allegedly forging names on documents, and
the case churned through the court system for a long time.
The property is
owned now by Michael Costillo, who plans to tear down 435 Garfield St. and renovate
the other half, 433 Garfield St., into a single-family dwelling.
he went with engineers for the city and for Costillo to examine the property,
and was surprised to find that 433 was structurally sound and its roof was good,
despite the condition of its other half.
Work on the demolition and renovation
project will start as soon as the paperwork is complete.
After a hearing July
14, Luzerne County Judge Thomas Burke gave Costillo 14 days to submit plans to
Wiaterowski said Costillo needs to have "stamped and sealed" plans
from his engineer that when 435 Garfield St. is demolished, 433 Garfield St. can
stand on its own.
Other times, it is not the legal process, but the property
owner who may be dragging his or her feet.
The former LS Skate-O-Rama building,
a large sprawling structure that stretches on Washington Street from Prospect
to Walnut, is in such bad shape that trees and other vegetation are growing in
it, poking their way out of broken windows.
Wiaterowski called the LS building
the worst eyesore in Nanticoke, now that the old cigar mill at 154 West Church
St. has been demolished.
Other property owners have been more cooperative.
The owners of a dilapidated building at Fairchild and Union streets behind D&R
Sporting Goods paid for its demolition and the work that turned it into a parking
lot for the store. The Rosebush Building on Market Street was also recently demolished
and that lot was filled in.
"Once people see that we are doing this, hopefully,
we won't have to cite anybody," he said. "We are making progress - it just takes
Owner of dilapidated building skips hearing
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
The out-of-state owner of a controversial property at 428 South Hanover St., Nanticoke,
faces arrest and extradition from Arizona after missing a hearing Thursday morning.
District Justice Donald Whittaker issued a warrant for the arrest of Randy Jenkins,
the contact from the Arizona-based Church of a Different Spirit, after he failed
to show up for a hearing on the property.
"We're not messing around," Nanticoke
City Administrator Greg Gulick said.
The City of Nanticoke wants Jenkins extradited
to Pennsylvania, and Gulick said officials would work with Arizona police to do
"We're just waiting for information from the (Luzerne County) district
attorney's office on procedure," he said.
Jenkins had purchased the former
T.P. Jones Furniture store, apparently sight unseen, for $7,600 in an eBay auction
from an unknown owner in New York.
The building's roof partially collapsed
inward and its support beams bent on June 6. City engineer, Pasonick Associates,
determined the structure was unsound and recommended demolition.
disagreed, claiming in a June 17 letter to Nanticoke Code Enforcement Officer
Richard Wiaterowski that the building was "a worthy project of restoration and
renovation to new use as affordable cooperative housing."
The letter also
stated, "... we believe that your discussion of razing the structure is not only
ill-advised but arbitrary and capricious if not an abuse of discretion."
signature on the letter was illegible, and there was no return address on it.
Gulick said it was his understanding Jenkins bought buildings in college towns
to renovate and rent to students.
Jenkins' origins, however, are obscure.
His organization was first revealed to Nanticoke officials as the "Church of the
Free Spirit," but is referred to on the deed to the property as "Church of a Different
There are also at least two different contact addresses, including
Peoria, Ariz., and possibly one in Nevada.
The lowest estimate for demolition
of the building was $144,000, which was submitted by Popple Construction.
However, Nanticoke officials say they cannot demolish the building because the
city does not own the property.
For his lack of action, Jenkins currently
owes the city $50,000 in fines - $1,000 per day for 50 days of violations, according
to the BOCA code.
If he does not pay, city officials indicated he would face
up to 90 days in jail.
Man injured when wall falls wrong way, hitting a house
By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER
the old Consolidated Cigar building on West Church Street accidentally knocked
a section of wall into an adjourning home Friday afternoon, slightly injuring
one of the occupants who said he was struck by a brick.
Mayor John Toole said
workers with Nordstrom Construction of South Carolina had chains attached to a
wall and were attempting to pull it inward, but for an unknown reason it "kicked
out" and fell onto the roof of 146-148 W. Church St. at around 3 p.m.
were pulling it and it went the wrong way. They made a mistake," he said.
The wall damaged the 146 side of the home, which was occupied at the time by Duane
Krommes, 23, and three other people.
Krommes, who rents the home, suffered
scratches to his right arm after a brick "came flying" through a window, he said.
"I was sitting here watching TV and I heard this smashing," Krommes said. "It
scared the crap out of me."
Krommes said he helped his wife, mother-in-law
and her boyfriend exit the home. No one else was injured.
The initial call
on the incident came in as a building collapse with possible worker entrapment,
prompting several rescue units from other communities to respond to the scene.
Most of the building has been demolished and Toole said officials do not believe
there's any danger of structural collapse. Workers from Nordstrom continued to
work as firefighters responded to the scene.
Toole said the building is at
least 100 years old. Consolidated Cigar vacated the building about 30 years ago,
he said. Several other businesses operated in it over the years.
He said Nordstrom,
which is insured, has been working on the building for about three months. The
company's owner is salvaging wood flooring and beams from the building for sale
at his wood mill. The company, which had a permit for the work, has agreed to
donate the land to the city once the building is torn down,
Report confirms people leaving Luzerne County
By: Robert Kalinowski
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
A report recently issued by the United States
Census Bureau confirmed what many people in Luzerne County have already suspected:
People are moving out.
Nanticoke City was the lone Luzerne County municipality
to be mentioned in an Associated Press story about the Census Bureau's report.
The city was listed as one of five places in Pennsylvania with more than 10,000
residents that saw the largest drop in population.
It is estimated that the
town lost 1.1 percent, or about 115, of its residents since 2001.
Nanticoke isn't the only place in the county where more people are leaving than
According to the rankings, as of July 1, the population of the
county has dropped by more than 4,600 people since the 2000 Census and by 1,581
people since last year.
Since 2001, the county dropped from being the 11th
to the 12th most populous in the state, as it lost about .5 percent of its residents.
Courtdale, Duryea, Edwardsville, Hazleton, Hughestown, Kingston, Pittston, Pringle,
Shickshinny, Swoyersville, Warrior Run, Wilkes-Barre, and Wyoming, all lost 1
percent of its population.
Joining Nanticoke with a 1.1 percent loss in population
were Forty Fort, Luzerne, Penn Lake Park, Plymouth, Shickshinny, Sugar Notch,
West Hazleton, and West Pittston.
Losing the most residents were Wilkes-Barre,
with 423; Hazleton, with 234; Kingston, with 136; Nanticoke, with 115; and Pittston,
Only 13 of the county's 76 communities gained residents, with the
highest gainers being Fairview Township, with 56, and Exeter, with 53.
rest of the municipalities in the county saw a decline in population of one percent
The 13 communities with gains were primarily rural areas of the county.
Although his town was highlighted on the report, Nanticoke Mayor, John Toole,
pointed out that population loss is a regional problem.
He suggested, as the
numbers indicate, that people are moving out of cities due to "urban sprawl."
He said in communities like Nanticoke there isn't much space to build houses or
businesses, so people move to areas with available land.
His point was agreed
upon by Sue Copella, director of the Pennsylvania Data Center, which is familiar
with the Census Bureau report. She admitted there isn't much a town can do to
reverse the trend.
"There isn't as much area to develop. People are moving
out to develop," she said about cities and boroughs in Pennsylvania.
at the numbers she added, "Overall in Pennsylvania, the cities and boroughs lost
(people), while you saw that townships grew."
She said it is something that
has been happening for years.
Another thing that has decreased the population
is the exodus of educated young people, according to state Rep. John Yudichak,
"They are forced to leave the area because the jobs are not here,"
However, he is proud that the area has recently made strides
in fighting back against the economic impact of the decline of the coal and garment
Yudichak pointed to the area colleges as a place to recruit qualified
employees as the area begins to rebound with more business, medical, and technological
"We're not going to be exporting them anymore," Yudichak said.
Toole issued the same hope, "The only thing that is going to bring changes is
to bring in jobs."
Court rules Nanticoke must pay widow benefits
MORGAN-BESECKER - firstname.lastname@example.org
failure to thoroughly investigate a disability claim by a firefighter will likely
allow the man's wife to receive lifetime workers' compensation benefits despite
questions about whether his illness was work-related.
In a decision filed
Thursday, Commonwealth Court upheld a ruling by a workers' compensation judge
and board that said the estate of Terry Ziolkowski, now deceased, is entitled
to the benefits. The city lost its right to appeal, the court said, because it
waited too long to question the cause of Ziolkowski' illness.
means Ziolkowski's wife is eligible to receive two-thirds of his average weekly
salary in 1995, up to a maximum of $509 per week, from now until she dies or remarries.
The financial impact the ruling will have on the financially strapped city was
unclear Thursday. The payment will fall on the city's workers' compensation insurer.
Mayor John Toole said the city might be hit with increased premiums, which are
partly based on the number of claims.
Ziolkowski, who also served on the Greater
Nanticoke Area School Board, claimed his heart disease was caused or exacerbated
by stress connected to his 23 years as a firefighter. He died in 1998 at age 49
and his wife sought death benefits under the worker's compensation act. The city
fought the claim, maintaining there was insufficient medical documentation to
show Ziolkowski's condition was work related.
Ziolkowski's attorney, Charles
Coslett, said the case started when Ziolkowski filed a union grievance against
the city, arguing he should not have to use his sick time while getting treated
for his heart disease.
Based on an opinion by then-Solicitor Jerome Cohen,
the city agreed and in September 1995 began paying Ziolkowski benefits under the
Heart Lung Act - a program that provides full pay for a limited time to police
or firefighters injured in the line of duty.
Nearly 1 1/2 years later, however,
the city reopened the case and determined the decision was made in error, citing
a lack of medical evidence to support the claim.
A workers' compensation judge
denied the city's challenge, saying officials had ample opportunity to investigate
the cause of Ziolkowski's illness before it granted Heart and Lung benefits.
"While there may be a question as to whether the claimant was injured in the performance
of his duties ... the city of Nanticoke waived any objection by agreeing to pay
Heart/Lung benefits to the claimant," the workers' compensation judge wrote in
a 1999 opinion.
Toole was not in office when Ziolkowski's case began and said
he could not comment on why the city did not conduct a more through investigation
Cohen on Thursday said he could not remember details of the 8-year-old
Michael Yelen, attorney for the city and a workers' compensation insurer,
said he had not yet spoken with his clients regarding a possible appeal.
had tried to overturn the benefits, arguing, among other things, the city was
precluded from presenting medical evidence at the workers compensation hearing.
Coslett said Ziolkowski's wife has not received any money from workers' compensation
while the case was pending. The court ruling will allow her to file a death benefits
claim, which would be retroactive.
Nanticoke population dwindling
By JENNIFER LEARN-ANDES
is one of the five Pennsylvania cities that showed the largest percentage drop
in population between 2001 and 2002, according to Census Bureau estimates released
The city of 10,955 lost roughly 115 people, or about 1.1 percent
of its population, according to the latest figures.
Shock was not the reaction
of several city residents.
"This doesn't surprise me. We've known it's been
down," said city Councilman John Bushko.
Joining Nanticoke of places with
more than 10,000 residents with the largest drops: Johnstown, Altoona, Sharon
and Oil City.
Taken as a whole, Pennsylvania's 72 municipalities with 10,000
residents or more lost about 0.5 percent of their population, or about 19,600
In Nanticoke, Bushko and others cite as the biggest culprits death
and the exodus of young and early middle-aged job seekers. Others are headed to
the suburbs of Mountaintop and the Back Mountain, Bushko said.
just moving away because there's less employment I think. And if there's less
people, there's less money coming in for taxes," said Bushko, who commutes to
Philadelphia for work.
Philadelphia, by the way, recorded the largest drop
in sheer numbers at 9,546 people.
Nanticoke has serious money woes, but Bushko
says neighboring municipalities also are feeling the pinch on their populations
and pocket books. He predicts money troubles will force towns to regionalize services,
and perhaps merge altogether.
"There has to be a merging among towns because
we can't afford to run a town alone anymore. If we don't start providing services
together, nobody's going to last," Bushko said.
Jane Matulewski sees tangible
signs of the population decline in the beauty salon she has operated in the city
for 37 years.
Older people are dying, and they aren't replaced by fresh faces.
That didn't hurt as much decades ago because many children and grandchildren remained
here to work and raise families, but that's not an option for many anymore.
Matulewski's son and his wife live in Wisconsin. Her cousin's son is in Arizona.
One of the customer's in her shop Thursday afternoon has a son in California.
Other customers come in with stories about layoffs and losing jobs
her mind, Nanticoke doesn't feel like a city these days because most of the shops,
stores and business bustle are gone
"The business downtown, it's not
what it used to be. I don't think we should be classified as a city. It's more
of a senior citizen town than anything," Matulewski said.
Bushko said he's
given up on turning the city into a business or shopping center, believing it
will remain a bedroom community.
Most larger Pennsylvania cities and towns
have been shrinking steadily since World War II, partly because of the decline
of heavy industries, such as coal and steel, that once required tens of thousands
of workers to live within walking distance of mines and factories.
one thing hasn't dwindled with Nanticoke's population: a craving for pizza.
Nardozzo's Pizzeria on East Main Street has been in the city since the 1950s and
"is just as busy as ever," a worker there said.
The Associated Press contributed
to this report.
Historical marker to honor
Thanks to the generosity of many local donors, the Luzerne County
Historical Society raised more than its share of the $750 needed to erect a historical
marker in memory of Nanticoke's one-armed baseball player, Pete Gray.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will
contribute another $750
on behalf of the state to meet the total cost of $1,500.
The marker will be
erected in late August on Front Street in
the Hanover section of Nanticoke
where Gray was born and raised, on the same side of the road as the Little League
baseball diamond. The distinctive blue and gold roadside marker will read:
"Pete Gray" Wyshner (1915-2002)
The only one-armed man to play Major League
Baseball. Born and resided most of his life in Nanticoke. As a child, he lost
his right arm in an accident. Named Most Valuable Player of the Southern Assn.
while playing for the Memphis Chicks in 1944. In 1945, he played 77 games as an
outfielder for the St. Louis Browns and batted .218. His on-field exploits set
an inspirational example for disabled servicemen returning from World War II.
Special invitations will be sent to donors for the dedication ceremony to be held
at Lackawanna County Stadium prior to a Red Barons game during the final home
stand of this season, Aug. 23-28. Any additional money raised during the funding
drive will be put towards the pre-game ceremony.
The abandoned T.P. Jones furniture store on South Hanover Street partly collapsed
June 6 and the city could legally demolish it by naming it a public safety hazard,
But the city can't afford the $144,000 demolition price tag.
city is hoping to force action by the owner, The Church of the Free Spirit in
Las Vegas, through the courts. The church's next hearing is July 31. Kotulak said
he has uncovered evidence that the church might not be legitimate and that its
leader apparently faces extensive fraud charges in Arizona.
With appeals and
response time included, it could be September before demolition would occur.
The Rosebush Bar at Spring and South Market streets is slated to be
razed July 21.
will recieve an older-model car for undercover use from officer
Kevin Grevera. In exchange, the City Council approved $2,000 in supplies to outfit
the car and give police a mobile cell phone for road use.
Responding to complaints
from citizens and police, Toole asked Kotulak to prepare a potential ordinance
to control skateboarders and bikers.
to target rundown properties
crackdown on negligent property owners won't end with a Las Vegas church being
fined for its failure to demolish the former T.P. Jones furniture store in timely
The city has cited 14 property owners, and another 38 will soon receive
citations ordering them to repair or raze dilapidated buildings.
Greg Gullick and Code Enforcement Officer Richard Wiaterowski identified the 52
problem properties during a citywide tour conducted last month.
"We went street
to street," said Gullick, who added the affected property owners are a mix of
out-of-town landlords, heirs and residents. "And we found all kinds of problems,
from loose bricks to porches that are falling off."
Along with the citations,
owners of the decaying buildings face fines of $300 for violations of city ordinances
and $1,000 per day for violating Building Official and Code Administrator codes.
Some of the money collected from fines will go to the state, but the bulk will
be funneled to the city's general fund, said Gullick.
It is revenue the financially
troubled city desperately needs, but Gullick said bolstering the bottom line is
not the motive for the more aggressive approach.
"It's not about the money,
it's about making the city a safer and nicer place to live. And it's about increasing
Former police Chief Chester Zaremba, who spent several years
issuing citations before the city hired a full-time code enforcement officer,
said he is happy to see administrators taking this latest initiative.
always said all Nanticoke has to offer is a nice, quiet safe place to live," said
Zaremba. "We don't have a lot of industry, so in my opinion, it is incumbent upon
city officials to keep up with enforcing the ordinances so that the town remains
an attractive place for people to make their homes."
That is something the
city has neglected to do for a quarter century, said Rick Buttrick of Nanticoke,
who has worked as a housing and community development consultant for 38 years.
He doubts this initiative will fare much better.
"It's not as if all these
properties just all of a sudden fell into a state of disrepair," said Buttrick.
"They have been becoming derelict for a long time while the city stood by and
Buttrick is an outspoken advocate of using community development
grants to demolish the old T.P. Jones store on South Hanover Street, rather than
waiting for the store's current owner, the Church of the Free Spirit, to do the
He said if officials want property owners to live up to their obligations,
it should lead by example.
"I suspect the other 52 are in far better condition
than this property and I suspect those property owners are local, or much more
local, than the fake church from Nevada, that very likely has very few assets
to go after," he said. "For those reasons, I think the city needs to step up and
take care of this situation sooner rather than later."
Problems at another
long-neglected property, at 413-415 E. Washington St., might finally be close
to coming to an end as council voted Wednesday night to solicit bids for its demolition.
Gullick said action on the double-block home, whose owner died in 1993, has been
delayed by the need to get a court order authorizing the city to tear it down,
as well as the need to get historical and environmental clearances.
just knock a building down," Gullick said
Times Leader - Local Briefs
The City of Nanticoke filed a complaint alleging
the owners of the former T.P. Jones Furniture store are in violation of the city's
As a result of the action, the Church of the Free Spirit,
based in Las Vegas, Nevada., faces fines of $1,000 per day until an order to demolish
the dilapidated structure is executed or until District Justice Donald Whittaker
rules some other action is warranted.
A hearing before Whittaker is set for
9:30 a.m. July 31, 2003
Nanticoke begins work on recreational project
Work on a recreation complex
in Nanticoke has officially begun.
By Rebecca Bellville , Citizens' Voice
State and local officials announced yesterday that money has been secured
to plan and develop the Nanticoke Greenway Complex, which will eventually be located
on Lower Broadway across from Weis Market. State Sen. Ray Musto and state Rep.
John Yudichak, D-119, worked to secure about $100,000 in state money for the project.
The project, which is being managed by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council,
is meant to provide more outdoor recreational opportunities while reclaiming the
"From young tots to senior citizens, there will be something
for everyone eventually," said Gerald Hudak, founder of the Nanticoke Greenway
A large group of organizations is working on the project, including
the City of Nanticoke, the Nanticoke Greenway Alliance and the state Bureau of
Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
Yudichak said that the project would probably
be completed in three phases.
The next step is to study what recreational
facilities the city needs. Comments from the public are very important to this
step, and will be encouraged through public forums.
"We want to get public
input, that's the most important part," Yudichak said. "They're going to be able
to say, 'I want a skate park,' 'I want a walking trail,' 'I want a playground
for my grandchildren.' "
He said that the project would benefit not only the
City of Nanticoke, but also people from nearby communities.
have been kicked around to develop the area, and it is unclear at this point whether
any of them will come to pass.
Mayor John Toole said that it would be a priority
to try to put a skate park in the area.
"The kids have been promised that,"
Bob McDonald, president of the Nanticoke Chamber of Commerce, listed
other ideas, including soccer and softball fields and walking and biking trails.
"If we have 100 ideas and four of them stick, that's four good things that will
happen to the city," McDonald said.
Yudichak said that the complex would be
an economic boon to the city because it's close to downtown Nanticoke.
Citizens Voice 2003
Nanticoke gets state grant to improve parking lots
By Tom Venesky , Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
Shoppers in downtown Nanticoke will soon find it easier to patronize their favorite
shops on Market Street.
Nanticoke General Municipal Authority and state Rep.
John Yudichak teamed on a project that will bring three new parking lots to the
Yudichak obtained a $50,000 state grant toward the lots.
is the number one problem that the merchants on Market Street speak about," he
said. "These are small business owners who have invested in the community to make
"It's time we pitch in to help their businesses and Nanticoke prosper,
and this project is a way to show the business community that we're willing to
The parking lots will be constructed at 101-103 S. Market St., 109-123-127
S. Market St. and 133-139 S. Market St.
Yudichak said the lots would add 30
to 40 parking spaces and availability of the parking would help roughly 20 businesses
on the street.
He said the sites are weed-covered dirt lots owned by the municipal
"The lots now are difficult to turn into, and people will pass
by a store because the parking isn't attractive," Yudichak said.
several new businesses come in over the past few years, and it's a tough job to
sustain economic development in the downtown. But Nanticoke has done a fair job."
Municipal authority member Jean Barry said the project would also improve safety
because many people stop on the street to pick up shoppers rather than try to
She agreed with Yudichak that the additional parking would help
to attract more businesses.
"Nanticoke has a good climate for small businesses
and this will provide an incentive for them to come in," she said.
Chairman Michael Jezewski said that by responding to the business community's
need, the authority is providing the foundation for a "bright future in Nanticoke."
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday. Yudichak said it would take about
two months to complete the work.
©The Citizens Voice 2003
Building partially collapses in Nanticoke
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
A vacant building on South Hanover Street in Nanticoke
collapsed inward Friday afternoon, causing a residence next door to be evacuated
and an emergency declared.
The roof of the building, located in the 400 block
of South Hanover Street and listed on a recent building permit as 423 Hanover,
collapsed inward at approximately 4:30 p.m.
There was nobody in the building
at the time, and there were no injuries reported.
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole
said the roof of the building caved in and went partially through to the second
floor. The structural I-beams bent inward and the floors sagged.
has to slip a little bit and it'll go," Toole observed.
The city engineer
and a contractor came to look at the site Friday evening, and a further meeting
will be called on the site Saturday morning, but Toole could not say what time,
since the contractor would be making arrangements.
An environmental study
will have to be done on the building as soon as possible to determine whether
it contains asbestos.
The only way to bypass the bidding process to have professionals
look at the building was to declare a state of emergency, according to Toole.
Additionally, on the recommendation of the engineer and Nanticoke emergency personnel,
the stretch of Hanover Street in front of the building was blocked off to all
"I don't know if it's overkill blocking the street," Toole said,
"but you have to go on the safe side."
The neighboring residence had to be
evacuated. Its tenants collected their valuables and went to stay with relatives.
The collapsed building formerly housed the T. P. Jones Furniture store, which
also sold paint and wallpaper. Toole said he had heard the building had just been
purchased by people from Arizona through an online auction on eBay.
came to the municipal building two weeks ago to take out permits, Toole said.
"It's going to have to be demolished - unless somebody can come up with something
else," Toole noted.
Vandals' despicable actions destroyed the hopes, hard work of others
Monday night or early Tuesday morning, the 19th or 20th of May, someone vandalized
the welcome sign at the entrance to the Hanover Section of Nanticoke.
are people in this town who are devastated. In one fell swoop, someone destroyed
not only a sign, but the expectation that all the good that some townspeople do
might somehow be appreciated and enjoyed. The real shame of all this is the fact
that this is the second time someone has destroyed one of these welcome signs.
This is no small matter.
These signs were purchased with funds raised by a
few people who believed that they somehow might be able to better the town in
which they live. But besides the cost and loss of a considerable investment, it
is difficult to imagine the mentality of someone out to destroy a vision of a
group of people who are naive enough to believe in their fellow man. The area
around the sign had been excavated, and flowers and a border had been placed at
the foot of and around the sign. Volunteers maintained the site. It was beautiful.
It's all gone now, and with it the dreams of those who never thought we would
have to place alarms or somehow guard against this kind of despicable behavior.
The sign was stolen, not only from the group who initially had it erected, but
from all the fine people of the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
I plead for
your help. We don't have any money left for a reward to be offered. All the money
was spent on these signs. All we ask is that anyone who has any information about
the sign to please call and give the Information to the Nanticoke
Police Department. Alternatively, the people who have the sign may return
it, undamaged, with no questions asked.
Hanover section. Nanticoke
Proposed Nanticoke Park gets matching grant funds
Plans for a recreation
park in Nanticoke received a major boost on Monday when the state Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources awarded a
$32,000 matching grant for the
The finds come from DCNR's Community Conservation Partnership Program
and the grant was awarded to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, who is facilitating
State Sen. Raphael Musto and State Rep. John Yudichak helped
to secure the grant. The money will be used to initiate a feasibility study and
master plan for the development of the Lower Broadway Greenway and Outdoor Recreation
Park in Lower Broadway, Nanticoke.
In December 2002, the state Department
of Community and Economic Development awarded a $75,000 grant for the project,
which will be used to accommodate the match for the DCNR grant and for planning
The funds will be used to transform a 40-acre mine-scarred
parcel into a green gateway for Nanticoke, complete with numerous recreational
"It really has the potential to lift the spirits of the City
of Nanticoke," Yudichak said. "It's a good community project, and we're very grateful
to be a part of this."
With the two grants, the total amount of funds obtained
for the project is $107,000. Yudichak said more funds are anticipated from the
state Department of Environmental Protection.
The project will be unveiled
on May 15 with a tour of the site. Public input hearings for the master plan will
begin soon after and Yudichak hoped construction would start before the end of
Ellen Ferretti Alaimo, director of PEC's Northeast Regional Office,
said a steering committee consisting of community members and organizations would
be formed. Also, a request for proposals will be sent to engineering and architectural
firms to create the plant
"We're very happy to be working with the local community
on this. The nice thing about it is it's within walking distance of the City of
Nanticoke, where there is a large population center," she said. -
partner in the project is the Nanticoke Greenway Alliance, which is Coordinated
by Jerry Hudak, and Chaired by Tony Margelewicz.
Zaremba reflects on 33 years of service
Ed Lewis 04/06/2003 (Citizens Voice)
After a 33-year distinguished career in law enforcement, Chester Zaremba hung
up his uniform for the last time on April 1 when he retired as police chief in
But, he'll continue to chase one person around in the coming
years - his 3-year old grandson, Tyler.
"It's time to move on," Zaremba said
from his comfortable home in Nanticoke. "I'll be busy watching and enjoying my
grandson; it's going to be a joy doing that."
Zaremba said his grandson has
given him a "second chance," explaining he wasn't around all that much when his
son, Michael, was born in 1971.
"The first time I saw my son, he was eight-days
old," Zaremba said. "I was at the (state) police academy in Hershey when he was
Zaremba joined the Pennsylvania State Police in 1971, retiring in 1993
as a sergeant and the head of the criminal investigations unit at the Wyoming
Barracks. He spent tours of duty in Lock Haven, Montoursville, Dushore, Towanda
and Shickshinny barracks before being transferred to Wyoming in July 1985.
All that time, he spent hours commuting to his job not willing to move his family
from Nanticoke where he is a life resident.
In 1987, Zaremba was named "Pennsylvania
State Police Officer of the Year" by the Pennsylvania District Exchange Club,
and rescued a man who attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the third floor
inside the Luzerne County Courthouse rotunda in Nov. 1984. He also received four
letters of commendation.
Before joining the state police, Zaremba enlisted
in the U.S. Air Force two weeks after graduating from Nanticoke High School in
1963. While in the service, he attended Syracuse University for a year enrolled
in the school's Eastern European Languages program.
He served in Europe as
a radio interceptor during the Cold War until he left the service in 1967.
"I wanted to be a cop because I wanted to be there," Zaremba said. "I always wanted
to be around helping people. It's that simple thank you that goes a long way."
Zaremba became the police chief in Nanticoke on Jan. 7, 1993, seven-days after
he retired from the state police.
"When I came on board here in Nanticoke,
there was only one desk and one typewriter for all the officers," Zaremba said.
"I always liked challenges and I believe the level of efficiency where the Nanticoke
Police Department is at right now couldn't be better."
Zaremba said the Nanticoke
Police Department has improved immensely over the last 10-years, and thanked his
colleagues and city elected officials for their help.
He said police officers
spent their own time and money in renovating the police department.
came with paint, wood, and used their carpentry skills," Zaremba said. "We have
a processing room where we take fingerprints, photographs, and reports. We didn't
have that before."
Zaremba applied and received a $40,000 federal COPS technical
grant for a computer system that links the department to state and federal authorities.
"We got it up and running about a year and a half sooner than expected," Zaremba
said of the computer system. "It's working really well and it's effect is having
police officers spending more time doing what they're suppose to do, policing."
Zaremba said he is amazed how police departments have improved with technology
and training over the years. He explained when he was stationed in Montoursville
investigating a fatal vehicle accident in the early 1970s, he had to travel 12
miles just to get a signal from his radio.
"After the Columbine tragedy, we
asked ourselves how prepared are we," Zaremba said. "We have to be prepared for
something like that."
Most of the schools of the Greater
Nanticoke Area School District are located on Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke.
With city and state funds, the Nanticoke Police Department
has the necessary equipment and training to respond to such an event.
have changed so much," Zaremba said. "You were able to do certain things in 1971
that you can't do in 2003.
"Police are doing more today with the same amount
of manpower but with more reporting requirements," he noted.
he was fortunate to have had a great working relationship with the state police,
other local police agencies and federal authorities.
Zaremba said now that
his is retired, he will tinker around with his 1954 Ford, add to his collection
of 585 license plates, and travel with his wife, Henrietta.
Retirement, Zaremba Says It's His Turn To Adjust His Lifestyle
Nanticoke City Police Chief Chester Zaremba said it's his turn to adjust to his
"She's been running the show for the last 33 years," Zaremba
said. "A wife of a police officer has to step up because a cop is not always there
on Christmas, birthdays, and family parties. "She has her routine and it's going
to take some time for me to adjust to her schedule."
Zaremba has been retired
for less than a week, and already, he has a.fhll "to do list" in front of him.
"My main responsibility is going to be watching my grandson, Tyler," Zaremba said.
"But my wife has been telling me that - this needs to be painted, or this - needs
to be fixed."
With Zaremba's retirement, he ended a 33 year career in law
enforcement where he first served with the Pennsylvania State Police for the first
"Everyone always says you'll - know when it's time. I guess I do,"
Zaremba said. "Spring is here and I just want to do more - things."
Looks To Repair Mountain View Drive
Nanticoke City Council conducted its
work session Wednesday night. Mayor John Toole and Council members Yvonne Bozinski,
Bill Brown and John Bushko were in attendance.
Because of complaints from
several residents living on Mountain View Drive, and after further assessment
of that road, council passed a motion to advertise for bids for the reconstruction
and/or repair of Mountain View Drive. Money will be taken from the Liquid Fuels
Fund for this project.
The Nanticoke City Zoning Board has a new member. Bernie
Nocicki was appointed by council. Councilman Bushko asked if any seats remain
open on the redevelopment board.
"This is a very important authority, and
I feel all seats should be filled at the next meeting," stated Bushko.
head of the public works department, said a new shipment of asphalt was received.
"I am asking citizens to report potholes that need to be filled as well as catch
basins covered with debris or leaves that hinder drainage," said Brown. The number
to call is 735.1800.
Bozinski, citing concerns over overtime by city employees,
made a motion that all scheduled overtime must be approved by department heads
and the city administrator.
"Emergencies are understandable, but overtime
scheduled a month in advance is not," she said. Bushko seconded the motion; Brown
also cast a `yes' vote. Mayor Toole, citing contract violations, voted 'no.'
Approves Ordinance 2003-13 and Resolution 2003-10 - Meyers To Retire
Council approved ordinance 2003-13, which establishes a clerical service charge
of $10 for residents who wish to make copies of documents from the city treasurer's
Council approved resolution 200310, which authorizes an agreement
related to operation and maintenance of the city sewer collection system with
the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.
According to the terms of the agreement,
the WVSA will help maintain sewer mains in the city dispatching "camera and suction"
equipment to clean out blockages when problems emerge.The WVSA will provide the
city with $25,000 worth of maintenance service throughout the year saving Nanticoke
from hiring costly private contractors.
Anyone who has a problem with their
sewer system, just contact the street department," Mayor Toole said. "We will
contact the WVSA, and they'll come out and work on the trouble."
the motion to accept the retirement of Lt Richard Meyers from the police department,
effective March 10. Meyers served the city for 30 years; Mayor Toole and Council
will draft a proclamation of commendation and appreciation for his three decades
of service to the community
Nanticoke City Council Appoints New City Administrator
Nanticoke City Council hired Greg Gulick as its new city administrator
during a meeting Thursday night. Gulick, an Ashley resident, was hired by a 3-1
vote and replaces Richard Muessig. He comes to Nanticoke boasting management and
public administration experience after having previously been employed by Blue
In other business, Mayor John Toole reported on the state of the city,
addressing the city's current debt and financial problems. Toole said stagnant
tax revenue and the rising costs of maintaining the city are just two of the problems
facing his administration. He indicated that the hard work of his administration
and the fire department had resulted in the city's securing grants totaling $1
million. The money enabled the city to purchase a pump and ladder truck.
mayor thanked the housing authority for donating a brand new police cruiser to
the city. He also reported approximately 11 miles of city roadways have been reconstructed
and paved. Meanwhile, road construction and sewer replacement will remain a top
Toole said projects throughout the next year would include the removal
of dilapidated buildings and an effort to attract new businesses.
will also replace the traffic light at Main and Kosciuszko streets. He reported
that curbs at that corner would be cut in order to ensure safety especially for
school buses, and to ease the mobility for citizens with disabilities. Sidewalks
will also be installed along Main Street In front of the library. The long awaited
Union Street Bridge Project will also get under way.
"We must constantly search
for ways to do things more efficiently and continue to strive toward progress,"
Gerald Hudak, project coordinator for the Nanticoke Greenway
Alliance, reported a $75,000 grant was awarded to the group by the Pennsylvania
He also announced the skate park project will start
in the spring.
In Garbage Fees
Council voted 3-0 to approve an increase in garbage fees
following the expiration of the city's current contract with Apex Waste.
increase will go into effect in January 2003.
Garbage fees will go
up by $13.00. If paid before January 31, the cost per household will be $133.00.
From Feb. 1 to March 1, the cost will be $138.00.
After March 1, the penalty
phase will be entered and the total fee per household will be $165.00.