2023 Nanticoke News
As we receive information from the Times Leader or any other news outlet we will post it here.
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Nanticoke News Archived
2023 - 2022 - 2021 - 2020
Officials seek to clarify announcement of $56M in funding for Luzerne County
A Monday release issued by state Rep. Alec Ryncavage announcing $56 million in funding for Luzerne County infrastructure projects took some county officials by surprise because it is not a new monetary award.
County Manager Romilda Crocamo issued a statement to council Tuesday addressing the matter. She did not reference Ryncavage in any way but pointed to media coverage that has “created some confusion.”
Ryncavage, meanwhile, sought to clarify any confusion on Tuesday by explaining the release and the underlying funding process.
Crocamo said a news report projected the funding announcement “as new resources for county projects,” but the funding already had been secured through the Luzerne County Public Infrastructure Program that was put in place by the state’s passage of Act 24 of 2021 and the actions of both county council and the county Redevelopment Authority.
County Councilman Tim McGinley said he read the legislator’s release Tuesday morning and had concerns.
“It’s a little bit of misinformation because the money cited for the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge was already part of the decisions and work of the state legislature and county council last year,” McGinley said. “This whole funding plan has been a process completed last year.”
Ryncavage, R-Plymouth, said the release went out because he is continuing support of projects that had been initiated before he took office in January.
He supplied a communication his office sent to a state oversight authority earlier this month recommending authorization of the selected projects.
“I want to see them get past the finish line and continue to support them,” Ryncavage said.
Background on funding
Council voted a year ago, in November 2022, to provide a loan guarantee needed to create the new fund to pay for county-owned infrastructure projects, including work addressing the deteriorated Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge over the Susquehanna River.
Under legislation pushed by former state Sen. John Yudichak, this loan will be repaid with $3 million provided annually for 25 years from the casino-gambling Local Share Account (LSA). As required in the legislation, the county redevelopment authority handled the borrowing.
A council majority had voted to provide the loan guarantee, in the unlikely event casino revenue ceases, because the redevelopment authority agreed to limit use of the borrowed funds to county-owned infrastructure.
The redevelopment authority formally closed on the loan in November, officials have said.
With that step executed, the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) voted at that time to start releasing the annual $3 million in funds. The financing authority is a state entity that already approves other LSA awards that are not part of this special program.
Council identified replacement of the county-owned Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge over the Susquehanna River as the main project to be funded through this infrastructure fund. Officials from Nanticoke and Newport and Plymouth townships had attended county meetings urging support for the project.
Ryncavage explains process
Ryncavage said securing approval at the state level was the next required step to get money to the council-approved projects.
“These are state dollars, not county dollars. If the CFA doesn’t approve these projects, the county has no ability to move forward with construction,” Ryncavage said.
At the CFA’s Nov. 21 meeting, the projects were approved at his request, Ryncavage said. His support was required as a new legislator to continue the work started a year ago, he said.
The process works by the county submitting a list of projects through the Redevelopment Authority for funding by the state through the CFA, Ryncavage said. The money the county government uses to leverage against their debt/bonds is revenue collected by the state, he said.
“While the process began over a year ago to examine reconstructing the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge, it remains a priority of mine,” Ryncavage said. “This bridge is crucial for keeping emergency response times low and positioning the area for future economic development and tax base growth.”
Bridge, roads in focus
The county redevelopment authority board last week approved the first project payment from the new county infrastructure fund — $33,605 to Alfred Benesch and Associates toward its engineering study to determine the best and most economical option for the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge.
Benesch recently recommended rehabilitation and partial replacement of the existing Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge for approximately $39.6 million instead of constructing a new bridge at an estimated cost of $64 million.
Ultimately county officials will make the final decision on how to proceed. Council and the administration are reviewing a thick report intended to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of the options, Benesch has said.
The bridge carries Lower Broadway Street over the Susquehanna to connect Nanticoke and the West Nanticoke section of Plymouth Township.
Council also had agreed it would complete several other county-owned road projects if funding is available after the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge is addressed.
These other projects as previously approved by council, along with the projected costs: Main Road in Hunlock and Ross townships, $1 million; Lower Demunds Road and Upper Demunds Road in Dallas and Franklin townships, $650,000; Ransom Road in Dallas and Franklin townships, $500,000; Church Road in Wright Township, $500,000; Oak Hill Road in Wright Township, $500,000; Crestwood Drive in Wright Township, $250,000; Old Airport Road in Butler Township, $250,000; and Hanover Street in Hanover Township, $250,000.
‘Happy to receive’ funding
McGinley said Tuesday he appreciates the annual $3 million LSA allocation authorized last year.
“The county is very happy to receive this funding. Obviously it will help infrastructure. But a lot of credit must go to last year’s legislature body at the state level,” McGinley said.
Crocamo’s statement reiterated the history of the infrastructure fund and noted the county has many public infrastructure needs that will require more than $100 million in public funding. She expressed gratitude to past and present state legislators who supported creation of the county’s public infrastructure program.
“The program will help Luzerne County address many pressing challenges, like the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge, without taking on additional county debt or further burdening county taxpayers,” said the statement, which also was emailed to five new incoming council members selected in the Nov. 7 general election.
Crocamo said the county will continue to work with federal and state legislative leaders to pursue all available public infrastructure funding resources.
Luzerne County: Greater Nanticoke Area School District caused ballot error
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District had officially informed Luzerne County’s Election Bureau that five school board members must be elected this year instead of the correct number of four, county officials said Thursday.
As a result, both the May 16 primary election and Nov. 7 general election ballots instructed voters to select five.
No corrective action is needed, however, because only four candidates appeared on the ballot in that race and were elected Nov. 7, officials said: Tony Prushinski, Mark Cardone, David Vnuk and Erika McQuown Jacobs.
School board candidates can cross-file in the primary, and all four secured both the Republican and Democratic nominations to advance to the general. There were no other ballot contenders.
Because only four seats are open, the county won’t be proceeding with a write-in notification letter to fill the fifth slot that never existed, officials said. The highest number of write-in votes was eight for John Telencho.
No write-in nominees advanced in the primary because at least 100 votes are required, and nobody met that threshold. That write-in vote minimum does not apply in the general election.
As proof the county was not at fault, a release from county Administrative Services Division Head Jennifer Pecora said Greater Nanticoke Area sent an online form to the bureau at 10:39 a.m. Feb. 7 stating five school board members must be elected for four-year terms.
School districts and the county’s 76 municipalities are responsible for providing accurate information to the county on which seats must appear on the ballot in their jurisdictions, Pecora said.
Based on the experience with Greater Nanticoke Area, the county has decided it will now require electronic submission of all ballot content information to ensure the information is instantly accessible if a question arises, Pecora said.
“This will allow for automatic data upload directly into our filing management system,” her release said.
The bureau will send governing bodies letters about this requirement at the start of each calendar year, it said.
Public posting of sample ballots also will continue so governing bodies, candidates and committees can review the information and alert the election bureau of any concerns, Pecora said. This ballot-proofing measure was implemented for both 2023 elections.
School board certificates
Pecora also announced the election bureau completed certificates of election for all winning school board candidates Thursday.
The bureau is not issuing the certificates if candidates don’t have their campaign finance filings in order, which includes filing of a 30-day, post-election finance report due Dec. 7, the release said.
Because school districts will be holding their state-required reorganization meetings next week, some school board winners may have to submit their 30-day campaign reports before the Dec. 7 filing deadline in order to receive their certificates, it said. These certificates are required for candidates to be sworn in.
“Luzerne County is in no way altering the date of the state filing requirements; we are simply encouraging school board elected officials to file prior to the deadline to ensure a seamless transition into their elected positions,” the release said.
Campaign finance reports can be submitted online or in person at the bureau in the county’s Penn Place Building at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Market Street in Wilkes-Barre.
Candidates also should visit the bureau to pick up their certificates once their campaign finance reports are in order, it said.
Information on campaign finance reports is posted on the election page at luzernecounty.org or by calling the bureau at 570-825-1715.
All other newly-elected officials must complete the 30-day filing to receive their certificates of election by mail, the release said.
”Certificates will not be mailed until campaign finance materials are received by the bureau,” it said.
GNA School District to honor its State Police graduates
The heavy oak plaque was designed by Walter Choplick of Shenandoah and handcrafted by Paul Wazenski of Hanover Township with engravings done by Futuristic Innovative Graphics of Wilkes-Barre. The first name on the plaque is that of a 1927 graduate of Nanticoke High School. Submitted photo
The heavy oak plaque was designed by Walter Choplick of Shenandoah and handcrafted by Paul Wazenski of Hanover Township with engravings done by Futuristic Innovative Graphics of Wilkes-Barre. The first name on the plaque is that of a 1927 graduate of Nanticoke High School.
Unveiling of plaque set for Dec. 5
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Several years ago, Shenandoah Valley High School created a plaque to honor graduates from the current high school and its two predecessor schools who went on to serve the Commonwealth as State Troopers. The plaque, which recognizes 55 graduates of Shenandoah, Shenandoah Valley and West Mahanoy Township high schools, was the only one of its kind in the state.
Inspired by that plaque, Retired Sergeant Chester Zaremba and Trooper Stanley Jezewski decided to have one created for their alma mater, currently the Greater Nanticoke Area High School. After extensive research Zaremba and Jezewski found 64 graduates of Nanticoke High School, Newport High School and Greater Nanticoke Area High School went on to serve as State Troopers. Current Commanding Officer of Troop “P,” Wilkes-Barre, Captain Patrick Dougherty, also a graduate of Nanticoke Area, assisted in the research.
After receiving tremendous support from Greater Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Dr. Ronald Grevra and the School Board, the Nanticoke Historical Society agreed to provide funding for the project.
Designed by Walter Choplick of Shenandoah, the heavy oak plaque was handcrafted by Paul Wazenski of Hanover Township. All engravings were entrusted to Futuristic Innovative Graphics of Wilkes-Barre. Additional assistance was provided by Robert Yudinsky of Ringtown.
Walter Laskowski, a 1927 graduate of Nanticoke High School, is the first name listed on the plaque, and the inscription that honors the 64 State Troopers reads, ”We acknowledge your bravery, commend you for your dedicated service, and thank you for your willingness to serve — Nanticoke Historical Society, 2023.”
A dedication ceremony and unveiling of the plaque will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Greater Nanticoke Area High School. All active and retired members of the Pennsylvania State Police who are graduates of GNA or its predecessor schools are invited.
Nanticoke garbage fee hike spurs discussion
NANTICOKE — An increase in garbage and recycling fees prompted much discussion at Wednesday’s budget hearing and monthly council meeting as the board approved a bid that will see residents pay $415 yearly for trash collection starting in the new year.
Council unanimously approved first reading for Mayor Kevin Coughlin’s proposed 2024 budget, which would not increase taxes or sewer fees for the upcoming year. But council also approved a $1.5 million bid from JP Mascaro and Sons for trash, recycling and yard waste collection beginning in 2024 and ending in 2026, with the option of extending the contract for two additional one-year periods thereafter.
The previous trash collection fee was $258.
If a resident pays in full by Jan. 31, the fee would be discounted to $395. There also would be an option to pay in three installments of $138.33.
Accounts that do not pay in full or pay the first installment by Jan. 31 would be considered delinquent, the fee would increase to $456.50, and they would no longer be eligible for installment payments.
The maximum amount of four bags per collection will remain.
Deputy Counsel for JP Mascaro and Sons Al DeGennaro explained that a number of factors went into the increased cost of trash collection, particularly the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to rising interest rates, fuel costs, labor, insurance and wage increases for the company.
Despite the reasons given, many residents who attended the meeting did not seem convinced that the trash fee had to increase so drastically, and said they felt Mascaro and Sons were using the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices. Many argued that the increase is simply not feasible for senior citizens or those on fixed incomes.
“I can’t afford this and I don’t think a lot of people can,” said Mary Lee Conway, a resident who attended the meeting.
DeGennaro responded that the pandemic is not an excuse and the costs they’ve incurred are very real.
“These increases are reflective of the turmoil in our industry,” he said.
Mayor Kevin Coughlin insisted that the council tried to be fair to everyone in the city and that council had discussed this issue for months trying to come up with a cheaper option.
“We’re doing the best we can,” he said.
Although four companies were interested in the contract, JP Mascaro and Sons was the only company that actually submitted a bid.
“When there’s no other bids, we have no choice but to justify (the increase),” said council member Lesley Butczynski.
City Council solicitor William Finnegan furthered clarified that Nanticoke City’s Home Rule Charter does not allow for the city to add the cost of garbage collection into the property taxes as other municipalities have done.
• Accepted a resignation letter from Xavier Berzanski to vacate his seat on the Nanticoke Municipal Authority Board effective Oct. 23 as he has relocated is primary residence to a different municipality.
• Approved Resolution #17 of 2023, a Resolution of City Council of the City of Nanticoke designating the City Manager as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Nanticoke Non-Union Pension Fund and the Nanticoke Police and Firemen’s Pension Plans.
• Approved Ordinance #19 of 2023, (First Reading) an Ordinance of City Council of the City of Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, authorizing and directing the proper City Officials of the City to issue Refuse and Recycling Bills for the city and a fee for bulk item pick-up.
Greater Nanticoke School Board gives departing Ken James presidency
NANTICOKE — At his last meeting after 27 years on the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board, Ken James got a send off that was arguably one for the record books.
Board President Tony Prushinski opened the monthly meeting by noting James has run meetings in his absence but never actually had the top post. Prushinski announced his resignation of the presidency, and the board unanimously appointed James president for one meeting.
At times nearly overcome with emotion, James shook hands with Superintendent Ron Grevera, sat down and started the meeting. Grevera then presented certificates to several members for their years of service, but had two mounted on plaques for Len Olzinski, who is also leaving the board but had served one year as president, and another to James — who, he noted, had been on the board “as long as I’ve been in education.”
Prushinski said he looked up the day he met James, in 1960. “It was the first day of kindergarten.”
Grevera pointed out James had joined the board when the district was millions of dollars in the hole and needed several new buildings, and oversaw many changes. The district has a healthy fund balance and multiple new buildings, as well as several new sports fields and a football stadium that recently got a new artificial turf. “When you have someone like that working in your community, you make the place a better place.”
The two people who will replace Olzinski and James were in the room, former board member Erika McQuown Jacobs and newcomer David Vnuk. James said Jacobs already knew how things would work, but offered Vnuk advice. “You’re better off sitting and listening,” he said, adding that the job is complex and difficult “and there are not a lot of thanks.”
James said he was proud of the many improvements done in his tenure, particularly in sports, adding that he was unable to see planned upgrades to the field house. During the meeting, the board moved that project forward, approving a proposal from AE7 to conduct a feasibility study at a cost is $8,900. The plan is to erect a “Tent pole” building for storage, thus freeing up about half the space in the field house, then upgrading the building.
The board also:
• Increased winter sports admission for adults and students by $1, with exception off families of rostered athletes,where the amount will remain the same. For most sports that means $2 for admission.
• Approved an agreement with NRG Controls North, Inc. for three years servicing heating and air conditioning computer control systems, at a total cost of $58,900
• Agreed to seek bids and quotes for a new work pick up truck. The current one failed to pass inspection.
• Approve an agreement with EduConsult for grant writing services at a cost of $2,000 per month for one year.
• Approved two Memoranda of Understanding with the teachers union, one to create an English Language Development K-12 department head with a $3,000 stipend, and the other creating a unified Sports Club adviser with a stipend of $1,010.
• Appointed Susan Walton as Future Business Leaders of America Club advisor, Diane Pientka as special education aid, Greg Wiepa Jr. for maintenance, and Johnathan Evancho as English teacher in grades 7-12.
• Approved a deal to have Torbik Safe & Lock, Inc., update and install the latest software versions on district doors for a three-year licence at a cost of $3,750.
Nanticoke voters opt to retain term limits for mayor, council
NANTICOKE — Term limits for city council members and the mayor will remain in place and one councilmember’s re-election could be in jeopardy, according to unofficial election results on Tuesday night.
With 100% of precincts reporting at press time, voters overwhelmingly decided not to approve two referendum questions on the ballot, which would have deleted Section 2.09 and Section 2.10 of the City of Nanticoke Home Rule Charter.
This would have eliminated the provision that prohibits council members and the mayor from serving three elected, consecutive terms.
As of 10:52 p.m., there were 1,168 votes tallied against Amendment 1 (Section 2.10) and 733 votes tallied in favor of it.
For Amendment 2 (Section 3.09), there were 1,167 votes tallied against it and 736 tallied in favor of it.
Council’s decision to place the two questions on the ballot prompted much discussion and fierce opposition at several meetings back in July and August.
Three city council seats were up for grabs Tuesday and with term limits most likely remaining in place following an official count of the votes, it is possible incumbent Democrat Lesley Butczynski’s reelection will be called into question.
Butczynski tallied 1,264 votes, according to unofficial election results.
Butczynski’s eligibility was called into question earlier this year as it was unclear under the current charter provisions whether or not the one-time two-year term counted toward her total number of terms served.
Also on Tuesday, with three council seats up for grabs, voters reelected Democratic incumbent Lesley Butczynski for another four year term.
Butczynski was first appointed to Council in 2012, when she filled the seat vacated by Councilwoman Margaret Hydock, following her resignation.
Butczynski then won a one-time, two-year term in 2013. She subsequently won a four-year term in 2015 and a second four-year term in 2019.
City Solicitor William Finnegan told The Times Leader back in August that the language in Section 2.10 of the Home Rule Charter is vague, adding that the drafters of the charter did not define how long a term is — but that he would interpret it to be a period of four years.
The two other council seats went to went former city mayor Joseph Dougherty and Democrat Kenny James.
Doughtery tallied 1,245 votes and James tallied 1,186.
In addition to previously serving as mayor Dougherty, a Democrat, also served at least two terms on council and as city controller.
All results remain unofficial until they are certified by the county Board of Elections.
Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge recommendation released
Luzerne County’s outside engineer is recommending rehabilitation and partial replacement of the existing Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge over the Susquehanna River for approximately $39.6 million instead of constructing a new bridge at an estimated cost of $64 million.
“This alternative is recommended primarily due to the improved safety for the public, shorter construction duration and lower overall cost for the county,” said a preliminary engineering summary county Manager Romilda Crocamo released Monday evening.
Alfred Benesch and Associates completed the report and was retained by the county to complete an engineering study to determine the “best and most economical” option, officials have said.
With the recommended option, the county would replace the existing superstructure throughout the entire length of the bridge, replace select piers and rehabilitate/widen the remaining piers and abutments, it said.
The bridge dropped to a 15-ton limit and could be further reduced or shut down at any point if warranted based on an inspection, county Engineer Lawrence Plesh has said.
Unless other funding surfaces, county officials plan to pay for the bridge project with casino funding available for county infrastructure projects.
Based on authorizing state legislation, the county redevelopment authority entered into a borrowing agreement to create the infrastructure fund that will be repaid with $3 million provided annually for 25 years from the casino-gambling Local Share Account (LSA).
Council authorized $450,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to cover the engineering study. County officials have said final design would be completed by the end of 2024 so the project could be bid out in 2025.
According to the new summary from Benesch:
Three alternatives were investigated:
• Truss rehabilitation, which includes rehabilitation of the three truss spans to restore their original load-carrying capacities and remove the existing 15-ton weight posting and rehabilitation and superstructure replacement of 21 southern approach spans.
This would cost $47.8 million and have a construction duration of 3.1 years.
• Rehabilitation and partial replacement, which replaces the three truss spans with four conventional steel beam spans on new piers. It also would replace the superstructure on the 21 southern approach spans and widen the bridge deck.
This would cost $39.6 million and take 2.6 years to complete.
• Full replacement, which would construct a completely new bridge structure on a new alignment to the west of the existing bridge using “precast prestressed bulb-tee beams and optimized span arrangements.”
This would cost $64 million and require 3.3 years for completion.
The recommended option is $8.2 million dollars less than the next lowest alternative and can be completed six months sooner than the next fastest alternative, the Benesch summary said.
Ultimately county officials will make the final decision on how to proceed. Council and the administration are receiving a thick report intended to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of the options, Benesch said.
The bridge carries Lower Broadway Street over the Susquehanna to connect Nanticoke and the West Nanticoke section of Plymouth Township. The roadway is a continuation of State Route 3001 from the south and terminates at a the intersection with Route 11 at its north end, Benesch said.
Its summary said the bridge is “considered fracture critical” and “structurally deficient,” leading to the weight limit.
Investigation underway into missing Nanticoke booster club funds
NANTICOKE — A report of approximately $20,000 missing from the Nanticoke Football 12th Man booster club is being investigated, Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce and Nanticoke Police Chief Michael Roke confirmed Wednesday.
Roke said a report of missing funds was filed with the police department last week and a city police detective along with a county detective from the district attorney’s office are investigating.
Roke said the financial accounts of the 12th Man booster club will be audited to determine how funds were spent and the amount missing, if any.
The 12th Man booster club is a volunteer organization that raises funds to support the junior and varsity football team at Greater Nanticoke Area, and pays for awards, jackets and a banquet.
According to the booster club’s Facebook page, they club held an emergency meeting on Monday and announced they are revamping the club.
LCCC names Yudichak next president
NANTICOKE — Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees took the next big step into LCCC’s future during Tuesday’s regular meeting, voting to make John Yudichak the next president after current president Thomas Leary retires next summer.
The appointment is contingent on the college and Yudichak “negotiating a mutually agreeable employment contract.”
The vote was 13-2, with Paul DeFabo and Holly Evanoski voting against. After the meeting DeFabo said he had nothing personal against Yudichak but that “He wasn’t my choice.”
Prior to the vote Board Vice-Chairman Robert Bertoni said the college had received 40 applications, which the search committee winnowed to six who were interviewed, with all board members invited to attend. Three names were forwarded for final consideration, with the committee voting to recommend Yudichak.
Yudichak served 12 years as state representative followed by 12 years as state senator, most of them as a Democrat, though he did switch to independent in 2019, citing the “toxic conversation that is so pervasive” in politics from both parties.
Yudichak left the senate, announcing in December of last year that he had accepted a position as senior adviser with Harrisburg-based GSL Public Strategies Group.
Leary has been president of LCCC for 16 years, first taking the job in 2007. He has worked in some capacity at the college since 1974, the year the operation was moved from downtown Wilkes-Barre to the current main campus in Nanticoke. He announced his retirement — effective June of next year — last December, two months after the board had granted an 18-month extension to a deal that was set to expire Dec. 11, 2022.
Prior to the vote on the next president, the board unanimously gave Leary a 3% raise for his final year, retroactive to July 1 of this year. That follows a similar raise last year for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The latest raise should boost his pay for this final year to about $208,691.
NEPA’rogi makes pink pierogi for October
by: Amelia Sack
NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One local business in our area is partnering with a nonprofit to help give back and raise awareness for their twist on the popular Polish food pierogi!
The Pink-Rogi Project.
This October NEPA’rogi is giving back and raising awareness with its pink potato and cheddar pierogis.
“What we are doing is partnering with the cancer wellness center of NEPA. Some of you may know it as Candy’s Place,” said Jasmyne Morgans the manager of NEPA’rogi.
The family-owned operation here at NEPA’rogi will be crafting and cooking up pink-rogis all month long.
A portion of proceeds go to a cause that they say hits home.
“We have people in our family that have been through the cancer journey and survived,” adds Morgans.
“We recognize that there are many different types of cancer and that it impacts everyone not just the people who are going through the treatments but also family members,” explained Megan Zeilinski the director of operations at NEPA’rogi.
This is the first time NEPA’rogi is partnering with the Cancer Wellness Center of NEPA but they say they plan on doing their Pink-Rogi project for years to come.
“The folks reached out to us… they were interested in doing pink pierogi we thought it was a tremendous idea and the start of a great new tradition,” continued Tom Ruckey the director of the Cancer Wellness Center of NEPA.
The Cancer Wellness Center of NEPA supports people with every type of cancer.
“We provide free support services to cancer patients, their families, and caregivers. We’re able to keep all of those services absolutely free because of fundraisers like this,” says Ruskey.
Supporting a small business for a big cause.
You can get the pink-rogi at NEPA’rogis store in Nanticoke subject to availability but they recommend ordering ahead.
They’re also selling tee shirts for the cause on their Facebook page.
|Students dismissed from several school districts after threats
Schools in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties received unspecified threats Friday
morning, forcing officials to send children home.
Author: Courtney Harrison, WNEP Web Staff
Published: 10:36 AM EDT October 13, 2023
Updated: 3:26 PM EDT October 13, 2023
LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Several school districts in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties dismissed students Friday after receiving threats.
Newswatch 16 has confirmed that at least nine school districts received some sort of threat, but there are likely many others.
The threats came in Friday morning.
Along with Wyoming Area, Lake-Lehman, Dallas, Wilkes-Barre Area, Northwest, Nanticoke, and Crestwood Area School Districts all evacuated their schools.
Several of the districts sent students to alternate locations off school property before parents were able to pick them up.
Kimberly Gustitus of Exeter has two kids who go to Wyoming Area, and she's glad her kids were sent home.
"After the first one, you're a little worried. Now, it's the second one, and I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is ridiculous already,'" said Gustitus. "You can't take the risk because you never know. I think it's just someone, somewhere, doing this to cause mass confusion."
Scranton and Tunkhannock Area School Districts did not dismiss students after determining with law enforcement that the threats were not credible.
In a Facebook post on the Scranton School District's page said:
“The police and FBI are involved and confident that the threats circulating the school districts in our area are a hoax.”
"It's sad that the kids have to go through that," said Scranton resident Mary Coleman. "My daughter is only in fifth grade, and she just got there. It's scary."
Coleman believes the school district's decision was right.
"I do trust them to know that they're going to have the best interest for my kid, so whatever they feel will work."
School officials and law enforcement say it's important to investigate these threats, whether they're a hoax or not, no matter the inconvenience it causes.
Last month, a man from Peru was charged after he allegedly made more than 150 threats to schools and health care facilities in our area.
GNA OKs after school help, Johnson College dual enrollment programs
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board took several steps to improve academic opportunities at Thursday’s regular meeting, including establishing an after school extra help program in math and reading for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade. For older students, the board approved an industry fast track and dual enrollment agreement with Johnson College.
During the voting session 11 teachers were appointed to participate in the after school program, which Superintendent Ron Grevera said will run from immediately after school around 3 p.m. to about 4 to 4:15 p.m. Bus transportation will then be provided to drop the students off near enough to their homes that parents can pick them up. Teachers will help determine which students may benefit, and work with parents to encourage enrollment. Grevera said he would be happy to see 150 to 200 students taking advantage of the program.
The Johnson College agreement will give students a substantial discount on the per credit cost of taking classes, at $200 a credit or on average $600 per class. Students who want to do focus on one trade could graduate high school with an associate’s degree from the college, but Grevera said others could take advantage of it to see which trades and professions most interest them, then complete their college work after high school graduation. Classes will be held online or at either the main campus in Scranton or the new Hazleton Campus.
Grevera said the district is working with Luzerne County Community College to set up a similar program closer to home, at the LCCC Nanticoke Campus just down the road from the district campus.
In a separate matter, the board approved the purchase of 180 iPads from Apple Inc. for the Kennedy early Childhood Center at a cost of $52,920, and 180 iPad cases and six iPad charging carts from CDW-G for the Kennedy center at a cost of $10,860. Federal grant money will cover both purchases.
The board also:
• Accepted the resignation of Alan Yendrzeiwski as Key Club advisor, and appointed Amber Hyder to the position.
• Appointed Kyleen Thomas as 7-12 English teacher and Sandra Trocki as K-12 art teacher.
• Accepted the verbal resignations of cafeteria worker Lolita Devaughn and cleaner Laura Brown.
• Appointed Lara Adamski and Angela Millikin as cafeteria workers.
• Accepted the retirement of cleaner Nancy Pokrinchak.
Nanticoke Crime Watch Committee plans move forward with community support
NANTICOKE — The City of Nanticoke is one step closer to having extra eyes and ears on the lookout for crime.
During an informational meeting on Wednesday night in council chambers, several city officials gathered with over a dozen members of the public to discuss plans to organize a crime watch committee.
The committee is being formed after a growing concern of crime in the city, which Nanticoke City Mayor Kevin Coughlin says residents’ assistance will help to curb.
“Everyone here in this room wants the same thing and that’s to keep the city safe,” Coughlin said. “Hopefully, this will help us do that.”
The committee will consist of volunteers from the city who will be on the lookout for any strange activity happening in the community, which they would report to the police.
“It’s not a full-time job,” said District Attorney’s Office Det. Charles Casey.
“It’s about collecting information, keeping that information and sharing it when the police need it. You’ll be the eyes and ears of the police and that is unbelievably important,” Casey added.
The City of Nanticoke spans roughly three-and-a-half miles and is home to about 12,000 residents.
Currently, the Nanticoke Police Department keeps just two patrol officers on duty at any given point — a number Police Chief Michael Roke hopes to grow, but says it will take time to do so.
The crime watch committee would aid in the force’s efforts to keep the community safe in the meantime, he said.
“The information that comes from you guys is unbelievably important,” Roke said.
But, according to Casey, creating a large enough interest for the committee is important to ensuring its success, and the more residents keeping an eye out, the better.
“When you guys are talking to your neighbors, probably the most important thing you can do is encourage cooperation— that’s what will make this endeavor successful,” Casey said.
Residents who are interested in being involved with the committee can attend the next meeting, which Coughlin says will be scheduled in the coming days and posted to the City of Nanticoke website and the Nanticoke City Police Department Facebook page.
Rutgers honors Nanticoke boy, 13, as ‘Shining Knight of the Game’
On Sept. 3, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights football team opened its 2023 season with a 24-7 victory over Northwestern University and 13-year-old Jayson Rivera of Nanticoke, who has endured four open heart surgeries, was honored as the “Shining Knight of The Game.”
A collaboration between Rutgers Athletics and official healthcare provider, RWJBarnabas Health, the Shining Knight of The Game is a meaningful initiative designed to lift the spirits and shine the spotlight on a pediatric patient battling healthcare challenges.
Born with a heart defect which required open heart surgery at just 2 days old, Jayson returned to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility this past June for his fourth open heart surgery — and he has also endured more than 30 cardiac procedures to date.
Jayson’s mom, Tyesha Turnage, said her son attends Greater Nanticoke Area and he is in the 8th grade. She said he loves sports, but because of his condition, he is unable to play sports.
After arriving on the Rutgers University campus, Tyesha said Jayson was immersed in a full line-up of Rutgers Football Game Day activities. His experience included a VIP ride in a golf cart, with Sir Henry (Rutgers mascot) leading the pre-game parade down to Scarlet Knight Way.
Jayson also enjoyed a prime spot in the high-five line greeting Coach Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights team members as they got off the buses.
And, Jayson outlined his handprints and signed a commemorative display that will remain on a banner at future games.
To culminate the Game Day celebration, Jayson was joined on the field by his incredible family support system, including his mom, Tyesha, siblings Cassidy and Christopher, and his grandfather, Walter.
Tyesha said it was all smiles, as Jayson was saluted by the crowd for his bravery and strength to fight on, which included a rousing ovation from the Scarlet Nation.
Jayson and each future Shining Knight of the Game will be enshrined in a Rutgers Athletics facility highlighting their unique game-day experience.
“Jayson really loves sports, but he can’t play because of his condition,” Tyesha said. “And he absolutely loved the day. He was so happy.”
Tyesha said Jayson’s spirits were lifted by the day and the support of so many people.
“He felt the entire day was about him,” his mom said. “The people were chanting his name — he felt like a celebrity.”
Tyesha said she and her family are extremely proud of Jayson because of how he has handled all of the treatments and surgeries.
We are very proud of him and we love to see how he is always so happy,” Tyesha said. “When he visits the hospital, the call him ‘The Mayor.’ He goes around and talks to other pediatric patients to cheer them up.”
Led by Children’s Heart Center Medical Director Dr. Rajiv Verma, and nurse practitioner Kimberly Yue, a devoted team of medical experts at RWJBarnabas Health, have been caring for and comforting Jayson and his family throughout the years.
Tyesha said Dr. Verma recommended Jayson for the “Shining Night of the Game” honor.
A day of remembrance
NANTICOKE — A total of 343 firefighters, 72 police officers and eight paramedics gave the ultimate sacrifice 22 years ago during the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
For roughly 10 years, aside from when they had to cancel due to COVID-19, Luzerne County Community College has held a Walk of Honor Ceremony on the school campus in a remembrance of those first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Attending the memorial service where members of the Nanticoke Fire Department, LCCC EMS students, elected officials, school faculty and members of the public.
Several speakers shared remarks including U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski and President Judge Emeritus Correale Stevens.
Members of the Nanticoke fire department participated in the lowering the flag to half-mast and Dept. Chief Steve Kotch lead the final alarm ceremony, which was used to symbolize honor and respect those who devoted their lives to their duty.
“It is easy for us who lived through that day as adults to think of how life was before and after 9/11 because it was one of those moments in history that changed the world,” said campus safety and security director Douglas Fawbush during his opening remarks.
However, as the years continue to pass, the events of Sept. 11 become less clear in the minds of young adults today. Some were too young to remember. Others, as Fawbush pointed out, were not even born yet.
“It is our responsibility to speak to them of the bravery and courage and sacrifice of those people who were violently taken away,” he said.
LCCC President Thomas Leary used his time to highlight the bravery and sacrifice of first responders.
“These individuals selflessly sacrificed their own safety by entering the Twin Towers to rescue survivors who have been trapped by the initial impact of the planes,” he said. “As we gather to honor the memory of those who suffered such great losses on Sept. 11, we’re also reminded of the courage and bravery demonstrated by emergency responders every day.”
Leary went on to read the list of 2023 Brick Memorials, which included the late Dept. Chief Norm Knoll and Bob Hazleton of the Nanticoke Fire Department, who passed away in 2017 and 2022, respectively.
Matthew Verbinski, a U.S Army Veteran and current LCCC student, was only five years old when 9/11 happened and admitted that he is one of those kids who has few personal memories of it.
“All I remember is my mother sitting at home for days with her head in her hands,” he said. “She was upset, she was crying.”
Still, the events of that day 22 years ago had a profound impact on Verbinski, changing the course of his life forever. After doing his own research into the terrorist attacks, he volunteered to become a firefighter. Once he turned 17, he enlisted in the army, where he served his country for eight years.
Now, as a student at LCCC, he is pursing his goal of becoming a forest ranger for the National park Service in order to perserve and protect green lands across the country.
“I do not remember the events of that day. I was not there. I do not have a lot of experiences that many of you do,” said Verbinski.
“But I can confidently say and I stand before you here, that what I learned and what I saw inspired me to do jobs and tasks that I never thought myself capable of doing.”
Clean-up continues in Nanticoke after violent thunderstorm
NANTICOKE — Several streets have reopened while others have a block closed to traffic Friday morning following violent thunderstorms that moved through the area Thursday evening.
Kosciuszko Street between East Noble and East Ridge streets remains closed due to a toppled tree across the roadway in front of the Kennedy Early Childhood Center or the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.
Due to damage suffered to power infrastructure from the thunderstorms, the school district will be on a flexible instruction day Friday. No district transportation will be provided.
UGI Electric Utilities reported at 7:30 a.m. Friday that 166 customers in Nanticoke remain without electrical service.
Trees also toppled in Glen Lyon, Newport Township, and throughout Sweet Valley and the Back Mountain areas.
Get ready for round two
The National Weather Service in Binghamton, N.Y., has forecasted more thunderstorms with gusty winds that may result in isolated flash flooding Friday afternoon.
Motorcyclists show their heart
NANTICOKE – The Valley with a Heart Benefit, which raises money to help aid families with children dealing with serious illness, celebrated 22 years Sunday with its annual bike ride and picnic at St. Faustina Parish Grove.
The ride kicked off bright and early at 11 a.m., with friends and family standing along the road side to get a glimpse of the bikers as they set out for an hourlong drive. According to the organization’s president, Rick Temarantz, nearly 300 bikes participated this year.
“There is a brotherhood in the biker community,” he said. “Usually, the bikers are the ones with the big hearts.”
The benefit had two poster children this year: 5-year-old Skyla, who has cerebra palsy and is quadriplegic, and 5-year-old Ayonna, who was born with a birth defect that affects normal blood flow to the heart. Both children frequently need to travel to the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for treatments.
Money raised from the admission fee, riding fee, basket raffle, food and games will all go towards helping Ayonna and Skyla, as well as other children throughout Luzerne County, pay for medical, travel expenses and more.
The Valley with a Heart helps to pay medical bills, mortgages and gives out gas cards.
In addition to the bike ride, the benefit also featured a bunch of different options for food and beer, bounce houses and games for kids, as well as a whole craft and homemade dessert section.
The entertainment schedule was packed, with bands occupying both an outdoor stage and a stage underneath a pavilion.
There were also screens set up around the event grounds showcasing pictures from benefits past.
“It’s turned into a whole production,” said Temarantz, reflecting on the evolution of the benefit over the last two decades.
Once the bikers returned, the real party began and the live entertainment kicked off. Several local bands were set to play all the way through the night, with a fireworks show by SkyShooters Displays and the Lance Thorn Band to bring the evening to a close.
Wayne and Sue Horne venture down from Tobyhanna every year for the benefit. Although Wayne couldn’t ride this year due to recently having surgery, the duo was still excited to be apart of it all.
As proud members of the Wyoming Valley Motorcycle Club, they said the camaraderie with their fellow bikers keeps them coming back.
“It’s always a good time,” said Wayne Horne. “Good people, good cause.”
Steve Hughes and April Biddinger participated in the ride for the first time in a few years. Biddinger said the weather was better this time, plus the ride was longer, which she liked.
“It was a nice back road ride,” said Hughes. “We almost went as far as Berwick.”
They were excited to hear the local bands, some of whom were friends of theirs.
Diane Petracci, of Olyphant, was excited for the bands too. She was all set up with her fold-up chair in the front of the stage, chatting with friends before the music began.
“I love the bikes. I love it all,” she said. “It’s so cool.”
Despite the half-hour drive, Petracci said the journey is always worth it.
“It’s for a great cause. It makes your heart feel good.”
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board joins Unified Sports movement
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School District became the latest to join a growing movement that gets special education and regular education students together in sports. At Thursday’s regular meeting, the School Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Special Olympics Pennsylvania to participate in the Unified Champion Schools program. The program promotes social inclusion through “Unified Sports.”
Locally, that has meant students competing in track. Hanover Area, Wyoming Area, Wyoming Valley West and Wilkes-Barre Area have already been fielding unified sports teams against each other in area track meets. Greater Nanticoke Superintendent Ron Grevera said he’s excited about creating the opportunity for the students to work and play together, and hopes the options will expand in the future.
The district will be getting a new, digital color marquee sign at the entrance to the campus on Kosciuszko Street. The board approved a sponsorship agreement with FNCB Bank to purchase and install the sign. Grevera said the current sign is broken and at least 20 years old.
With the first day of school just three weeks away, the agenda was — like many other local school boards this month — loaded with personnel moves.
Teachers appointed included Ralph Piontkowski for social studies in grades 7-12, Chelsea Pike for health and physical education in all grades, Jody Zelinske for English in grades 7-12, Nicole Reese for English in grades 7-12, and Holly Sayre for grades K-6.
The board appointed as instructional aides Dawn Boyle, Carolyn Slusser, and Tammy Vincavage (special education).
Chiysta Fox was appointed lead cafeteria worker and Brian Pall as a school police/resource officer with a private employment contract at $46,000 for the coming school year.
And the board accepted the resignations of teachers Tonya Cumberland, and Donna Willis.
The board also:
• Approved bus stops and pick up times, and transportation contracts with Pace Transportation and Keystone Transportation.
• Approved the purchase of an electric convection oven at a cost of $13,191 under the state Co-Stars plan, which allows municipal governments and school district to purchase items at a price already negotiated by the state.
• Increased the price of faculty lunch meals to $4.75, and faculty breakfast meals to $2.40.
Nanticoke to put fate of term limits on ballot
NANTICOKE — City Council on Wednesday approved two ordinances that will give voters the option this fall to eliminate term limits for both city council members and the mayor.
Ordinances #4 and #5 were given final approval by the Council with a vote of 3-2. Councilman Mike Marcella and Vice President John Telencho, who also voted against the move at the July 19 meeting, cast the dissenting votes.
Voters can now expect two questions to appear on the Nov. 7 municipal election ballot asking if they want to delete Section 2.10 and Section 3.09 of the city’s Home Rule Charter, which will eliminate the provisions which prohibit council members and the mayor from serving more than three elected, consecutive terms.
According to City Council Solicitor William Finnegan, the paperwork will be filed with the Election Bureau tomorrow and the bureau will ultimately decide how the questions are worded on the ballot.
During the meeting, Telencho once again expressed his opinion that eliminating term limits would discourage people from running for office.
Telencho also took issue with the fact that during the last meeting, Councilman Joseph Nalepa said there was little to no interest from the people in the community in wanting to hold a seat on the council.
“In 2019, there were eight people who ran for four seats. In 2021, there were four people running for three seats,” said Telencho.
Nalepa argued that everyone who ran in the last two election cycles were “already elected.”
“They were all involved with politics already,” said Nalepa. “There’s nobody outside of this realm, this political realm, that is running.”
Telencho pointed out that that wasn’t necessarily true, since he and Marcella ran and were elected for the first time in 2019.
Nalepa then doubled down. “This is not to discourage anybody from running. That’s not what this is.”
Council President William Brown pointed out that Nanticoke is the only municipality in the county that has term limits and Finnegan, who previously represented the City of Wilkes-Barre, agreed.
“I’m not aware of any municipality under Home Rule that has term limits,” he said.
Brown also agreed with Nalepa in regard to the recent lack of interest from the community in running for office
“I’ve been around a long time on city council going back to 2002 and I’ve seen a total difference in the turnout for candidates to run for elected office,” he said.
After the meeting, Marcella clarified that he voted no to approving the ordinances because he believes term limits help to diversify the council in order to best represent the people who live in the city.
“The council needs to mimic the community,” said Marcella.
In terms of the Home Rule Charter itself, Finnegan said that, like the U.S constitution, it’s a living document and it is subject to change as the years go on.
“These (ordinances) won’t be the last changes we make,” he said.
With goats on their ‘baacks,’ seniors enjoy goat yoga program
NANTICOKE — With “Proud Mary” blaring and goats on their backs, some 40 senior citizens enjoyed 45 minutes of ‘goat therapy” on Tuesday at the Rose Tucker Active Adult Center in Nanticoke.
“Give me a baaaaaaa!’ shouted Ashley Raspen, owner of Buttinhead Farms in Hunlock Creek to get the party started.
And the 40 goat yoga enthusiasts shouted back, “Baaaaaaa!”
Raspen and her daughters, Alaina, 15, and Willow, 7, and her four goats — Ladybug, Brantley, Squishy and Mushy — brought smiles to all as they worked out with their new hooved friends.
There were leg kicks, hip swings, stretches and inhales and exhales during the 45-minute session.
“Shake it, shake it sir,” Raspen said to Ed Piestrak, 83 of Nanticoke, who helped lead the session while wearing a glittery grass skirt.
Piestrak said he visits the center regularly for exercise.
“But I never expected this,” he said with a smile. “This is fun.”
That was how all of the attendees felt about the goat yoga session.
“Come on, think kind thoughts, say kind words,” Rapsen urged the group. “Step out of your comfort zone and try something new.”
Raspen said to leave reality at home and step into “goat-ality.”
She then added, “Criss-cross, applesauce,” noting that she makes most of her comments up as the session goes along.
Raspen said she has 64 goats on her farm in Hunlock Creek.
On her website, buttinheadfarms.com, she tells “A goating great story.”
Raspen said she is a wife, mom of three, fitness professional, and “just so happens to be a goat farmer.”
She said, “So this is where the beginning of my journey started. Juggling fitness and farming — they were a match made in heaven. Members at the gym became fascinated with the goats on the farm. I decided to hold goat yoga sessions at the farm occasionally during the summer. Whoa! I was not planning on where we would end up in the first year of our business. The response was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
Raspen said Buttinhead Farms Goat Yoga is like no other out there.
“When you attend one of our sessions, there are no expectations,” she said. “The only expectation is that you leave happier than you came and we take you away from every day stresses in your life during the time you’re with us.”
Mission accomplished on Tuesday.
Gail Voyton, director at the center, and Laura Dorshefski, the Assistant Director, said they discovered Raspen and her goat yoga program online and it seemed it was very popular.
“We have an exercise program here,” Voyton said. “We call it geri-fit. But everybody seemed to really enjoy the goat yoga today. We would love to have them back.”
The Rose Ticker center was the first center in Luzerne County to host goat yoga, she said.
Jan Davis of Glen Lyon said the session was a lot of fun.
“I like animals and I’ve done yoga for years, so this was great,” she said.
Charlotte Carney of Nanticoke agreed, saying the session was very good for the seniors.
“I never thought I would be able to get down that low,” she said. “And the goats were a lot of fun.”
Teen, 16, charged with attempted criminal homicide in Nanticoke drive-by shooting
NANTICOKE — A 16-year-old boy from Wyoming Borough was charged as an adult in the attempted homicide of a 14-year-old boy in Nanticoke on Friday.
John Carl Pearce IV, of Wyoming Avenue, is accused of leaning out a passenger side window of a stolen Hyundai Elantra and fired multiple rounds in the area of West Green and Maple streets at about 7:15 p.m., according to court records.
A 14-year-old boy who was walking from a park where he played basketball was struck in the head and ankle and was transported to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Nanticoke City Police said.
Pearce was identified as the alleged gunman after investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police at Wilkes-Barre obtained video footage from locations in Nanticoke, Shickshinny and Larksville.
After the shooting, the Hyundai Elantra was set ablaze in the area of Eno and Church streets in Plymouth, court records say.
State police charged Pearce with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide, possession of a firearm by a minor, criminal conspiracy to commit arson, criminal conspiracy to commit reckless burning, criminal conspiracy to commit theft, criminal conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Pearce was arraigned before Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough early Wednesday morning and jailed without bail as he was deemed a flight risk and a danger to the community.
According to the criminal complaint:
A woman from Nanticoke reported her silver Hyundai Elantra was stolen from her East Union Street residence on July 19.
Two days later on Friday, July 21, Nanticoke City Police responded to gunfire at West Green and Maple streets where they found the 14-year-old boy with gunshot wounds to his head and ankle.
A friend of the victim told police they were playing basketball at West Side Park. As they left the park, the friend rode his ATV onto Line Street near West Union Street when he noticed a silver Hyundai Elantra occupied by several people wearing ski masks drive slowly passed him and turned around.
The friend observed the rear passenger window roll down and heard one of the occupants say, “That’s not him,” as the Hyundai drove toward West Green Street, the complaint says.
Surveillance footage in the area of West Green and Maple streets showed the 14-year-old boy walking as the silver Hyundai Elantra drives slowly passed him.
Footage showed the rear seat passenger, wearing a ski mask and a black hooded sweatshirt with strings near the collar, lean out the window and discharged rounds across the roof of the vehicle toward the 14-year-old boy as the driver of the Hyundai speeds away, the complaint says.
State police in the complaint say Luzerne County 911 received a report of a vehicle fire at Eno and Church streets in Plymouth. The vehicle that was intentionally set on fire was the silver Hyundai, according to the complaint.
Surveillance footage showed a black pickup truck following the Hyundai in Plymouth prior to the Hyundai being set on fire.
The pickup truck was a 2013 Ford F150 that was reported stolen from East Third Street in Salem Township.
Salem Township police obtained surveillance footage of a Hyundai in the same area where the Ford truck was stolen at about 2:15 a.m. Saturday.
Other surveillance footage in Shickshinny shows the Hyundai and the Ford truck traveling on state Route 11.
Video footage from Sheetz in Larksville showed the Hyundai and Ford at gasoline pump islands and an individual pumping gasoline into a container at about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Pictures from the Sheetz surveillance cameras were circulated to municipal police departments as one police officer identified Pearce, the complaint says.
Pearce was reported as wanted for absconding from Luzerne County juvenile probation and was also reported as a missing juvenile, according to the complaint.
State police investigators obtained a search warrant Monday for Pearce’s cellular phone records that tracked him in the area of West Green and Maple streets at the time of the shooting, traveling on Interstate 81 in the Scranton area, Salem Township/Berwick areas, at Sheetz in Larksville and at Eno and Church streets in Plymouth, the complaint says.
Pearce’s cellular records allegedly has him in the area of East Union Street, Nanticoke, about the time the Hyundai Elantra was reported stolen.
Nanticoke boy, 14, was shot in back of head, ankle
Police are seen at West Green and Maple streets in Nanticoke on Friday evening investigating a drive-by shooting that left a teenager seriously injured. Hannah Simerson | Times Leader
Police are seen at West Green and Maple streets in Nanticoke on Friday evening investigating a drive-by shooting that left a teenager seriously injured.
Hannah Simerson | Times Leader
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NANTICOKE — The victim in Friday night’s drive-by shooting was transported to Geisinger Danville, where his condition had been stabilizing early Saturday, city Police Chief Mike Roke said.
The 14-year-old male was struck twice — once in the back of the head and once in the ankle — the chief added. Further updates on the teen’s condition were not immediately available Saturday afternoon.
The incident took place prior to 7:30 p.m. Friday in the area of West Green and Maple streets, where a car with gunshot damage could be seen as investigators went about their work.
Witnesses watching a baseball game at a pub across the street said they heard multiple gunshots and ran outside and saw the boy laying in the street.
Roke on Saturday said he couldn’t comment further on the status of the investigation, which had been turned over to Pennsylvania State Police.
The chief did say on Friday night that he believed the incident was isolated and targeted.
Efforts to reach a PSP spokesperson were not immediately successful on Saturday afternoon.
Police investigate Nanticoke drive-by shooting in which teen was targeted
By Hannah Simerson and Roger DuPuis firstname.lastname@example.org
NANTICOKE — Police responded to a drive-by shooting in the city Friday night in which a teenage male was shot in the back of the head, Nanticoke Police Chief Mike Roke said.
The victim’s condition was not immediately known.
“This was an isolated incident, and I believe it was almost certainly gang-related,” Chief Roke said. “This was targeted.”
Information about possible suspects was not immediately available, and Roke said his department was working the scene and in the process of handing the investigation over to Pennsylvania State Police later Friday.
The incident took place prior to 7:30 p.m. in the area of West Green and Maple streets, where a car with gunshot damage could be seen as investigators went about their work.
The damaged car belongs to Nanticoke resident Ryan Yale, who said he was inside Jim’s Restaurant and Pub just across the street when the shooting occurred.
What started as an evening out to watch baseball at the restaurant quickly turned dangerous when Yale and the other patrons inside said they heard around five gunshots coming from outside.
“We were just sitting there — enjoying the game — and we heard several repetitious shots that we knew weren’t fireworks and so everybody got up,” Yale said.
Yale said he left the restaurant to find a young male laying on the ground across the street with bullet casings across the street — and one of those bullets struck his car, Yale said.
“I started seeing the casings laying on the ground, so I decided to look in my car,” Yale said. “I saw a bullet hole in my car — of course that’s not nearly as important as the young boy laying there in the street … it’s a sad thing.”
Nanticoke proposals would let voters decide on term limits
NANTICOKE — Two items introduced at city council’s combined work session Wednesday night would give voters the option to vote to eliminate term limits for council members and the mayor.
The council will meet on Aug. 2 for a final vote regarding Ordinance #4 and #5 that would place a question on the Nov. 7 municipal election ballot to delete Section 2.09 and Section 2.10 of the City of Nanticoke Home Rule Charter.
This would eliminate the provision that prohibits council members and the mayor from serving more than three elected, consecutive terms.
The ordinances moved forward to the next meeting for final approval with a vote of 3-2; council members Mike Marcella and Vice President John Telencho voted against the move.
The ordinances caused much discussion among council members.
Telencho, who joined the meeting remotely, questioned why the ordinances were placed on the agenda in the first place, claiming that he had no knowledge of them until Mayor Kevin Coughlin called him on June 27 to inform him they were going to be there.
Telencho questioned why he was left out of the initial discussion and why the items were being “rushed through.”
Councilman Joseph Nalepa said that the ordinances have been discussed in “certain circles,” for some time, prior to the May primary election. These were “casual discussions” and they weren’t trying to go behind Telencho’s back.
Councilwoman Lesley Butczynski, who also attended the meeting remotely, said that everyone had at least two weeks to think about the ordinances and that they could table the items if they wanted to, but that she did not personally want to do that.
Council Solicitor William Finnegan said that, to his knowledge, everyone had an opportunity to raise their concerns to him and that he had multiple phone calls with council members fielding questions.
Finnegan said he was more than willing to discuss the ordinances further before the second reading.
Telencho argued that eliminating term limits would discourage people for running for office, while Nalepa countered that the people’s apparent lack of interest in running for office was specifically why he thought they needed the ordinances in the first place.
“If you look at the last two election cycles, interest is waning for people to serve on the municipal level,” said Nalepa, adding that if there are people that care about the city and want to continuing serving, they should be able to.
Marcella also voiced his uncertainty about the ordinances, raising similar concerns to Telencho, and questioned why the council didn’t have this discussion earlier in the year.
Mayor Coughlin pointed out that the ordinances would merely put the questions on the ballot and that it was up to the voters whether or not to adopt them.
After the meeting, Finnegan explained that if the ordinances are approved on Aug 2, he would need to submit the paperwork to the Election Borough in a matter of days.
The Election Borough will have the final say in how the questions will be worded on the ballot.
Market cut off from food stamp program
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Nanticoke Streetscape project underway; will run through fall of 2024
NANTICOKE — Construction on the $2.5 million Nanticoke Streetscaping project on East and West Main Street, expected to begin on Monday, should get underway this week, and it will be take until late 2024 to complete.
According to PennDOT, the project will continue until Friday Nov, 17, of this year, and resume in the spring of 2024.
PennDOT said the project consists of accessibility improvements along the East and West Main Street corridor between North and South Market streets and North Walnut Street in Nanticoke.
The proposed improvements include construction of new storm piping, inlets, concrete curbs and sidewalks with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Handicap Ramps, highway lighting & signalization, benches & trash receptacles, bituminous pavement, decorative crosswalks, and line striping.
The online project page, including the map, and detailed project information, can be found by visiting the PennDOT District 4-0 website — www.penndot.gov/district4. Click on “Construction Projects and Roadwork”, then the Luzerne County box, then choose the tile marked “Nanticoke Streetscape West and East Main Street.”
The project includes East Main Street between Market Street and approximately 100 feet west of the Walnut Street offset intersection.
According to PennDOT, the purpose of the improvements is to provide the traveling public with a safe corridor through the city that enhances traffic flow, provides safe pedestrian crossings and meets the current design standards.
The scope of work for the project from Market Street to Shea Street is from back of sidewalk to back of sidewalk and includes:
• Full reconstruction of the existing sidewalk, pavement section and drainage structures.
• New traffic signal at the intersection of Market Street and Main Street.
• Landscaping improvements.
• Stamped pavement pedestrian crosswalks.
• Center left turn lane.
• Proposed pavement markings.
• Removal of existing parking.
• Temporary construction easements proposed to complete the sidewalk work.
The scope of work from Shea Street to 100 feet west of Walnut Street is from existing curb to existing curb and includes:
• Proposed 1.5-inch pavement mill and overlay.
• Proposed pavement markings.
• Existing sidewalks and parking to remain.
When the project was announced last year, Mayor Kevin Coughlin said,” his project will beautify our downtown. It’s the first step toward further downtown revitalization.”
Coughlin said the project had been in planning stages for years and he said he is pleased that the project is underway.
Nanticoke celebrates Independence Day weekend with a bang
NANTICOKE — The City of Nanticoke kick-started its Independence Day celebrations on Saturday with the return of the city’s annual “Nanticoke Big Bang 4th of July Celebration.”
The Luzerne County Community College parking lot was alive with food and craft vendors, BINGO games, raffles, a dunk tank, bounce houses, and plenty of residents looking to get a jump on their holiday weekend.
In typical Independence Day fashion, sunset brought with it a colorful display of fireworks.
Tyme Band and Mellifluous provided the live entertainment for the celebration, and folks couldn’t hide their glee as they wandered amidst the happenings.
Nickie Toporcer and Helen Sudick of Nanticoke wanted to show support to their hometown by attending the celebration — and from the looks of it, it seems they’re glad they did.
“We just wanted to see how things were, see if we run into anybody, and support the town,” Toporcer said.
This year’s celebration marked the first one for the pair, who noted the convenient location made it possible for them to return home and come back later for the firework display.
Nanticoke resident Amanda Kempa said she found the event to be fun for her entire family. Kempa was also a first-time attendee, and she noted that she was eager to watch the fireworks with her family.
“Our whole family is here — it’s family time for us,” Kempa said.
The attendees weren’t the only ones happy to be there — vendors also joined in on the celebration.
“I most look forward to seeing the people,” said Brian Gardener, owner of Uncle Bucks BBQ, which has vended at the event every year.
“I enjoy seeing the people eating my food,” he added, noting that he sees customers come back year after year.
Horror film makers hope to place Nanticoke on the map
NANTICOKE — Zombies, vampires, ancient curses, and government secrets have been terrorizing the streets of Nanticoke for the past two weeks — but no need to panic.
The supernatural clan are only in town to record a horror film aptly titled “Nanticoke,” which follows a character named Brad, a professional baseball player who returns home after a career-ending injury only to find that things aren’t what they used to be.
When asked to describe the film in three words, producer Michael B. Judkins had only this to say: “Something to see.”
According to Scott Purdy, who plays Brad’s father in the film, the mash-up of horror monsters has a specific purpose — one that “you have to watch to find out.”
“Initially I was like ‘vampires, zombies, ancient curses…are they just throwing everything together?’ No. There’s a purpose,” Purdy said.
“It’s different — it’s not a cookie-cutter zombie movie,” he continued.
The film has been using locations in and around Nanticoke as sets, including Main Street, Luzerne County Community College, the Newport Little League Field, and more.
“When we were considering doing a horror movie, it seemed like the ideal place,” said Judkins, who noted that a few members of the executive team are from the area.
According to him, the surrounding community has shown immense support for the film, with the Nanticoke mayor, police, and firefighters making appearances.
“Residents of Nanticoke even came down in droves offering to be extras,” Judkins said.
While some locals managed to make their big-screen debut in the film, others found opportunities behind the cameras.
This is certainly the case for Robyn Shonk of Nanticoke, who acted as the film’s production coordinator.
“I live a few minutes from where we’ve been filming these last two weeks, and I could never put into words how it feels to see the town in such a different light,” Shonk said.
She noted it felt surreal to film in so many places she had known her entire life.
“We just got done filming at the little league field where I played for 12 years — it was magic,” she said, adding that it felt as if she’d gone “full-circle.”
According to her, the film’s helping hands consisted of a mix of local residents and those from out of town.
“Whether it’s individuals who originated here or are back to the area again or are visiting for the first time, I’ve heard all three from cast and crew members,” Shonk said.
The cast and crew not from the Northeastern Pennsylvania region all had the same impression of the area: the people are incredibly supportive.
“The people around here have been so welcoming everywhere I go,” said Purdy.
Bobby Newton, the film’s stunt and safety director, echoed Purdy’s sentiments.
“Nanticoke is a nice place, but more importantly, everyone I’ve interacted with in Nanticoke is nice,” he said.
“I’ve shot films in other places, and if we inconvenienced people by shooting the film, they were rude. That was not the case in Nanticoke,” he added.
Hunter Kohl, the Manhattan-based actor who plays Brad, said he first noticed the beauty of the area — then the kindness of the people he met.
“The first thing is, as a New Yorker, everyone is so nice,” he said.
The kindness and support is something the cast and crew hope the film’s success is able to repay.
The film locations might offer a tourism draw to the area, which could amp up the tourism sector, said Purdy.
“Those things do happen,” said Purdy. “People can be like, ‘Wow, Nanticoke! That’s where they made that movie — let’s go see where they filmed it.’”
“If it could help the local community by just bringing some people in, spending their money here, and helping out the community, that would be great,” he added.
Filming for “Nanticoke” officially wrapped on Friday. The crew hopes to see completion by next spring with a proposed premiere to take place in Nanticoke shortly thereafter.
Upon its premiere, “Nanticoke” will run in local theaters and on select streaming services.
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board approves budget with no tax increase
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board approved a final budget at Thursday’s monthly meeting that keeps property taxes at this year’s rate and projects an increase in the district fund balance. The budget projects spending at $39.7 million and income at $40.8 million. Business Consultant Tom Melone said if those numbers hold, the fund balance is expected to climb from $5.1 million the end of this month to $6.2 million by the end of June, 2024.
Both Superintendent Ron Grevera and Board President Tony Prushinski repeated one of Prushinski’s favorite mantras: “Elections have consequences,” suggesting the district — and most public school districts — would have been in much worse financial shape if Josh Shapiro had not won the election as governor. Shapiro has followed his predecessor Tom Wolf in supporting increased state funding for public schools.
Grevera also credited the overall healthy budget with the district’s ability to negotiate a three year contract with about 100 unionized support staff workers that increases pay to retain employees. The new contract boosts starting salary for new hires by $3 and hour, from $9.90 an hour. Current employees will see an average increase of $1.25 per hour the first year, and 75 cents per hour each of the next two years. The contract runs through June, 2026. The board also approved two Memoranda Of Understanding (MOU) with the teacher union. One involves appointing a part-time speech therapist. The other sets up special sick leave/sick days for the 2023-24 school year.
Continuing efforts to improve security, the board agreed to advertise for two additional School Police/Resource Officers, hired through private employment contracts, bumping the total from three to five. Existing contracts with three officers were renewed: Brian Stashak and Chris Wegrzynowicz at $51,000 each, and Ray Whitaker at $61,000. And a new Garrett walk-thru metal detector was approved from Firing Line Inc. for $4,252. Grevera said it is a portable detector that will be used at the Education and Elementary centers.
In sports, the board accepted the quote for equipment at the multi-purpose sports stadium from Sportsmens at a total cost of $45,477, and agreed to sanction a new co-ed bowling club team for the 2023-24 school year. The new sports equipment will be suitable for artificial turf being installed this summer, Grevera said, and includes nets, pylons and similar removable items.
The board also:
• Approved the purchase of Learnics for the coming school year for grades 3-12 at a cost of $1,830. Learnics provides digital tools to help teachers determine how much time students spend researching online for assignments.
• Approved quotes for insurance coverage from Joyce Insurance, $159,485 for Premium Coverage and $84,154 for workers compensation coverage.
• Approved summer hours for high school guidance counselors Bill Hischak and Sara Kneal, and cyber school coordinator Michele Wisniewski, each not to exceed 50 hours.
• Appointed Scott Dennis as paraprofessional for the Extended School Year (ESY) program from July 5 through Aug. 3.
• Accepted the resignations of instructional aide Beth Borowski and physical education teacher Alicia Kaiser.
• Increased the salary of parent educator Sarah Toback in the amount of $0.88 per hour, and the salary of Family Center Director Beth Kratz in the amount of $2,528. Both are funded through grants. Toback’s hours were also increased to 29 hours per week, while parent educator Wendy Skoniecki’s hours were reduced to 20 hours per week.
• Appointed Jennifer Olzinski, Amanda Lipowski and Christopher McGavin as teachers for the K-5 summer skills math and reading camp, all funded through federal grants.
• Appointed Beth Maney as head cheer coach.
Greater Nanticoke Area approves $39.7M budget with no increase in property taxes
Michael P. Buffer – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board unanimously voted Thursday for a
$39.7 million budget that maintains the property tax rate and will add at least
$1 million to the school district’s fund balance.
The property tax rate will remain 12.8083 mills. A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The budget projects nearly $40.8 million in revenue, and the fund balance is projected to increase from $5.1 million to $6.2 million, Business Manager Tom Melone said. The budget does not include increases in state subsidy amounts, but it’s possible that the 2023-24 state budget will include at least another $1 million in state revenue, Melone said.
The state House and Senate have not yet agreed to a state budget that Gov. Josh Shapiro will sign for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The 2023-24 state budget will include funding allocations to local school districts for the upcoming school year.
“One of things Mr. Prushinski always says is elections have consequences,” Superintendent Ronald Grevera said, referring to board President Tony Prushinski. “... the fact that we have elections, we have people who are pro-public education. And that has been very helpful.”
Grevera noted that the state had been underfunding Greater Nanticoke Area for years and the district has benefited recently from Level Up state funding provided to the most underfunded districts. Greater Nanticoke Area received $774,228 in Level Up funds in the state’s 2022-23 budget.
The school board also voted to approve a new labor agreement with the support staff union that expires June 30, 2026. The union has 100 members, including custodians, maintenance workers, secretaries and cafeteria workers.
“It will give our support professionals who are new to the district a $3 an hour pay raise,” Grevera said. “Most of those positions were $9.90, which is really not a lot for a starting salary. No one will receive less than $1.25 for the first year, 75 cents the second year and 75 cents an hour for the third year. ... The goal of this contract is to recruit employees in a very difficult labor market, as well retain the current employees.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting:
• The board agreed to advertise two new positions for a private contracted school police officer and renewed contracts with three school police officers — Ray Whittaker, $61,000 for the upcoming school year, Brian Stashak and Chris Wegrzynowicz, $51,000 for each.
• The board voted to sanction a new athletic opportunity — a high school co-ed bowling club team for the 2023-24 school year.
Filming of ‘Nanticoke’ horror movie underway
Emily Allegrucci – pahomepage.com
NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A bit of the spotlight is making its way to a city in Luzerne County. The bright lights are shining in Nanticoke as a horror flick is being filmed.
When a baseball player returns to his hometown of Nanticoke, he quickly realizes it’s not how he remembers it.
Nanticoke the movie might be filmed in the city you know, but it takes a spooky twist that will make you watch with one eye shut.
“Within that, we incorporated the aspect of having zombies and vampires in it to make it one of the best horror movies of 2023,” said Nanticoke Producer Michael B. Judkins.
The horror flick has been in development since 2013, shooting finally began in April, and is now taking over the streets of Nanticoke.
“It’s one of those things where you know you sit there and you dream about how this is gonna go and you run every scenario in your head. You look around at the amazing talent and the people here and you go, ‘man. This is it. This is gonna work,” said Nanticoke Director Rick Berry.
One of the actors is a northeastern Pennsylvania native and says he is grateful to be part of a production like this.
“I’m so happy to be a part of this, especially being from the area to see something like this be brought together. It’s such a wonderful thing, the whole town’s been very supportive,” Nanticoke Actor Austin Monahan said.
And the community has been doing all it can to let the supernatural into the city.
“As a producer, it’s heartfelt to see that. Especially with the production of any size that you wanna see the community get together,” said Judkins.
The mayor of Nanticoke and the city’s first responders have not only supported the movie, but are actually starring in it.
“It certainly brings a little bit of notoriety here to our town and we need anything we could get. They certainly have people come here for whatever it’s worth and we’re certainly happy to have everybody here,” said Nanticoke City Police Department Chief Michael Roke.
“It’s a great opportunity for the city of Nanticoke, also for some of the residents to be starring in it,” said Nanticoke City Police Department Sergeant Chad Southern
And for those looking for spoilers…
“The rest I’m gonna leave up to you to come see the movie,” Monahan said.
If you love zombies, vampires, and Nanticoke, this movie may be for you.
Production says they hope to have the movie done by the end of 2023 and at the latest, spring of 2024.
The filming and zombie apocalypse in Nanticoke is expected to last for about two more weeks.
Stanky and The Coal Miners to play at Saturday polka night
John Stanky and the Coal Miners, featuring John ‘Stanky’ Stankovic, will perform Saturday night at Nanticoke American Legion Post 350, 23 W. Broad St., in a concert to benefit Hanover Fire Co., Nanticoke Fire Department Engine #4.
NANTICOKE — Two things have been constants in the life of John “Stanky” Stankovic over many decades: Polka music, and service to his volunteer fire department.
An event on Saturday will honor both.
John Stanky and the Coal Miners will present a night of polka music at American Legion Post 350, with proceeds to benefit Hanover Fire Co. N.F.D. Engine #4 on Espy Street.
The night also will celebrate Stanky’s 80 years of playing in a polka band.
“I got introduced to polka at a very early age,” Stanky said Thursday.
As he said in a 2022 Times Leader interview: “My father, he came from the old country and made me practice,” Stanky said. “I wanted to play baseball. I wanted to play basketball. He said, ‘You’re a pretty good ball player … but if you learn to play the accordion you’ll never starve.”
Lessons began when he was about 5. Within a few short years he was playing in a band, and a lifelong passion was born.
“We started playing in clubs and bars, but mostly we played house weddings,” Stanky recalled.
Such family gatherings often lasted three days — typically Saturday, Sunday, and Monday — and the band would stay at the bride’s house, he said.
Stanky went on to bigger gigs, and named his band in honor of his late father, who had worked in the anthracite mines. Many in the region will remember him and wife of 61 years, Dorothy Stankovic, from their many years on WVIA’s “Pennsylvania Polka,” where he and the band performed and she served as host, Stanky said.
When their daughters were children, Stankovic encouraged Debbie to play trumpet and Kim to play saxophone and clarinet.
When Stanky performs Saturday night, his daughters will accompany him, along with Mark Steinkirchner on trumpet, Bud Yacaboski on drums and Frank Westowski with a second accordion.
As the Times Leader noted in that 2022 interview, Stanky was honored by the fire company last year for 60 years of service as a firefighter, so the benefit is a chance to give back.
About the event
• The polka night will be held at Nanticoke American Legion Post 350, 23 W. Broad St.
• Doors open at 6 p.m., the show starts at 7 p.m.
•Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for children. They can be purchased at the door or from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight, Friday June 15, at the fire company, 108 Espy St.
• There will be food for purchase from the American Legion, basket raffles, and a 50/50.
• More information at https://www.audacy.com/985krz/events/stanky-and-the-coal-miners-polka-night
Vampires, zombies walk in Nanticoke, set of new horror film
Steve Mocarsky – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — If you round a corner here in the next several weeks and see a hoard of zombies or vampires coming your way, don’t freak out.
Nanticoke is playing host to the filming of a new horror film, the title of which happens also to be the name of the city.
A film crew was shooting a scene with zombies outside the Luzerne County Community College Life Sciences Center on East Main Street Wednesday afternoon and early evening.
“It’s just been an amazing ride,” said director Rick Berry. “Seeing how the city has just opened their arms to us — we’ve had the mayor, the fire department, the police department — everyone has just been totally amazing in helping us out with this.”
“One of our executive producers, Karen Metta, is actually a resident of Nanticoke and she thought it would be a great idea to bring the production to the town to kind of bring new light into creativity and kind of see if we could get the community involved,” said the film’s producer, Michael Judkins, of Allentown and formerly of New York.
“And that was a great idea; the whole executive team agreed. And we’ve been getting nothing but extremely good support,” Judkins said. “We are truly blessed to do this film here.”
Everyone from city Mayor Kevin Coughlin to police Chief Michael Roke, members of the police and fire departments have roles in the film, as do city residents who were excited to be cast as extras.
Roke said it’s his first time appearing in a film, “and probably my last,” he quipped.
“We’re helping out any way we can with the film and just basically doing what the director tells us to do,” he said, adding that Metta was his art teacher in ninth grade and she reached out to him to help with the film.
Metta said she taught at Nanticoke High School for 35 years, retired, and went to work for Giant Floor for 17 years.
“I just retired from there in October to do this, and here we are. We’re half-way through and it’s a lot of work,” she said.
Metta teamed up with her friend John Smith and they co-own Same World Productions.
“My partner is in the business for 50 years. He was with Columbia Pictures for quite a few years in New York, went out to (Los Angeles), started his own company, retired from there, said he thought he was done, came back here and we just told him we think you have one more in you, and here we are,” Metta said.
Asked why she wanted to produce a horror movie, Metta deadpanned: “I have no clue. Insanity? I don’t know, I just thought it would be fun to do it in Nanticoke. We have a ton of local people. The police were excellent, fire department, city hall, the mayor, … the R Bar, we’re doing a shoot there. We’ve just been all over Nanticoke, and LCC, especially,” she said. “Without these people, we couldn’t have done it.”
“Of course, we’d like to make our money back, but I would also like to see this launch somebody’s career,” Metta said.
Some young actors are eager to work in their starring roles.
Austin Monahan of Scranton plays David, a local doctor.
“The dude has a little bit of a back story. He’s a doctor at the local hospital here who actually helps Brad at the end of the movie. He’s been around for quite a bit, so he’s kind of been keeping his ear to the ground,” Monahan said.
Monahan said he’s had some smaller acting roles, including during some time he spent in New York City, but he’s happy to be working on the film locally.
“It’s a beautiful thing, to show that support for the community just brings everybody together that much more,” he said.
Hunter Kohl of New York City plays the main character.
“I play Brad Chase, who is an up-and-coming baseball star who gets injured at the top of his game and he moves back to a small town in Pennsylvania, and things aren’t what they used to be,” Kohl said.
“A lot of crazy things are happening during the film and he is constantly trying to find out what’s going on, trying to get to the bottom of things. So, I didn’t want to play it in kind of an expected, normal way, per se. So, I figured out a way to give him some nuances and make him a little bit more interesting,” Kohl said.
“Nanticoke” will be Kohl’s second horror movie.
“I’m excited to be a part of it because I grew up — I was almost raised watching horror films, which is crazy, but my grandmother, when she would babysit my siblings and I, we would stay
up and watch horror films with her till like 12, 1 in the morning, she was such a big horror fan,” Kohl said.
Kohl said the story begins normally, but soon throws his character into dealing with one crazy thing after another.
“I’m like, oh, my God, no, something else is happening, something else is happening. I couldn’t even guess how the film was going to end. So, people will be in for a surprise,” he said. “It’s got a good taste of what every good horror movie has and what makes a good recipe for a horror movie. So, I think for horror movie fans, it checks all the boxes for what they would like.”
Bubbakoo’s Burritos brings the beach to Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Nico Rossi – Pahomepage.com
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Bubbakoo’s Burritos has officially opened the doors to its newest Pennsylvania location in an attempt to bring the beach to Wilkes-Barre.
Bubbakoo’s Burritos franchise owners Eric Spencer and Scott Brennan, both of Nanticoke, held a grand opening event on Tuesday at the restaurant located at 174 Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Spencer says he and Brennan wanted to bring a brand to the area they were comfortable and confident with that stood apart from other chain restaurants.
“Right from the beginning we loved the brand’s flavor and atmosphere. We found something unique and different that stood apart and we felt comfortable and confident about bringing that atmosphere to Wilkes-Barre,” said Spencer.
Courtesy: Chris Hughes, General Manager of Bubbakoo’s Burritos-Wilkes-Barre
Efforts to fight food insecurity in Scranton School communities
Bubbakoo’s Burritos founders Paul Altero and Bill Hart originally opened the restaurant in the heart of the “skater and shore” scene of Point Pleasant, New Jersey in 2008. The “Mexican Fusion” style restaurant’s goal was to bring affordable, made-to-order food with fresh ingredients to people of all ages.
“We followed the brand for about a year and saw the growth the company had, with over 100 units along the east coast and we’re excited for it,” Brennan added.
The new location is now open full-time, serving made-to-order burritos, quesadillas, tostada salads, tacos, nachos, and much more.
To check out Bubbakoo’s Burrito’s menu or information about becoming a franchise owner check out their website or Facebook page.
No property tax hike in Greater Nanticoke Area budget proposed at $39.4M
Michael P Buffer – Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board is proposing a $39.4 million budget that keeps the property tax rate at 12.8083 mills.
A mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value. Last year, the school board approved a $35.6 million budget with a 2.9% increase in the property tax rate, which increased from 12.4473 mills to 12.8083 mills.
The school board plans to adopt a final budget for the 2023-24 school year on June 22. The proposed budget is posted on the school district website.
The proposed budget projects nearly $40.8 million in revenue with nearly
$10.7 million from local sources, $23.5 million from state sources and $6.5 million from federal sources. More than $4.6 million in federal funding is for COVID-19 assistance.
The unreserved fund balance is projected at $4.8 million when the fiscal year starts July 1 and is projected to increase to $6.2 million a year later.
Instruction costs for employee salaries is at nearly $8.2 million, up from $7.8 million in 2022-23. Instruction costs for employee benefits is at nearly $5.5 million, up from nearly $5.2 million in 2022-23.
Nanticoke house fire injures one and displaces four
NANTICOKE — A house fire left one person injured and four displaced in Nanticoke on Wednesday evening.
At around 5:30 p.m., Nanticoke firefighters were dispatched for a residential structure fire on West Grand Street.
Upon their arrival, heavy flames were visible from the back of the home, where the fire started with a malfunction in a gas grill. The fire then extended to a crawlspace in the home’s attic before firefighters brought it under control.
“We stretched a couple hose lines and made a quick knockdown,” Nanticoke Fire Chief Mark Boncal said.
Four people were inside the home at the time of the fire, and one was sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
At the time of reporting, firefighters were waiting for a response from the Red Cross to assist in providing temporary shelter for those living in the home.
Father of poll worker charged in election sign theft
NANTICOKE — The father of an election worker faces a misdemeanor theft charge after police say he was caught on video stealing a Luzerne County Council candidate’s campaign sign from a polling place in the city on the morning of the primary election.
The candidate whose sign was stolen, meanwhile, says dozens were taken during the campaign and believes it was a coordinated effort.
Paul P. Clisham, 52, of Nanticoke, is accused of taking a sign belonging to candidate Ronald D. Knapp from outside the Ward 2 voting area at the IBEW Training Facility, 41 W. Church St., on May 16 after he dropped his son off to work at the polls.
Twelve Republicans were seeking their party’s nomination for six open seats in this fall’s general election. Knapp, who was unsuccessful in his bid, said 47 out of his 250 signs went missing — many in high-traffic areas, such as along the Sans Souci Parkway — and he believes that was damaging to his campaign.
“It hurt me, definitely,” Knapp said during an interview Wednesday afternoon at his Nanticoke home, noting that his support had dropped substantially this year compared with his showing in the last primary.
“I came in with 8,546 votes in 2021, and this run for office I had 4,850,” Knapp said. “Publicity is very important in the process of running for office. With that many signs lost in a high-traffic area, it absolutely had an effect.”
Efforts to reach Clisham for comment were not immediately successful on Wednesday.
Video footage reviewed
According to an affidavit filed by Nanticoke police:
Camera footage from the IBEW Training Facility was reviewed after they received a complaint from Knapp about the missing sign on election day morning.
The footage shows Knapp putting his sign on the property at about 4:14 p.m. on May 15. The sign remained undisturbed until 6:17 a.m. the next day, when a white male is seen dropping off an election worker at the polling place. The male is seen coming out of the building, taking Knapp’s sign, and placing it in the trunk of the silver 2015 Toyota Camry he was driving.
Police responding to the scene spoke with Clisham’s son, who confirmed that his father had driven him to the polling place that morning.
Police attempted to make contact with Clisham, but he was not home. Police confirmed that Clisham owns a silver 2015 Toyota Camry and that he was the man seen in the video.
Knapp said he does not know Clisham.
Knapp: ‘Make an example’
Running for countywide public office can be challenging in such a large county, Knapp noted, and yard signs are an important component of any campaign.
“For me to canvass the entire 906 square miles of Luzerne County would have been impossible,” he said.
So Knapp began putting out signs on Easter Weekend, which fell at the end of March.
By April 7 he noticed many signs missing from the Sans Souci, and reported this to Hanover Township police. Soon after he approached Nanticoke police about several signs missing from private properties and high-traffic areas in the city.
With signs costing $8 each, at the end of the campaign season Knapp began collecting the signs for potential re-use, and the number missing started to climb.
On May 15 and in the early hours of May 16, Knapp was “running around” collecting his signs from private properties to display at polling places. He had placed the sign at Nanticoke Ward 2 on the afternoon of May 15.
When he arrived back at the polling place at 7 a.m. on May 16, he quickly noticed his sign was missing.
“Because there were cameras, immediately it came to my mind that I should contact the police in Nanticoke to report it,” Knapp said.
As noted in the affidavit, police responded to the polling place.
“They were investigating for about an hour-and-a-half. They came out and said, ‘we know where the individual lives, who he is, we’ve got the guy on video,’” Knapp said. “They have it on a zip drive to present at the hearing.”
According to court documents, a preliminary hearing for Clisham is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. June 28 in Luzerne County Central Court.
Knapp plans to be there.
“I’m going to be in the courtroom to ask the judge to not be lenient on him,” Knapp said. “There has to be an example made.”
A summons was issued Tuesday charging Clisham with theft by unlawful taking, a third-degree misdemeanor. As Knapp learned, such a charge carries a potential maximum sentence of one-year incarceration and a $2,500 fine.
“I was very perturbed, mad that someone was brazen enough to take it from that site,” Knapp said. “Nobody else’s sign, just mine. Theirs weren’t touched, just mine.”
But Knapp believes some leniency would be justified if it leads to information about the other signs that went missing.
“Was it a collaborative measure to keep me from gaining the seat? That’s my perception of it,” Knapp said.
Suspicious fire damages vacant Nanticoke double block
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A suspicious fire damaged a vacant double-block home in Nanticoke early Wednesday but resulted in no injuries, according to the Nanticoke City Fire Department.
Crews were initially dispatched to a report of smoke in the area of West Noble and Hanover streets at 1:11 a.m., and arrived to find smoke filling the street in the 100 block of West Noble.
Firefighters traced the source of the smoke to 177-179 W. Noble St. and declared a working fire at 1:19 a.m., drawing on additional crews from surrounding communities.
Crews began attacking the fire and brought it under control within 20 minutes, firefighters said.
The fire was contained to the room of origin in the 177 side, while the 179 side received smoke and heat damage, firefighters said. No injuries were reported.
Investigators say both units were vacant and neither was connected to electricity or gas. Calling the fire “suspicious,” firefighters called in a state police fire marshal to investigate.
Anyone with information on the fire is asked to call 570-735-2200.
Nanticoke teen to graduate from college before high school
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Greater Nanticoke Area senior Grace Reed graduates college this week before she graduates high school next month.
Reed, 17, will walk the stage Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp. and receive her associate degree from Luzerne County Community College.
The four-sport star, who has a part-time job, started taking college classes following her freshman year that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following her June 9 graduation from Nanticoke Area, Reed will attend St. Francis University in Loretto in Cambria County, where she will study physical therapy and play Division I field hockey.
“I’m very proud of myself for not giving up even though it was hard balancing sports, high school academics and LCCC academics. It’s very cool and a great accomplishment. I’m very excited,” Reed said. “It was a lot of time management. Basically, that was the key to it all.”
Reed is the treasurer of Nanticoke Area’s chapter of the National Honor Society and played field hockey, basketball, track and field and cross country.
She’s hoping to get her doctorate degree in physical therapy and treat athletes one day. She should accomplish that feat in five years or less after getting the associate degree head start from LCCC.
“I want to help people in sports because I have always been in sports my entire life,” Reed said.
Reed credits her parents, Brian and Jocelyn, with inspiring her to achieve her lofty goals. But she’s had a rivalry with her mother along the way. Her mother is a chemistry teacher at Hanover Area High School and is that school’s varsity field hockey coach.
“Every single year we beat them. It was always fun coming home every night after we beat them. She always tried to have someone mark me every game because she knows exactly how I play but it never worked out in her favor,” Reed joked.
In addition to taking a full course load of high school and college classes and playing four varsity sports, Reed works part time at The Creamery at Michael Mootz Candies on the Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Twp.
As an educator, Reed’s mother thinks her daughter’s accomplishment is almost unprecedented in Nanticoke, Hanover or the region.
“She’s not the child prodigy that you see in the news graduating from high school at 12 and college at 15. She’s a normal teenage girl who put in a lot of extra work, when her friends were hanging out elsewhere, to do something no one else from her school has,” Reed’s mother Jocelyn said.
Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the district was proud of Reed.
“Grace is accomplished both scholastically and athletically,” Grevera said. “She holds herself to high standards and has high expectations for herself. For a young woman to be taking high school and college credits at the same time is very difficult and time consuming. We are proud of Grace’s accomplishments.”
Athletic Director Ken Bartuska had similar praise for Reed.
“It’s very special that she is accomplishing this, but knowing her, it’s really not surprising,” Bartuska said. “... She is a leader on every team she’s a member of and relishes helping younger players improve. We’re going to miss her contributions, her leadership and her personality here at GNA.”
Reed’s guidance counselor Bill Hischak called her story “astounding” and unprecedented.
“When many of her classmates were on summer vacation enjoying themselves, Grace was in class at LCCC. Her tremendous work ethic as you know has also paid dividends athletically as well,” Hischak said. “In my twenty years as a high school guidance counselor, I have never had a student even come remotely close to earning the amount of college credits as Grace has. Grace is not only well-respected by her classmates, but also the faculty and administration here at GNA. Grace is a leader, both in the classroom and on the playing field.”
LCCC President Thomas Leary said Reed is among 13 high school students graduating Thursday who took part in the school’s Early College program. She is one of 523 students who will graduate from LCCC on Thursday.
“Grace did a tremendous job of balancing her high school classes and activities while taking the LCCC classes that she will transfer to St. Francis University this fall. We are very proud of these students who began their college education while still in high school, and I wish Grace, and all of our graduates, the best of luck in their future,” Leary said.
Greater Nanticoke Area passes $39.4M proposed final budget
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board passed a proposed final budget for 2023-24 at a Friday meeting that had been rescheduled from last week. The budget projects spending $39.4 million with no property tax increase, leaving the rate at 12.8083 mills. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed value.
The budget outlook is promising, Business Consultant Tom Melone said, thanks in part to the federal COVID-19 relief money in recent years, the last of which will be spent in 2023-24. Superintendent Ron Grevera also said the state’s “Level-up” funding, which targets districts most in need of increased state spending, is also helping.
Melone said the proposed budget assumes no increase in state money for basic or special education, but that some additional money seems likely as Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a plan that would give Greater Nanticoke about $1.4 million more in the coming fiscal year. Both the state and the district must approve a final budget by June 30.
Melone’s proposed budget numbers show the district fund balance rising from $4.8 million at the end of this fiscal year on June 30 to $6.2 million by the end of next June. He said that money could help prevent or at least soften the blow of any tax increase needed to balance the budget down the road.
Board President Tony Prushinski said the district’s ability to avoid a tax increase shows “elections matter,” and that things would have been very different if Shapiro had not won the governor’s race. His opponent, Doug Mastriano had proposed a radical change in funding that would have cut state per pupil spending by more than half and given the money toward schools, public or private, of the parent’s choice.
The board also:
• Appointed Ryan Amos as head golf coach, Andy Kaminsky as golf assistant, Zachary Pientka as boys head basketball coach, Ed Lukowski as boys basketball assistant I, Zack Cardone as boys basketball assistant II, James Barna as boys basketball assistant IIIa, Robert Donahue as boys basketball assistant IIIb, Christopher McGavin as boys basketball assistant IV, Ed Grant as girls head basketball coach, Brian Reed as girls basketball assistant I and Lindsey Quinn as girls basketball assistant II.
• Increased the ticket price for football games to $5 per adult and $2 per student.
• Accepted the quote from Eastern Time to replace the fire alarm system in the Elementary & Education Center at a cost of $168,900, and from All American Athletics Flooring to refurbish the Education Center gym/cafeteria floor at a cost of $49,500. Both are being purchased through the state Costars system,which allows districts to piggy back on deals arranged through the state to save money and bypass bidding requirements.
• Approved an agreement with the Northeast Intermediate Unit for special education services for 2023-24.
• Awarded a $138,243 contract to Global Data Consultants, LLC, for a servers, firewalls and storage upgrade project. The money will come from federal COVID-19 relief grants.
• Approved the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center budget for 2023-24. The Center serves five member districts, and the School Boards of all five districts must approve the annual budget.
• Appointed Kylee Ritchie as cleaner and Aphiena Johnson as cafeteria worker.
• Accepted a three-year proposal from Rave Mobile Safety Application to provide one-push activation of any type of emergency, at a cost of $12,500.
• Added a school bus stop at West Green Street and Maple Street for the remainder of the current school year, and appointed the following bus drivers for transportation contractors: Michelle Sheppard for Bonk Transportation, Theresa Ryzner for Pace Transportation, Aisha Pearson for White Transit, and Destiny Kotsur, Nateli Marie Cappa-Ramos, Teresa M. Tencza, Naqueilla Paul and Emily Elick with Keystone Valley Transportation.
• Approved several cafeteria purchases from Rice’s Food Equipment and Consulting, Inc.: one mobile heated cabinet for $3,383, three gas convection ovens for $34,669, and one 24-inch, four-open burners range for $3,513.
• Increased the price of faculty lunch meals to $4.75, following the recommendation of the state Department of Education.
• Approved the purchase of student ID badge software and equipment for the Elementary Learning Center, Educational Center and High School from School Technology Associates for $15,776.
Weis Markets remodels Duryea store, Nanticoke store is next
Weis Markets has completed remodeling its Duryea store and celebrated the grand reopening by presenting $500 in donations to local organizations including the Commission on Economic Opportunity's Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, Holy Rosary School and Germania Hose Company.
Weis Markets has completed remodeling its Duryea store and celebrated the grand reopening Thursday by presenting $500 in donations to local organizations including the Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, Holy Rosary School and Germania Hose Company.
The remodeled Duryea store includes a new beer and wine cafe with adult slushy machines, a new deli with meal center and new interior decor as well as an upgraded produce section featuring fresh cut fruits and vegetables, a remodeled bakery and seafood sections, updated store fixtures and expanded variety throughout the store.
Weis Markets officials also announced work will begin on a major remodel at its store in Nanticoke.
“We’re pleased to celebrate the remodel of our Duryea store, which now offers our customers several convenient new features and amenities,” said Weis Markets vice president of marketing and advertising Maria Rizzo. “Our customers in nearby Nanticoke will soon enjoy a similar upgraded shopping experience when we complete the store’s extensive remodel later this year.”
Weis Markets operates 197 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia.
Nanticoke standoff ends with gunman’s suicide
NANTICOKE — A lengthy standoff in the 300 block of East Church Street ended just before 11 p.m. Friday when a barricaded gunman took his own life, officials at the scene said.
Separately, Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Trooper Bill Evans late Friday said only that the scene would remain an active investigation and more information would be released later.
Nanticoke police responded to an apartment at 312 E. Church St. at about 5 p.m. when a man refused to exit and barricaded himself inside with a firearm.
State police at Wilkes-Barre assisted at the scene, unable to convince the man to surrender.
Troopers with the Special Emergency Response Team began arriving at about 6:30 p.m. along with two heavily armored vehicles and a fortified Bob-Cat with an attached battery arm.
Two blocks along East Church Street from College Street to South Walnut Street were shut down as SERT troopers geared up with protective vests and assault rifles.
A canine with a protective vest was also at the scene.
A communications vans equipped with radio, phones and television screens arrived and set up about one-half block from the apartment building.
Troopers received information about the layout of the apartment from a witness who managed to escape the building.
One tactic deployed was turning off electrical power to the building.
For the next several hours, a drone was continuously in the air hovering above the building and a bullhorn was heard telling the man to surrender.
Apparent gunfire was heard just after 9 p.m. and two flash grenades were ignited at 9:56 p.m. and 9:57 p.m.
Thirty minutes later, at 10:27 p.m., a three minute continuous siren was heard.
About 10 minutes after the siren ceased, troopers learned the man took his own life.
“Troop P Wilkes-Barre along with our SERT unit responded to the scene today to assist Nanticoke police with a barricaded gunman,” Evans said just before 11 p.m. “At this time, it is still an active investigation but we can say there is no threat to the public at this time. We’re going to keep this road closed until the investigation is complete.”
Evans said more information will likely be released Saturday.
Neighbors who live in the 300 block of East Church Street said the neighborhood is mostly residential. But two neighbors also recalled an April standoff in Nanticoke involving the U.S. Marshals when two wanted men were apprehended.
Nanticoke DPW vehicle fleet grounded as keys melted in blaze
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Some trucks and heavy equipment machines parked outside the Nanticoke Department of Public Works garage survived Thursday night’s inferno that leveled the building and destroyed five vehicles, but the entire fleet remains grounded because all the keys melted in the fire.
“I’m going to have a mobile key service come. He’s going to rekey everything,” DPW foreman Rick Josefowicz said Friday.
Throughout Friday, leaders of municipalities from throughout the Wyoming Valley and state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., called or visited to offer assistance to Nanticoke following the loss of all their equipment, multiple vehicles and the garage.
Neighboring Newport Twp. offered to let Nantcoke’s DPW operate out if its headquarters along the Kirmar Parkway with its remaining trucks and borrowed equipment.
Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin said he doesn’t think services will be impacted much.
“We’ll make it work,” Coughlin pledged.
He said the outpouring of support from throughout the area was appreciated.
“That’s how it should be, every community helping each other. We would do the same,” Coughlin said.
Nanticoke City Manager Donna Wall, a longtime city employee, agreed.
“You make a lot of friends over the years,” Wall said.
Fire crews were dispatched to the garage at 76 N. Market St. around 8:40 p.m. Thursday and were met with an inferno consuming the building.
Destroyed in the blaze were a front end loader, a Skidster, a pavement roller, a utility truck and another vehicle.
The fire comes at a time when city officials are finalizing plans for a brand new $850,000 DPW garage at Prospect and Slate streets on land owned by Luzerne County Community College.
LCCC granted the city a 99-year lease for $1, Coughlin said, joking that he’s not sure the city could afford the deal.
The new building, paid primarily through state grant funding, is in the final design phase, Wall said.
State police fire marshal Joseph Montagna visited the fire scene on Friday. He did not immediately issue a ruling.
While he inspected the inside, other law enforcement officers took footage of the damage from the sky using a drone.
Flames engulf Nanticoke DPW garage Thursday night
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — An inferno consumed the Nanticoke Department of Public Works Garage on Thursday night with much of the department’s equipment inside.
“We’re not having good luck here. Oh my,” Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin said upon his arrival at the scene on North Market Street, noting the city fire department spent hours earlier this week battling a stubborn fire at a West Union Street home that was plagued with hoarding conditions.
City officials said a front end loader, a Skidster, a pavement roller, a utility truck and another vehicle were inside the garage with other equipment and all was destroyed in the blaze at 76 N. Market St.
Those items were vital to providing services to the citizens of Nanticoke and can’t immediately be replaced, Coughlin said.
“Other communities I’m sure will step up and help us out,” Coughlin said.
Hanover Twp. Manager Sam Guesto and Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo offered to help the city with any needed equipment, Coughlin said.
“I am overwhelmed that within minutes of our public works building being destroyed, Hanover Twp. and Pittston reached out and offered their assistance to the city. Thank you Sam Guesto and Mayor Lombardo,” Coughlin said.
The fire was reported around 8:40 p.m.
Firefighters responded to a heavy fire situation, Fire Chief Mark Boncal said.
The call came in while the Nanticoke Fire Department was hosting a joint trench rescue class with the Newport Twp. Fire Department., he said.
That made sure the initial attack on the fire had sizable manpower, he said. The fire was knocked down within 20 minutes.
Boncal said the building is a total loss.
A state police fire marshal was called in to investigate.
Fire destroys vacant Nanticoke property
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — A vacant city home plagued by hoarding conditions is a total loss following a stubborn fire Tuesday night on West Union Street, Fire Chief Mark Boncal said.
A state police fire marshal is investigating, Boncal said.
The clutter inside the home near the intersection with Fairchild Street made it difficult to navigate and fueled the flames, Boncal said.
“There was still hoarding conditions inside the building. It makes the job harder,” Boncal said.
For months, people have been cleaning the inside and outside of the property of debris, filling a dumpster many times. City code enforcement officials only allowed those clearing out the property to go inside during daylight hours, Boncal said.
The blaze, which appears to have started in the basement just before 9 p.m., remains under investigation, he said.
Baker, Ryncavage hold ribbon-cutting at new offices in Nanticoke
NANTICOKE — A large crowd turned out on Friday to welcome state Sen. Lisa Baker and Rep. Alec Ryncavage to their new offices in the city.
Baker, R-Lehman Township, and Ryncavage, R-Plymouth, looked on as former Sen. John Yudichak cut the ribbon at a joint open house at their district offices at 50 North Walnut St., Suites 105 (Baker) and 102 (Ryncavage).
The lawmakers’ offices are in a new downtown building at 50 N. Walnut St., constructed for Nockley Family Pharmacy and Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab.
Ryncavage said that as a new legislator he is grateful that he and a seasoned senator like Baker will be in close proximity to one another as they help their constituents.
Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Baker and Ryncavage presented a Sue Hand painting of the Avondale Breaker in Plymouth Township to Joseph Yudichak, a former longtime Plymouth Township Supervisor who worked in the mining industry as a young man (and father of the former senator).
The presentation was held prior to Friday’s ceremony.
At the district offices, the legislators said constituents can get assistance with PennDOT paperwork, driver’s license and vehicle registration applications and renewals; information and applications for senior citizen benefit programs, including Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE/PACENET prescription drug programs; securing birth and death certificates (photo identification required); organizing tours of the state Capitol; copies of legislation; and many other services.
Some of the officials attending the ceremony included Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston; Plymouth Borough Council members Alexis Eroh, Bill Dixon and Council President Ronald Kobusky; Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin; former Sen. John Yudichak and his father Joseph Yudichak, a former Plymouth Township Supervisor; Gale Conrad, Plymouth Township Supervisor.
Nanticoke funeral home consolidating to save costs, stay in business - a trend in the industry
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Like many funeral directors, Frantz Stegura in Nanticoke isn’t seeing the business he once did, forcing him to announce he’s selling his property and moving the company to his smaller home next door.
“We have to consolidate. I have to sell this property in order to afford the construction there,” Stegura said Wednesday.
With people choosing the cheaper alternative of cremation more and more over a traditional funeral and burial, the business is far less lucrative than it once was, he said.
“The economics of it is I have to do four cremations to equal one traditional funeral. The economics are I can’t afford to run the building with property taxes being the way they are,” Stegura said.
The National Funeral Directors Association cost comparisons for 2021, the latest available data, indicated that the national averages were $6,970 for cremation with a viewing and funeral and $9,420 for a burial with a vault and funeral.
Stegura’s great uncle started the Stanley S. Stegura Funeral Home in 1938. His late father, Jonathan F. Stegura, eventually took over and now he runs it with his brother, Jonathan Z. Stegura.
For sale are the current funeral home at 612-614 S. Hanover St., a three-story brick building, a two-story home behind it and a three-car garage — all on the same real estate deed. Selling the properties will alleviate him of one property tax bill and two sets of commercial utility bills, he said.
Stegura is keeping his next-door home at 630 S. Hanover St., the future site of the business, and its large parking lot. The business actually first started in 1938 at its future location at Stegura’s house before moving to its current location years later, which was a newly constructed building at the time.
“It’s coming full circle to where it began,” Stegura said.
After the business moved to its current location, Stegura’s grandfather, Dr. Barney Stegura, moved next door to 630 S. Hanover St. to run his medical practice for many years.
Since the building has been on the real estate market, many people — even relatives — assumed the third-generation family business was closing.
He said a first cousin recently stopped him and said, “Who is going to bury me? You’re going out of business.”
The rumored closing prompted Stegura to post a video to Facebook earlier this week to let people know the business is not closing despite the sale of the current location. He asked people to share the news with the people of Nanticoke. Within a day, the video got more than 100 shares and likes.
“I am extremely humbled by the outpouring of support from the community,” said Stegura, who is running as a write-in as a Republican candidate for Nanticoke City Council since there are no Republicans on the ballot.
The rumors about the Stegura Funeral Home come following the closings of the Grontkowski Funeral Home and the Kearney Funeral Home in Nanticoke, leaving Nanticoke with three funeral homes, Stegura’s, the Earl Lohman Funeral Home and Dinelli Family Funeral Home.
John Dinelli said he runs his business with his wife and they are doing “really well, actually,” despite the fact “a lot of people are doing direct cremation and a memorial service after.”
Former Luzerne County Coroner Dan Hughes, a longtime funeral director from Wilkes-Barre, said the business is certainly tougher than in the past.
“Cremation is a lesser expense than a burial, and that cuts into the business side. Funeral homes are not bringing in the revenue they used to. The need for as many funeral homes has dwindled,” Hughes said. “People are calling around for prices. They are ‘shoppers,’ as we call them. Lots of people are struggling financially and don’t have life insurance.”
EPA’s Regan announces funding for electric school buses at Nanticoke
NANTICOKE — At Greater Nanticoke Area High School on Monday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan said the Biden Administration is taking another key step toward reducing climate pollution and building a healthier future where all children will have the clean, breathable air that they deserve.
Regan was in Luzerne County to announce that the Greater Nanticoke Area School District has received $6 million for the purchase of 15 new electric powered buses. The buses were purchased from Rohrer Enterprises, Duncannon.
Regan also announced that an additional $400 million will be added to the grant program to fund clean school buses and reduce emissions and protect the environment.
Regan said that so far, Pennsylvania has been awarded $34.6 million from EPA’s clean school bus program.
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is already transforming school bus fleets across the nation, passing on cost savings to districts while improving air quality,” Regan said. “With new grant funding available, we will accelerate our work to transition to electric and low-emission school buses further and faster than ever before.”
Regan said under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, funding from EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save schools money, create good-paying clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, protecting people and the planet.
Regan was joined at the news conference by Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator; U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton; U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic; Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Ronald Grevera; and student Sophia Lukowski, who introduced Regan.
The grants are made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an unprecedented $5 billion to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses.
Greater Nanticoke Area is part of the first round of grant funding available and follows the nearly $1 billion the Biden-Harris Administration awarded through the rebate competition last year to fund electric and low-emission school buses across school districts.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris believe our kids deserve cleaner school buses, which will improve the health of communities and reduce emissions,” Landrieu said. “Communities will also benefit from cleaner air and energy savings by replacing old, dirty diesel school buses with cleaner alternatives.”
Casey said clean school buses mean that students are breathing cleaner air and districts are saving money.
“This commonsense solution is a win-win,” Casey said. “With more grants to come this year and in the years to follow, more communities in Pennsylvania and across the nation will get this opportunity to set students up for a healthier and brighter future — all thanks to the infrastructure law.”
Cartwright added that running the clean, green buses will reduce harmful pollution, improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save money and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
“This unprecedented investment will protect the safety and well-being of our most treasured resources — our children and our planet,” Cartwright said.
Regan said EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or those receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas.
Information provided by Regan’s office stated eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are:
• State and local governmental entities that provide bus service.
• Public charter school districts.
• Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or Tribally-controlled schools.
• Nonprofit School Transportation Associations.
• Eligible Contractors (including OEMs, dealers, school bus service providers, and private bus fleets.)
Volunteers clean up trash in Nanticoke on Earth Day
Denise Allabaugh – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — More than 60 volunteers cleaned up trash throughout Nanticoke to beautify the city in honor of Earth Day on Saturday.
The Nanticoke Conservation Club organized the citywide cleanup and several groups participated including Greater Nanticoke Area High School seniors and members of the National Honor Society, True Value Company distribution center employees, Luzerne County Community College representatives and Boy Scout Troop 418 of Nanticoke.
Owen Dunlavey, 12, and other members of his Boy Scout troop grabbed vests and bags and cleaned up an area near Weis Market.
Dunlavey said he wanted to keep the environment clean “because people are constantly throwing trash and litter around here.”
Volunteers started the cleanup at the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke Bridge and worked their way up to the downtown area.
Gary Gronkowski, president of the Nanticoke Conservation Club, said several groups made donations, including Weis Market, the Fraternal Order of Eagles/834 Aerie in Nanticoke and True Value Company.
Maria Scott, office manager for True Value Company, said her company donated snacks and Gatorade and a team of about 12 employees participated in the cleanup around the company’s distribution center near Luzerne County Community College.
“We wanted to partner with the Nanticoke Conservation Club and get involved in the community since we have a big business here,” Scott said.
The City of Nanticoke provided a dumpster and the city’s road and maintenance crew picked up trash from the streets.
Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin, who also participated in the citywide cleanup, said his 6-year-old granddaughter came to council and said they should put up more signs encouraging people not to litter
Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin participates in a citywide cleanup Saturday morning for Earth Day.
“We need more respect for our town. Take pride in your town and help out your neighbors. If they’re elderly people, help them clean up,” Coughlin said. “It’s everybody’s world and it’s not just our town either. It’s not hard. There are garbage cans all over the place.”
Coughlin said he was pleased with the large number of volunteers who came out Saturday.
“I can’t believe the amount of volunteers we got,” he said. “It’s terrific. I’m really happy that this amount of people cares about our city.”
Students and staff at Luzerne County Community College started the cleanup on Thursday on Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road and came back Saturday to help clean up the city, said Paula Labenski, executive assistant to the president and board of trustees at LCCC.
The Nanticoke Conservation Club organized cleanups in the past but mainly targeted areas like dumpsites in the woods as well as Concrete City, Gronkowski said.
“We have to do it. There’s no way around it,” Gronkowski said. “Those were out in the woods and I came up with the idea with the mayor to clean where everybody sees it.”
Gronkowski, who was born and raised in Nanticoke, said the citywide cleanup was important to him, especially on Earth Day.
“I have pride in my city and I think everybody else does,” he said. “It’s a really good turnout and I want to see if we can do this every year.”
Baker, Ryncavage to host joint open house at new Nanticoke offices
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
Baker and freshman state Rep. Alec Ryncavage are coming to Nanticoke.
Baker, R-14, of Lehman Twp., and Ryncavage, R-119, of Plymouth, announced Wednesday they will host a joint open house April 28 at their new offices in the city.
The lawmakers are opening offices in a new downtown building at 50 N. Walnut St., constructed for Nockley Family Pharmacy and Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab.
The open house will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Baker’s office at Suite 105 and Ryncavage’s office at Suite 102. Baker’s office will feature paintings by local artist Sue Hand from her Coal Breaker Community Series.
“A crucial part of public service is meeting face-to-face with constituents, listening to what they have to say and alerting them to state programs and services that may assist in improving their personal situation,” said Baker, a senator since 2007. “For people who want to talk about issues, this joint open house allows them to gain perspective from both the Senate and state House.”
Ryncavage, 21, who was elected in November, said he is “grateful that a seasoned senator like Sen. Baker and I will be in close proximity to one another as we help the constituents in our area.”
“Our neighboring offices create a one-stop shop for our residents,” Ryncavage said. “The building and ample off-street parking make our space accessible, welcoming and convenient for those needing legislative services.”
Greater Nanticoke Area replacing high school doors for $1.1 M
Michael P. Buffer – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board voted Thursday to approve a $1.1 million bid to replace doors at the high school.
The school district will use federal COVID-19 aid to pay for the project. Lobar Associates Construction is the bidder, and the bid came through the Keystone Purchasing Network, Superintendent Ronald Grevera said.
The Keystone Purchasing Network is a cooperative purchasing program that offers pre-bid contracts for school districts. Lobar will begin the project when the school year ends in June and finish the project before the first day of the new school year.
The district will replace around 80 doors, and around 60 are exteriors doors. The project is being done for “safety and efficiency,” Grevera said.
The current front doors are single-pane glass, and most doors on the building are more than 50 years old, Grevera said. The new front doors will be double-pane glass, and that means they will be tougher to break and will save energy, Grevera said.
The district will also install push button automatic door openers for those who need them, Grevera said. The front doors at the high school already have a vestibule area with two sets of interlocking doors.
The school board also approved a summer reading and math program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and a summer credit recovery program for high school students. Those programs will cost around $80,000, and the district will use COVID-19 aid to pay those costs, Grever said.
The board also approved a $152,094 purchase of 600 Chromebooks with COVID-19 funds. The district spent around $4 million from the first two rounds of COVID-19 aid and is now spending from the third and final round, which allocated around $7 million, Grevera said.
NWS sets ‘Red Flag’ fire warning for all of Pa.; burn-ban issued for Nanticoke
National Weather Service
Luzerne County — together with the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — is under a ‘Red Flag Warning’ from the National Weather Service due to heightened fire risks.
The hot, dry conditions also led Nanticoke City to declare a two-week burn ban for its residents, one day after flames destroyed a double-block home and sparked a large brush fire in the Honey Pot section.
A Red Flag Warning means critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly.
The NWS Red Flag Warning went into effect at 12 p.m. and will stay in effect until 8 p.m.
According to the NWS, afternoon humidity of 20-30% is expected, as well as wind gusts up to 30 mph.
These conditions, combined with warm temperatures, can contribute to extreme fire behavior. Outdoor burning is not recommended.
Recent weather conditions, as well as a series of brush fires over the last few days, led the City of Nanticoke to issue a burn ban effective Wednesday afternoon.
Nanticoke burn ban
According to a post on the Nanticoke Fire Department Facebook page, the burn ban went into effect at 12 p.m. and will stay in effect until April 26.
The post stated that any open burning out of doors, either in a burn barrel or on the ground, is prohibited.
Open burning is defined as the ignition and subsequent burning of any combustible material that includes garbage, grass, twigs, litter, paper and vegetative matter, involved with land clearing or any sort of debris.
The use of propane or gas stoves and charcoal briquette grills is not covered under the burn ban, said the post.
If necessary, the ban will be extended.
The NWS’ website on Wednesday afternoon showed Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings for a large crescent of the country, stretching from the Southwest to coastal New England.
According to our partners at Eyewitness News WBRE/WYOU, the elevated risk of wildfires will continue through Thursday evening. Low humidity, gusty winds and a dry ground will contribute to the increased possibility of brush fires across Pennsylvania.
Near-record highs in the middle and upper 80s are likely for Thursday and Friday, Chief Meteorologist Josh Hodell says.
Crews battle major fire in Nanticoke's Honey Pot section
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — A stubborn blaze that consumed a double-block home in the city’s Honey Pot section on Tuesday during hot, dry and windy weather conditions ignited nearby woods on fire, endangering many other homes that were saved by an army of firefighters and volunteers who resorted to using neighborhood garden hoses to douse the flames and wet down properties.
The fire that broke out at 24-26 Keech St. torched an adjacent car, briefly spread to the next-door house at 22 Keech St. and sent fire embers into the air, fire officials said.
As Nanticoke firefighters arrived to try to combat the house fire, they knew they needed help — and fast.
“It was scary,” Nanticoke Fire Chief Mark Boncal said. “With the wind, it just started to take off over the mountain.”
Fire crews from around the area that specialize in battling brush fires responded while Nanticoke crews focused on containing the residential blaze, which took hours to extinguish.
The state’s Department of Forestry dispatched its firefighting team, which included a helicopter that scooped water out of the nearby Susquehanna River to douse the raging flames.
“I saw the embers flying overhead and sure enough it started to spark,” said Kathy Mislitski, 53, of Garfield Street.
While trying to work from home in her customer service job, she watched crews battle fires in the front of her home and saw the woods burning behind her house.
“They are soaking the trees with my hose,” she said.
One of the people who showered the trees behind her house was Devin Wiepa, 19, of Nanticoke.
He and his friends saw smoke coming from Honey Pot and drove there because he has friends there.
“I don’t even live in Honey Pot. I saw the fire and me and my friends decided to go,” Wiepa said. “Me and my friends wanted to go to make sure everyone was OK.”
Daniel Guevarez, 53, who owns the left side of the double block at 24-26 Keech St., said he escaped the home with his dog.
He said the other side of the home is owned by someone else and had been vacant for about 10 years. He also said he heard noises of what sounded like people next door just before the flames broke out.
Nanticoke fire officials and police detectives interviewed Guevarez at the scene.
Nanticoke house blaze sparks brush fire
NANTICOKE — A fire tore through a double-block home on Keech Street in the city’s Honey Pot section Tuesday afternoon, causing a brush fire that spread to surrounding areas.
No injuries were reported.
The house fire had been brought under control by late Tuesday afternoon, though crews continued to battle hot spots — and the brush fire — well into the evening.
Daniel Guevarez, who lives in the right half of the double-block home, told the Times Leader he and his dog were home at the time of the fire and escaped unharmed. Guevarez said he believed the left half had been vacant for about 10 years, and that he heard people walking around that side of the building just before the fire started.
A neighbor, who declined to be identified — and whose car was destroyed by the blaze — also told the Times Leader that she believed one side of the home had been unoccupied for many years.
Nanticoke City Fire Chief Mark Boncal said he was unable to say whether the cause of the fire was suspicious, adding that an investigation was underway and that a State Police Fire Marshall would be at the scene once all of the hot spots were knocked down.
Boncal was able to confirm that the fire started at the rear of the vacant half of the double block and quickly moved to the second floor.
When crews arrived around 1:40 p.m., a car parked to the left of the structure was on fire, as well as the rear porch of the adjoining house.
Though firefighters were able to contain the fire to the exterior of the house next door, the double block was all but destroyed. Due to the instability of the structure, Boncal said it would likely be knocked down later Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
Brush fire spread from blaze
Crews also battled a large brush fire, which spread across the mountain, that began as a result of the house fire. Boncal said the brush fire was fueled by burning debris and wind.
Pikes Peak resident Katie Hauer said she and her two children were about to get into her car when she saw the smoke from the fire and came to see if everyone was okay. It was then that she witnessed the fire spreading toward the mountain.
“We saw the big trees catching on fire,” Hauer said. “Then, it went up over the hill.”
A helicopter carrying a water bucket continued to circle the area of the brush fire into the early evening.
Christian faithful mark Easter
Geri Gibbons For Times Leader
NANTICOKE — Christians gathered at churches throughout the Wyoming Valley for Easter services Sunday.
Christians believe Easter marks Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his crucifixion on Good Friday.
Nebo Baptist Church in Nanticoke packed two services filled with fellowship, song and a message that focused on the resurrection.
Valerie Rees, who has been attending the church with her husband for about a year and serves as an usher, providing her with an opportunity to encourage regular attendees and provide information to newcomers.
Rees said although there were some attending only for the holiday, most were regular attendees, who participated in a variety of church activities throughout the week, including youth activities and a quarterly healing service.
Assistant pastor Jacob Claypoole admitted that some of those gathered were probably dragged into church by a relative.
Some people have told him that they thought they would drop dead if they darkened the door of a church.
Those people, he said, underestimate the breadth of God’s forgiveness.
He told the congregation, “We are celebrating the good news of Jesus, that God raised him from the dead and he is sitting at the right hand of the father.”
Claypoole focused on the resurrection and encouraged listeners to be bold and not timid in sharing their faith.
The resurrection, he said, proved that Jesus is God and made forgiveness available.
Nebo’s Easter Sunday celebration concluded a week of Easter related activities, including a Maundy Thursday service and a Good Friday service which focused on the seven last words of Jesus.
At Faith Baptist Church in Plymouth the day opened with a potluck brunch, which provided families with a chance for food and fellowship.
Pastor Bryan Dodson focused on the reality of the gospel and its impact on the lives of Christians.
Faith Baptist also offers a variety of activities, including a women’s fellowship, youth activities and bible studies.
Look Back: Nanticoke graduate pinned by King of England in 1919
Wonder if any other Greater Nanticoke Area graduates met English royalty?
Among the 13 graduates of Nanticoke High School in 1906, one would be awarded the British Military Cross for bravery during World War I.
U.S. Army Lt. Dr. James Elmer Croop received the honor for “gallantly on the field when the Germans attacked the British lines at the commencement of the Second Battle of the Marne,” according to the Evening News on March 27, 1919.
Croop received the decorated citation from King George V on Feb. 22, 1919.
“I want to thank and heartily congratulate you for the valuable service rendered to my troops for one and one-half years,” the King of England said to Croop, as the Evening News story reported.
Croop was a 1906 graduate of Nanticoke High School having resided with his parents Mr. and Mrs. James Croop on South Hanover Street, Nanticoke. During the commencement ceremony, the graduates were required to perform a musical number, dance or give a speech.
Croop gave a speech about the preservation and protection of Niagara Falls from commercial and industrial development. As he had a fascination of the Great Lakes, it was no surprise Croop established a medical office in Erie, Pa., in 1912.
After graduating from Nanticoke, Croop elected not to work in the coal mines or railroads but attended and successfully graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
With World War I underway in Europe and the United States entry into the Great War in April 1917, Croop enlisted his services on June 26, 1917, and was immediately commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Medical Corps.
Croop was called to active service Aug. 7, 1917, and after three weeks of military combat training, he sailed to England in September 1917, and was stationed for several months at a military hospital in Canterbury until November 1917.
Croop was transferred to France on Nov. 22, 1917, and studied battle field surgery and medicine before being shipped to the front lines having been assigned to the 8th Glouchestershire Battalion with the British Expeditionary Forces.
It was during the second Battle of the Marne in the summer of 1918 when Croop, as the battalions medical officer, ran into the fight to remove wounded soldiers, reported the Evening News.
“Croop went into No Man’s Land, rescued several wounded comrades and carried them to a shell hole nearby, where, in the direct path of thousands of flying shells, he dressed their wounds. Later, when the enemy fire permitted, he carried them to a place of safety behind the lines amid the cheers of his entire company,” the Evening News reported.
Croop would be promoted to captain on Aug. 8, 1918.
Due to his bravery, the King of England, George V., pinned the British Military Cross upon the breast of his military uniform.
According to Croop’s Veterans Compensation Application, Croop took part in the battles of Kemmel Hill, Hindenburg Line and the second battle of Somme. He returned to his American unit in April 1919, and was honorably discharged on April 25, 1919, at Camp Dix, N.J.
Several days after being discharged, Croop visited his parents in Nanticoke.
“Captain Elmer Croop, who had been cited for bravery and also decorated by King George of England, returned home on South Hanover Street,” the Evening News reported April 30, 1919.
Croop’s time in Nanticoke did not last long as he returned to Erie. His parents also relocated to Erie to be closer to their son in July 1919.
Croop did return to the Wyoming Valley many times to visit family, friends and attend Nanticoke Class of 1906 reunions. Croop died at the age of 79 on Sept. 5, 1967, and is buried in Waterford, Erie County.
Former Grico’s South reopens as the Salt and Pepper Pub
NANTICOKE — The former Grico’s South officially reopened Wednesday as the Salt and Pepper Pub. Workers outside finished putting up the new decals in the windows just in time for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We did an awful lot in a short period of time,” said owner Rob Friedman, who announced just two weeks ago that the restaurant would undergo a rebranding.
The new menu is curated by chef Chad Gelso, executive chef of Bank+Vine. The menu includes casual eats like pierogies, BBQ pizza, and halushki.
“This is exciting because all of the other restaurants are fine dining,” said Friedman. “We’re going with a totally new concept here that we think will do really well here in Nanticoke.”
The Friedman Hospitality Group also owns the Beaumont Inn, Dallas; Bank & Vine, Wilkes-Barre; Kevin’s, Kingston; Fire & Ice, Trucksville; Rikasa, Pittston; Grico’s Exeter; Cork, Wilkes-Barre; and The Greens at the Irem Country Club.
Kathryn Rollison, who manages the pub’s social media profiles along with Friedman Hospitality Group’s Director of Marketing, Erin Grzyboski, said that people on social media have been ‘really responsive’ to the new menu.
For Nanticoke Mayor Kevin Coughlin, he thinks the ‘more casual’ menu will help draw in a younger crowd.
While Friedman was quick to note that the pub is really ‘for all ages,’ he believes the more relaxed and casual atmosphere is more of what the residents in the area are used to.
“We have a lot of similar products that a lot of other pubs and taverns have, but I think the quality of the food in this place will be superior,” said Friedman.
Grico's South getting a new name, menu
Denise Allabaugh – Citizens Voice
Grico’s South in Nanticoke will be rebranded with a new name and menu, owner Rob Friedman of Friedman Hospitality Group said.
On March 1, Grico’s South is reopening as Salt & Pepper Pub with a more casual menu.
“We just felt the fine dining approach was not the right direction for that area,” he said. “It wasn’t as busy as I had hoped.”
Friedman said the new menu was completed under the creative direction of Chad Gelso, executive chef from Bank+Vine in Wilkes-Barre, who will work with the new chefs at Salt & Pepper Pub. Gelso will remain executive chef at Bank+Vine.
“Chad Gelso came up with an amazing pub menu that incorporates a lot of the things people will really enjoy with the signature menu there,” he said.
Erin Crofchick-Grzyboski, director of marketing for Friedman Hospitality Group, said the new menu includes a favorite in Nanticoke and Northeast Pennsylvania: homemade pierogies “with Chad’s twist on them.”
Customers can choose to order three or five steamed or pan-fried pierogies. Flavors include potato and Cooper cheese, farmers cheese and onion, chipped kielbasa with mushrooms and sauerkraut as well as braised beef short rib and horseradish.
The menu also includes halushki, appetizers, wings, bar pies, baskets and platters as well as some fine dining options and pasta. Homemade mini pierogies are included in the appetizers and customers can order pierogies as a side dish.
Rebecca Finkbiner, who was a bartender at Bank+Vine, also will offer cocktails at affordable prices, Crofchick-Grzyboski said.
Additionally, Friedman said the new Salt & Pepper Pub will have an expanded beer selection and changes are being made to the interior to “make it a pub kind of establishment.”
He said the S&P in Salt & Pepper Pub is a tribute to his parents, Sidney and Pauline Friedman, and the name symbolizes that the pub will have basic ingredients. Signs with the new name will be up before it reopens March 1, he said.
He purchased the former Giuseppe’s restaurant and the building at 14 N. Market St. in Nanticoke in 2021 from Steve and Adeline Smith and renamed it Grico’s South.
Friedman is well known in the area for his restaurants. In addition to the Nanticoke restaurant, Grico’s in Exeter and Bank+Vine, he also owns the Beaumont Inn and The Greens at Irem Clubhouse in Dallas; Cork, Wilkes-Barre; Kevin’s, Kingston; Fire & Ice, Kingston Twp. and Rikasa in Pittston.
Taxes to increase in 16 municipalities in Luzerne County
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
One of Luzerne County’s smallest municipalities is seeing the biggest tax increase in 2023. Local property taxes in Warrior Run Borough doubled this year from 1.9 mills to 3.8 mills.
Nanticoke is the lone city out of the four in Luzerne County to increase real estate taxes, opting to increase the millage rate one mill from 5.93 mills to 6.93 mills.
Property owners in White Haven in southern Luzerne County will see the biggest increase, a 2.5 mill from from 4.5 mills to 7 mills — a new tax rate that includes garbage fees that used to be separate.
A mill is $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, meaning the owner of a $100,000 house in Warrior Run would pay $380 a year, up from $190 in 2022.
Former Warrior Run Councilman Rick Kratz thinks the tax increase is “out of control” and borough leaders could have done more to lessen the burden on residents.
“It’s going to be double. Whatever we paid we are going to pay double,” Kratz said. “You don’t double the taxes. There’s a lot of old people are living on fixed incomes. They didn’t have to raise taxes at all.”
Warrior Run Mayor Tom Shypulefski disagrees. He feels the increase was necessary to combat inflation and rising costs to the small borough of 530 people.
With the tax increase, the borough’s budget raises from $265,000 to $317,000.
“We didn’t want to do it, but we had to do it to balance the budget to keep providing the services we are providing,” Shypulefski said. “Our only choices were to cut services or raise the mileage rate. We haven’t raised taxes since 2012 and we’ve been working on the same budget for 10 years. We try to do the best we can for residents for the lowest cost possible.”
The mayor noted residents are served by the neighboring Hanover Twp. police department, one of the few accredited police forces in Luzerne County.
In all, 16 municipalities are raising property taxes.
In addition to Warrior Run, Nanticoke and White Haven, municipalities raising local real estate taxes include the boroughs of Duryea, Larksville, Luzerne, Swoyersville, Sugar Notch and the townships of Dallas, Fairmount, Foster, Hollenback, Lehman, Nescopeck, Wright, Wilkes-Barre.
There will be no tax increase in 60 municipalities.
Buck Twp. and Slocum Twp. remain the two Luzerne County municipalities without a local property tax.
Plymouth Borough maintains the highest rate at 7.72 mills, followed by Nanticoke at 6.93 mills, Pittston City at 6.85 mills and Hazleton City at 6.78 mills
Wilkes-Barre City uses a different local property taxing method than the rest of the municipalities in Luzerne County, but its rate of 141.33 mills remains unchanged.
While White Haven is increasing taxes by 2.5 mills — which is $250 for every $100,000 in assessed property value — garbage collection will be included in that figure.
Nanticoke Councilwoman Lesley Butczynski said Nanticoke generates $385,598 for each mill, less than half of what neighboring Hanover Twp. nets per mill, or $856.348.
“The city is increasing its full-time police force, which has not been increased in the last 25 years, due to the increased call volume — not limited to child abuse, domestics and protection from abuse orders,” Butczynski said. “All our expenses, including utilities have increased also. We provide full-time police, fire, sewer, DPW and administration. The garbage and sewer bill saw no increase.”
Sixteen Luzerne County municipalities increasing taxes
Sixteen of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities are increasing local real estate taxes this year, according to new report prepared by the county treasurer’s office.
The highest increase — 2.5 mills — is in White Haven borough, where taxes are rising 55.55%, from 4.5 mills to 7 mills.
Warrior Run borough tops the increases on a percentage basis because taxes are doubling from 1.9 mills to 3.8 mills.
To figure out the tax payment, property owners must divide their assessed value by 1,000 and multiply it by the millage rate.
For example, the owner of a $100,000 property in White Haven will now pay $700 instead of $450, or an increase of $250.
In Warrior Run, the tax bill would rise from $190 to $380, or $190 more.
A full chart detailing the other millage increases accompanies this story. Here’s how tax bills will change in these municipalities, using a $100,000 property as an example:
• Lehman Township, $260 to $360 ($100 more)
• Nanticoke, $592.58 to $692.58 ($100 more)
• Sugar Notch, $450 to $550 ($100 more)
• Wilkes-Barre Township, $160 to $220 ($60 more)
• Luzerne, $321.91 to $376.92 ($55 more)
• Edwardsville, $395 to $445 ($50 more)
• Dallas Township, $200 to $230 ($30 more)
• Duryea, $190 to $220 ($30 more)
• Wright Township, $100 to $130 ($30 more)
• Swoyersville, $155 to $180 ($25 more)
• Larksville, $360 to $380 ($20 more)
• Nescopeck Township, $146 to $155 ($9 more)
• Freeland, $520 to $527 ($7 more)
• Hollenback Township, $50 to $55 ($5 more)
White Haven Borough Manager Linda Szoke, who also serves as the municipality’s zoning/code enforcement officer, said part of the increase stems from the borough’s decision to absorb the costs of garbage collection.
Borough property owners will no longer receive a garbage bill separate from their real estate tax bills, she said. The garbage bill would have increased to cover higher costs, she said.
More revenue also was necessary to fund higher utility expenses and other basic operating expense increases, Szoke said.
The borough also provides round-the-clock police protection, she said.
Sensitive to the burden on property owners, borough officials are not initiating any additional projects, including street paving, unless they are funded by grants, she said.
“They cut out as much as they can,” she said.
This is only the second or third time the borough raised taxes during the past decade, she said. More frequent, smaller increases could have lessened the impact in 2023, but property owners may not prefer that option, she said.
Covering expenses is particularly challenging for the borough because it is essentially landlocked and has a significant portion of tax-exempt property, largely due to state parks and trails, she said.
Warrior Run Borough Council President Larry Carbohn said he steadfastly resisted past recommendations to raise taxes by the borough auditor and others for years, determined to avoid asking property owners to pay more.
However, finances got “tighter and tighter” over the past two years, and borough officials ran out of options to compensate for rising utility, fuel and maintenance costs, he said.
The street department budget had to be increased from $23,000 to $35,000 because it was not realistic, in part due to wage competition from the growing warehouse industry, Carbohn said.
Like White Haven, Warrior Run doesn’t have much space left for new development, he said.
Borough Solicitor Patrick Aregood said he witnessed Warrior Run council members agonizing over the decision before concluding an increase was the only way to avoid compromising public services.
“I’ve never seen a borough council striving to maintain services so high while keeping taxes low,” Aregood said. “They go out and do work themselves as a council to make sure services are provided to the community.”
Lehman Township Supervisor David Sutton said he has served as a township supervisor for 33 years, and the 2023 increase is only the third “in all those years.”
“It was a hard choice on our part because certainly we don’t want to do it,” Sutton said.
In addition to rising across-the-board increases in fuel, health insurance and other operational expenses, the township had to add another full-time police officer to continue providing 24-7 coverage valued by residents, Sutton said. Part-time officers are no longer an option because nobody is applying for those positions, he said.
He noted the township also provides quality road maintenance and free recycling.
This year’s $161.8 million county budget contains a 2.99% tax increase, which is lower than the 6.75% originally proposed and amounts to $24.50 more on the average property assessed at $132,776.
The county millage rate is now 6.3541.
Combined county/municipal tax bills are scheduled to be issued in most municipalities Feb. 14. Some may be later due to delays seating elected tax collectors, balancing tax claim records or other reasons, according to the county treasurer’s office.
For bills issued Feb. 14, property owners will have two months, or until April 13, to pay at a 2% discount.
The deadline to pay taxes at the full, or face, amount, will be June 13. A 10% penalty is added for taxes paid between June 14 and the end of the year.
Lowe's to open coastal holding facility in Newport Twp. this spring
Denise Allabaugh – Citizens Voice
Home improvement giant Lowe’s has expanded its delivery model to meet demand amid supply chain challenges by opening coastal holding facilities, including one in Jenkins Twp. and another one set to open soon in Newport Twp.
Kara Hauck, corporate communications manager at Lowe’s, said the newest coastal facility in Luzerne County is expected to open in the spring in a 1.2 million square-foot warehouse being constructed on former mine-scarred land in Newport Twp off Dziak Drive in Nanticoke.
Coastal holding facilities enable Lowe’s to better manage imported product flow, Hauck said.
“Coastal holding facilities are used to stage import products like seasonal and outdoor living items until closer to time of need, which frees up additional capacity in other distribution centers and supports the timely flow of products from Lowe’s distribution network to our stores and customers,” she said. “Lowe’s distribution network expansion is part of an ongoing investment in Lowe’s supply chain.”
Hauck said the newest coastal holding facility at 209 Dziak Drive will create about 70 jobs, including hourly and management opportunities.
Lowe’s has been advertising job openings online for positions ranging from warehouse associates, human resources consultants to mechanics and supply chain technicians for its Newport Twp. facility. The facility will receive imported goods to supply regional distribution facilities, Hauck said.
Lowe’s opened a 744,000-square-foot coastal holding facility in 2021 at 325 Centerpoint Blvd. in Jenkins Twp. near its massive distribution center at 200 Centerpoint Blvd. in CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park. The Jenkins Twp. facility created about 50 jobs, Hauck said.
Jim Cummings, vice president of marketing for Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, which developed and owns CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park, said Lowe’s nearly 1.6 million square-foot distribution in CenterPoint East is the largest building in Luzerne County.
He said Lowe’s distribution center and coastal holding facility in CenterPoint are in a strategic location that sets it apart from many Northeast U.S. business parks since it is less than a half mile from I-81 and i-476 and close proximity to UPS, FedEx Ground and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
“Park tenants can reach the ports in New Jersey and Philadelphia in just over two hours and close to 53 million people live within a four-hour drive,” Cummings said. “When you combine these location factors with affordable real estate costs, strong and reliable utilities and access to a productive labor supply, you have a park that checks all of the important supply chain boxes.”
NorthPoint Development, county and local officials broke ground in 2021 for Lowe’s facility in Newport Twp. as well as another huge warehouse in Hanover Tw.
Safelite Auto Glass opened a distribution center last year in 357,575 square feet of space in the other warehouse in Hanover Twp. that was constructed on about 130 acres of former mine-scarred land off Dziak Drive.
R.C. Moore trucking company also opened last year in 208,000 square feet of the space in the Hanover Twp. warehouse to increase their service to the East Coast and improve the supply chain as well.
R.C. Moore executive vice president Duwayne Caroway said that it’s the company’s fifth warehouse and 14 employees from the area have been hired. The starting pay for the new jobs is $19 an hour with wage growth and opportunities in addition to benefits and 401k options, he said.
The company, headquartered in Scarborough, Maine, has created a substantial presence on the East Coast and has been a logistics partner for more than 60 years. In addition to its new facility in Hanover Twp., R.C. Moore also has locations on Oak Street in Pittston Twp. as well as locations in Troutman, North Carolina; McBee, South Carolina and Tampa, Florida.
R.C. Moore CEO Kelly Moore said in a news release the Hanover Twp. facility enables the company to “better serve our existing customer base, take on additional customers and create another hub for our drivers that will allow them to have more growth opportunities and/or home time.”
“We are always focused on the growth of our business, creating jobs, and serving our customers, but today we are also focused on alleviating the supply chain crisis as best we can and this new distribution center is a step in the right direction,” Moore said.
Developer eyes former Nanticoke school for luxury apartments
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — The developer who is proposing a multimillion-dollar hotel and convention center on the site of the former Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre now has his sights set on Nanticoke.
Sam Syla is proposing to convert a blighted former Catholic school on East Noble Street into a luxury 10-unit apartment building.
“We are going to do apartments, high-quality apartments,” Syla said in a brief phone call Tuesday while he was traveling in Europe.
The building, the former St. Joseph’s School, was most recently used as a storage facility for a construction company.
Syla has an agreement to buy the property at 6 E. Noble St., pending zoning approval. A hearing is set for Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. before the Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Nanticoke. Syla is seeking parking and driveway variances.
“Given the recent past use of the building and property, it is the applicant’s opinion that the proposed multi-family facility would be a more appropriate building use within the R-2 neighborhood. The building would be renovated to current codes and be appropriately landscaped to increase the value of the surrounding areas,” Syla’s application says.
“The applicant has executed similar projects under similar zoning issues in the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston areas with complete success. The buildings were developed and rejuvenated into facilities which improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood and support the local community.”
Syla, a Kosovo immigrant who was a developer in Philadelphia before shifting focus on the Wyoming Valley, developed the former Wachovia Bank on Market Street in Wilkes-Barre into 26 high-end apartments and the former Sacred Heart Slovak School on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre into 30 apartments. In Kingston, he converted a former tobacco factory and machine shop on Elm Street into 40 condominiums.
The biggest project Syla has planned is a $35 million, 110-room Hyatt Place Hotel and Convention Center at River and Market streets in Wilkes-Barre, the site of the former Hotel Sterling.
Syla referred questions about his plans to his real estate agent Greg Barrouk.
Barrouk said Syla sees opportunity in Nanticoke in years to come following the commercial development in that area recently.
“It’s an area where we are going to try to grow and develop. We see a lot of growth with the industrial park,” Barrouk said. “Nice, luxury apartments are in need in the area.”
Slain guard Eric Williams' parents fight on for federal corrections officers
Borys Krawczeniuk – Staff Writer
SCRANTON — Don and Jean Williams, who frequently visit their murdered son’s grave, know an extra $180 million for the federal prison system won’t bring him back.
The Nanticoke couple hopes the money means someone else’s son doesn’t end up like Eric Williams, a corrections officer stabbed and beaten to death by an inmate almost 10 years ago at the federal prison at Canaan in Wayne County.
The money, intended to hire new federal corrections officers and retain current ones nationwide, could “save someone’s life or save them from serious injury,” Don Williams said Friday.
The Williamses and officials from the Canaan prison’s corrections officers union celebrated and thanked U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright for getting the new money appropriated at a news conference he hosted outside his downtown office.
“Two things that always stuck out with me when that happened. Number one, he was working alone,” Don Williams said. “I think if that had not been the case, Eric might be here. And he was also unarmed, and he had absolutely no way of defending himself.”
Seven years ago, Congress passed a law allowing staff at high-security federal prisons to carry pepper spray. Last month, Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal prisons, said he added the $180 million to President Joe Biden’s original budget request.
“Brave correctional officers walk through facilities’ doors to do their job and provide for their families,” he said Friday. “They deserve to go home to their loved ones at the end of every shift.”
Inmate Jessie Con-ui was convicted in June 2017 of stabbing Eric Williams, 34, with a homemade weapon and beating him to death on Feb. 25, 2013. Williams was alone, armed only with keys, handcuffs and a radio with a panic button. Con-ui, a previously convicted drug gang assassin, was allowed to roam outside his cell freely, despite a troublesome record at the prison and his murderous past. He attacked because Williams ordered a check of his cell earlier.
Since then, the Williamses have campaigned for more protections for corrections officers and started a group, Voices of JOE, with JOE representing the initials of the first names of their son and two other officers killed by inmates.
David Demas, president of the union that represents Canaan prison officers, said a staffing shortage and mandatory overtime continue to create problems and blamed poor prison leadership for that. He pointed out the prison is recruiting more officers, with a job fair scheduled for Feb. 4 in the prison lobby.
Efforts to obtain comment from the Canaan prison were unsuccessful.
With the 10th anniversary of Eric Williams’ death approaching, Don Williams, 78, talked about the anger that has fed his persistence in fighting for more staffing.
“When I found out about him working alone, about the fact he had no way of protecting himself, I thought that was an outrage,” Williams said. “And I determined that I had to just channel all of my frustrations over that into trying to do something to change that.
“Because it wasn’t right.”
Greater Nanticoke Area votes to limit any tax hike
NANTICOKE — At Thursday’s monthly meeting the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board voted to keep any property tax increase for the 2023-24 fiscal year at or below a state-set limit. It was the fifth Luzerne County district in four days to make that pledge.
The board agreed to stay within the “Act 1 Index,” which annually calculates a maximum allowable tax increase for each district across the state. This year, Greater Nanticoke’s index is 6.2%. The vote does not mean taxes will go up that much. The board may raise taxes to any rate up to 6.2%, or not at all. But agreeing to stay within the limit does give the district until the end of May to finalize a preliminary budget.
The limit can only be exceeded through voter approval in the spring primary or by obtaining state approval under a limited number of allowed exceptions. Going either route requires a board to approve a preliminary budget near the end of January.
Several motions involved upgrading computer equipment and performance. The board voted to solicit bids for the purchase of 600 Chromebook computers for students, modify an existing agreement to to increase bandwidth available to the district from 1 gigabyte per second to 10 gigabytes per second at a cost of $3,517 per year, and issue a Request For Proposals or bids “for the purchase, configuration and installation of servers, firewalls and storage equipment to replace aging equipment.”
And the board approved a change in the current school calendar making April 6 a make-up day for school cancellation Dec. 15, and June 9 as a make up day for Dec. 16.
The board also:
• Approved the posting for coaches and timers for fall sports in the 2023-24 school year.
• Approved the purchase of two basketball backboards and shot clocks from Degler-Whiting, Inc., at a cost of $15,765. The purchase is through the state COSTARS co-operative purchasing program allowing local governments to purchase items through a contract negotiated by the state, bypassing state bidding requirements.
• Voted to issue a request for proposals from food management companies for services in the 2023-24 school year, with renewal options for up to four years.
• Accepted the resignations of instructional aide Deborah Ward and cafeteria worker Gerogett Pugh.
• Appointed K’Lah Komoroski, Samara Vanderhoff as instructional aide, Brittany Lasoski for a behavioral specialist position as a private contractor, Laura Widow as part-time, 10-month secretary.
• Accepted the retirement of teacher Eleanor Anthony.
Casey announces $92K workforce grant in IBEW visit
NANTICOKE — After touring the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 163’s Advanced Technology Center on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said he came away very impressed at what happens there.
“After seeing this facility and hearing about the programs offered, I can say our workers are ready and our region is ready to meet the demands of our growing economy,” Casey said. “It speaks to what these workers mean to our community and our economy.”
Casey, D-Scranton, visited IBEW Local 163’s Advanced Technology Center at 41 West Church St., Nanticoke, to announce $92,880 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The IBEW Local 163 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee will be able to train and place an estimated 60 trainees in jobs as qualified electrical workers within three years.
The funding was awarded with a 50-50 match, meaning that ARC provided a grant worth $92,880 that was matched by $92,880 in local funds for a total project funding amount of $185,760. The grant award will be used to purchase supplies and equipment needed to train apprentices at the new Advanced Technology Center (ATC).
John Nadolny, Training Director, IBEW Local 163, said the training facility offers night class training for local electricians to prepare them for full apprenticeship and successful graduation to full-time work in their new trade.
Nadolny said there is a growing demand for the apprenticeship programs at IBEW Local 163 JATC and there are no comparable electrical apprenticeship programs in Luzerne County.
“More than 100 individuals apply for the apprenticeship program each year, which is open to residents of Luzerne County, as well as parts of Wyoming, Sullivan, and Bradford counties,” Nadolny said. “Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, participants can become a Qualified Electrical Worker (QEW) wireman earning $37 per hour or more plus benefits.”
Nadolny said the training program takes five years to complete. He said participants get on-the-job training and the attend classes two nights a week.
“Our participants learn skilled trades,” Nadolny said. “If you want to become an electrician, this is the place you want to be.”
Raymond Sipple, a 2007 graduate of the program, praised the program and he said he learned everything he needed to know to have a successful career.
Casey said the demand for licensed electricians has never been higher than it is right now.
“And here we have a facility to give people the opportunity to be trained on the latest technology available,” Casey said. “And you can earn while you learn.”
On Nov. 18 of last year, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Director of Workforce Development Initiatives Gwen Ross visited the facility to highlight the Wolf Administration’s commitment to creating apprenticeships and workforce training opportunities.
“These programs are vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and ensure that a pipeline of well-trained, Qualified Electrical Workers will enter the industry,” Ross said.
On Sept. 21. Gov. Tom Wolf was at IBEW 163 to announce a $297,000 grant through DCED’s Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship grant program to provide training for 30 apprentices in northeastern Pennsylvania. The project was also supported with a $600,000 Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to improve the interior and exterior infrastructure of the training facility to ensure complete success.
“Investing in apprenticeship programs, where participants can earn a wage while learning a valuable new skill, is one way we can ensure there is a strong pipeline of new talent for these key industries,” the governor said during his visit.
Nadolny said that in 2023, apprentices will also have access to IBEW 163’s new Advanced Technology Center where they can gain skills to work in green industries such as solar and electrical vehicles.
Also attending Wednesday’s tour were John Olejnik, IBEW Local 163 business manager and Nanticoke City Council Members John Telencho and Michael Marcella.
Casey visits Nanticoke electrician training facility to tout federal grant
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Those who will drive the economy of the future are learning and training in Nanticoke, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said Wednesday following a tour of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 163’s Advanced Technology Center.
The facility, a former Catholic elementary school, trains future electricians in seven Northeast Pennsylvania counties as part of a five-year apprenticeship program.
With electric power being relied on more in all aspects of life, from home heating to automobiles, the workers who pass though the Nanticoke facility will be vital to the country’s growth, the senator said.
“We have to have the skilled workforce to do that, not only
Lowe’s hiring 70 for new facility in Newport Twp.
NEWPORT TWP. — Lowe’s has announced that it is expanding its distribution network with a new 1.2 million square foot coastal holding facility in the South Valley area of Luzerne County.
According to a Lowe’s spokesperson, the facility is expected to open in the spring of 2023 at 209 Dziak Drive, Nanticoke. The facility will actually sit mostly in Newport Township, but the site will include parts of Nanticoke City and Hanover Township.
“The 1.2 million-square-foot facility will receive imported goods to supply regional distribution facilities,” the Lowe’s spokesperson said. “This location will provide approximately 70 jobs, including hourly and management opportunities.”
Information can be found online at https://talent.lowes.com/.
The spokesperson said that in August 2020, Lowe’s announced its distribution network expansion is part of an ongoing investment in Lowe’s supply chain.
In October 2021, NorthPoint Development joined a host of state, county and local government and school district officials for a groundbreaking on the site spanning Newport Township, Nanticoke and Hanover Township for buildings 8 and 9 in NorthPoint’s Tradeport 164 package of properties.
Based on its own data NorthPoint took a calculated risk of nearly $1 billion in private investment to build in the county. The region has benefited in terms of annual tax revenues, nearly $1.1 million from the new buildings, and upwards of 6,000 jobs, including more than 1,700 once the new projects are complete.
Then-State Sen. John Yudichak said NorthPoint worked with local labor and “kept their promises on the (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program), striking fair deals, making sure that taxpayers get money upfront.”
The prospect of the more than 1 million square foot warehouse thrilled Newport Township Manager Joe Hillan.
“It’s great news for Newport Township and, well, the whole South Valley,” Hillan said. “For us, we haven’t seen anything like this since probably the 80s, when they transformed the Retreat State Hospital to a state prison, which is now closed. So now this is like a rebirth for the township.”
Hillan said the Lowe’s facility will be housed in the largest building in the township’s history.
“We hope local people will apply,” Hillan said.
Massive warehouse at Hanover Twp., Nanticoke border gets initial approval
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Amy Harris is already frustrated with the most recent distribution warehouse to open in Hanover Twp. near her home in the Hanover section of Nanticoke, a Safelite AutoGlass facility along Dziak Drive.
Now, she’s concerned about another proposed warehouse to be built even closer to her home on Front Street — the border between the densely residential Hanover section of Nanticoke and mostly undeveloped vacant land of Hanover Twp.
“They are building another one? You got to be kidding me,” Harris, 64, said Wednesday while walking down Front Street. “I’m trying to get used to that one. It makes it noisy around here.”
NorthPoint Development, the Missouri-based developer that has built a series of distribution warehouses in the South Valley in recent years, is now proposing a new 1 million square foot facility in Hanover Twp. bordering the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
Hanover Twp.’s Planning Commission on Tuesday gave preliminary conditional approval for NorthPoint Development to build the distribution warehouse on 103 acres of former mine-scarred land along Front Street that is currently owned by Earth Conservancy.
The facility would be built behind a recreation park and storage facility along Front Street on land that is zoned mixed use, which doesn’t require any special zoning requests for distribution warehouses, Hanover Twp. Code Enforcement Officer Mark Bienias said.
Another hearing before municipal officials will be necessary before the proposed warehouse is given final approval, Bienias said.
The warehouse, which would have 207 trailer spaces and 608 parking stalls, would be accessible off Dziak Drive, which leads to the building housing Safelite.
A possible tenant for the proposed warehouse was not immediately identified.
Efforts to reach officials with NorthPoint were not successful.
NorthPoint previously built buildings in the South Valley on speculation and landed tenants, including Adidas, Chewy, Patagonia, Spreetail, Thrive Market and True Value.
NorthPoint also is planning a 1.2 million square foot warehouse in Newport Twp., but also has yet to identify a tenant.
All of the properties are along or close to the $90 million South Valley Parkway. State officials said that the public project directly resulted in $1 billion in private investment and 8,000 new jobs.
Former Nanticoke mayor John Bushko, 78, who lives on Front Street across from the proposed facility, said the warehouses are both positive and negative since they create jobs, but also increase traffic. Hanover Twp. will benefit from the property taxes, while Nanticoke residents will be burdened with traffic since the only way to get to the proposed warehouse is through Nanticoke, he said.
“They are going to get all the money and we get the traffic,” Bushko said.
Joni Pysher, 57, of Newport Twp., said she owns eight rental units along Front Street, so the more workers attracted to the neighborhood is better for her financially.
“I want the rents to go up,” Pysher said.
Nanticoke Councilman Joe Nalepa, who lives in the Hanover section of Nanticoke, said he doesn’t mind the warehouse construction.
“I think progress is good. It’s all reclaimed land that was for the most part unusable. I understand the plights and complaints of the residents, but I really haven’t heard many of them,” Nalepa said. “As long as there is a long-term plan to regulate truck traffic, I have no problems.”