New day for Nanticoke
By Elizabeth Skrapits
- firstname.lastname@example.org - Staff Writer
offices and housing going up in a revitalized downtown. An action plan for fiscal
stability. New taxes. Repaved roads. Maybe even at last a skateboard
After years of decline, debts topping $2.4 million, and denial about
the depths of Nanticokes financial problems, city officials and some residents
are optimistic 2007 will mark the start of Nanticokes transformation.
I think youll see Nanticoke become the greatest little city in Northeast
Pennsylvania, municipal authority chairman Dennis Butler said.
wants that to be the slogan for Nanticokes comeback: Wilkes-Barre
can say I Believe. Well be The Greatest Little City in
NEPA, he said.
The best part is, after years of disagreement leading
to the lack of progress, there are city officials and people on the municipal
and redevelopment authorities who want to work together, to hammer out an
equitable solution we can all live with, Butler said.
The municipal authority is advertising for a new developer so its
property on East Main Street next to the Kanjorski Center will no longer be an
empty lot, Mayor John Bushko said.
That parcel will be developed. The
parking garage is going to go up, Bushko predicted.
The municipal authority
also hopes to finally lease or sell the Kanjorski Center. The office building
has been 80 percent vacant for more than a year.
Alden Road, parts of Market
and Prospect streets, and Union Street will be paved with federal money, Bushko
Main and Market streets will get a new look. The final design hasnt
been completed, but the project will include lighting, sidewalks, curbs, trash
containers, the whole nine yards, councilman Bill OMalley said.
Grant money is available to pay for it, but there is no word yet on how much the
project will cost until all the engineering is finished, he said.
are working with parties interested in some residential, commercial and retail
projects within the city, OMalley said. Nanticoke Housing Authority is going
to renovate the former Susquehanna Coal Building into apartments, Bushko said.
And Bushko hopes a skateboard park, delayed because of legal tangles with property
ownership, will finally be created in the new South Valley Park on Lower Broadway.
The city has a $140,000 grant and will use $100,000 for a new public works garage,
OMalley said. The remaining $40,000 will go to the South Valley Park.
We have other funds there that are either in hand or on the way, he
Although the park should be started in 2007, it will take several years
to complete, he said.
Whitney Pointe, an industrial and residential park on
the Newport Township border, will have its grand opening in January, OMalley
Optimists and naysayers
Im very optimistic, OMalley
said. In one year weve gone from not knowing we had a problem to not
only identifying the problem but coming up with an action plan to correct the
When OMalley and fellow councilmen Jim Litchkofski and
Brent Makarczyk took office in January, they knew Nanticoke was in bad financial
shape, according to accounts in The Citizens Voice at the time. However,
the councilmen didnt know how bad things really were.
The city was already
in the state Early Intervention program for financially-troubled municipalities.
One of the citys coordinators for the program, Bob Sabatini of Keystone
Municipal Services LLP, suggested in February that council apply to have the city
declared Act 47, or financially distressed, by the state Department of Community
and Economic Development.
OMalley and Sabatini gave a presentation in
early March outlining the extent of the citys problems, which surprised
the residents and officials in attendance. DCED Secretary Dennis Yablonsky gave
the city distressed status in May. The state appointed Pennsylvania Economy League
as Nanticokes financial recovery coordinator, and the organization recently
released a long-term Act 47 recovery plan for the city.
Hank Marks, as a member
of the GNA taxpayers association, has been a frequent critic of the school
board and city council.
We already hit bottom, he said. We
have nowhere to go but up.
Three other residents refused to go on the
record with their views on Nanticokes future in 2007, saying their comments
were too negative.
But Theresa Sowa summed it up for them, expressing a vote
of no confidence. When asked what she thought lies ahead for the city, she suggested
city officials take turns buying Powerball tickets in the hopes of solving Nanticokes
Theres nothing, unless everybody buys lottery
tickets, Sowa said.
Resident Jim Samselski isnt so cynical about
city officials efforts.
I actually think theyre on the right
track. Theyre just hitting some bumps now, he said. In 20 years
we had a lot of uneducated people, a lot of mismanagement we have to get over."
Although city officials hope to get started and make significant progress in 2007,
they know getting rid of Nanticokes problems will take years. After all,
it took many years for them to develop.
Bob Sabatini, PEL, the auditors,
everyone agrees. Weve got severe financial problems, OMalley
The trouble was, previous city officials never instituted policies or
controls that any normal business would have to operate, he said.
In PELs financial recovery plan available at the municipal building
or online at www.pelcentral.org/Nanticoke the organization points to years
of inadequate record-keeping, accounting, and financial management.
is unclear to PEL whether prior officials and City Council had a full appreciation
of the magnitude of the growing financial problem, the report states.
Nanticokes expenses kept growing while revenues stagnated and the tax base
declined, making the citys deficit widen each year. Instead of finding new
sources of revenue or cutting expenses, city officials took out loans year after
year, amassing a debt of at least $2.4 million.
Thats not to fund
streets, thats not to fund sewer improvements, thats not to fund recreation,
OMalley said. Thats to keep the lights on, put gas in the cars,
and pay salaries. Thats a very poor use of long-term debt.
of the situation, current city officials are faced with the unpleasant necessity
of raising taxes. They plan to raise earned income tax to 1.5 percent and bring
in a .33 percent commuter tax for non-residents. The earned income
tax will be used to balance the budget, make overdue improvements to roads and
city buildings, and even reduce the real estate tax that goes to pay off the debt.
The problem is, these people encumbered us with debt that has no value.
Theres absolutely nothing to show for that debt. You cant point to
a street, you cant point to a sewer, OMalley said. Its
like paying your mortgage with a credit card.
What lies ahead depends
on whether the city adopts PELs financial recovery plan. There will be a
public hearing at 7 p.m. on Jan. 3. The city has 25 days after that to decide
to adopt or reject it, said Matt Domines of DCEDs Governors Center
for Local Government Services Northeast Regional Office in Scranton.
accept it, the plan becomes a city ordinance. If they reject it, they have to
come up with an alternative that is acceptable to the state.
not here to point fingers. Were moving forward with the city of Nanticoke,
Domines said. Were looking into the future to get it to be a viable
city that people want to live in and businesses want to move into.
John Bushko, mayor of the City of Nanticoke, is looking forward
to leading the city in a new direction.
One of my goals is to work on
the debt of the city and to get the city financially solvent.
advisors for the Act 47 recovery plan for the City of Nanticoke will hold a town
meeting at 7 p.m. at the Nanticoke High School. One of the items on the agenda
to be discussed is raising the earned income tax. The tax now stands at 1 percent.
According to Mayor Bushko, one half percent of the money, or roughly $800,000
earned from the tax goes to the school district. The other half goes to the city.
Property tax brings in another $437,000.
I would like to see the earned
income tax raised to 2 percent. That would bring in additional money for the city,
said Bushko. If the earned income tax goes up, we hope to lower the property
Bushko hopes residents will turn out for the meeting.
I admire about Mayor Bushko is that he is always open to better ideas and suggestions.
The way I see it is that the people of Nanticoke pay all the bills. They
have a right to be heard.
The mayor said he was pleased with the citys
police and fire departments in 2006, saying, We have very dedicated individuals
in both departments.
The police department handled 6,250 calls in 2006.
The police officers are doing a great job even though they are really understaffed.
Right now the department has eight full time officers, a police chief, captain
and detective. Recently because of different situations including injuries, deployment
to Iraq, and regular vacation or bereavement time, Detective William Schultz and
Captain Kevin Grevera have had to help patrol the city streets.
difficult because it takes us away from investigations and other important duties
that need to be done and we should be doing, offered Schultz.
noted the early intervention program calls for 15 full-time officers. We
need to work on getting more police officers, he said.
The fire department
answered close to 900 calls this year up from 714 last year. The department employs
10 full-time firefighters.
We have dedicated volunteers that work hand
in hand with our paid people, said Bushko. I dont think that
happened as smoothly in the past.
Another upcoming positive improvement
is the repaving of main roads in the city. According to Bushko, Congressman Paul
Kanjorski was instrumental in securing grants to pave major roads including Prospect
Street, the lower section of Union Street, and Alden Road.
The mayor said
there is a need to build up the downtown and increase traffic going through that
area. I hope we can rent out the Kanjorski Center., Bushko added.
I would love to see little shops come into the downtown where people could
stop to pick up things they need instead of having to run uptown.
is a good city with great potential. What makes it that is the hard-working people
who live here and take pride in their hometown. The people who make up our city
council are intelligent, dedicated and they put in a lot of hours. They want to
see the city improve, he added.
I think the year 2007 is going
to be a good one, he concluded.
Helicopter spots shed fire at LCCC
A fire Saturday
at two Luzerne County Community College storage sheds damaged maintenance equipment
for athletic fields and covered a large portion of the campus with a thick cloud
The fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. in two sheds near the baseball
field at Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road. No one was injured, and LCCC spokeswoman
Lisa Nelson said only security personnel were working on campus at the time.
The campus closed for its holiday recess on Friday and will not reopen until Jan.
2, 2007, Nelson said.
A Life Flight 3 crew from Wilkes-Barre was on its way
from Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, to Geisinger Medical
Center in Danville when it spotted the smoke and notified authorities, a Life
Flight dispatcher confirmed Saturday afternoon.
When firefighters arrived,
both sheds were fully engulfed in flames, but they were unable to determine which
shed caught fire first. It took crews about a half hour to get the blaze under
control, Nanticoke Fire Chief Michael Bohan said.
Crews hosed down smoldering
items from inside both sheds and ripped apart the roof from one of them.
said some heavy equipment was inside, along with old bathroom fixtures and wooden
planters. Still, smoke continued to billow out of both sheds. Campus security
personnel were notified, but as of 2 p.m. Saturday, no one had arrived at the
According to Bohan, the fires cause is still under investigation.
He plans to call in a state police fire marshal to determine what exactly happened.
Their home is their Sanctuary
in a crows nest, Bernie and Toni Norieka command a spectacular view from
their bell tower. At 75 feet above the ground and surrounded by four windows,
here they experience the weather in ways most people usually dont.
quiet nights, you can hear the snow falling, Bernie said.
beautiful during a thunderstorm, his wife added.
On less dramatic days,
when its calm and sunny, they might look down and see a parade or
whatever else is going on in the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
But how did
this couple manage to include a bell tower in their home?
Easily. It came
with the territory when they converted the former St. Josephs Church into
Other signs the building was once a church are abundant from
the stained-glass windows that say they were installed auka former
parishioners (Bernie believes the word means in memory of in Slovak)
to the grotto in the side yard to the plain black poor box attached
to the banister of an inside staircase.
Guests have put donations in
there, Toni Norieka said.
But I dont know where the key
is, Bernie Norieka added.
Yet the house is now definitely a home
a modern one, with shower stalls, a whirlpool bath and, in the kitchen, 104 square
feet of counter space plus two sinks, one for preparation and the other for clean-up.
We cook everything, Bernie said. Cajun, Chinese, Italian
Still, even in the up-to-date cooking area, there are signs of tradition, such
as a fruit press, close to 100 years old, that the Noriekas use to make their
own sausage. A favorite painting depicts another Old World practice, that of gathering
When youre picking as a kid, with your parents and
uncles, you just learn which ones are poisonous and which arent, Bernie
said, pointing toward a tiny fungi in the bottom right corner of the scene. This
red-topper could be poisonous.
But well before you spot details in the
artwork, the first thing you notice when you enter the Noriekas home is
the sweeping expanse of space and the relative lack of walls.
the openness, Toni said.
We dont miss walls, Bernie
Because the space is so large, the couple say, furniture that would
have been too dark for their old home is set off to advantage. Theyve found
pieces that work, perhaps not surprising, in other churches.
One table, carved
with the words in remembrance of me, came from a Baptist house of
But collecting furniture was the easy part. Transforming the church,
which had been built in 1915, into a house took a lot of work over two years,
including the wearying task of removing layers of rubber tile to reveal the hardwood
floor below. Bernie served as the general contractor, with help from handyman
friends and professionals.
Some things couldnt be changed, such as the
cross atop the steeple. Workers told the Noriekas it would be too difficult to
remove it from the roof, so they left it there.
The bell, though it weighed
450 pounds, was another matter. The Noriekas were able to sell it to a Michigan
man who restores bells. In another change, the couple extended the choir loft
a few feet so theyd have more room for their master bedroom.
who lived 28 years on nearby Espy Street, used to worship at St. Josephs
Church before the Diocese of Scranton closed it in 2002. Our daughter was
a reader, and our son was an altar boy here, Toni said.
simply home a striking home where stained glass enhances a natural phenomenon.
The rooms change color, Toni Norieka said, from pale yellow
to bright yellow to golden as the sun moves across the sky.
Nanticoke passes 2007 budget that increases earned income
citys 2007 budget passed by council Wednesday implies that a proposed earned
income tax increase will be inevitable.
The $4 million balanced budget is
based on increasing the citys portion of the earned income tax from 0.5
percent to 1.5 percent as recommended in the fiscal plan newly released by Nanticokes
financial recovery coordinator, the Pennsylvania Economy League.
Greater Nanticoke Area school districts 0.5 percent earned income tax, residents
will pay a total of 2 percent.
Councilman Bill OMalley pointed out that
residents will pay 13 mills of real estate tax instead of 29 for debt service,
a more than 25 percent reduction of the total 60 mills. A mill is $1 on every
$1,000 of assessed property value.
That, I think, is a positive. That
helps balance out the earned income tax increase, he said.
used to balance the budget, there will be an additional $700,000 in revenue from
the earned income tax, OMalley said. The surplus money will go into a capital
improvement fund which can be used for things like road repair and public works
equipment and vehicles.
In other business, Nanticoke police turned out in
full force for a vote on changes to their pension fund, which was ultimately postponed.
Council was prepared to vote on a cost-of-living increase for police retirees
and on lowering the retirement eligibility to 20 years with the department, regardless
However, OMalley said it would not be a good idea, with the
city in the throes of Act 47, or state-designated financially distressed municipality
The vote was tabled until city officials could meet with PEL and get
answers to questions about how much the proposed resolutions would cost the city
Most of the police left after
that, but OMalley said he wished they hadnt. He wanted to tell them
about an upsurge in vandalism and bad behavior that he said has all the neighbors
in his East Ridge Street neighborhood complaining.
Nanticoke authority will seek new developer for its project
authority members decided advertising is the fairest way to search for someone
new to get their main project started.
The authority hopes to hire a developer
in February, and could break ground on a mixed commercial and residential building
on East Main Street as early as spring, authority chairman Dennis Butler said.
The board voted Monday for solicitor Dick Hughes to draw up an advertisement to
be placed in newspapers from Philadelphia to Scranton and trade publications.
Do I think well get people biting from Philadelphia? Probably not,
Butler said. But it proves were not hiring politically.
By their January meeting, authority members will compile a list of questions for
prospective developers, such as whether their firm declared bankruptcy over the
last 10 years, and to give completion dates of three past projects.
would invest in and own the new building, but the municipal authority would own
a public parking garage to be built as part of the project, using $5.6 million
in federal grant money.
Recently, Nanticokes municipal and redevelopment
authorities dissolved a May 2004 contract with Impact PA, with a severance check
of $50,000 for the Turbotville-based developer. The previous authority boards
bought buildings at 108-112, 116 and 120 E. Main St. and had them demolished in
November 2005, but nothing was done with the site.
In other business, the
2005 audit newly released by the accounting firm of Zavada and Associates showed
no problems, authority accountant Karen Hazleton said.
The audit found the
authority had a positive cash flow in 2005, she said.
were in good shape at the end of 2005, but now were broke, authority
member Ron Kamowski said.
CV News by: Pam Urbanski
If you are like
me, you have purchased at least one poinsettia to decorate your home for Christmas.
You might be surprised to learn your Christmas plant just might have been grown
right here in Nanticoke.
Varsity Inc., located off Main Street next to Noble
furniture, grows more than 20,000 poinsettias for the Christmas season. Varsity
Inc., formerly Prices Greenhouses, sits on three acres of land and has seven greenhouses.
Its poinsettias are grown for the Christmas season and distributed to buyers across
and beyond the Wyoming Valley.
Leon Bogdan is the manager of this facility.
He has worked at this location for many years.
When I was in high school,
I worked on the farms for Bob Price, said Leon. Now he makes sure not only
poinsettias, but also annuals for the spring season, are grown to perfection.
There really is a lot of work involved when it comes to growing these plants
to maturity, added Leon.
The growing season for the red, white or pink
Christmas plants starts in early October.
Plants need to be transplanted
into bigger pots and after about 20 days transferred to a greenhouse. They need
to be carefully spaced, watered and fertilized. An important step is pinching
the plant so you have more than one flower on the plant. The floors of the greenhouses
are heated, allowing for just the right temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the plant is fully grown and just needs color, the heat is turned off. The
plants then await distribution.
After all these years has Bogdan grown
tired of the work? You have to like what you do, he said. I would
say judging by his years of service and the quality of the plant that comes from
the greenhouses, he loves his job.
PJP students spread holiday spirit
This past week the first grade and kindergarten classes of Pope John Paul II School
brought the spirit of the season to the Nanticoke Municipal Building.
is an annual event our students look forward to, said first grade teacher
Ellie Anthony. Each student had a hand in making decorations for the Christmas
tree which they carefully placed upon the branches. After trimming the tree the
students sang some Christmas carols.
Their hard work did not go without reward
as they were treated to refreshments and some neat stuff to take home.
Financial recovery plan for Nanticoke filed
proposes raising earned income tax credit, other measures to help city
Kalen Churcher Times Leader Correspondent
years of trying to make do with not enough revenue, the citys money troubles
are relatively easy to explain.
Its recovery plan, however, is more involved.
In very simple terms, they cannot raise enough money to fund their operations.
The reason they cant is because
they operate under a third-class
city code. Under that code, you have very limited tax-raising ability, said
Gerald Cross, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy Leagues Central
On Thursday, the PEL, Nanticokes recovery plan coordinator,
filed its recovery plan with city hall. In May, under the provisions of the Municipalities
Financial Recovery Act, also known as Act 47, the city was declared financially
distressed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
The designation allows the city to partner with the state to improve its financial
position. West Hazleton, Plymouth Township and Scranton share the same distressed
In order to keep pace with expenditures, the city has repeatedly borrowed
money to cover costs, including a $1 million loan in 2004, $700,000 in 2005, and
$750,000 this year from the state.
They borrowed over $2 million in
the last two years and thats basically equivalent to their annual operating
budget, said Joseph Boyle, PEL research associate.
PEL predictions show
that without intervention or additional loans, annual expenditures would exceed
revenue by $765,240 in 2007; $926,389 in 2008; and more than $1 million in 2009.
Those numbers could change to a surplus of revenue $14,430 in 2007, $19,303
in 2008, and $36,129 in 2009 if the recovery plan is successfully implemented.
When your city doesnt have a lot of earned income growth, and it doesnt
have a lot of property growth and it doesnt have a lot of any other growth
except expenditure growth, the revenue just doesnt keep up with it,
Cross said. Nanticoke spent the last five years using debt as a substitute
for cash, and thats not uncommon in local government.
As a result,
the PEL has recommended raising the citys earned income tax credit from
0.5 percent to 1.5 percent. The increase could generate an additional $1.4 million
annually for the city.
Another suggestion involves implementing a 0.33 percent
nonresidential earned income tax for people living outside the citys limits.
According to the plan, the tax could generate $225,000 to $235,000 annually. According
to the PEL, about 2,200 people were listed in 2006 as commuters to Nanticoke.
Money collected from the nonresident tax will not be used for city operations.
Instead, the funds will be earmarked for capital equipment and infrastructure
improvements that will benefit commuters.
On a brighter note, should the plan
be adopted by council, residents could see a decrease in property taxes.
to Cross, half of every real estate tax dollar goes toward debts. Currently, just
less than 30 mills are dedicated to the debt service fund. The proposal calls
for money in the debt service fund to be directly applied to the citys oldest
debts, thereby eliminating one loan and a portion of another. Debt service millage
could then be reduced to about 19 mills. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of
assessed property value.
A lack of reassessment of city properties has been
a major blow to Nanticoke. Even at the citys current 60-mill tax rate, about
57 percent of people in Nanticoke who own a single-family home pay less than $150
a year to the city in property taxes. Seventy-four percent pay less than $210.
Its sad, Cross said. Theyre paying property taxes
at a 1964 rate and receiving 2006 services.
Services, as defined by
the PEL, involve police and fire protection. Other services, such as refuse collection
and sewage, are paid by residents.
The more than 130-page document also advises
the city to adopt a formal accounting and bookkeeping system. According to the
findings, The citys accounting and financial management system and
its record keeping processes have been inadequate. In fact, there is little reliable
historical data for detailed line item revenues and expenditures. Furthermore,
the city does not have a financial reporting review process in place
making it difficult for council and administration to monitor transactions.
Cross acknowledged that transforming the citys financial situation will
be a challenge but is optimistic considering the current councils willingness
to move ahead.
Theyre not afraid to say: Were going to get
out of this hole.
to Nanticoke by the Pennsylvania Economy League include:
Raising the earned income tax credit from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent.
Implementing a nonresident earned income tax of 0.33 percent.
Evaluating if all tax-exempt properties should receive such designation.
Developing a strategy to solicit payments in lieu of taxes from the citys
a more aggressive policy for collecting back taxes and other fees.
Taking advantage of all discounts available to the city for making its utility
payments on a timely basis.
a five-year capital plan that prioritizes the use of all capital funds.
Designing a significantly better accounting and record keeping system.
Designating one work session per month to review recovery plan implementation.
Re-evaluating and modifying paid leaves, vacations and holiday pays.
copy of the Nanticoke City Financial Recovery plan is available at City Hall or
you can view it here.
Nanticoke will start charging a fee for residential,
city joined other municipalities throughout the county and state in imposing fees
for residential and commercial permits when council passed an ordinance Thursday
The ordinance also establishes fees for business and residential occupancy
certificates, zoning hearings and plan reviews. The penalty for violating the
ordinance is a fine of $25 to $300 per day plus magisterial court costs, and up
to 90 days in jail.
Among the things people will need permits for are building
new homes or businesses; putting on an addition; constructing a garage or shed;
adding a porch, pool, patio or parking lot; and installing a new heating or air
Fees depend on the expense of the job. Residential permits
start at $30 for the first $1,000 of work and $10 is added for each additional
$1,000 of work so a $10,000 job would cost $120 in permit fees.
fees are similar to what other municipalities charge. Wilkes-Barre Township, on
which Nanticokes new ordinance is based, charges the same. Laflin Borough
starts at $45 for $1,000 and goes by increments of $15 for each additional $1,000
of work, so a $10,000 job would cost $180 in permit fees.
unlike most of its neighboring municipalities, Nanticoke never charged construction
permit fees, said solicitor Joseph Lach. Its one of those efforts
to generate additional income, Lach said.
city, which runs an annual deficit, has been seeking new ways to raise revenues.
2 Nanticoke workers fired to make budget
Street department employees were laid off after union failed to OK health cost
By Ian CampbellTimes Leader Correspondent
full-time street department employees were laid off in Nanticoke in order to make
a budget the state could live with, but one council member Wednesday expressed
regret at his vote, and asked if the layoffs could be revisited.
answer, from Mayor John Bushko, was no.
The layoff option had been on the
table when the budget was in the planning stage last month, and council members
made it clear that if changes to health costs werent accepted by the union,
layoffs would be inevitable.
Now, with the citys 2007 budget in the
hands of the Pennsylvania Economy League, which is supervising the citys
finances under its Distressed City status, the option is not available.
names of the employees were not revealed at the meeting.
Gerald Cross, representing
the league, told the meeting that the budget was under review, and would be returned
to the city Dec. 14 so a public comment period could be held. On Jan. 3, there
would be a public hearing on the budget at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School,
and then the league would have a 10-day period to address the issues raised by
Council members were concerned that the public meeting was
taking place on the same day as the first scheduled council meeting of the new
year, but Cross noted the state was concerned that the full comment period be
used, and Jan. 3 was the final day. They also wanted to ensure the availability
of a stenographer for an official record, he noted.
He suggested council could
either hold its January meeting earlier in the evening, or on a day prior to or
after Jan. 4.
increase sparks debate in Nanticoke; financial recovery plan will be released
potential tax increase sparked discussion and disagreement at Wednesdays
Nanticokes state-appointed Act 47 coordinator, Pennsylvania
Economy League, will make its financial recovery plan for the distressed city
public on Dec. 14.
A proposal in the plan is an earned income tax increase.
The city imposes a 1 percent earned income tax, with 0.5 percent to the city and
0.5 percent to Greater Nanticoke Area School District. An increase would bring
the citys portion up from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, or 2 percent total.
This isnt written in stone that were going to do this, but chances
are good we are, Mayor John Bushko said.
Each year the city runs a deficit
of up to $500,000 and must do something, he said.
Residents Dennis Butler
and Hank Marks are both on the citys municipal authority, but Wednesday
night they spoke as taxpayers and opponents.
Marks, who served on GNAs
Act 1 tax study committee, said on Monday it recommended to the school board a
0.5 percent income tax increase for property tax relief. That would bring total
earned income tax for Nanticoke residents to 2.5 percent.
Butler said that
large an earned income tax increase was unfair to working people.
putting the burden for maintenance and support of this town on the backs of the
minority of people, Butler said.
He prefers a personal income tax, which
includes tax on earnings from such things as dividends and interest.
third-class city code, Nanticoke cant impose a personal income tax, PEL
executive director Gerry Cross said.
A public hearing will be held Jan. 3,
2007, at 7 p.m. in the Nanticoke High School auditorium.
There are many activities and events in Nanticoke to
usher in the holiday season
Bozinski, special events coordinator for the City of Nanticoke, invites children
and adults to the annual Christmas in the Park on Sunday, Dec. 10, from 2 to 4
p.m. at Patriot Park.
Sunday, Dec. 10th is an opportunity for the community
to come together. Children will be able to visit with Santa and let him
know what is on their Christmas wish list. All children will receive goody bags
and a stuffed toy. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. The Nanticoke High
School chorus will provide the sounds of the season.
at St. Andrews
St. Andrews Episcopal Church is sponsoring
a Christmas program of Christmas stories and carols, today at 2 p.m. A short narrated
program will be presented telling the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and their
journey to Bethlehem. Various carols will be sung during the program. The
Christmas Alphabet will be presented by the church school.
be given to the first 30 children, ages 5 to 11, who attend with an adult. Following
the program, refreshments will be served and of course Santa will take time out
of his busy schedule to visit with children.
The church is located at 12 E.
Kirmar Ave., Alden.
plans toy bingo
St. Stanislaus Parish is holding its annual holiday toy
bingo today. The doors open at 11 a.m. and the bingo starts at 1 p.m. There will
be great toys, gifts and door prizes. The kitchen will be open for refreshments.
The event will be held in the St. Stanislaus School Hall on Church Street in Nanticoke.
Help keep those in need warm
The Mother Teresa of Calcutta Social Concerns
Ministry asks for your help in making sure that local families stay warm this
winter season. They are collecting scarves, gloves, earmuffs and hats that will
be distributed to families who need these items. Donations can be placed under
the trees located at Holy Child, Holy Trinity, St. Mary of Czestochowa and St.
Stanislaus churches. Anyone who knows of a family in need is asked to talk with
the Rev. Jim Nash or call the parish office at 735-4833.
at Pope John Paul II
Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, will
be held at Pope John Paul II School. Lynn Catnes, who was featured on the Home
and Garden Show, will teach the class.
Festive Christmas models will be taught.
The class will be held Monday, Dec. 11. Session I will be held from 6:30 to 7:30
p.m. for students in grades two through four. Session II, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.,
is for students in grade five through adult. Class size is limited to 15 people.
Registration deadline is Monday. The cost is $10. Classes will be held at Pope
John Paul Schools main building cafeteria.
Mass at St. Stanislaus
The next Teen Mass for area youth will be held
next Sunday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. at St. Stanislaus church. A gathering in the youth
room will be held following the Mass.
Local pro-wrestling group goes old school
Stephanie DeBalko Weekender Intern
this day and age, say the words professional wrestling and the first
things that likely to come to mind are unnaturally huge muscles, a whole lot of
expletives and a decent amount of T&A.
There is one group of individuals
in our own backyard, however, looking to change all of that.
The World Wrestling
Coalition (WWC) was started by Mark Spencer and Tommy The Executioner
Rumsby. While Spencer is the promoter of the organization, Rumsby primarily trains
prospective and current WWC wrestlers along with his son, Tommy Thunder.
The WWC is based in Nanticoke, where wrestlers are trained at Stars and Stripes
WWC members meet three times a week where Rumsby trains the athletes
step by step, paying close attention to detail and honing certain skills. According
to Spencer, the organization is open to both men and women as young as about 16
years of age, although those under 18 need special consent from parents to participate.
While many wrestlers show up at the practices to work out and keep
in shape, the program is currently working to train three prospective professional
The difference between this professional wrestling program and
the professional wrestling that can be seen on television today is that the WWC
is working to promote a drug free atmosphere. Essentially, Rumsby, Spencer and
their entire crew are trying to bring the cleanliness back to wrestling, where
the interest is more in the sport itself and less in the special effects.
Were trying to bring wrestling back [to] the way it was years ago,
where everybody can watch it grandmothers, even. We are trying to take a lot of
the filth out of it and bring back the clean wrestling, Spencer said.
The WWC is also looking to do fundraisers for local high schools, an idea that
coincides with the groups efforts to help children and young adults make
informed decisions. The notion of cleaning up wrestling, says Spencer, meshes
well with this fundraising goal, as both show young and pliable minds how its
more beneficial to get what you want by working for it rather than taking the
easy way out.
The WWC is also a huge proponent of the idea that wrestlers
should train drug-free. Wrestlers in the program are trained to use what theyve
got and build up their own strength without the aid of any unhealthy outside supplements,
such as steroids.
Too many wrestlers have died due to drug abuse or
steroid abuse over the years, and we just dont want to see that happen anymore,
so were trying to build these wrestlers up into using what they have to
get better technically, to build themselves up, but to do it naturally,
said Chris Mochin, vice president of marketing and promotion.
train a new student in the ring, there is no surprise that hes got more
than 40 years of experience under his belt. Rumsby details how each move should
be done so well that even a wrestling novice would likely be able to pick up some
technical moves under his tutelage.
The next event the WWC is planning will
be December 2 at the Nanticoke Armory. This event, appropriately titled Kristmas
Kaos, will feature a showdown between Tommy Thunder and The Honky Tonk Man,
as well as matches between Mass Destruction Dave Duncan and Heartthrob Vinnie
Delicious, and between Jolly Old St. Nick Santa Claus and The Iceman
Jack Frost. If youre looking for a classic showdown of athletic abilities,
with just a bit of showmanship thrown in or good measure, than this affair is
one you should surely check out.
Nanticoke ready to begin redevelopment project despite
lack of developer
Main Street needs redeveloping, and the city has a plan and some grant money in
place to get started.
Now all city officials need is someone to do the job.
Previously, the municipal and redevelopment authorities voted to dissolve the
May 2004 contract that gave Turbotville-based Impact PA exclusive rights as consultant
and developer for the downtown revitalization project.
An agreement signed
by all parties and a $50,000 check the municipal authority wrote to Impact PA
make the amicable split final, municipal authority solicitor Richard Hughes said
at Mondays meeting.
It came to a good conclusion, he said.
I think it bodes well for the future of Nanticoke.
The two authorities
and city council all concur the best way to guide downtown revitalization is through
the plan drawn up by Facility Design and Development Ltd. at the request of the
South Valley Partnership, a non-profit regional group that includes Nanticoke.
The three entities all have to agree on a developer to follow the plan, preferably
one who can contribute financing to the project.
Municipal authority president
Dennis Butler said he wants to see prospective developers financial statements
and bonding to prove they are capable of completing the project.
He also wants
a contract clause to ensure that no relative of any elected or appointed official
or city employee will be employed by or receive any compensation from the chosen
Chester Beggs urged his fellow board members to get started quickly
so the municipal authority wont lose the $5 million in federal Department
of Transportation funding U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, secured for the
Hughes said he would see if council and the redevelopment authority
would prefer to come to the next municipal authority meeting, to be held Dec.
18 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, or schedule a separate joint meeting.
During the Dec.18 meeting, an audit of the municipal authoritys finances
will be unveiled.
The authority will finally know how much money was spent
and what for, and how much is left.
Thats going to be the answer
to a lot of questions, Butler said.
St. Francis Thanksgiving Dinner
Janet Smith made sure to leave a donation as she left St. Francis of Assisi Church
early Thursday afternoon.
Smith and friends Chester Lubecki and Edward Terkoski
had just enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner and each others company.
hope they keep it going every year, Smith said. I dont expect
to come here for free, I come here for the companionship.
less cooking, she said with a smile.
Between people dining at the church
or those having meals delivered, about 300 people were served, said organizer
Tony Volpicelli. This is the 23rd year volunteers from the East Green Street church
have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for people of all ages. Members of its sister
parish, nearby Saint Josephs, also help out.
This is for people
who are alone or have no relatives, said Volpicelli, of Nanticoke. You
dont have to be poor. This is for everybody. There are no distinctions.
Most of the food is donated, Volpicelli said. The Sanitary Bakery provided all
the baked goods from deserts to the bread crumbs for the stuffing. About
25 volunteers handled the cooking and deliveries.
A half dozen Bishop Hoban
High School students donated their time before leaving to have dinner with their
Junior Ryan Gorski volunteered with his father, Bob, and brother,
Robert Jr. His volunteering also counts as credit for the schools community
Its good for the community so I wanted to
help out and get some of my community service hours, said Gorski, a member
of Saint Josephs.
Joe Modla, Nanticoke, was volunteering his time before
he and his daughter, Frankee, were heading to Mountain Top for dinner with their
family. Modla was counting at the door and said both people dining in and deliveries
were up from last year.
Smith plans to be a regular.
We just enjoy
being with other people so we dont have to eat alone, Smith said.
A lot of people just dont have anyone."
Nanticoke residents could find Act 47
residents might receive an earned income tax hike next year, depending on what
options city officials choose in a long-term financial plan for the distressed
But a potential bright side is that homeowners could see their property
taxes go down.
The state Department of Community and Economic Development
declared Nanticoke Act 47, or financially distressed, in May. The Pennsylvania
Economy League, the citys financial recovery coordinator, is working on
a long-term plan so the city can get out of debt.
The plan will be made public
Dec. 14, said Matt Domines of DCEDs Governors Center for Local Government
Services Northeast Regional Office. A public hearing must be held within 20 days,
and, 25 days after that, council has to vote to accept the plan, he said.
Gerald Cross of the Pennsylvania Economy League said it is too early for him to
discuss what the recovery plan might contain, saying, We are exploring all
the possibilities for expenditure and revenue changes for the city.
However, Mayor John Bushko was willing to talk about the draft of the plan city
officials received, stating taxpayers had a right to know what might lie ahead.
(PEL) gave us a copy of some options of what we want to do, Bushko
Under current conditions, PEL predicts Nanticoke will have budget shortfalls
of $763,000 in 2007, $919,000 in 2008, and $1,022,000 in 2009, Bushko said. An
Act 47 requirement is to avoid deficits for at least three years.
is to raise the earned income tax. Nanticoke has a 1 percent earned income tax,
with .5 percent for the city and .5 percent for the Greater Nanticoke Area School
If the city raises its earned income tax to 1.5 percent total, it
would bring in $680,000 a year enough to trim the deficit but not eliminate
it. But if the city raises earned income tax to a total of 2 percent, it would
bring in $1,360,000. That would give the city a surplus.
It will also give
city officials an opportunity to cut property taxes. Of the citys 60.38
mill property tax, 29.38 mills go for debt service. One mill brings in $3.51;
the average property tax bill is $211.93, Bushko said.
The city can use revenue
from earned income tax for almost anything, including paying off debt. However,
revenue from the 29.38 mills can only go towards debt. Bushko favors sharing the
citys debt burden between wage earners and property owners by reducing the
debt service millage to 14.69. That would lower the average property tax bill
Another possibility for new revenue is a commuter tax of .25 percent
for the 2,200 people who work in Nanticoke but dont live there, Bushko said.
The $175,599 a year it would bring in can only go for things like street improvements
and fire and police services. City officials have to talk over the plan and decide
which way to go, Bushko said.
They will be faced with some tough decisions,
Domines said. And residents might not all agree with the plan, he said.
the hearings, maybe somebody will come up with a better idea, and well change
it, Bushko said.
By Dawn Zera For Times Leader
Nanticoke resident Kevin Ryan, 47,
lives in a fantasy world. And its a world hes managed to translate
Step foot into Ryans home, and find everything neatly
in its place, but look closely at the knickknacks and novel titles on the bookshelves,
as well as the paintings on the walls, and it becomes obvious that Ryan is a man
who does not discriminate when it comes to fantasies.
One bookshelf, for instance,
boasts an impressive display of dragon and wizard paraphernalia. Another entire
bookcase is devoted to Egyptology. A lamp sports an artists sculpture of
a centaur. A sword takes on a decorative element on a wall. Ryans e-mail
address also incorporates the word sword.
Ask Ryan what inspires
him, and anything relating to fantasy comes up. Angels inspire him. He is a fan
of novelist Anne Rice, who is known for her books about vampires. He loves the
Lord of the Rings trilogy. Books about ghosts, comic-book characters,
Conan the Barbarian, Native American lore, new-age music
Ryan was an
only child raised by his grandmother, and the fantasy worlds provided an extended
family for him. A trucker by trade, an injury sidelined him, and he decided to
take college classes to learn more about how to improve the drawing he had always
done. With popular science fiction/fantasy artist Boris Vellejo (a Pennsylvania
resident originally from Peru) as an inspiration, Ryan has expanded his art hobby
to a point where he has displayed and sold his paintings.
And his work runs
the gamut of fantasy. One vivid, detailed work showcases a dragon, another is
a brooding portrait of a cat, and yet another piece highlights scenes from the
Bible, which Ryan finds personally motivating. And there are daily experiences
that prompt Ryan to pick up the paintbrush. One painting portrays a mysterious
nighttime scene, typical of evenings when the moon is full, reflecting an eerie
glow on ghostlike clouds.
The night images, when the clouds are around
a full moon, or there are lots of stars, make me want to paint. It is breathtaking.
It inspires me. Sunsets inspire me. Sometimes, if I am driving, I just pull over
to watch the sunset, Ryan said.
Clearly in touch with his spirituality,
Ryan was moved recently to paint a portrait for a West Pittston woman, Lena Gregori,
whose son died in North Korea nearly 60 years ago.
He had heard Gregoris
story: She only recently had her sons remains returned and had only one
photograph of her son in his military uniform. Breaking from his typical art,
and using that photograph as a model, Ryan painted Gregoris son and presented
the finished piece to her.
Ryans not sure exactly why he was motivated
to give such a gift.
I guess I was just touched. I felt bad she waited
56 years to get her sons remains back, and I guess with a grandmom who raised
me, she reminded me of that, Ryan said.
Ryan is raising two sons of
his own, Michael and Christian.
For more information about his work, or to
view pieces, visit www.groups.aol.com/drwfantasy
and click on art by Swordsbane.
Police warn residents to beware fake checks
Residents are warned to
beware of fraudulent checks being issued by fake casinos, sweepstakes, lotteries
Police Capt. Kevin Grevera said police have been taking reports from scam victims.
are mailed realistic checks along with a letter instructing them to deposit it
in the bank, usually by an urgent deadline, Grevera said. The victim is also asked
to forward money by check or wire transfer, allegedly to pay for processing,
insurance and international taxes, he said.
problem is that although the checks look legitimate, they are counterfeit, Grevera
said. The money from the check is drawn from the victims account, but the
check bounces within a few days. The money sent to the fake entity cannot be recovered,
perpetrators are very meticulous, even setting up phony telephone numbers, addresses
and Web sites.
asks all recipients of these prize check scams to call their local
Nanticoke council votes to cut citys road crew
City employees are getting a new system
for purchasing supplies, but there will be fewer public works department members
around to use it.
Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to cut the road crew down by
two after realizing it is necessary to pare down what seems to be an inevitable
deficit in the 2007 budget.
Councilman Jim Litchkofski, the only no vote,
said manpower on the road crew is not significant, and with two fewer men, the
city might have trouble providing basic services. There are six workers, plus
the director of public works and a building and grounds maintenance person.
Since the citys ability to raise revenue is limited, expenses must be slashed.
If the city employees unions had unanimously agreed to switch to a different healthcare
option saving the city $100,000 personnel wouldnt have to
be cut, Councilman Bill OMalley said. But the police union turned it down,
The only personnel who can be laid off are road department or clerical
workers, Mayor John Bushko said.
The layoffs can be voluntary, or else have
to be based on seniority according to the road workers contracts.
dont want to see anyone lose their job, but by the same token, we cant
keep going $200,000 or $300,000 in the hole every year, Bushko said.
The bare bones budget OMalley prepared contains a $400,000 deficit
that has to be filled in. He said he submitted a copy to the citys financial
recovery coordinator, the Pennsylvania Economy League, which is also working on
a 2007 budget for the financially distressed city.
doesnt expect the organization to draw up a completely balanced budget,
No matter if it is my budget or PELs budget or whoevers
it may be, we are looking at a significant deficit, he said.
credit rating is so bad the city cant get credit cards to use for necessities
such as fuel for its vehicles. But a new purchase card system through M&T
Bank will allow city employees to charge specific things like gas
and office supplies.
The cards will eliminate the need for petty cash, and
allow the city to control purchases, OMalley said.
On a related note,
residents will soon be able to pay city taxes and fees, including refuse and permit
fees, with their credit cards.
It is an exciting time for students
in grades kindergarten through fifth grade who attend Greater Nanticoke Area Education
Center and Elementary Center. Students welcomed back MOTS, a pretty funky character
who challenged them to read a certain amount of minutes each day. Last year the
students came through with flying colors.
This year Cindy Evans, Parent Teacher
Association president and creator of MOTS and the reading program, has come up
with a new challenge for students.
This year we are challenging students
to exercise their bodies as well as their brains, said Cindy.
kicked off with an assembly where students were reintroduced to MOTS and her new
little sister MIGLIA (Mee-Lee-Uh). The children were thrilled to know we
were continuing with MOTS and just love the new addition to the program,
Each classroom was presented with a bag of playground equipment,
compliments of the PTA. Classrooms that meet monthly walking goals will be rewarded
with MOTS money that can be traded in for additional equipment that helps kids
exercise during school time. They are also treated to parties, complete with frozen
yogurt, veggies and dip.
Students are encouraged to walk as many miles as
they can during recess for the school year and see how far they can walk as a
group. So far they have walked 5,857 miles. That means they have just left Salamanca,
Spain, crossed the Mediterranean Sea passed Monaco continuing on through Italy.
They have crossed the Adriatic Sea and are about 44 miles past Turkey! Teachers
map out the route in their classrooms.
The students are really interested
in figuring out where they are, said Cindy. One teacher even told her how
her class looks forward to pulling down the globe to map out their route so far.
An exercise program that pulls in geography. Great!
The program has expanded
this year to include families. Each month, the PTA hopes to sponsor a different
event. Cindy and fellow PTA officer Jamie Miller came up with the idea to get
families involved in the program.
In September, a wellness program was held
for students, their families and friends. MOTS and MIGLIA were on hand to greet
everyone and Joseph Long, principal of the Education Center, kicked things off
with a walk around the elementary center. Everyone then returned to the education
center for refreshments, games, a moonwalk and face painting.
Today, a second
program will be held. The PTA is sponsoring a hoedown, complete with dancing,
and a chili and apple pie cook off. Cindy and Jamie will be doing the cooking,
which includes a sample of food from across the U.S.
Cindy tells me the purpose
of this day is to let kids know that exercise isnt only about sit ups or
running or even walking. During the program students will get their exercise by
line dancing and square dancing.
Kids need to know they can exercise
in a lot of different ways and have fun, said Cindy, adding presenting food
from different regions will introduce students to food they normally wouldnt
The chili and pie cook off is open to students and their parents/grandparents.
The event is open to the whole community and is free of charge. There will be
food, games and fun from 3 to 6 p.m in the Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary Center
and Education Center.
Hats off to all those involved with this program, especially
Cindy Evans. You are changing lives.
GNA junior ask board to settle teachers contract
Mitkowski wishes the school board and teachers would come down to earth.
future astrophysical engineering major enjoys science. She has been an enthusiastic
participant in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, the Science Olympiad,
and the Robotics program since she started high school.
But this year the
gravity of a contract dispute has her grounded.
Mitkowski, a junior at Greater
Nanticoke Area High School, and her fellow students are frustrated because their
extracurricular activities have been jettisoned, she told the Greater Nanticoke
Area school board Thursday. She asked the board to settle the teachers contract
soon so students can get them back.
Although their contract expired June 30,
2005, teachers are still working under its terms as negotiations continue. Board
members say teachers wont help with any extracurricular activities, including
chaperoning dances and moderating clubs, without a new contract.
theyre not getting paid for it, they wont do it, board member
Cindy Donlin said.
Extracurricular activities are important to college-bound
students, Mitkowski said. Many teach valuable lessons that arent always
presented in the classroom, she said.
Ive known a lot of students
to get scholarships through these programs, she said.
Mitkowski the board would do what it could, including seeing if people from local
colleges could help. Just because theres not a contract, I dont
think you students should miss out on things, Donlin told her.
committee, made up of Donlin and board members Gary Smith and Bob Rainieri, meets
weekly with the teachers union. Main issues are salaries and health care.
They could not talk about how negotiations were going, but Rainieri said teachers
have been picketing his business and Smiths house after school. You
can picket us, but dont interrupt the kids education, Rainieri
said, referring to the teachers.
An honor for our heroes
Those who served in WWII
receive a commemorative medal and citation during ceremony.
a commemorative World War II medal on behalf of her father, a teary-eyed Judy
Ruth sat down at her seat and took a Bible out of her purse.
Tucked away between
the pages of Revelation was a picture of her father, Floyd Haden Ruth, an Army
veteran who passed away on May 28.
For my dad, military service was
his life. He was proud to serve our country, and would be smiling to have the
chance to receive this medal. Medals were everything to him.
medals, there are memories.
Many memories need preserving, according to state
Rep. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne.
To further recognize World War II veterans
for the upcoming Veterans Day this Saturday, Yudichak held a special ceremony
at the American Legion Post 350 Thursday afternoon.
More than 100 veterans,
including the deceased, received a commemorative medal and a special citation
during the two-hour service.
To shake their hands today is to touch
history, Yudichak said. They present not only American democracy,
but indeed the free world.
Yudichak said the medals were only a small
token for paying respect to the veterans, but are a symbol for our
lasting gratitude for their sacrifices.
After the Boy Scout Troop 418,
Nanticoke, marched into the room, flags flying, and the national anthem was sung,
the Wyoming Valley West choir, consisting of about 35 singers and a single piano
player, performed a collage of patriotic tunes, including America the Beautiful
and Yankee Doodle.
The packed recreational room in the American
Legion applauded loudly after each veteran was commemorated, tears rolling down
many faces in the crowd.
This was beautifully arranged, Nanticoke
Mayor John Bushko said. We can never forget our local veterans who fought
so bravely for our freedom.
John Forgach, 74, a veteran of the Korean
War, was also ardent about the bravery of the World War II veterans.
they (World War II veterans) graduated from high school, they didnt have
the luxury of taking a summer off or going to college, the former American
history teacher said. They went off to the service and stood until the end.
To repeat (Tom) Brokaw, they were the Greatest Generation.
At one point in the ceremony, a veteran stood up and congratulated Yudichak on
his recent victory to secure his fifth two-year term in the 119th Legislative
My victory was a lot easier won than yours.
Gymnasts vault into Division I
Neither Amy Bieski or Nikki
Lyons ever donned a high school athletic uniform, earned a varsity letter or competed
with their classmates in a Wyoming Valley Conference sport.
are going to Division I universities on full athletic scholarships.
a senior at Nanticoke Area and Lyons, a senior at Crestwood, signed letters of
intent to compete at the next level of gymnastics, Wednesday night at Northeast
Gymnastics training center in Hanover Township.
Bieski is headed to West Virginia,
while Lyons is taking her tumbling talents to Louisiana State University. They
are the first gymnasts from Northeast Gymnastics to receive Division I scholarships.
Its really cool that I am going to be doing this for a school,
Bieski said. (Northeast Gymnastics) is a club team and I never played a
school sport so itll be nice to say Im a West Virginia Mountaineer
and Im an athlete at their college.
Both girls are Level 10 gymnasts
and took up the sport when they were just youngsters. Bieski has been at Northeast
since she was 4 and Lyons since she was 5. At that age, gymnasts are considered
Long hours in the gym six days a week, 12 months a year for the last
12 years certainly paid off.
Our sport is all year round and we train
22 to 25 hours a week, Bieski said. It just takes a lot of time and
dedication, but its very rewarding.
At the club level, gymnastic
competitions are few and far between. The girls compete in seven or eight meets
a year, including the state meet, regionals and national competition. Lyons and
Bieski have each advanced to the national level, which is where they were recognized
by college coaches.
In college, gymnasts compete every weekend for 13 weeks
something Lyons and Bieski say will be an adjustment.
going to be tough, but my first meet (with LSU) will be in Cancun, so Im
happy about that, Lyons said. By the end it will be a lot harder when
we get to the NCAA championships.
Lyons had a long list of colleges
that showed interest in her but she narrowed her official visits to Oklahoma,
Illinois, Arizona State and LSU. She made her first visit to Baton Rouge and cancelled
LSU has made 18 NCAA championship appearances under veteran coach
D.D. Breaux, who has a 495-302-7 career record.
Its kind of neat
to be one of the first in the area to get a full ride to gymnastics to a top 10
school, Lyons said. When I was little my goal was the Olympics but
as I got older and saw how hard it was to make it onto the Olympic team, my goal
went to getting a college scholarship to a top 10 school and thats what
Bieski also had a number of colleges looking to land her on their
roster, including Arizona State, Michigan State, Auburn and West Virginia. Like
Lyons, Bieski made her choice after her first official visit.
also has a well established program under the guidance of long-time coach Linda
Burdette, who has compiled a record of 524-211-4 over 31 years.
girls were nice and the coaches were nice and that was really important to me
because our coach (Lori Dexter) is so great, Bieski said. I couldnt
imagine going to a program that didnt have a coach as nice and supportive
Dexter has coached both girls since they were no higher than
a balance beam. Shes especially proud of their accomplishments because she
knows the sacrifices that go into becoming a gymnast at the college level. Dexter
trained out of the Allentown area when she was younger and went on to compete
for Iowa University.
They are extremely dedicated, thats why they
are getting full rides, Dexter said. They are here six days a week
for 12 months so its a commitment from everyone...themselves, their families,
even their friends.
As the girls signed their names on the college forms,
their families and friends gathered around to celebrate. Another group of eager
supporters joined in. They were little girls bouncing and tumbling on the mats,
training just as Bieski and Lyons did so many years ago.
glad to be set an example for them because Nikki and I put in a lot of hard work
and in the end, it really paid off, Bieski said. Were going
to school for free and there are so many talented young ladies here that Im
sure youll be interviewing many more gymnasts in the future.
Youth task force readies headquarters
transformation of the building at 24 S. Prospect St. from Stickney Fire Co. headquarters
to Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force and Youth Task Force headquarters is
Although the official grand opening wont be for a little
while yet, members of the anti-drug group recently had a chance to show off their
handiwork at the first public event, a Halloween party.
Down in the basement,
where the Stickney firefighters once met for refreshments, several 10th graders
from Greater Nanticoke Area gathered around task force president Frank Vandermark
who they affectionately call Uncle Frank to assess what
needs to be done.
There will be a snack bar and game room, with board and
video games. There is a full kitchen, a bar and a small ornamental fireplace,
which, even if it doesnt work, adds atmosphere.
This place is
gonna be hot, said youth task force secretary Sharon Provenzano.
cant wait for this to be all done. Its going to be sweet, agreed
task force president Kaila Sakowski.
In the main floor garage, there are pool
tables, ping-pong and air hockey tables, and a piano. More play equipment is being
donated, Vandermark said.
Upstairs, there is a computer lab and rooms where
the task force and other groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous meet. The walls were
painted in bright colors by the young volunteers.
Youth task force members,
all Greater Nanticoke Area High School students, did most of the renovating themselves,
The task force board agreed teens would feel it was really
their own place if they put in the sweat equity. Which they did, at least twice
a week, Provenzano said.
Heavy-duty jobs like the electrical system and air
conditioning were provided free by local professionals, Vandermark said.
spring, the task force plans to lay concrete behind the building for a basketball
hoop and an outdoor picnic area.
The Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force
was formed in August 2003 when police, school district officials and community
members decided to combat a growing drug problem. The group aimed to give teens
a recreation center, and to educate them about drug and alcohol abuse.
first, meetings were held in the basement of St. Francis Church on East Green
Street. But swelling enrollment led the task force board to seek a bigger, permanent
Nanticoke council leased the fire hall to the task force in June 2005.
This May, council closed the Stickney and Washington Fire Co. buildings because
the financially distressed city could no longer afford them.
firefighters were reluctant to give up the building at first. They ended up being
very cooperative, moving their equipment out of the Stickney building and into
the main fire hall on at 2 E. Ridge St. and giving their fire truck to neighboring
Newport Township, councilman Brent Makarczyk said.
The task force will honor
the Stickney firefighters and their 121 years of service with a permanent exhibit
in the fire truck bay, Vandermark said.
Nanticoke search for developer will cost
There has been no downtown development for 18 months with Impact Pennsylvania.
new developer will be appointed to handle downtown revitalization efforts, but
its going to cost the Nanticoke Municipal Authority $50,000 to break ties
with the old one.
Mayor John Bushko said Sunday that members of the municipal
authority and the Nanticoke Redevelopment Authority voted at separate meetings
last week to end a contract between the authorities and Impact Pennsylvania.
Bushko said municipal authority solicitor Richard Hughes negotiated an agreement
with Robert Yoder, head of Impact, to release the authorities from the contract
for a $50,000 payment from the municipal authority.
The two authorities had
been at a stalemate for more than a year on how to proceed with downtown development.
The redevelopment authority owns properties in the city such as the Kanjorski
Center and several parking lots, and the municipal authority manages the properties.
Both authorities and city council weigh in on downtown revitalization plans.
Bushko said release from the contract is a good thing, because no
downtown development has occurred in the past 18 months that Impact has had the
contract, and he didnt like its terms.
One man shouldnt
have all the authority to do whatever they want downtown, Bushko said, referring
According to the contract, he would be the sole developer
(and) the general contractor and could hire any companies he wanted. The only
people he would have to answer to would be the municipal authority. He had all
the apples in his cart, Bushko said.
Attempts to reach Yoder on Sunday
Impact had proposed a $23 million plan to redevelop the
downtown. Authority members didnt support Impacts entire plan, but
they wanted to build a new parking garage, which could attract new tenants in
the authority-run Kanjorski Center on Main Street.
Kanjorski Center has been almost 88 percent empty since HealthNow, a Medicare
claims processing company, relocated last October to Dallas. With the centers
anchor tenant gone, the authority is going broke, having lost $33,000 in monthly
Bushko said the cash-strapped city will have to kick in about $40,000
to cover the municipal authoritys operating expenses for that building next
year if no new tenant is found.
When they run out of money, the city
is financially responsible for (the building). We cant just let it go and
forget about it because you lose the building, we lose all our equity, Bushko
said, adding, Well get (the money) somewhere.
proposed spending $7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a 324-vehicle
parking garage by the Kanjorski Center in hopes that additional downtown parking
would attract new tenants.
Last fall, contractors demolished three buildings
on Main Street to make room for an office building and parking garage, but the
project hasnt developed since.
Bushko said most members of the authorities
and council are impressed with a study with the South Valley Partnership had done
on a 10-year development plan, which recommends the use of private investment
for revitalization rather than only public funding. He said the municipal authority
will appoint a new developer after discussions with the other entities involved.
Right now, were in a perfect position, where all the authorities and
council are ready to sit down and talk. Before, everybody was going in different
directions, Bushko said.
Bushko said municipal authority Chairman Walter
Sokolowski and board member Steve Buchinski were the only dissenters in the votes
to dissolve the contract with Impact. Neither could be reached for comment.
Bushko said Chester Beggs, who sits on both authorities, was the swing vote on
the municipal authority. Beggs, Bushko said, previously supported Impact as the
Beggs declined comment for this story.
Bushko said things started
running smoother after council approved four new members to the municipal authority
he recommended earlier this year Henry Marks, Henry Kellar, Richard Butler
and Ron Kamowski.
cancels developer contract
The citys redevelopment authority voted Saturday to dissolve a contract
with the downtown developer, clearing the way for a new revitalization plan.
The board opted 3-2 to cancel a contract with Impact PA that gave the Turbotville-based
firm exclusive consulting and development rights for projects on East Main Street
and Market Street.
Last week the municipal authority voted unanimously to
cancel the May 2005 contract after authority attorney Richard Hughes and Impact
PA head Robert Yoder arranged an amicable agreement. The municipal authority must
make a one-time payment of $50,000 to Impact PA.
The redevelopment authority
owns property in the city and the municipal authority manages it. Both share in
decisions about downtown revitalization.
Redevelopment authority chairman
Walter Sokolowski, who with Steve Buchinski voted against terminating the contract,
said it was because he didnt like the idea of paying Yoder $50,000 to leave
when he has done his job so far.
Mayor John Bushko said Yoder has been dragging
his feet with nothing to show after 18 months. Buchinski said because of
bickering among both authorities and council, Yoder was never given clear instructions.
Yoder did not attend Saturdays meeting.
Impact PAs plan included
a 324-space parking garage and more than 44,000 square feet of new retail and
commercial space on East Main Street. State and federal grants would cover most
of the approximately $23.4 million project.
City officials and municipal authority
members prefer ideas proposed in a regional strategic plan drawn up by Facility
Design and Development Ltd. at the request of the South Valley Partnership.
The strategic plan recommends Nanticoke seek private investors for commercial
buildings instead of using only government funding and placing parking throughout
downtown instead of in just one parking garage.
Now the authorities and council
need to select a developer to implement the plan. Bushko said some have already
Chester Beggs, who sits on both authority boards, made
an informal suggestion after the meeting to advertise for developers to see if
there are even more choices.
In other business, Henry Marks, who is also on
both boards, said after the $50,000 payment to Yoder, the municipal authority
will only have about $25,000 left. That wont be enough to pay for maintenance
and bills at the 80-percent vacant Kanjorski Center on East Main Street unless
the building is sold or rented.
The redevelopment authority appreciated councilman
Bill OMalleys proposal during this weeks council meeting that
the city set aside at least $40,000 in next years budget to help with the
Kanjorski Center. However, authority members wondered if the cash-strapped and
debt-encumbered city could spare the money.
The redevelopment authority wants
an assessment done on three parcels of land it owns on Market Street. The authority
wants to sell the parcels, which are all paved parking lots that dont seem
suitable for building, to interested neighboring businesses, Sokolowski said.
Besides getting money for the lots, the authority wouldnt have to pay to
maintain, plow and insure them, he said.
Its a gain for the businesses,
and its a gain for the city, Sokolowski said.
Off to the races
at Pope John Paul
Pope John Paul II School will hold its annual Nite at
the Races on Saturday, Nov. 18. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the races start at
Purchase a horse for the race and the donation at the door is $2.
Donation at the door without a horse is $7. The evening will feature delicious
food by Jack Rentko, raffles, and exciting harness racing via the big screen television.
You must be 21 years of age to attend this event. For tickets or information call
Brian Waugh at 735-0115. The school is located on Hanover Street next to Holy
St. Johns Lutheran plans dinner
Lutheran Church will hold a pork and sauerkraut dinner Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m.
The church is located at 231 State St. in Nanticoke.
Tickets are $8 for adults,
$4 for children and free for children 12 and younger. Tickets will be available
at the door or call Dale at 902-9051 for advance ticket sales. Takeouts are available.
Library plans fall fair
The Friends of the Mill Memorial Library will
hold their annual fair Sunday, Nov. 12, from noon to 4 p.m. The fair will feature
crafts, books, Grannys attic, face painting, food and baked goods. All proceeds
will benefit the library. The library is located at 495 E. Main St.
and support the library. For more information, call 735-3030.
year is well under way at Greater Nanticoke Area. Students, faculty and staff
have been busy.
GNA has a new queen. Students voted and a new queen and
her court were named. Senior Amy Bieski was chosen by her classmates as the 2006-2007
homecoming queen. Her court consists of Vanessa Argento, Elisha Capie, Tracie
Clothier and Stephanie Danko. The queen and her court were escorted by the Trojan
cheerleaders before the Bishop OReilly and Nanticoke Area football game.
The proud parents of these lovely young ladies were also introduced. Amy is the
daughter of Mark and Patty Bieski, Vanessa is the daughter of Tony and Joann Argento,
Elisha is the daughter of William and Frances Capie. Bob and Elaine Clothier are
the proud parents of Traci Clothier and Stephanie is the daughter of Matthew and
Carrie Winters, last years Miss GNA, was on hand to crown
this years Miss GNA. The homecoming court, student council and the Trojan
football captains thanked Superintendent Anthony Perrone, Principal Mary Ann Jarolen,
and teachers Dawn Marshall and Jean Makarczyk for their help in planning the festivities.
Also, students in all classes elected class officers for the 2006-2007 school
Senior class officers are President Amy Bieski, Vice President Jordan
Lynch, Secretary John Glowaniak and Treasurer Justin Kreitzer. Junior class officers
are President Jason Schenck, Vice President Joseph Hart, Secretary Keira Lohman
and Treasurer Rachel Zerfoss. Sophomore officers are President Sean Bieski, Vice
President Anthony Kuklewicz, Secretary Amanda Madajewski and Treasurer Nicole
Jezewski. Freshman officers are President Breana Young, Vice President John Urbanski,
Secretary Brenna McPherson and Treasurer Mariah Grabinski. Congratulations and
According to Amanda Coughlin, a senior writer for the Trojan Tribune
high school newspaper, The candidates are not only required to meet their
positions in office, but they are also responsible to represent their entire class.
Students who are part of the Advanced Placement class write for the Tribune. James
Carey is the advisor. Students must be willing to take advice from their
fellow classmates, suggest new ideas, and be ready to achieve these goals to help
make the school year better, said Amanda.
GNA variety show set
Mark your calendars for Nov. 16. That is the day the GNA Chorus Parents Organization
will present its annual Star Search Variety Show 06. Students in grades
eight through 12 will audition Thursday. They are asked to keep their act two
to three minutes long and may audition for two acts. Audition forms are available
in the office.
The variety show will be held at 7 p.m. at the high school.
Tickets are $5 and include refreshments.
Nanticoke will sell fire station
Council agreed to sell the Washington
fire station for $100,000 or best offer, as long as it is only for residential
City officials dont want the building used as a warehouse or for
another commercial purpose, and then abandoned to become an eyesore, Councilman
Brent Makarczyk said.
So far this year, the city has taken in $2,724,837 in
revenues and paid $2,735,513 in expenses, for a deficit of $10,676, Councilman
Bill OMalley said.
The 2007 budget is being developed. OMalley
suggested putting $40,000 to $50,000 in it to help maintain the Kanjorski Center,
which the city municipal authority is responsible for, to protect the asset.
Budget issues might lead to head count changes in the future, OMalley
council warned layoffs possible
City officials are working on 2007 budget,
but big cuts still need to be made.
By IAN CAMPBELL Times Leader
City officials are still
some weeks away from a 2007 budget, and unless hard decisions are made layoffs
might have to occur, council was told Wednesday.
One saving outlined by Councilman
William OMalley was a potential reduction of $100,000 in health care costs.
Police and fire staff had agreed to the change in health care, but other city
groups were still to agree, OMalley said.
If the other employee groups
failed to approve the change, then the city might have to look at possible
head count changes, he said.
The current insurance program would involve
an increase of up to $16,000, OMalley said.
Other insurance savings
could come from the creation of an updated inventory of police, fire and street
department vehicles to make sure the city was not paying unnecessarily for equipment
it no longer owned or equipment no longer needing as much coverage.
hoped to have that information by the end of the week.
The city also will
need to consider spending about $40,000 on the Municipal Authority in order to
protect its investment in the Kanjorski Building, he said.
in our best interests to protect our asset and keep the building in a good state
of repair, he told council.
With the proposed budget still short a
few hundred thousand, this will likely add another $40,000, he said.
Responding to a question from a member of the public about the impact of unpaid
taxes on the citys current financial problems, OMalley noted that
unpaid tax costs were not a major part of the citys problem.
collection rate of 88 percent was high, but at a total of $463,000, city taxes
made up a small part of the total revenue of $3 million.
Even with all
taxes collected, were still short an awful lot of money, he said.
Nanticoke officials fear poll relocations will cut voter
residents and city officials said Wednesday they dont like having to go
to Nanticoke Towers downtown to vote instead of the Honey Pot fire hall.
Luzerne County Director of Elections Leonard Piazza said finding a polling place
that fit federal guidelines in the Honey Pot section of Nanticoke was a sticky
Over the past several months, the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections
has consolidated polling places in cities and boroughs.
Nanticoke now has
six wards instead of 13. The two main changes were moving voting from the Honey
Pot fire station to Nanticoke Towers and moving some downtown voters to Holy Transfiguration
Church on Center Street.
Mayor John Bushko, treasurer Albert Wytoshek and
residents including Hank Marks complained at the council meeting about the new
setup. Bushko worried that voters in particular elderly people who would
no longer be able to walk to their polling places would stay home on Nov.
I think theyre going to lose 30 percent of the vote in this
election, Bushko said. Last time people didnt come because they
were afraid of the (electronic voting) machines. This time they wont come
because they changed the polling places.
When called after the meeting,
Piazza said he did not think that would be the case.
Under the federal Help
America Vote Act, polling places must be handicapped-accessible.
Pot (fire hall) is completely inaccessible and totally illegal if we use it as
a polling place, Piazza said. It does not even come close to meeting
accessibility requirements under federal law.
When selecting new polling
places, the bureaus first consideration is federal law, Piazza said. The
second consideration is parking, and the third is finding a central location.
The problem is, Honey Pot is almost completely residential. Piazza said he couldnt
find anywhere else in the area that would be handicap-accessible. But hes
open to suggestions from residents, although its too late to change polling
places in time for the election.
Oh, well, well see what happens
Tuesday, Marks said.
Officials believe porch fire is suspicious
A fire that severely damaged an enclosed
rear porch of a home at 207 Fairchild St. on Wednesday afternoon is being considered
suspicious, city firefighters said.
The homeowners, Ernest Turley, 68, and
his wife, managed to escape the blaze without injury, fire crews said. Turley
said he was in his front yard and his wife was upstairs when neighbors began to
shout that the home was on fire. He said he went upstairs to help her get out
of the home.
She didnt even know, he said.
the fire erupted in a part of the structure where there is no electricity. He
said he built the enclosed porch about 30 years ago and the fire appeared to begin
on an exterior fiberglass panel.
Nanticoke police were called to the scene
after fire crews quickly extinguished the 3:45 p.m. blaze and a state police fire
marshal was being called to continue the investigation.
Nanticoke cracks down on skateboarders
sailed down the sidewalk of East Main Street on his skateboard Thursday.
12-year-old skateboards almost daily from his home in Glen Lyon to downtown Nanticoke.
But lately he and other skaters have been avoiding what was once a favorite hangout:
the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street.
Asked what the attraction was, DeWeese
nodded at the building entrance. Those steps, he said.
of the Kanjorski Center is a thrashers dream. Its all concrete, with
steps that let you start low and work your way up to the 8-stair jump. There are
handrails to skim over and lots of space to practice your ollie.
and his fellow skateboarders are out of luck for now. Nanticokes municipal
authority just asked for a law-enforcement crackdown on kids hanging out at the
Kanjorski Center, and a nearby proposed skateboard park is tied up in a legal
tangle, despite community support, financial backing and equipment thats
The word is out from here to Hazleton this is a very
good place to skateboard, Nanticoke Municipal Authority member Ron Kamowski
DeWeese said skateboarders come from as far away as Florida, but he
doesnt know how the word got around.
The problem is, the skateboarders
have torn paint off the handrails, waxed the steps, and broken edges off the window
lintels, Kamowski said.
Theyre costing us a fortune in damages,
Skateboarders are especially unwelcome because the municipal authority
is using a $15,000 federal grant to get the Kanjorski Center cleaned up, to make
it attractive to a new tenant. The building has been 80 percent vacant for a year.
At last weeks meeting, the authority board requested solicitor Richard Hughes
send a letter to the police department, asking for a continued presence at the
Kanjorski Center. The board is also sending a letter to Magisterial District Judge
Donald Whittaker, asking for a member of the municipal authority to be present
at hearings involving skateboarding at the center.
on patrol, we try to take extra efforts to go around the Kanjorski Center,
Nanticoke Police Det. Captain William Shultz said.Its a beautiful
building that doesnt need to be destroyed by skateboarders, Shultz
Police arrested four skateboarders on Oct. 19; four more on Oct. 21,
and five on Oct. 26, Shultz said. They are all being charged with trespassing,
DeWeese is familiar with the
increased police presence.
I got fined for sitting right there one day,
he said, pointing to the sidewalk in front of the Kanjorski Center entrance.
In fact, as DeWeese stood talking with the press across from the Kanjorski Center,
a Nanticoke police cruiser went by twice within about five minutes.
have nowhere to go any more, DeWeese complained.
Shultz is in favor
of a skate park because it would give kids a place of their own, where they wouldnt
be a hazard to pedestrians or traffic.
An X-treme Skate Park,
planned as the first attraction in the proposed 134-acre Lower Broadway Recreation
Park, has been in the works since 2003. Site plans are done, funding is secured
and the South Valley Partnership already purchased the skateboarding equipment,
said State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
The reason progress is stalled
is there are legal issues surrounding the land, he said. Were
ready to go, but were a little concerned about setting it up and not being
on firm legal ground.
Trying to track property ownership is a headache.
Attorney Joe Lach, who is solicitor for Nanticoke and Plymouth Township and is
a member of the South Valley Partnership, said he is doing free legal work to
try to straighten out who owns what.
On the land where the skate park is supposed
to go, there are assorted parcels of property. Some belonged to long-gone coal
companies or are easements for defunct railroads. Many are properties where homes
and businesses were demolished for flood mitigation after Tropical Storm Agnes
in 1972, but some transactions werent done properly and titles are unclear.
Its like a huge reverse subdivision. Its like taking a housing
development thats been in existence for 30 years with different property
owners and trying to put them back together into the farm, Lach said. It
turned out to be a lot more complicated than anyone ever anticipated when we first
Yudichak said the state Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources will provide the assistance of experts who have experience resolving
similar legal snarls.
Not being an attorney, I get a little frustrated
at just how long it takes to work through some of these legal issues, Yudichak
Lach cant say how long it will take to sort things out.
this point I dont want to create any false expectations. Were doing
this as quickly as we can, he said.
DeWeese doesnt think the skate
park will happen any time soon although he wishes it would.
pay money to go to one, he said with a sigh.
Over $1 million in grants aids area rail
Officials say two Luzerne County projects will enhance jobs and cut truck trips
for hauling coal waste.
than $1 million in state grants will be coming to Luzerne County for two rail
The larger share, $900,000, will go to HUD Inc. for
construction of a two-track siding to connect to the Delaware & Hudson Railway
yards in the Honey Pot section of Nanticoke.
Also, the Redevelopment Authority
of Luzerne County will receive $135,282 for track improvements along its rail
The funding is part of the $20 million in grants Gov. Ed Rendell announced
Tuesday for rail freight improvement projects throughout the state designed to
stimulate economic development and reduce traffic congestion.
Calls to HUDs
office in Nanticoke and the redevelopment authority office were not returned.
HUD, operating as Emerald Anthracite II, plans to build the siding to the yards
and extend a spur into the Whitney Pointe Industrial Park.
will allow the company to ship coal waste by rail and cut 21,333 truck shipments
per year, according to a release from the governors office. The project
is expected to create 55 jobs and maintain 60 jobs.
The grant awarded to the
county redevelopment authority will provide rail service to new customers, create
50 jobs, maintain 400 jobs and reduce truck trips by 26,436 annually, according
to the press release.
State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, who helped secure
funding for the HUD project, said it will make the property suitable for development.
The site needs extensive reclamation work, he said.
This gives us the
best opportunity to have access to that site and get it out on rail, Yudichak
In addition to the grant to HUD, the railway will receive $1.8 million
for work in the Honey Pot yard and to establish a connection to the main line,
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Kirk Wilson
said that project has not yet been approved.
Yudichak said the grants, which
require a 50 percent match by the recipients, create business opportunities by
developing the park and providing access to a main line railroad.
really do go together, he said.
HUD purchased the 400-acre former Daniel
J. Flood Industrial Park in 2004 at a Luzerne County Sheriffs sale for $300,511.
That year the company received a $249,000 grant from PennDOT to build a rail facility
in the park to transport culm and fly ash from two mine-reclamation projects in
the Nanticoke area.
Last year, HUD was awarded a $100,000 grant to build track
and a road crossing in Newport Township to connect with the facility in the industrial
In addition to the industrial development on the property, HUD plans
to build a residential community on 78 acres designated a Keystone Opportunity
Zone. The KOZ program provides tax breaks to property owners through 2010, when
the program expires.
Nanticokes municipal authority tries to break free
from downtown redevelopment contract
The municipal authority is trying to
break a contract that locks in one firm as the sole consultant and developer for
The municipal authority voted Monday to enter a mutual
agreement with Impact PA in order to cancel their contract. The firm has exclusive
rights to construct commercial and residential buildings on areas of East Main
Street and Market Street.
If the redevelopment authority, which owns the properties
slated for redevelopment, also agrees to dissolve the contract, the municipal
authority, which manages the properties, will make a one-time payment of $50,000
to Impact PA. The city agencies will then be free to hire another developer.
Earlier Monday, municipal authority attorney Richard Hughes said he and the head
of Impact PA, Robert Yoder, arranged an amicable end to the contract.
Yoder was very upbeat and upstanding, Hughes said.
As he always
has been with us, municipal authority president Dennis Butler added.
The previous municipal authority board hired Impact PA in May 2005 as exclusive
consultant and developer for downtown revitalization through May 2010. Under the
contract, the Turbotville-based firm was responsible for all aspects of the project
to include arranging financing, designs, securing tenants and construction.
While waiting for Impact PA to present its plans, Facility Design and Development
Ltd. was hired by a local non-governmental agency, the South Valley Partnership,
to create a comprehensive plan for revitalizing Nanticoke and Newport and Plymouth
City council and the municipal authority were impressed with Facility
Design and Developments plans for downtown Nanticoke. In July, council and
the mayor expressed interest in using the firms plans if the two authorities
and city officials could reach consensus on it and somehow get out of the
contract with Impact PA.
However, municipal authority members say it is too
soon to tell what will happen as far as hiring another firm.
no other developer at this point, Butler said. Nothing will be decided
until everything is drawn up and executed.
By: Pam Urbanski
this past week was fire prevention week, I thought it would be fitting for my
husband David, a firefighter in Nanticoke for the past 22 years to write for this
and staff from Greater Nanticoke Area, once
again welcomed the Nanticoke Fire Department into their schools during National
Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8 through Oct. 14.
Fire prevention Week is a decades
old program instituted by the National Fire Protection Agency to educate the public
about the importance of fire safety. The Nanticoke Fire Department began offering
the program to elementary school children after a fatal fire occurred in the city
some 20 years ago.
We felt it is our job to teach kids about fire safety
along with the importance of having working smoke detectors in their homes,
said Chief Mike Bohan. If we tell them how smoke detectors can save their
lives, hopefully they will go home and tell their parents what they learned.
Pre-school and elementary students learned about this years theme Watch
What You Heat. Firefighters spread the word that more fires start in the
kitchen than in any other part of the home. Teaching families and kids how to
keep cooking fires and injuries from happening in the first place was part of
this years program.
The fire departments Fire Safety Trailer is
a great model for this years theme and was once again used as part of the
program. The trailer is a furnished mobile home in which small children learn
many important safety tips, including how to avoid burn injuries in the kitchen
Firefighters demonstrate how to keep flammable materials away form the
stove and to keep handles on cooking utensils turned inward so they cannot be
In the bedroom area, theater smoke is used to illustrate
the importance of knowing two ways out. The smoke detector sounds the alarm and
the children are taught how to safely exit the room. Children are taught to stay
calm, crawl low in smoke, and to feel an exit door with the back of their hand
before opening it.
Kids need to know that if one exit is blocked in
a real fire situation, they need to find another way out, added firefighter
Greg Grzymski. We tell our students it is very important to have an escape
plan and to practice it.
Parents are reminded to review with their child
what was taught during fire prevention week and to develop an escape plan in case
The Fire Safety Trailer is available to any organization wishing
to use it. Arrangements can be made by calling fire headquarters.
the department has once again teamed up with WNEP TVs Operation Save
a Life. Kiddie, a manufacturer of smoke detectors, donated 10,000 smoke
detectors as part of the project. WNEP distributed them to local fire departments
and fire personnel install smoke detectors in city homes free of charge.
fire department recommends placing smoke detectors on every level in the home
as well as in each bedroom. Arrangements for installing home smoke detectors can
be made by calling fire headquarters at 735-5860.
GNAs UGI Electric bill a shocker
have to pay 48 percent more for electricity, official says.
JANINE UNGVARSKY Times Leader Correspondent
recently approved increase for UGI Electric will cost Greater Nanticoke Area School
District taxpayers 9 mills, according to the districts superintendent.
Anthony Perrone told the school board Thursday that the districts $375,000
electric bill will increase by $160,000, or more than 48 percent, when a rate
increase approved by the state Public Utility Commission takes effect in January.
Thats nine mills of tax increase just for an increase in electric,
Perrone said, adding that taxpayers will also be hit by an increase in their own
electric bills. All of us have to get together and write letters to the
Public Utility Commission. Thats an outrageous increase.
is $1 of tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Perrone also told
the board that someone is ripping down signs at a school bus stop near the fire
station in West Nanticoke. The signs post parking restrictions for the times when
buses drop off and pick up about 20 to 30 students at the stop, he said.
some reason, after 35 years at least people dont want us to pick up kids
on Poplar Street, he said. Perrone said police and other authorities have
been notified and will prosecute the offenders. The kids safety is
In another issue related to student safety, the board discussed
installing speed bumps in the newly repaved high school parking lot. The board
also approved the installation of an above-ground propane tank to replace an old
underground tank that is leaking.
The tank, which powers an emergency generator,
will be on a concrete slab at least 10 feet behind the high school and secured
inside a fence, the board was told.
In other business, the board approved
a posting for two new special-education teachers. Perrone said 40 of 100 newly
enrolled students require special-education services.
The board also approved
the appointment of alternative-education teacher Deneen Zielinski, custodian John
Gorka and cafeteria worker Deneen Marcinkowski.
Plymouth Twp. bus stop ordinance should halt friction
between Tilbury Fire Co.
and GNA school bus drivers
A new township ordinance is expected
to quench a smoldering controversy concerning a bus stop outside the Tilbury Fire
The ordinance, passed by township supervisors Tuesday, creates a bus stop
by designating part of East Poplar Street on either side of the Tilbury Fire Co.
driveway a limited parking zone. Parking in marked areas on weekdays from 6:30
to 8:30 a.m. and 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. leads to a $300 fine.
Nanticoke Area School District and Plymouth Township officials opted to clearly
designate where buses can park to end an ongoing feud between bus drivers and
Hopefully, this will make everything calm down now, township
Supervisor Chairwoman Gale Conrad said.
The area in front of the Tilbury Fire
Co. has been a Greater Nanticoke Area school bus stop and transfer point for at
least two decades. Problems arose recently when other signs limiting parking went
missing. Neighbors parked in the bus areas, and firefighters said buses began
to park too close to the firehouse.
Things escalated when bus drivers accused
a firefighter of using a video camera to harass children. Tilbury Fire Chief John
Rinehimer claimed the buses were blocking the fire station driveway and the firefighter
was only taping the buses as evidence.
After receiving numerous complaints
from parents and bus drivers, school district officials asked the supervisors
to pass the ordinance.
Greater Nanticoke Area employees put up new no-parking
signs at the Tilbury bus stop Wednesday. Weather permitting, on Thursday the district
will have lines painted to further designate the no-parking zone in case somebody
takes down the new signs, township code enforcement officer Charles Balogh said.
We will strictly be enforcing this particular area, said Balogh, who
is responsible for doing so. Our big thing is the safety of the children
... were ready to take a strong stance.
Parking enforcement also
should help Theresa Balliet, who lives by the firehouse. She said she doesnt
mind one bus at a time stopping in front of her house. But when the previous signs
went missing, bus drivers started parking there two at a time because there were
other vehicles in their spots.
Balliet also was worried about liability. Residents
have to clear snow off sidewalks in front of their homes, but most people
dont have a whole big bunch of schoolchildren and parents on their sidewalks,
Executioner wants to revive pro wrestling of old.
The wrestler, whose real
name is Tom Rumsby, wants to see no more of the profanity and lewdness that pervades
televised professional wrestling.
Its time, he said, to get wrestling
back to where it was.
Rumsby, along with promoter Mark Spencer, will
be doing that next weekend with two local wrestling shows. One of the World Wrestling
Coalition events is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Garden Drive-in, Hunlock Creek,
and the other is set for the next day at the same time at the Mountain Speedway,
Rumsby said his events wont feature steroid-laced wrestlers
spewing swears and rude gestures at everyone. This will be some old-school pro
wrestling, he said.
In other words, dont offend families,
he said. No cursing, no gestures, just good clean fun.
of Nanticoke, has been running a drug-free wrestling school out of the Stars &
Stripes Fitness in Nanticoke for months. And he hopes some of his trainees, along
with some former wrestling stars, such as Honky Tonk Man, who appeared at a previous
WWC fundraiser, can restore that image of pro wrestling in the upcoming shows.
Outside the two upcoming events, Rumsby and Spencer hope to create a regular venue,
perhaps at the Tilbury Fire Hall, and even get the bouts on television.
ticket to the event is $5, he said. Each event has five bouts, he said.
Lack of consensus stalls Nanticokes
elected and appointed officials all want a transfusion of new life in the heart
of the city, they still havent reached consensus on how it should be done.
Downtown revitalization cant begin until the municipal authority, redevelopment
authority and city council agree on a plan.
Council and the mayor have already
stated they prefer the plan created by Facility Design and Development Ltd. for
the South Valley Partnership. Municipal authority members informally indicated
they prefer that plan as well, but have not taken an official vote, municipal
authority chairman Dennis Butler said.
During Saturday mornings redevelopment
authority meeting, chairman Chester Beggs said the authority still has to dot
its Is and cross its Ts on one or two more items before making a decision.
The redevelopment authority wants to make sure it would be legal to hire Facility
Design and Development: In May 2005, the previous municipal authority board hired
Turbotville-based Impact PA for downtown redevelopment under a contract that could
be difficult to break.
Recently, members of council and both authorities have
expressed frustration about the lack of progress.
This has been the
situation since Ive been on the (redevelopment authority) board, member
Steve Buchinski said. All three of us cant get together.
Henry Marks, who sits on the redevelopment and municipal authority boards, feels
differently: he thinks there are enough people in all three entities who are willing
to work together.
We have to do whats best for Nanticoke,
Butler suggested a joint meeting to try to move things forward.
One sticking point is whether a parking garage should be built next to the Kanjorski
Center on East Main Street, and if so, how many spaces it should have. Some officials
would prefer a surface parking lot at the site.
Another problem is that both
authorities were having trouble getting factual, iron-clad information
about their grants, Butler said. He said the municipal authoritys accountant
Karen Hazleton has been asked to provide a list of grants, how much has been used,
and for what, in time for the next meeting on Oct. 23.
Something the two authorities
and council agree on is that properties owned by the city should be sold. The
redevelopment authority has compiled a list of its properties, and now needs to
get them appraised in order to make decisions, Beggs said.
authority cant afford to pay maintenance and insurance on the buildings
and properties, he said.
If they are sold, the money goes to the municipal
authority, and the properties will be back on the tax rolls.
Nanticoke residents decry ruined properties
tell council places are being used as drug houses and are a threat to children.
By Ian Campbell - Times Leader Correspondent
residents told council Wednesday they want action on abandoned properties they
believe are being used as drug houses, especially one next to St Johns Church.
That building burned almost three years ago and the owners have promised to either
fix or demolish the property numerous times, council was told.
has become a site for drug use, church representatives said, and poses a danger
to children attending the church.
The building is not secured, and anyone
can gain access through either the front or back doors, although some of the windows
are boarded up, they said.
When approached during the daylight hours by police
officers, those inside the building said they had the permission of the property
owners to be there, council was told.
The matter has been before the district
judge several times and should be resolved by the end of the week, but if it is
not, said Mayor John Bushko, the city will act to demolish the property.
also complained about a neglected property on East Noble Street that was apparently
being occupied for similar purposes.
The issue might be resolved next year
with the compilation of a landlord database the city has developed.
by Councilman William OMalley, the database will help alleviate the citys
expected financial shortfall by making sure all revenue sources, such as earned
income tax, refuse and sewer fees, are properly collected. It will also impose
some controls on absentee landlords.
The occupancy inspections are also expected
to contribute to the citys revenue stream, OMalley said.
matter, council voted to accept a $3,000 offer for the American LaFrance fire
engine it had available.
Questions were asked about the anonymity surrounding
the bid, and after a resident asked who the bidders were and when the bids were
placed, Bushko made the information public. The successful bidder was John Cochran,
no address provided. One bidder was not named by Councilman Brent Makarcyzk as
he did not have the name available, since it had been received at 5 p.m. Wednesday
by phone at the fire station.
That bid, for $1,414.14, was unsuccessful.
Plymouth Township ordinance should address bus parking
concerns near Tilbury fire hall
Tilbury firefighters hope an action
by the board of supervisors settles an ongoing dispute over school bus parking
at the fire house.
supervisors passed the first reading of an ordinance Monday that officially designates
the road on both sides of the Tilbury Fire Co. on East Poplar Street as a Greater
Nanticoke Area bus stop from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. weekdays.
Parking there during those hours means a $300 fine.
Tilbury firefighters say
the buses were blocking their driveway. Bus drivers counter that they werent,
and say a firefighter went too far when he videotaped children getting on and
off the buses.
The area around the fire station, a bus stop for more than
20 years, is a transfer point for students, Greater Nanticoke Area Transportation
Coordinator Janet Yezefski said. There are no homes there, and its away
from heavy traffic.
We agree. We all have kids that go there. As far
as town goes, its probably the safest place to drop kids off and pick them
up, Tilbury Fire Chief John Rinehimer said.
The conflict apparently
began when neighbors started parking in the areas the buses normally stopped.
Bus drivers began parking too close to the firehouse, Rinehimer said, which led
to concerns about the ability to get fire trucks out in case of an emergency.
State vehicle code does not allow parking within 20 feet of a fire station, he
Yezefski said she and GNA Superintendent Anthony Perrone got involved
when parents called the district to complain about a firefighter videotaping children
at the bus stop.
Melissa Helmecki and her mother, Cecelia Ackerman, drivers
for White Transit, said they didnt block the driveway, so a firefighters
behavior with a videocamera was out of line.
Helmecki said she was pulling
her bus into the lot at about 3:05 p.m. on Sept. 25 when she saw Tilbury firefighter
Merrit Nash videotaping children getting on the buses. Helmecki said her 6-year-old
son Ryan, who transfers at the Tilbury station to his grandmothers bus,
He was shaking and screaming why are they filming
me, she said. I asked (Nash), could you please stop the camera
until the children get on the bus, but he just kept filming.
said he asked Nash to videotape the buses for evidence the drivers were blocking
the fire station driveway, and stayed with him while he was doing it.
wasnt a case where it was maliciously done, Rinehimer said of the
videotaping. Its hard to video a bus without videoing a kid.
School district officials noticed the buses were only blocking the driveway by
about 2 feet, but Yezefski said she could see the firefighters point.
I spoke with Chief Rinehimer last week. I said we want a peaceful resolution,
she said. We wont block your driveway, you need to stop videotaping.
As far as Tilbury firefighters are concerned, it is. Rinehimer believes: We
did reach an amicable solution, he said.
Mailbag letters to editor - Times Leader
made sale a success
like to thank all the city businesses for getting the word out about the city
wide yard sale held over this past weekend. As participants in the event, the
turnout was outstanding, and we did better than what we could even expected in
sales. We had a lot of shoppers that did not reside in the city, and many had
great things to say about the businesses that exist in the city for their courteous
and friendly assistance and for providing information on the sales, as they had
run out of maps that were being distributed at Patriot Square.
know that we have our problems within the city i.e. the Kanjorski Center, empty
businesses, the Main Street project and budget problems, but for these two days
the city shined. I hope that this project spurs on other things in
the city; can you imagine what it would have been like if we could have had business
filling Main and Market streets and having the sidewalk sales that
we use to have when Woolworths and The Leader Store headlined the downtown?
Maybe one day we will get that back again. Thanks to all of those who organized
this event .
There are a lot of activities and events going on in
the Nanticoke area that I would like to share with you.
Pope John Paul II School, classes to enrich your mind and strengthen your body
are being offered. On Tuesday, students and adults are invited to an exciting
hour of mental gymnastics as you learn Sudoku. Find out why the interest in these
puzzles is sweeping the nation and learn to solve these popular puzzles. There
is no math involved, but you will need to bring a pencil with a good eraser. The
cost is $8, which includes a 176 puzzle book for you to keep. Classes will be
held at the main building on Hanover Street from 2:05 to 3:05 p.m. This class
is for ages 7 to adult. Space is limited so call 735-7935.
for Fitness classes are being offered at Pope John Paul on Mondays, Oct.
16 through Nov. 20. This class will teach poses that gently stretch and strengthen
the body. Participants will need to bring a non-slip yoga mat. Student ages 7
to adult are invited to participate. The cost is $60 for six sessions. Mary Frances
Giordano, a certified instructor, will teach the class. The time is 2:05 to 3:05
p.m. Call 735-6935 to register.
Valley Chamber insurance
Valley Chamber of Commerce has announced that Chamber Choice, the insurance entity
of the Chambers of Commerce, is in the process of upgrading its insurance packages
for Chamber members.
Membership meetings will be held Oct. 2 through Oct.
6 at various sites in the Chambers coverage area. For more information,
contact Julianna at 735-6990.
Child chicken dinner
of Holy Child Church invite you to their delicious chicken dinner today at the
Holy Child Grove. Dinner will be served from noon until 3 p.m. Takeouts are from
11 a.m. until noon. The dinner includes half a baked chicken, baked potato, vegetables,
rolls, beverage and dessert. Tickets are $8. Holy Child Grove is located behind
the Guardian Elder Care Center on Robert Street. If Mother Nature doesnt
cooperate, dont worry, there are plenty of covered pavilions. See you there.
You know when
the weather gets cooler it must be time for the annual Chinese auction sponsored
by St. Stanislaus Church. The event will be held Sunday, Oct. 8.
luck at winning one of the great baskets filled to the brim with stuff. Included
are baskets for every member of the family. There will be refreshments and a bake
sale. The auction will be held at the school hall on East Church Street. The doors
open at 11 a.m. and the auction will begin at 1 p.m. For information, call Karen
J Wytoshek, Nanticoke City tax collector, announces the 2006 Greater Nanticoke
Area School District taxes and per capita taxes rebate period will end Monday.
The tax office will have extended hours on Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Payments will not be accepted by postmark.
City and school taxes for the current
year are payable at the Nanticoke Municipal Building Tax Office, Monday thru Friday
between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The 2006 city and city per capita taxes are now
in penalty period until Dec. 15.
For information, call 735-2800.
ready for Oktoberfest
Altar and Rosary Society is holding its annual Oktoberfest on Sunday, Oct. 8 at
the parish center on East Green Street.
You dont have to be German
to enjoy this event, said Andrea Josefowicz.
There will be all homemade
German foods and German beer. Tickets are $8 for adults and $3.50 for students.
Serving will be from noon to 5 p.m. Takeouts are available. For more information,
PJP School serve spaghetti
John Paul II School will hold its spaghetti dinner Sunday, Oct. 15. Come enjoy
a good homemade Italian meal. Serving will begin at noon and run until 3 p.m.
The cost is $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for children, and free for children 3 years
and younger. For information, call Esta at 592-7945 or Sue at 740-1424.
Great Yard Sale was a great success
The first annual Nanticoke Citywide Yard Sale which was held on September 16 and
17 was an overwhelming success. We would like to thank the many people that assisted
in making this a success. They include: Betsy Cheshinski and all the girls in
the Treasurers Department at Nanticoke City Hall that helped with the numerous
phone calls, Karen Dougherty who was at Patriots Park at 7 a.m. each day
passing out maps and directories and entertaining the crowd and AllState Insurance
who assisted in making copies of the directories when we ran short at 10 a.m.
Also, a thank you goes to the South Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor John
Bushko for all their help. And, thank you to the local press for their wonderful
coverage of the event.
A very special thank you goes to the people of Nanticoke
for their participation in making the first annual yard sale a success.
out for The Great Nanticoke Yard Sale Part II coming to Nanticoke
Nanticoke Civic Pride
crowd on hand for seminar on drug abuse in Luzerne County
SKRAPITS - STAFF WRITER
World is not the kind of amusement most people would want to go if they
knew the price of admission.
Unlike the Coney Island of Don Williams
teenage years, Bubble World is the world of drugs, booze, and
the whole lifestyle that goes with it.
Williams, executive director
of Clearbrook Lodge, used the amusement park metaphor to get across the pleasures
and dangers of drug abuse in a seminar at Luzerne County Community College on
Although attendance was small only about 20 people
and mostly members of the Drug Task Force and Youth Task Force, Williams and Nanticoke
pharmacist Anthony Dougalas made an impression.
I didnt know anything
about the new drugs with Fentanyl, said Kaila Sakowski, 16, a junior at
Nanticoke High School and president of the Youth Task Force. Thats
a good thing to know, because Ill be getting out in the real world. Im
glad Im finding out now before its too late.
advice would be useful for when friends ask for help, she said.
a fun person to listen to, Sakowski said.
An oversize sketch pad and
black marker helped Williams illustrate whats in Bubble World:
Escape. Courage. Popularity. Pain relief. Fantasy.
The number-one reason
people pick up a drug is not stress. The real reason is so simple its disgusting,
Williams said. Its fun.
But addiction takes a physical,
emotional and financial toll on users and their families. Sooner or later rain
comes down and bursts the bubble unless an enabler holds out a figurative
umbrella to keep the drug user from feeling the consequences of his or her actions,
Williams said. Pain is the only thing that will stop the pleasure of drug abuse.
Symptoms are meant to show there is a problem but leave the diagnosis up
to professionals, Williams said. Certain symptoms of drug abuse such as rapid
mood swings, loss of control, and strange behavior could also come from a different
cause, like bipolar disorder.
Some of the tickets to Bubble World
are what Dougalas calls the drugs of the new millennium. Fentanyl
a narcotic 100 times stronger than morphine, is hitting the streets in cut form,
mixed with heroin, he said. Unsuspecting users can overdose so fast they dont
have time to call 911.
The stimulant methamphetamine has not yet exploded
in the Wyoming Valley area, although labs for making it and ice, a
stronger, smokable form, have surfaced, especially in the Tunkhannock area, he
said. Methamphetamine and its variants are relatively easy to make, he explained.
That is why a new federal law goes into effect Sept. 30 prohibiting pharmacies
from selling more than one product containing their main ingredients, ephedrine
or pseudoephedrine, per customer at a time.
Federal grant program to promote reading rapped
Programs directors pushed for grant to be spent on one firms products.
A federal grant
program designed to improve reading in early grades garnered harsh criticism in
a new federal report, including claims that the programs directors broke
the law by pushing grant winners to spend the money on products offered by a specific
But no such pressure reached the lone local school district
in the program, Greater Nanticoke Area, an official there said.
was dubbed The Reading First Programs Grant Application Process,
and was released by the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General.
Reading First targets money at low-income, low-performing students through grade
three, offering money for five consecutive years to improve curriculum and teacher
training. The money is funneled through each state, which had to apply for its
share, then divvy it among eligible school districts.
The report contends,
among other things, that the department overseeing the federal grant intervened
to influence a states selection of reading programs and to influence
reading programs being used by local school districts, violating the rules
spelled out in the law that created the Reading First program.
the report contends that the department pushed reading programs sold by SRA/McGraw-Hill,
and the documents include several e-mails to bolster that argument, including
one from Reading First Director Chris Doherty urging an underling to criticize
an alternative reading program offered by the Wright Group:
(expletive deleted) out of them.
Hit them over and over with definitive
evidence that they are not (Scientifically Based Reading Research), never have
been and never will be. They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat
the (expletive deleted) out of them ... . Doherty has since resigned.
No such pressure was put on Greater Nanticoke Area either from the state
or federal departments of education, according to Mike Pawlik, the districts
director of Federal Programs. The state provided a list of approved programs,
including McGraw Hill, and Greater Nanticoke Area chose Houghton Mifflin.
Pawlik said the program has been successful.
Before it started, only about
half the students in some classes could read at grade level. In the most recent
tested, up to 95 percent of the kids were reading at grade level.
made monumental changes, Pawlik said.
Now in its third year, the program
brings almost $175,000 annually into the district for teacher training and student
supplies, according to the state Department of Education Web site.
said there is no way of knowing, at this point, if the local program will be affected
by the critical federal report. State Department of Education spokesman Michael
Storm echoed that sentiment on the state level.
Members of the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task
Force (GNADTF) continue to provide programs that educate and bring awareness to
the drug problem in the Nanticoke Area. The newest program, Straight Talk, gives
individuals who might be experiencing an addiction problem, or someone with a
family member or friend who needs to be steered down the right path, an opportunity
to sit down with a volunteer from the GNADTF. The volunteers have experience in
dealing with drug addiction and or recovery and know what programs one might need
to turn their lives around.
Kevin Grevera from the Nanticoke Police Department and Don Williams, executive
director of Clear Brook Lodge, both GNADTF members, came up with the program.
We feel it is an important addition to our existing programs, said
Don. We have programs in place that are good alternatives to getting involved
with drugs and/or alcohol, to include a new recreation center, great programs
that run from there and events and activities throughout the year for our young
We have drug awareness programs, he added. It is
time for a program that helps individuals take the bull by the horns, realize
there is a problem, say enough is enough, and get good advice as to what their
next step should be.
This is a non-group setting where individuals can
meet anonymously and confidentially for a one-on-one discussion with knowledgeable,
experienced adults from GNADTF. Available volunteers can include, upon request,
experts in the fields of medicine law, rehabilitation, and personal and family
recovery. This service will not offer therapy, but rather is designed to meet
the needs of individuals who are seeking answers or referrals in a confidential
Personnel will be available for Straight Talk every Monday at 7:30
p.m. at the Stickney Building, 24 Prospect St. in Nanticoke. Appointments can
be made by calling 762-4009.
Speaking of the GNADTF, Don
Williams tells me that help is needed on Saturday mornings to complete the renovations
being done at the Stickney Building and the new recreation center.
are trying to complete some painting and repair work so that we can open the recreation
center as soon as possible, he said. If you can give a few hours on
Saturdays that would be great.
Work hours are 8 a.m. to noon. To volunteer,
show up at the center or call 762-4009.
every parent should know
seminar sponsored by the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force will be held Tuesday
at Luzerne County Community College Conference Center, Room 132.
aims to help parents, teachers and other concerned adults learn about the new
illegal drugs being introduced in the community, signs and symptoms of drug and
or alcohol use, as well as intervention strategies.
Drugs of the New
Millennium, presented by Anthony C. Douala, R.H., Act 120 instructor and
owner of the Medicine Shop in Nanticoke, will offer information concerning what
drugs are out there and available to our young people.
Tony will speak
about the newer drugs to include designer drugs out on our street, said
Don Williams, executive director of Clear Brook Lodge.
Behavioral signs and
symptoms and intervention strategies will be the topic Williams will tackle.
My goal is to get parents, adults, anyone who interacts with our young people,
to become aware of certain behaviors that might indicate a problem and then seek
out help, said Don.
on the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force
chance to celebrate summer
forget to stop by the End of Summer Fling today at Holy Child Grove on Newport
Street, behind the Guardian Elder Care Center in Sheatown. The annual event, which
benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, has helped raise a lot of money for a
Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic lung disease where mucus builds
up in the breathing passage, lungs and pancreas. Treatment can improve survival
and quality of life. And, it is fundraisers such as this that are making a difference.
In 1995, children with CF did not live to attend elementary school. Today, thanks
in part to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the median age of survival is nearly
37 years. One hundred percent of the money raised from the End of Summer Fling
goes directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The End of Summer Fling features
great homemade food and desserts, including a pig roast. Ten live bands will entertain,
beginning at noon. There also will be games for the whole family. A bikers
run will be held with an 11 a.m. registration and noon start.
includes food, beverage and bands, is $20 for adults, $15 for those 13 to 20 years
of age, and free for children 12 and younger.
ready for Octoberfest
the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Francis Church invites the public to their
annual Octoberfest on Sunday, Oct. 8, at the parish center on East Green Street.
This is a great event featuring all homemade German food and of course German
Serving will be from noon until 5 p.m. and takeouts are available. Cost
is $8 for adults and $3.50 for children. Tickets will be sold at the door as well
as after all Masses.
Area School District appoints tax study commission
Perrone, superintendent of the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, announced
a tax study commission of local residents was appointed at a recent meeting of
the board of education.
The function of the Act 1 tax commission will be to
gather information and to make recommendations.
The new taxpayer relief act
requires a so-called front-end referendum in next Mays primary in all school
districts. The ballot question will ask schools to provide property tax deduction
to Homestead/Farmstead properties.
In preparation for the referendum, the
new law directs all school boards to appoint a tax study commission by Sept. 14.
The commission is mandated to study the current district tax structure and then
make a recommendation to the school board on the ballot question no more than
90 days after its appointment.
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District
will conduct a meeting for its commission, which will be run by the Pennsylvania
School Boards Association, on Monday at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Guest
speaker from the PSBA will be Tim Allwein. Taxpayers are urged to attend.
Nanticoke officials will examine their
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS - STAFF WRITER
and the mayor decided Wednesday night that its time to get serious about
old and new business.
Mayor John Bushko told council to prepare a list of
unfinished projects to tackle, and Councilman Bill OMalley asked his fellow
officials to get started on the 2007 budget, which, for the first time in years,
will contain a much-needed capital improvement fund.
The things weve
started and havent finished, lets look at for the next meeting,
For example, earlier in the summer, council closed the Washington
Fire Co., but nothing has been done about selling the building or the firetruck,
As part of following up on old business, OMalley said he has
a list of city-owned properties; council and municipal authority members have
been talking for months about selling those that arent going to be used
in redevelopment projects.
By councils next meeting OMalley said
he should have a landlord database finished. City officials are trying to crack
down on problem properties and make sure owners and tenants are accounted for
at tax time.
In new business, council members will meet with department heads
to plan 2007 expenses, to come up with a draft budget by mid-October and a complete
one by the first week in November. The citys financial recovery coordinator,
Pennsylvania Economy League, will assist.
The process involves finding money
somewhere, whether from the federal Office of Community Development, a loan, or
tax money, for a capital improvement fund, OMalley said. It would be used
for projects costing over $2,500, such as road repair and other infrastructure
improvements, he said.
City officials need to plan ahead for major expenses
they might face, OMalley said, citing a recent situation with police vehicles
as a classic example.
A few months ago, all the citys police
vehicles were non-functional, some so badly they couldnt be fixed, councilman
Joe Dougherty said. The city had to borrow cruisers from Wilkes-Barre City and
Fortunately, two new cruisers could be purchased with $25,000
given by the Nanticoke Housing Authority as part of a service agreement, plus
some grant money obtained by state Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston.
Nanticoke put on mother of all yard sales
digging through a box on a porch in Nanticoke on Saturday I grabbed something
furry, something stiff, something that looked exactly like the rear end of a dead
And the very first thing to enter my mind was: Holy (cow). Somebody
is selling their dead dog.
Allow me to explain.
Already that morning
I had seen people attempt to sell houseplants, holy Bibles, half-bottles of nail
polish, a dirty bird cage and college textbooks including Bacterial Plant
Pathology: Cell and Molecular Aspects.
An everything-must-go mentality
pervaded the town.
One lady on Noble Street spoke for them all: I just
want rid of this stuff.
Nanticoke folks let us poke through their attics,
browse through their basements and dig through their drawers last weekend.
In fact, they saved us the trouble of going inside, and brought the booty to the
More than 200 families participated in a city-wide yard sale that drew
hundreds, maybe thousands, of bargain, treasure and curiosity seekers.
was a great idea. Ive never seen the like. But to call it a yard sale is
You name it, they had it
There were yard sales, sure, but
also garage sales, sidewalk sales, porch sales, driveway sales, sales as far as
the eye could see.
People sold everything but the skeletons out of their closet.
It was a second-hand stores nightmare.
Snow blowers and lawn mowers.
Sleds and beds. Books, toys, clothes, shoes, games, coats, costumes, holiday decorations
and boxes filled with Christmas lights that came with no guarantees.
items, I believe, were overpriced.
One guy wanted 50 cents apiece for Nixon
campaign pins. He claimed he is not a crook.
Other items struck me as too
personal to purchase secondhand.
We saw combs and curling irons, lingerie
and lipstick, an Emergency First Aid Kit for Lovers complete with whipped cream,
warming gel and assorted massage oils.
Other offerings revealed buyers
There were steppers and skiers and treadmills and three different
kinds of George Foreman fat-burning grills for sale. Safe to say Nanticoke has
ditched the diet.
The important thing is that people spent time with their
neighbors and got rid of some junk and picked up a little spending money so they
can buy some more junk.
Participants didnt make much off me.
largest single purchase was a bowl of Ham and Bean Soup for $1.50 from the Lighthouse
Worship Center, which served lunch in the church basement.
I bought an oil
painting of a Polynesian beach scene for 50 cents, but only after the artist,
yard sale participant Dori Ponko, agreed to sign it.
And my Schmidts
Beer bottle opener, which pre-dates twist-off caps, only cost me a dime.
lucked into a plain black sweatshirt, never worn, tags intact, for 50 cents. I
can wear it without being a walking billboard.
And I bought a red-white-and-blue
ceramic bull with a bell on its neck for 75 cents, but I would have paid more.
I found it emblematic of our nations foreign policy.
But I passed on
the fur seat cushion I found in the box on the porch.
Looks too much like
a dead dog to me.
(Note: Thank you for the advertisement
in the paper Casey! We'll see you again next year.)
Nanticoke yard sale a great innovation
new ideas for community improvement are hard to come by. So a lot of credit goes
to J.D. Verazin, a member of the Nanticoke Civic Pride Group who came up with
the idea of a community-wide yard sale.
This past weekend, all the residents
of Nanticoke were able to put out items they want to get rid of. And bargain hunters
were able to cruise the streets of Nanticoke checking out the many yard sales.
Were sure a lot of people had a lot of fun. And we think this has the potential
to be an annual event.
Nanticoke Webdesign note: Plans
are already in the process for next years event. Thanks again. Please keep on
checking back here, for there are many other people that deserve credit for such
a huge undertaking.
Just what they bargained for
Organizers of citywide yard sale hoped to draw
people to Nanticoke. They were overwhelmed by the turnout at the first-ever event,
which concludes today.
strollers, books, clothes and tools. Even the kitchen sink complete with a faucet
and hoses was available, but installation is up to you.
Either you want it,
need it or youre a collector looking for hidden treasure, youll probably
find it at the first Nanticoke City Wide Yard Sales.
Nearly 225 homes throughout
the city collectively had the largest yard sale ever seen in the region, perhaps
the state, on Saturday. The event concludes today.
The idea of a citywide
yard sale came from J.D. Verazin, a member of the Nanticoke Civic Pride Group,
who thought about it two years ago after seeing something similar in another state.
I thought it would be a good idea to get people to come into town,
Verazin said early Saturday afternoon. Were having a sale at our house
and weve probably had more than 100 people come through in the morning.
The event began at 9 a.m.
By 9:45 a.m., organizers ran out of maps and booklets
listing the addresses of homes having yard sales.
I needed a traffic
cop here this morning, said Karen Doherty, who was in charge of handing
out the information to would-be bargain hunters at Patriot Square.
began the morning with 125 booklets and maps. She had to turn people away for
a short time while Yvonne Bozinski, the pride groups civil events coordinator,
was busy at City Hall making more copies.
This is absolutely amazing,
Bozinski said. We wanted to find a way to introduce people to the city and
I think we have.
We were having our meeting a few months ago tossing
ideas on what to do and J.D. (Verazin) said lets have a citywide yard sale.
We all said, OK lets try it. I think were going to be doing this annually,
How did organizers plan the event? Children passed out fliers
and churches during services announced the event a few months ago.
said the telephone didnt stop ringing for weeks with homeowners wanting
to take part. Drive or walk down any street and youll likely find unwanted
belongings that could be treasure for someone else.
for old baseball cards. Ive come across a few but Im interested in
cards from the 1960s and 1970s, said Bill Quinn of Wilkes-Barre.
found matching salt and pepper shakers and believe it or not, the matching napkin
holder for my table, said Betty Lingurie of Wilkes-Barre.
bicycles, toys, televisions, microwaves, purses, lamps, musical equipment and
a fish aquarium without the fish are just some of the thousands of items being
Verazin already has an idea for next year.
to ask people to include the top two or three items and list them on the booklet.
That way, if you need a TV or something, youll go right to that address,
gets ready for a bargain-hunting weekend during its first citywide yard sale
BY ROBERT KALINOWSKI - CV - STAFF WRITER
youre looking to do some bargain shopping this weekend, heading to Nanticoke
might be a good idea.
More than 200 residents will participate in the towns
first-ever city-wide yard sale.
Dubbed The Great Nanticoke City-Wide
Yard Sale, the event, organizers hope, will draw people to the town and
help its residents part with unwanted or unneeded belongings.
It will run
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be at least one yard
sale on nearly every street in the city, including in the Honey Pot and Hanover
sections, according to organizers.
Verazin, a member of the Nanticoke Civic Pride Group, came up with the idea when
the group was contemplating what it should do for its monthly event in September.
Basically, if you ride up and down the streets, youre going to see
a bunch of yard sales, Verazin said. The whole city will be involved.
Those coming to the city for the event are encouraged to stop by Patriot Park,
where organizers will be gathered to give people booklets of addresses where yard
sales will be held and a map of the city, Verazin said. However, Verazin predicts
many more people who didnt pre-register will likely put things out for sale
in front of their homes.
A lot of times, its all up to residents
to advertise or put a sign up. Now, the whole city of Nanticoke is advertising
for you, Verazin said.
Theresa Sowa, of Enterprise Street, plans to
participate. Whats she planning to sell?
Whatever I have that
I can get rid of. Why not? she said. I figure if I cant use
it maybe somebody can.
Her early list of items for sale includes crafts,
baskets, lawn chairs, a cabinet, and other household accessories.
if I dont sell it all, Im sure some things will go, she said.
I hope it goes over well not just for me, but for everyone.
city Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski, the citys special events coordinator,
said shes expecting an immensely successful day. Until now, the only word
of mouth about the sale has been a park bench advertisement, announcements at
city council meetings and advertisements in church bulletins and the phone
has been ringing off the hook in city hall with residents wanting to take part,
Its been an overwhelming response, really. People are
very enthused about it, she said. We wanted to introduce more people
to Nanticoke, and we thought this was the best way to do it.
more information on the yard sale, click HERE
Cops: Mayor punched in bar fight
John Bushko, who also owns a bar, was trying to break up a melee Saturday, he
By KEVIN AMERMAN email@example.com
citys mayor was punched in the face and a gunshot was fired during a fracas
involving up to 30 people on Saturday, police said.
Tempers began to flare
when two men who were in town for a wedding went to Tossis Town Tavern on
Front Street, owned by Mayor John Bushko and his wife. The out-of-towners asked
the bartender if they could watch something on a television, said Nanticoke police
Sgt. Mike Roke.
When the bartender wouldnt put what they wanted on the
TV, they began to leave and a patron made a remark to them, Roke said. The men
said they would return to the bar with friends and at about 10 p.m., they did.
The men began fighting with bar patrons and Bushko was punched in the face. Roke
said the mayor received superficial injuries and said its unclear if he
was hit by a stray punch or someone meant to punch him.
Bushko said he was
upstairs the bar is attached to his home watching a college football
game when the fight broke out. I was trying to be a peacemaker, the
mayor said, jokingly noting that he wanted the fight to end so he could go back
to watching the game.
One local man, who was armed, was injured badly, police
said. The man, whose name was not released, was assaulted by more than one of
the men who started the fight.
He was basically minding his own business
and the guys approached him and started laying a beating on him, said Capt.
William Shultz. His face was kicked in.
The victim, who is licensed
to carry a gun, fired a warning shot toward a wooded area, but it didnt
help. He told police the men knocked him to the ground and stole his gun. Although
he discharged a gun, he likely will not be charged because he did so to stop the
incident, police said.
When officers responded to the melee, which they say
involved 20 to 30 people, Roke said everyone scattered.
ones who stayed were basically innocent.
Bushko identified one person
as an aggressor. That person, whose name wasnt released, was questioned.
Charges could be filed against that person and others, Roke said.
they were told that the men who started the fight were in town to attend a wedding
reception at House of Rhone, which is near the tavern.
Officers went to the
reception to question people.Nobody knew anything, Roke said. You
want to get down to the bottom of it and you cant.
GNA announces support staff deal
ZERA Times Leader Correspondent
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board announced Thursday it reached an agreement
on the contract with 85 support staff members, which includes maintenance and
cafeteria workers, school aides and secretaries.
Retroactive to the 2004-2005
school year, the contract includes a 25-cent an hour pay raise in the first year,
with subsequent 75-cent raises each school year to the length of the contract,
which ends June 2008.
The contract also calls for support staff to pay 1 percent
of gross salary back to the district for health coverage and prescriptions.
The previous contract expired June 2004. The districts teachers union contract,
which expired June 2005, still is being negotiated.
Board solicitor Vito DeLuca
negotiations with the support staff union focused on salaries and health coverage.
The district obviously has an economic interest, and the people on the other
side of the table were looking out for their own families. This was a very good
compromise, DeLuca said.
The board, at Thursdays monthly meeting,
also appointed seven people to serve on the districts tax study commission:
John Ravin, Robert Hughes, Frank Vandermark, Elaine Gregorowicz, Henry Marks,
Jean Ditzler and Mark Yeager. In accordance with state mandates, the commission
will look at information to make a recommendation to the board on whether to increase
earned income tax or create a local personal income tax to replace revenue previously
obtained from property taxes.
The first meeting of the commission is set for
6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25 in the high school cafeteria.
Pennsylvania State Education Association
boards face grievances
Organization files labor complaints after the districts
consider leaving health insurance consortium.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association,
the parent organization for almost all local public school teacher unions and
support staff unions, has filed nearly 40 labor complaints and grievances aimed
at 10 local school boards.
The move came in response to decisions by those
boards to consider switching health insurance systems.
The boards each authorized
written notices that they are considering dropping out of the Northeast Pennsylvania
Health Trust, a consortium created by area school districts in 1999 to use their
collective clout to lower health insurance premiums.
We simply cant
understand why the districts would want to destroy an organization that has saved
the taxpayers literally millions of dollars, said PSEA Solicitor John Audi.
Audi said the union took a two-pronged approach to the legal action, filing 19
unfair labor practice complaints with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board contending
the school boards broke the law, and 19 union grievances with the individual school
boards claiming they violated contract terms.
The PSEA filed one complaint
and one grievance for each teacher union and each support staff union. Only one
of those 20 unions Pittston Area teachers is not represented by
PSEA, he said.
The action was taken against Dallas, Lake-Lehman, Greater Nanticoke
Area, Northwest Area, Pittston Area, Tunkhannock Area, Wyoming Area and Wyoming
Valley West school districts, as well as against West Side Area Vocational-Technical
High School and the Luzerne Intermediate Unit.
The dispute stems primarily
from how the health trust has handled a burgeoning surplus.
Some school boards
wanted to see a large chunk of the extra cash estimated in excess of $5
million this spring returned to school districts. But the trust chose to
keep most of it in reserve and give districts a one-month, 50 percent cut in premiums.
School boards then started submitting notices that they were considering withdrawing
from the consortium.
11 through the eyes of children
By Robert Kalinowski Staff
Out in the playground during the first month of her first year
of school, then 5-year-old Alyssa Mattey sensed the world was changing before
her young eyes on Sept. 11, 2001.
I was in recess. My mom and dad came
running up to me. They said Im getting picked up because something bad was
happening, she recalls. We went home. My mom put on the TV and I saw
the buildings blow up.
Members of the incoming 2001 kindergarten classes
are now fifth-graders. Most of them are now 10 years old and have spent half of
their lives in a post-Sept. 11 world.
In Ted Sokolowskis Greater Nanticoke
Area fifth-grade classroom Monday, the Sept. 11 tragedy was ripe for discussion
and many students were able to vividly recall that fateful day.
Dorris lived in New York City at the time. She remembers turning on the television
with her mother after leaving school.
They were showing the Twin Towers
on fire. She (her mother) thought it was a movie. But, it wasnt. It was
on every channel, Dorris said. It was scary. I was crying.
Sitting in class that day, Evan Saunders also had a sense something wasnt
I had no clue what was happening. Someone came into class and
whispered into the teachers ear. She was always happy, but we knew something
went wrong because she looked depressed.
Sokolowski said he has talked
to his students about Sept. 11 for several days and was impressed with how much
they grasped. On Monday, he walked into class and asked, How many planes
crashed on that day? and What did the planes crash into that day?
For both questions, nearly every student raised his or her hands looking to answer.
He even tackled the broad question, What is terrorism? Answers ranged
from one student saying, trying to blow up your shoe on a plane, to
another saying, inspiring fear in an enemy, more near the dictionary
I dont know if people realize how smart these kids
are, Sokolowski said. They listen and they learn. Theyve become
Sokolowski said he thinks it was important to discuss
the sensitive topic with the youngsters.
You cant hide it. They
have to know the truth. They are now young ladies and gentlemen. They need to
know, he said.
Several of Sokolowskis students have parents who
are firefighters, police officers and in the military, which likely is a reason
they are so informed on the issue, he said.
Lindsay Lanes father is
a volunteer firefighter in Nanticoke, and she said thinking about Sept. 11 hits
I know if we lived there (New York) he would have went there and
I dont know if he would have made it home, she said.
A family is temporarily homeless after an electrical
fire damaged their home in the Hanover section of Nanticoke on Thursday morning.
Nanticoke fire department was
called to the single-family home at 132 Pine St. at 1:32 a.m., Fire Chief Mike
Christopher Gober, Mary Gober, Gelene Gober and Jeffrey Hero were
in the house at the time, but got out safely, Bohan said.
was out and accounted for when we got on scene, he said.
The Gober family
went to stay with neighbors, Bohan said. Their house sustained fire, smoke and
water damage on the first and second floors, he said.
It was, I would
say, moderate damage to the structure. Two rooms were pretty much destroyed,
Fire officials believe the fire started in an electrical panel box
in the basement, Bohan said, noting, It was pretty clear cut that it was
an electrical fire.
One firefighter suffered a small cut, but there
were no other injuries, he said.
Hanover Townships fire company assisted
officials discuss development
South Valley Partnership calls for business
incubator at Kanjorski Center.
By IAN CAMPBELL Times Leader Correspondent
Two weeks from now, the South Valley
Partnerships plan to redevelop Nanticoke may be in effect, as long as the
Municipal Authority and the Redevelopment Authority can come to terms with details
of the plan at their own meetings.
Plans were discussed at a meeting Wednesday
Among other things, the redevelopment plan calls for a business incubator
at the Kanjorski building, an ATV park and new bus routes in the region, including
a loop from LCCC to downtown Nanticoke.
An April meeting revealed the cost
of the two-year, three-community project would be $135,000. Plymouth Township
and Newport Township are also participating in the strategic plan. South Valley
Partnership is a private, non-profit group.
Without a tenant in the Kanjorski
Building, the Municipal Authority cannot meet an annual charge of $120,000 to
pay its loan debt, and the council, as guarantor of that debt, and itself currently
operating with a shortfall each month, is not able to assume the debt either.
The city struggles to keep operating each month, according to council member William
OMalley, and this month is short $80,000. In order to finance the added
debt, 200 mills would have to be added to the current 60 mills, he said. A mill
is a $1 levy on each $1,000 of assessed property value.
the two authorities indicated they were essentially in agreement with the South
Valley plan, as presented by planner Alexander Belavitz, who explained that several
concerns about adding needed parking to help the breakdown of the Kanjorski Center
into some form of business incubator operation could be resolved by creating an
open parking area on land opposite the building, rather than erecting a new facility.
Parking follows development, but you dont build the parking first,
If agreement exists, Belavitz said the first step would be
to begin on a series of catalyzing projects, the most important being
work on the streetscapes of the city.
Uniform lighting and signs, fixing footpaths
and planting in public areas were all key to that, he said.
Planner: Nanticoke on cusp of making things
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS - STAFF WRITER
the citys elected and appointed officials can get solidly together behind
an economic development strategy, Nanticokes downtown could see renovations
and public and private investment to a degree that hasnt happened in at
least a generation, their planner says.
Youre right on the cusp
of making great things happen, urban planner Alex Belavitz said Wednesday
night to city council and Nanticokes municipal and redevelopment authorities,
both of which are responsible for downtown revitalization.
The three entities
informally agree that the plan created by Belavitz firm, Facility Design
and Development Ltd., was the best way to go to breathe new life into the citys
The comprehensive economic development plan, drawn up for
Nanticoke and Newport and Plymouth townships at the request of South Valley Partnership,
contains recommendations on how the three communities can be revitalized.
There are several things that will act as catalysts for change in Nanticokes
downtown, Belavitz said. One is more parking, preferably in lots or garages scattered
throughout instead of one in a central location as the authorities originally
planned, he said.
The 80 percent vacant Kanjorski Center, a liability to the
authorities, could be turned into an asset if it is subdivided to make it attractive
to small start-up businesses, Belavitz said. Since vacant buildings next door
on East Main Street were demolished, there would be almost enough parking there
without the need to build a garage, he said.
Nanticoke needs to invest in
itself. New sidewalks and street lighting are necessary for safety and aesthetic
reasons, Belavitz said.
Carbondale mayor Justin Taylor, whose Lackawanna County
municipality is experiencing revitalization after following a plan by Facility
Design and Development, gave Nanticoke officials a pep talk about attracting private
investors, which they and Belavitz agree is crucial. Some are interested in Nanticoke
That happens when you have a plan, Taylor said. Developers
show up, and they show up left and right.
But even if the plan is adopted,
most changes wont come overnight, councilman Bill OMalley said.
Although the capital improvements in the plan are desperately needed especially
new sidewalks Nanticoke is financially distressed and has to scratch even
to pay its bills; there is no money for matching funds for grants, he said.
The city has a $5.6 million federal transportation grant obtained by U.S. Rep
Paul Kanjorski last year. However, before council and the authorities can decide
how to use it, they must find out exactly what the grant can be used for, municipal
authority member Henry Marks said, to the agreement of all three entities.
Additionally, the municipal and redevelopment authorities have to meet and formally
decide whether they can and will adopt the South Valley plan and start implementing
Nanticoke tenants left without water because landlord
owes on the sewer bill
week while the Wyoming Valley worried about getting too much water, residents
in certain Nanticoke rental properties had to face not having any.
Valley Sanitary Authority shut off water for three multi-family residences at
127-125 Pine St., 221 Pine St. and 269 E. Green St. this week because their owner
did not pay sewer bills for more than a year. The tenants only options are
to pay the delinquent fees or move out of the homes, which are considered unfit
for habitation by code enforcement.
As the sky darkened Friday with the approach
of Tropical Depression Ernesto, which is bringing rain to Northeastern Pennsylvania
today, a woman emerged from the Green Street building with an armload of plastic
jugs. The tenant, who asked not to be identified, said she was going to borrow
some water from a neighbor. On Thursday she bought a cart load of water at the
grocery store. Saturday she planned to ask her son to bring some.
we know what they lived like in the pioneer days, like Little House on the
Prairie but they had a well, she said.
The three properties
are owned by Allan Herring. He did not return calls for comment.
strictly deals with the property owner, not the tenants, WVSA spokesman Peter
Gill said. Owners pay WVSA $40 a quarter for each equivalent dwelling unit, which
is a single-family home or apartment.
(Herrings) bill is well
over a year overdue, Gill said. He supposedly told our people he was
selling the property. We tried to work with him, and it just got worse.
Under state law, WVSA can turn off water on properties with overdue bills, but
the owner must be given notice. Besides the quarterly bills, Herring was sent
a notice on July 25 that WVSA would turn the water off on his properties, Gill
said. On Aug. 3 WVSA posted the properties to make the tenants aware; on Aug.
18 the authority sent Herring a 10-day notice, and on Aug. 23 posted the property
again, Gill said. There was a final posting by WVSA on Aug. 28 to inform tenants
again, then on Aug. 30 the water was turned off, he said.
To get it turned
back on, either Herring or the tenants will have to pay the bills, Gill said.
If theres any recourse between tenant and landlord, thats a
legal question, and Im not a lawyer, Gill said.
The first thing
tenants in similar situations should do is look at their lease for direct or indirect
language to see who is responsible for paying sewer bills, said attorney Bill
Vinsko of Vinsko and Associates, Wilkes-Barre, which often deals with landlord-tenant
If there is no mention at all, or no lease, sewer payments are ultimately
the landlords responsibility, because the sewer authoritys billing
information would be in the landlords name, Vinsko said.
If sewer fees
are the landlords responsibility but the tenants end up having to pay them,
they can either deduct it from their rent, or try to get the money back from their
landlord, he said. However, before taking any action, tenants must make sure their
lease does not say that no bills can be deducted from the rent.
in there, they just have to pay it and go after the landlord for it, Vinsko
said. The bottom line is, always look to the lease first.
like the one in Nanticoke, there may be a way to get out of the lease early if
the landlord did not live up to his or her obligations, he said.
Street tenant said she has lived in the house for several years and hates to move,
because her children and grandchildren live nearby. Other tenants are fleeing
the five-apartment house, but she said it will be hard to find another place she
can afford, and anyway, she cant do anything about it until Tuesday, after
the Labor Day weekend.
Nanticoke gives up grant
Because it couldnt afford to
keep it, the citys municipal authority unanimously voted Monday to return
$1.5 million to the federal Economic Development Agency.
Under the terms of
the grant, which was originally obtained several years ago to expand the Kanjorski
Center on East Main Street, the authority must use it to build a 54,000 square-foot
office building that would create 100 jobs. Additionally, the $1.5 million comes
with the need to provide matching funds, which the authority and financially distressed
Nanticoke dont have.
Because of the citys financial condition
and the fact the authority is already struggling to find tenants for the 80-percent
vacant Kanjorski Center, it would not be prudent to keep the grant at this time,
municipal authority chairman Dennis Butler said.
Were not going
to put the city in one penny of debt, said municipal authority member Chester
Now the redevelopment authority, which has several of the same members
but is also responsible for downtown redevelopment, will have to write a similar
letter to cancel the grant, Beggs said.
The Kanjorski Center is up for sale
or lease by Lewith and Freeman, hired by the authority a few months ago to market
the building after failing to find a replacement for HealthNow, its main tenant.
There is no price on the building yet, but the real estate firm is coming up with
one, Butler said. There have already been a few showings, he said.
of $32,000-a-month rent from HealthNow hit the municipal authority hard. But it
received a desperately needed infusion of cash from a suit against the Medicare
claims processing firm.
After HealthNow moved out in October 2005, the previous
municipal authority board filed a suit claiming the firm owed more than $800,000
in damages to the building. The suit was recently settled for $100,000.
the mediators and attorneys fees were deducted, the authority received
$95,390, accountant Karen Hazleton said. After paying the monthly bills and a
years worth of insurance on the building, the authority, which expected
to be broke by about this time of the year, has about $75,000 in the bank, Hazleton
The authority voted to sign a lease extension through February 2008
with the Kanjorski Centers sole tenant, the state Department of Labor and
Industry, which fills about 20 percent of the building. Rent remains $4,962 a
That Time of the Year Again
Students in the
Greater Nanticoke Area School District and Luzerne County Community College will
back to school this week. Pope John Paul II School opens its doors
for another school year tomorrow, Aug. 28.
The Primary Center is located on
East Green Street next to St. F r a n c i s Church, and the main building is located
on H a n o v e r Street, next to Holy TrinityChurch.
Luzerne County Community
College begins day and evening classes tomorrow, also. Students who attend our
public schools, all located on Kosciuszko Street, will head back to classes on
With the start of school and college classes comes increased car,
bus and pedestrian traffic. Police Chief James Cheshinski offers some tips to
help with the transition of summer time to school time.
"We are asking
residents to avoid Kosciuszko Street for the first week of school. Please use
an alternate route and allow yourself some extra time."
He ask drivers to be aware of children walking to school. "Drivers
need to be extra cautious not only for the start of school but also throughout
the school year," he said. "Please be extra cautious of students in
the crosswalks. Be patient."
Chief Cheshinski also asks parents to talk
with their children about crossing the streets in the cross walks where there
is a crossing guard. "We also tell parents that if their child is walking
to school to make sure they do not walk alone."
Students can check out
their home room assignments this week. High school students in grades eight through
12 can check the bus port windows. Education Center students in sixth and seventh
grades and elementary school students in grades third through five can check the
front door windows on Union Street. Kennedy School's second graders can look on
the front door windows facing Kosciuszko Street and K.M. Smith students who are
in kindergarten and first grade can check out the front door window of their building.
In the words of Principal Dr. Mariellen Scott, "Happy New Year."
Vist the GNA School District's website
City wide yard sale
If you have been thinking about cleaning out
a basement or attic that contains items you don't use, I have a great way for
you to get rid of the stuff and at the same time make some money! Sell it at
the Nanticoke City Wide Yard Sale.
According to Yvonne Bozinski, organizer
of this event, it is a great opportunity to introduce Nanticoke.
love yard sales," she said. "We think this is a good way to meet people
who live here and show what a nice town this is."
The yard sales will
be held over two days. Saturday, Sept. 16, and Sunday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to
"Everyone is welcome to sell at their homes or business,"
offered Karen Dougherty, another worker for the event.
Buyers are asked to
stop at Patriot Park where they will receive a map of the city and addresses and
home locations of those residents who are participating in the sale.
city hall at 735-2800, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to pre-register
for this event.
Read more about the yard sale....
Taxes are in the mail
Nanticoke City Tax Collector Albert Wytoshek
announced the 2006 Greater Nanticoke Area School District property taxes and per
capita taxes were issued Friday, Aug. 4. The rebate period will end on Oct. 2.
Face value will end Dec. 1, after which penalty will be in effect until Dec. 15.
Property owners are reminded that it is their responsibility to forward the tax
statements to their mortgage/banking facility Anyone paying by mail and requesting
a receipt is advised to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
who did not receive their tax statement is asked to contact the Nanticoke Tax
Office at 735-2800.
Taxes for the current year are payable at the Nanticoke
Municipal Building Tax Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
2006 city property and city per capita taxes are now in penalty until Dec. 15.
Turn coal building into apartments
The former headquarters of coal companies
have made some distinctive modern-use buildings in Wyoming Valley.
building of Kings College on River Street is a former coal company office.
So is the Guard Center, also on River Street.
These beautiful buildings preserve
a part of local history and are very practical for the organizations that now
So, along the same lines, the idea of renovating the long-vacant
Susquehanna Coal Company headquarters on Market and Main streets in Nanticoke
is an excellent one.
The city housing authority would get the property as
a gift from businessman Ken Pollock. It would then renovate the building into
11 apartments of 700 square feet each and rent them to moderate income senior
The plan has a lot going for it.
$1.5 million for renovation
is already in place.
The idea of creating apartments in downtown Nanticoke
fits with recommendations of planners who suggest a mixture of commercial and
residential use for revitalization.
And the renovation would bring back to
life a building with strong ties to the history of Nanticoke.
As Perry Clay,
executive director of the housing authority said, The Susquehanna Coal Company
owned the whole town at one time. It employed everybody.
public meetings still have to be held on various aspects of the projects. But
it appears to have widespread support. We hope the project goes through.
Former coal company building in Nanticoke
may be converted into housing for seniors
Nanticoke Housing Authority hopes to
turn a blighted, but historic building into affordable senior housing, a move
officials say could be the first step in downtown revitalization for the city.
Local businessman Ken Pollock is in the process of giving the Nanticoke Housing
Authority the building on Market and Main streets that once contained the Susquehanna
Coal Co. offices, Housing Authority Executive Director Perry Clay said.
Nanticoke Housing Authority is an independent entity formed in 1966, with five
board members appointed by the mayor. The authority is responsible for several
elderly high-rise and low-income family apartment complexes, including Nanticoke
Terrace, Oplinger Towers and Park Towers.
As its latest project, the authority
has proposed renovating the former Susquehanna Coal Co. building into 11 approximately
700 square-foot apartments for moderate-income seniors, Clay said.
that building is vital in jump-starting development, said state Rep. John
So far downtown revitalization, particularly along
East Main Street, is stalled because local, state and federal officials cant
agree on plans. Members of the citys redevelopment and municipal authorities
will meet with council and the mayor at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 in city hall to try to
work things out and seek public input.
The comprehensive plan drawn up by
Facility Design Ltd. for the South Valley Partnership is favored by council as
being the most practical for Nanticokes downtown. The housing authoritys
intention for the Susquehanna Coal Co. building fits in with the plans recommendation
of having a mix of commercial and residential buildings downtown, Yudichak said.
The housing authority is ready to start renovations. It has secured $1.5 million
in state, county and federal money, and the architects are in place, but the deed
has not yet been transferred, Clay said.
Confusion arose at a recent Nanticoke
Council meeting, when the subject of the Susquehanna Coal Co. building being in
a state and local tax-exempt Keystone Opportunity Zone came up. It was entered
in the now-closed program years ago.
City officials said they had received
a request from Pollock for a rebate on 2006 taxes, which turned into a discussion
on whether that building and others fit the KOZ criteria. But the KOZ point is
probably moot because as a non-profit organization, the housing authority does
not pay taxes, Councilman Bill OMalley said.
Pollock is generous
enough to give the property to the housing authority. The housing authority is
stepping up to the plate to give new life to a property that has been a problem
for years, OMalley said. We have two blessings right there.
Were not trying to throw a wrench into this.Pollocks representative
Tom Doughton did not return a message seeking comment Friday.
authority is tax exempt, Clay said he planned to give the city payment in lieu
The authority has already been good in that regard, including offering
to pave Apollo Circle although it is a city street, paying extra garbage fees,
and giving the city $25,000 for the police department, which will be used for
a desperately needed police car, OMalley said.
The building is not desirable
for private development, Yudichak said. Its oddly shaped and in an awkward
spot with no parking; the adjacent lot is city-owned.
To get an adequate
return on their investment from someone in the private sector without the resources
of the housing authority would be very difficult, OMalley said.
Renovating the building also would preserve a city landmark. The building has
probably been vacant since the Susquehanna Coal Co. closed in 1967. The company
was created in 1869, when the Pennsylvania Railroad acquired the Pittston Railroad
and Coal Co. and renamed it.
The Susquehanna Coal Co. owned the whole
town at one time. It employed everybody, Clay said.
century Susquehanna Coal Co. building was designed by Wilkes-Barre architects
McCormick and French, best known for their bank buildings and their work on the
interior of the Luzerne County Courthouse.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By Pam Urbanski
is some really great stuff happening at the Nanticoke Housing Authority. I came
to realize this after I was asked to include different activities sponsored by
the Authority. I called to see what was different and why there seems to be so
much more going on.
It is because a new director is on board. Perry A. Clay
was hired a year ago to oversee the Authority and its programs. He came
to Nanticoke from Lancaster City Housing Authority, were he was director for 15
years. He has quite a vision for the city and I am impressed with his enthusiasm
and energy and his passion for making a difference.
For many years the
relationship between the City of Nanticoke and the Housing Authority had been
strained. I have worked on that and am happy to say that we are now working together
for the good of the community, Clay explained.
Since taking the helm
he has formed councils at each of the high-rise apartments and the low income
housing in the city. We held elections and councils were formed. These people
are the voices of the residents, he said. Its great.
Clay has many goals but one major one is to help change peoples lives.
Our low income housing is meant to be transitional housing, not generational.
This is an environment beyond bricks and mortar, he said.
summer he received a grant so 10 low-income children could attend Camp Kresge.
He tells me there is money in his budget for supportive services. One project
he is working on for the new school year is an after school homework club and
tutoring program for students to receive tutoring and homework help. He has purchased
20 computers and programs to help with learning.
The program is set
up so that part of the time is spent on homework and review of school work etc.
and the rest of the time will be spent working and learning on the computers.
Perry tells me he ran a similar program in Lancaster and it was very successful.
Parents tell me that over report periods their children do better in the
classroom, their attitudes change and become more positive. Their behavior also
improves. We need to change the image of low income housing. Our kids deserve
Simple things can help, he said. The kids told Perry their peers
used to make fun of them and say to them, Oh you are the kid that lives
in the house with the blue door. Over the summer, the doors were painted.
Perry is now asking for some help.
The program needs some good volunteers
on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. There will be no tutoring
on days when there is no school or on holidays. Students, ages 16 and older are
welcome to apply. The program will be held at two locations, in the community
rooms on the 200 Block of South Street and the 200 Block of Apollo Circle.
To volunteer, call Perry at the Housing Authority at 735-1110. You must be a resident
of the community of Apollo Circle or South Street to take part in the program.
Students in grades first through eighth are welcome. Tutoring supplies will be
provided along with supplies for arts and crafts. Two field trips are also planned.
For more information, contact Perry.
St. Marys Travel is sponsoring a trip to Lancaster on Saturday,
Nov. 11. Millers Smorgasbord, National Christmas Center Tour and American
Music Theater Christmas Show are the planned events. The cost is $89 for adults.
Deadline to register is Monday, Aug. 28. Contact Helen at 735-5088.
you think there might be a better way than real estate taxes to fund our educational
If youd like to take a close look at the Crestwood School Districts
finances and make some recommendations on taxes and tax rates, the opportunity
The Crestwood School District, like the 500 other school districts
across the state, is looking for volunteers to serve on a tax study commission.
The commissions are required under Act 1 of 2006, the Taxpayer Relief Act, adopted
in late June. The legislation looks to offset school property tax rates with a
greater proportion of income-based taxes and subsequently with revenue from slots
Tax study commission expression of interest forms are
available at the office of Crestwood Superintendent Richard Duffy. Interested
persons must complete the form and return it along with a letter of interest by
The legislation requires school districts appoint commissions by
Sept. 14. Depending on the response of residents, Duffy told me he expects the
board, at its September meeting, will appoint either five or seven persons. There
are some restrictions in the law regarding who can serve. Teachers, administrators
and other school district employees cannot serve. The law requires the commission
reflect the socioeconomic, age and occupational diversity of the school
district to the extent possible.
Their job will be to study district
finances, including historic and projected income tax and real estate tax, hold
at least one public hearing and make a recommendation on taxes for the districts
2007-2008 budget. The commission must deliver its non-binding recommendation to
the school board by Dec. 13. Duffy explained the commission, to offset property
taxes, can recommend an increase in the earned income tax or establishment of
a personal income tax which taxes a wider variety of income. After considering
the commissions recommendation, the school board will make a decision and
place the tax issue on the ballot of the May 15, 2007 primary election.
School districts release information for upcoming school
Anthony Perrone, superintendent
of Greater Nanticoke Area, announced classes open for students Wednesday, Aug.
30, for the 2006-07 school year.
Teachers will assemble Monday, Aug. 28, at
the high school auditorium at 8 a.m. for a general meeting.
will begin serving lunch for grades one through 12 on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Breakfast will be served in the Educational Center for students in grades six
to 12 beginning Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7:15 a.m. Breakfast will be served at the
Educational Center for grades two to five and at K. M. Smith Elementary for kindergarten
and first grades, beginning Aug. 31 at 8:05 a.m.
All students who were eligible
to receive a free/reduced lunch last year will remain eligible until Wednesday,
Sept. 27. To become eligible to receive a free/reduced lunch for the 2006-2007
school year, parents must complete a new application for the students in their
household and turn it into their teacher or use the Compass system for needy families
before Thursday, Sept. 21. Students who qualify to receive a free/reduced lunch
also qualify to receive a free/reduced breakfast.
The cafeteria will take
prepayments for the lunch and breakfast program. These payments can be made in
the childs homeroom in grades kindergarten through seventh. The payments
will be accepted in the high school office or the cafeteria for students in grades
Hours for the Greater Nanticoke schools are: Educational
Center, 7;20 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.; Nanticoke High School, 7:25 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.;
GNA Elementary Center, 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.; Kennedy, 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.;
K.M. Smith, 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.; Pope John Paul School, grades one to eight,
7:50 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.; morning kindergarten, 7:50 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.; afternoon
kindergarten, 11 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.
For more information and to visit the GNA
Website go to: www.gnasd.com
Citizens should study school taxes
- From Citizens' Voice
shock is rolling across the valley as school tax bills arrive in the mail. The
bills seem to go ever higher, to the point where they are literally painful.
People complain about them but basically feel helpless to do anything.
that is in the process of changing.
Panels of citizens are to be formed in
every school district to explore the possibility of switching some property taxes
for income taxes.
Four area school districts have placed ads in the paper
seeking members for these panels. They are Crestwood, Wyoming Area, Wyoming Valley
West and Greater Nanticoke Area.
The other districts of the area will
The panels will review the school districts tax structures
and make a recommendation to the school boards as to whether to hold a voter referendum
on shifting the tax structure reducing property taxes and increasing income
The total amount of taxes collected by the school district would not
change. The change would be in who pays what part of the taxes.
boards would then decide whether to follow through on the panels recommendations,
Anyone interested in serving on a panel should get a form from their
school superintendents office.
We encourage people to do so. Any possibility
at reducing some of the burden of property taxes is definitely worth looking into.
Nanticoke will ensure properties meet criteria
to qualify for tax program
a dormant Keystone Opportunity site about to become active and tax collector Albert
Wytosheks estimate that most of the citys other designated properties
do not meet qualifications, city officials decided Wednesday to ensure the city
wont miss tax revenue unnecessarily.
In order for the owners to receive
the state and local tax abatements, KOZ properties must be current with taxes
and up to building code. Now that council is aware of the criteria, Wytoshek will
make certain back taxes are paid, and the citys building inspector will
submit written reports on each building before owners can get KOZ benefits from
the city, Councilman Bill OMalley said.
But city officials are hitting
a snag with the former Susquehanna Coal Co. building on Main Street, near Market
Street. Its owner, Ken Pollock, is in the process of selling it to the Nanticoke
Housing Authority and wants to activate the KOZ status.
The building has to
be inspected before the city can allow the tax abatement, OMalley said.
However, building inspector Frank Kratz has been unable to get into the building
due to the ownership issue, city administrator Tony Margelewicz said.
representative sent Kratz to Perry Clay, director of the housing authority, who
said he couldnt let Kratz into the building because the title wasnt
transferred, Margelewicz said.
The city building inspector has the authority
and responsibility to go into such properties, Mayor John Bushko said after the
If no ones going to let you in, get a crowbar, pop the
door and go in, Bushko said.
Inspections will begin next week of all
KOZ properties on the citys list, he said.
I dont know how
some of those properties got on there, Bushko said.
The KOZ program,
now closed to new properties, was developed in 1999 under former Gov. Tom Ridge.
In exchange for state and local tax exemption until 2011, owners must either create
jobs or redevelop blighted properties in the hopes of eventually bringing them
back onto the tax rolls.
According to records obtained previously from Wytosheks
tax office, in 2004, Nanticoke stood to lose $8,568 in tax revenue from 23 KOZ
properties. Since not all of those properties were active at the time, the actual
loss was closer to $5,228.
Another KOZ is about to be activated in Nanticoke.
Pollocks Whitney Pointe commercial and residential development on the border
of Newport Township, built on land also formerly belonging to the coal company,
has 10 homes in Nanticoke on the drawing board, Wytoshek said.
is unusual, homes can be built in KOZs, like The Village at Tripp Park, a residential
development in Scranton.
A fun time, but not for businesses
The South Valley
Heritage Days tried some different features to different degrees of success.
festival is supposed to be fun, sure. And theres no doubt people who attended
the South Valley Heritage Days had a good time. But vendors would like to have
their version of fun too: some good business.
The crowd early Sunday evening
of several dozen huddled near the bandstand and danced to the music of the Tones,
completely ignoring the food stands as the vendors sat outside and grumbled about
the sluggish sales.
An organizer of the five-day festival admitted attendance
was low, but was pleased with the renewed events result and said growing
pains were expected, particularly because they gambled with several experiments,
such as bringing in NASCAR driver Derrick Cope and the No. 74 car.
were) testing the water on a lot of things. Many things we did this year were
innovative, said Jerry Hudak, a co-chairman of the festival with John Jagodzinski.
Some paid off and some didnt.
The experiments included an
ethnic night, a firefighters parade and a motorcycle ride.
Years ago, a Nanticoke
area development council ran the festival, but has since dropped it, he said.
Their experimentation might cost them some vendors next year, who have little
hope for the fair in the Lower Broadway section of town and plan to search for
Both Rick Gregory of Dalton-based Mister Ricks
pretzel stand and Harveys Lake resident Henry Brucher of Kielbasa King described
the turnout at Heritage Days as terrible.
Gregory said he brought
in only $2,500 Saturday and $35 Sunday. He hopes to recoup his losses when the
Beach Boys come to Wilkes-Barre Sept. 3 and doesnt plan to return to this
festival unless somebody comes up with some proof its going to be
Brucher blamed the small crowds on a glut of events during the
weekend, including the Mud Bog in Plymouth and the Harveys Lake Homecoming Festivities,
where he had a second vending truck he said almost sold out.
performance, with his hopes for the Beach Boys concert, should assuage the financial
pain from this festival, where he said he didnt make enough for the
labor to cover the entry fee. He also doesnt plan to return. The
biggest thing is the attendance.
Hudak was unfazed by the complaints,
saying vendors reported above-average sales to him. (I am) not too concerned
because while some say they wont be back, weve had queries from others
who want to replace them.
Besides, he believes the information garnered
from the experiments was important. He said theyve already given next years
planners some ideas, but wouldnt divulge any secrets.
Out of this,
we plan to come back with a bigger, better one, he said. We wanted
to (show) the people of the South Valley that theres a rejuvenation in the
Were looking to regenerate this.
Church ministers seek GNA tax forgiveness
The Revs. Daniel
and Sylvia Thomas said they were obeying the will of God when they purchased a
property at 2 W. Green St. in 2003 and established the Berean Lighthouse Church.
But they made a clerical mistake that could cost them tens of thousands of dollars;
they registered the property in their own name rather than the name of their nascent
As a result, the church wound up on the county tax roster. The Thomases
realized their error this year and legally placed the property in the churchs
Now they are seeking tax forgiveness from Luzerne County and the Greater
Nanticoke Area School Board back to 2003.
The Thomases came before the school
board Thursday evening to appeal for tax exculpation, arguing they are a legitimate
church that is exempt from state and federal taxes and should be exempt from county
and school district taxes as well.
It is now and always has been a house
of worship, and it will remain a house of worship as long as we have breath,
said Daniel Thomas of the church.
For its part, the board was reluctant to
grant amnesty without an assurance that the county would do the same. School board
solicitor Vito Deluca said if the board illegally forgives the churchs back
taxes, individual board members could be held liable.
In an emotional appeal,
Sylvia Thomas urged the board to do the right thing, and follow the
lead of the City of Nanticoke, which earlier this month granted the church amnesty
from all taxes since 2003.
The board did not rule on the issue Thursday night,
but referred the couple to Luzerne County commissioners, saying that if they first
granted the church tax forgiveness, the board would be in a better position to
Also at the meeting, parent and student advocate Delia Bracero said
she has been receiving phone calls from high school parents concerned about an
alleged wiretapping incident in June.
According to Bracero, Greater Nanticoke
Area High School Principal Maryann Jarolen allegedly taped a conversation she
had with Superintendent Anthony Perrone without his knowledge or consent last
month. Since then, Bracero says, seven or eight parents have called her with concerns
about wiretapping at the school.
Perrone called the incident a non-issue
that had been resolved. There is currently no investigation into the
alleged wiretapping and no criminal charges have been filed, he said.
Nanticoke center offering 55 Alive driving course Driver
Refresher Course at Nanticoke Senior Center
Senior Center, 2-6 North Market Street, has joined with the American Association
of Retired Persons (AARP) to offer a 55 Alive/Mature driving course. AARP has
developed the eight-hour classroom refresher course to help drivers 50 or older
to improve their skills and prevent traffic accidents. The class will take place
from 12:30 until 4:30 p.m. March 22 and March 23.
Students must attend both
sessions. There is a $10 fee for the course and class size is limited. To register,
call the Nanticoke Senior Center at 735-1670.
Registrants are reminded to
bring their registration fee, a non-refundable check or money order for $10 payable
to AARP, a valid drivers license and a pencil. Refreshments will be provided.
Instructor will be Terry McDaniel assisted by Nora McDaniel.
The 55 Alive/Mature
course is designed to meet the specific needs of the older driver.
age related physical changes, declining perceptual skills, rules of the road,
local driving problems and license renewal requirements. Volunteer instructors
recruited and trained by AARP conduct the course, which is presented through a
combination of slide presentations and group discussions.
All automobile insurance
companies conducting business in Pennsylvania are required to provide a premium
discount to graduates of the 55 Alive/Mature Driving courses, which is a state
approved driver improvement course. When two persons are designated on the insurance,
both must take the course in order to receive the discount.
to have lunch on either or both days may make reservations when calling to register
for the class.
the first bell sounds, one teacher earns an A for preparedness
In a class by herself
prepared as I try to be, everything could get thrown out the window by the first
day of school.
Linnea Wilczewski Third-grade teacher
teacher Linnea Wilczewski is a get-it-done-today kind of woman.
why she was in her classroom on Monday -- again.
This is probably the
tenth time Ive been in this summer, she said.
A couple of hours here and there help her achieve her goal. Shed rather
organize her classroom for school now than wait until right before class starts
on Aug. 30. This goes with the territory, she said.
On this day,
shes dressed casually in a T-shirt, jean shorts and pink flip-flops. A radio
plays in the hallway, which smells freshly scrubbed.
But why not just wait
until closer to the start of school to ready her classroom? I would be beyond
the panic mode, she said. She is a professed non-procrastinator in all areas
of her life. Shes got a lot of energy. She walks fast and she talks fast.
After 13 years of teaching in various grades and schools shes now
at the Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary Center -- Wilczewski, 34, remains flexible
in the opening days of school. As prepared as I try to be, everything could
get thrown out the window by the first day of school.
One of the first
lessons her third-graders will get is how to pronounce her name. For that, she
will rely on the same lesson her late father used in his classroom at Lake-Lehman.
Francis Wilczewski used to tell his English literature students that they should
think of will and chess and ski when saying his name.
said his daughter. Her father taught for 33 years before he died of cancer two
years ago. He always has been and always will be my inspiration.
She credits him with helping her to be independent, to speak for herself and to
have high expectations. Wilczewski tries to instill that in her students. She
recalled one boy who was talented in art, but not in math. She told him on the
last day of school that she wanted a signed piece of his artwork someday. I
hope he realized I believed in him. I hope he grows up to become an artist.
The desks in her classroom are already arranged in a big rectangle with a blue-green
carpet in the center for the children to sit on during interactive reading sessions.
It is there that they and their teacher will gather on a regular basis. Wilczewski
likes to group them together so that students of all reading levels feel comfortable
and help each other.
She is expecting 26 students, but its too early
for a class list. When she gets it, she will assign desks in alphabetical order
rather than allowing the children to choose their own seats. That helps to send
a message to them. I am in charge of the classroom, she said. I
am the adult.
Wilczewski smiled and said that seating adjustments
will likely have to be made, based on the dynamics of the children.
already has a big sticker with cartoon cats on it where the childs name
will be written. Textbooks are piled neatly on each one. One science book has
a big butterfly on its cover and a reading text has a turtle and a hare on the
Wilczewski said she and other teachers typically spend some of their
own money on classroom supplies. She has arranged some school supplies on her
students desks, including a 10-cent spiral notebook, a colorful pencil and
a yellow highlighter.
She had health problems last school year that sapped
her stamina each afternoon and caused her to miss several weeks of work following
surgery. Wilczewski said her students were very supportive. Her doctor had told
her to avoid chocolate because it can elevate the heart rate. The children told
their parents that they couldnt give their teacher chocolate for Valentines
Day and that she was having surgery so she could eat chocolate again. That still
makes her laugh.
Wilczewski is looking forward to feeling much better this
school year. You cant come here and be sick.
Financial challenge accepted
Skrapits Staff Writer
Nanticoke officials try to be open about the citys
financial distress so residents wont be in for unpleasant surprises, but
sometimes the officials themselves are surprised by how bad things are.
significantly worse than anyone could have imagined when we came into office (in
January), Councilman Bill OMalley said. There was a lack of
technical expertise in a number of different fields, especially finance, that
would have allowed these problems to be recognized.
That lack of expertise
should be remedied with the hiring of a new fiscal manager to work on a financial
recovery plan with the professionals in the citys Act 47 team. They still
have a huge task ahead of them, however.
As a distressed city, we have
to comply with the state, fiscal manager Holly Quinn said. Party times
Quinn officially starts her job Monday, but was in city hall Friday
getting a tour from Mayor John Bushko. Council hired Quinn one of three
applicants on Wednesday at an annual salary of $35,000.
that I talked to had very good things to say about her, Bushko said. She
had a terrific resume.
The 33-year-old Rice Township resident holds
a masters degree in financial resources management for public administration.
While she was deputy to Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Mary Dysleski, Quinn
said she helped put some financial controls in place.
While doing so, she
and Dysleski found an undisclosed amount of money gone, Quinn said. The matter
is still in the hands of Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas.
never dreamed we would find money missing. We just thought we were making things
more efficient, Quinn said. It shows those controls work.
Since the state Department of Community and Economic Development selected the
Pennsylvania Economy League as Nanticokes Act 47 coordinator three weeks
ago, the non-profit organization has been gathering data and meeting with officials.
Quinn cant wait to start working with PEL and her former co-workers at Albert
B. Melone Associates, where she took a job after leaving the courthouse in 2005.
Although she still considers Dysleski a friend, Quinn said she left because she
wanted a bigger challenge.
The Melone accounting firm, which is also business
manager for the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, was previously tapped
by PEL as part of the Act 47 team. Other members include financial specialists
from the law firm of Stevens and Lee for legal services and the Joint Urban Studies
The center, made up of six northeastern Pennsylvania colleges and
universities, provides urban planning research, analysis and consulting services.
It also assisted in drawing up the South Valley Partnership Comprehensive Plan,
which Nanticoke officials hope to use as a guide for downtown revitalization.
PEL should have the recovery plan drafted by December, but the team is only getting
started, correcting errors and putting together solutions to the many problems,
There was a lack of initiative to go out and research
whether or not the fees and taxes and revenues due to the city were actually collected
on time, OMalley said.
As councils finance chairman, OMalley
discovered this, and in addition, found some new ways to save money. By collecting
the neglected taxes, putting insurance out to bid, and using cost-saving measures,
the city has about $435,000 it wouldnt have had otherwise, he said. Changing
health insurance alone saved $100,000, payroll reductions added an extra $38,000,
and streamlining the phone system saved $6,000, he explained.
collected owed money, previous administrations tangled the city up in debt. Former
officials borrowed among the internal funds, took out loans to pay other loans,
and used long-term loans to pay for daily operating expenses, which OMalley
said was entirely inappropriate.
The easiest solution was to secure
more debt, which solved short-term problems but caused long-term ones that, unfortunately,
we have to deal with now, OMalley said.
If it sounds like things
are snarled up, they are. The financial experts are still trying to find out exactly
what Nanticokes total debt is. OMalley could only estimate the debt
is in the millions. The complexity of the situation makes it harder.
are probably at the lowest point we can be, OMalley said, but noted
there was nowhere to go but up. With everything that can happen and will
happen in the future, this is actually going to work out real well for the city
and the citizens.
In the meantime, the task is daunting.
a lot of information. I feel like a gigantic sponge right now, trying to soak
up everything, Quinn said.
She added, Well, I said I wanted a
challenge, and I guess I got one.
members completed a community project on July 22 in Nanticoke.
included members of the Nanticoke Housing Authority, Nanticoke Terrace Resident
Council, Nanticoke Conservation Club, EPCAMR, Office of Surface Mining/VISTA,
the Luzerne Conservation District, Apollo Circle residents and local youth.
The group cleaned up an estimated 3 to 3.5 tons of trash in four hours time. More
clean-up efforts in Nanticoke are in the planning stages for the future due to
the large response that the event in July generated.
Nanticoke officials examine garbage fees
is told revenues are $40,000 below expectations, costs are above expectations.
By Ian Campbell - Times Leader Correspondent
in garbage revenues have forced city officials to look hard at garbage costs,
council was informed Wednesday.
Councilman William OMalley reported
garbage fees had come in $40,000 below expectations at $620,000, while invoices
from the garbage collector were totaling $715,000. Those numbers presented two
issues for council, the first being that the contractor appeared to be billing
above the contract amount, and the second that in order to balance the accounts,
funds would likely have to be transferred from a recycling grant.
financial reports noted that cable-franchise fees were $7,000 less than expected,
the recycling grant was $2,000 less than budgeted, while revenue from rental inspections,
and health inspections were also less than budgeted.
Fire and police staff
will help the city with occupancy permits and residency permit inspections, which
is another field that is underperforming from budget expectations, he told council.
He also noted higher than expected levels of police and fire department overtime
had affected the budgets of those departments.
Trash pickup came in for separate
criticism when council noted that pickups were beginning at unreasonable hours
of the morning, in some instances as early as 3 a.m.
A letter would be sent
reminding the company of their service obligations, council agreed.
business, Mayor John Bushko noted all entities in the city would be holding a
joint meeting 7 p.m. Sept. 6 to discuss remodeling the downtown business district
and come up with a comprehensive plan for the future of the city. He urged all
residents to attend the meeting, and encouraged them to be prepared to bring ideas
for the project.
will begin taking owners of citys problem properties to task
Elizabeth Skrapits - Staff Writer
promised once again Wednesday night to start cracking down on problem properties
and this time they mean it.
Back in June, council pledged to residents
that city officials and employees would work harder to crack down on problem properties.
Some personnel issues held up the effort, but they are now being resolved, city
They say they also plan to spruce up the city in another way.
There is about $960,000 in federal money obtained by U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski,
D-Nanticoke, that Councilman Bill OMalley said would be used for East Market
Street from the intersection with Main Street to the Nanticoke Bridge.
to the stretch of Market Street, such as streetlights and greenery, are part of
a regional comprehensive plan drawn up by planner Alex Belavitz of Facility Design
Ltd. City officials will ask him this week to start drawing up designs and seeking
Although council and Mayor John Bushko have spoken previously
about the need for better code enforcement and OMalley pointed out
in his financial report that the city was far behind budget with inspection and
permit fees a resident drove the point home.
Linda Galazin complained
about properties in her neighborhood with high weeds and uncollected garbage.
One residence has about eight cars parked on an approximately 20-by-80-foot lot
in the backyard, she said. The lifelong resident said she was tired of watching
the city deteriorate.
There is no ordinance limiting the number of cars residents
can park on their properties, Bushko said. However, he assured Galazin she should
start to see results on the other things within two weeks.
right, Bushko admitted after the meeting. Im embarrassed. Really,
Valley Heritage Days will host five-day regional festival
Skrapits - Staff Writer
easy to plan a five-day regional festival in just three months.
vendors, bands and rides to book; events to staff; security and restroom facilities
to arrange; and insurance to stock up on just in case anything goes wrong.
But somehow, South Valley Chamber of Commerce members Jerry Hudak of Nanticoke
and John Jagodzinksi of Wilkes-Barre Township did it.
Now the co-chairs of
South Valley Heritage Days, the most ambitious project of the chamber so far,
are hoping for good weather and a great turnout for the festival, which features
a different theme each day.
The family-oriented event, which will run Wednesday,
Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 13 in the Lower Broadway Park in Nanticoke, is a celebration
of the region and a chance for people to get to know its residents and businesses.
We decided the South Valley needed a bit of a lift, said chamber president
Were going to try our best and see what happens,
Jagodzinski said. People ask me what Im doing this for. I said, to
revitalize things. Everybodys in a rut.
The idea for Heritage
Days came about in early May, when the chamber had placemats printed up with a
list of upcoming local events. Restaurant patrons took the placemats home and
asked for extras, Hudak said. Soon stacks of the red-and-black printed mats were
popping up in other establishments.
Weve gone through almost 30,000,
Hudak said. People are really hungry for this kind of news, we found out.
The problem was, even though South Valley Heritage Days were prominently advertised
at the top of the placemats, Hudak and Jagodzinski didnt have concrete plans.
The only thing we knew when we went to the printer was we were going to
have NASCAR Friday, Jagodzinski said.
NASCAR driver and former FOX Sports
analyst Derrike Cope agreed to sign autographs and display his No. 74 Nextel Cup
racer on Friday, Aug. 11. Cope is the driver for the team of Hanover Township-based
McGlynn Motorsports, a South Valley Chamber of Commerce member.
With one day
down and four to go, the chairmen had to hustle. Jagodzinski, an amateur planner
who has helped with ideas for other events including the Plymouth Alive Kielbasa
Festival, came up with the rest of the themes. He decided on Bike Night; Ethnic
Night, a celebration of South Valley ethnicities; Firemens Night to honor
local firefighters; and Classic Car Night.
As president of Valley with a Heart
benefits, which arranges charity motorcycle rides, Nanticoke business owner Rick
Temarantz was a natural to coordinate Bike Night. He said it will be a great opportunity
to look at bikes and for bikers to show theirs off.
For each of the five nights
there will be carnival rides, food and merchandise vendors, music and games in
the park. Jagodzinski and Hudak got two band shells and booked bands to play in
them, including Jolly Joe, Stanky and the Coalminers, and Flaxy Morgan.
came within the $9,000 budget the chamber set, Jagodzinski said. Games of chance,
including Instant Bingo and a Big Six wheel, will help make up the money spent
on the event. Any extra funds raised will go to the chamber for economic development
projects to benefit South Valley communities, Hudak said.
The only thing Jagodzinski
said they couldnt get was ethnic heritage groups. He approached four, including
a Polish heritage group, and all refused, he said.
Next year were
going to change it to Community Days instead of Heritage Days, Jagodzinski
More on Heritage Days.......
Nanticoke Area Notes
By Pam Urbanski
The South Valley Chamber of Commerce will host the South Valley Community
Heritage Days, Aug. 9-13, at the fair grounds at Lower Broadway.
Valley Partnership is the first successful regional chamber in the area that extends
from Plymouth Borough and Hanover Township south to Berwick. The partnership has
become an important part of promoting and assisting business in the South Valley
area of Luzerne County.
This event is meant to bring communities and their
We thought it would be a great idea to offer some
summer fun at a time when most summer events in the area are coming to a close,
said John Jagodzinski, who serves as co-chairman with Jerry Hudak.
will be something for everyone in the family as well as an opportunity to learn
a little more about our area, he added.
It is also a chance to raise
a little money for the South Valley Chamber. All proceeds will be used in the
development of programs that provide for economic opportunity for South Valley
Each night will have a special theme. The schedule of events is
impressive. For more information, call the Chamber at 735-6990.
Aug. 9, will be Bike Night, with programs from 5 to 11 p.m. Bikers are invited
to meet at the high school parking lot at 5:30 p.m. A motorcade will then lead
them through Nanticoke and Newport Township. At the fair grounds entertainment
for the night will be Template.
Thursday, Aug. 10, is Luzerne County Community
College/Ethnic Night from 5 to 11 p.m. The local college will be honored on this
night and information about college programs and college personnel will be available.
Windfall will provided the musical entertainment in the early evening, followed
by John Stanky and the Coalminers.
Friday, Aug. 11, will be NASCAR Night from
4 to 11 p.m. NASCAR driver Derrike Cope will be available to sign autographs.
Also, you will get look at his McGlynn 74 Nextel Cup race car. Cope, a veteran
driver and former Daytona 500 champion, is racing for the McGlynn race team, which
is based in Hanover Township and is a South Valley Chamber member. Jolly Joe and
the Bavarians will take the stage followed by the Magics.
All those who attend
Heritage Days on Friday night will be eligible to sign up for the Sundance Vacations
Ultimate Sports Giveaway in which the winner will be provided with six tickets
and transportation to the sports event of their dreams. The winner can choose
from the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Playoffs, the
Stanley Cup Playoffs or the Masters Golf Tournament.
Saturday, Aug. 12, will
be Firemen Night from 2 to 11 p.m. Fire trucks will roll through the city starting
at the high school parking lot to the fair grounds. Entertainment for the day
will be provided by Hickory Rose in the afternoon and Flaxie Morgan in the evening.
Sunday, Aug. 13, the theme is Classic Cars and they will be on display at the
Nanticoke Soccer Field directly across from the fair grounds. Cars will be judged
and the top 25 will be given trophies. This event will be held from 9 a.m. to
3 p.m. The Tones will take the stage. On this day the festival runs from 1 to
In addition there will be a wide variety of ethnic foods and refreshments
each day. Carnival rides, face painting for the kids, baked goods and informational
booths will also be available each day.
Hats off to all those from
the Chamber who have planned and will help to carry out such an extensive community
report compiles information on alcohol, violence and other incidents in districts
Safe schools State report compiles information on alcohol, violence and other
incidents in districts
GNA reports most tobacco use
After years of collecting but
not releasing data on tobacco and alcohol in schools, the state has added
those numbers to its annual safe schools report. The smokiest school
district in Luzerne County is (drum roll, please)
Greater Nanticoke Area.
The district reported 80 incidents (73 in the high school) related to the possession,
use or sale of tobacco during the 2004-05 school year, nearly double the next-highest
number of 46 reported by Hazleton Area (37 in high school).
It looks even
worse for Greater Nanticoke Area if you factor in enrollment. In Hazleton, those
46 incidents were spread among 9,507 students, meaning there was one incident
for every 207 kids. In the much-smaller Greater Nanticoke Area, there was one
tobacco incident for every 80 kids.
Thats by far the worst rate in the
12 school districts that make up the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, which includes
Tunkhannock Area in Wyoming County. The average for all 12 districts is one tobacco
incident for every 205 students.
School districts have been required to compile
and report these and other figures to the state for years. But until this year,
the state publicly released numbers only on violence and weapons in schools. The
old reports were called School Violence and Weapons Reports.
This year, the
state changed the name to the School Safety Report, and added data on nonviolent
incidents. The state also has introduced a new feature on its Web site that allows
visitors to customize reports in a spreadsheet format. Savvy users can compile
data that compares information from several years by county, school district or
school, then manipulate the data using spreadsheet tools.
There are three
caveats. First, the data are reported by the districts and there have been complaints
through the years that different school districts, and even different schools
within a district, reported things differently. One administrators assault
could be anothers harassment. The state tightened the definitions
of the terms last year in an attempt to fix that problem.
Second, the numbers
are incidents reported, not all incidents. That is, if a school district or principal
decide to crack down on something such as smoking, they can drive the number of
reported incidents up, but it doesnt mean more kids are lighting Marlboros.
School officials routinely argue that a high number of incidents simply shows
they are aggressive in policing their schools.
And third, there are discrepancies
between the spreadsheet versions of the data (called comparison reports)
and the printed version, also available on the Web site.
are some numbers derived from this years report:
Tunkhannock Area School District had the most alcohol-related incidents at seven,
or one for every 443 students. The average among the 13 districts was one incident
for every 1,375 kids.
majority of tobacco incidents occurred in high school or junior/senior high schools
and most of the rest occurred in middle schools, there were four tobacco incidents
reported in three local elementary schools: Northwest Areas Garrison Elementary,
Lake-Lehmans Lake Noxen and Greater Nanticoke Areas Elementary Center.
Greater Nanticoke Area High School had the most overall incidents at 81, but 73
of those were tobacco-related. The others: two assaults, one fight, one knife
possession, two controlled-substances possessions and two alcohol possessions.
Wilkes-Barre Areas Meyers High School had the most arrests, 77. It also
had the most arrests when you enrollment is factored in: There was one arrest
for every 10 students.
school district level, Wilkes-Barre Area had by far the most incidents, 162, with
Greater Nanticoke Area second at 121 and Hazleton Area at 116. Wilkes-Barre Area
also had the most arrests at 197, more than twice the next-highest amount, 74
in Hazleton Area. The number of arrests can be higher than the number of incidents
because a single incident can involve multiple offenders.
When you consider enrollment, Wilkes-Barre Area didnt do as poorly. There
was one incident for every 43 students. Hanover Area had more, with one incident
for every 29 students, while Greater Nanticoke Area had the worst rate, one incident
for every 16 students (again, most of those were tobacco-related).
All told, there were 729 incidents in the 12 school districts, and the majority
215 were tobacco-related. After that came harassment/intimidation
with 84, fighting with 71, disorderly conduct with 65, other misconduct with 59,
and knife possession with 51. There was only one handgun incident, in Wilkes-Barre
Area, where the lone bomb threat also occurred.
Nanticoke to revisit previously considered plan for downtown
By Elizabeth Skrapits
Council and Mayor
John Bushko, tired of inactivity and unwilling to put the fiscally distressed
city at more financial risk, said Wednesday they want to base downtown redevelopment
on an existing regional economic development plan.
City officials want to
provide the municipal and redevelopment authorities with some direction, Councilman
Bill OMalley said. Since the $135,000 regional plan was drawn up by a firm
with what OMalley called a well-known track record, including
revitalizing Carbondale, council wants to see it implemented.
The South Valley
Partnership hired Facility Design and Development Ltd. to draw up a plan for Plymouth
and Newport townships and Nanticoke City. The regional plan was made public in
Suggestions for Nanticoke include seeking private investments for commercial
buildings instead of relying on public funding, making improvements to streets,
sidewalks and existing buildings, and placing parking throughout downtown instead
of limiting it to one garage on East Main Street.
The parking garage was a
main source of disagreement during a joint meeting of the municipal and redevelopment
authorities Monday. Although U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski obtained $5.6 million in
federal transportation funding, some city officials are not sure the money can
be used for a parking garage.
How can I vote on something if I dont
know what the grant requires? municipal authority board member Henry Marks
Some members of the authorities claim a parking garage of
120 to 240 spaces is necessary to get a tenant for the Kanjorski Center on East
Main Street. Council believes a a surface parking lot will suffice and
be a lot less expensive.
Getting private individuals to invest in downtown
is crucial, instead of relying on government grants in the hopes of bringing jobs
to the city, OMalley said.
There is not going to be a golden egg
that comes in here and drops IBM in our lap, he said.
The city has to
back any projects the municipal authorities come up with, so if they fail, the
city and its taxpayers will take the financial hit, OMalley
Council and the mayor implored residents to come to a special meeting
to discuss the downtown redevelopment project on Sept. 6.
This is a
project that could really turn this town around, Bushko said. Its
our business district. Lets do it the way we want it.
Nanticoke officials argue about downtown revitalization
By Elizabeth Skrapits
City officials all agree something has to be done to bring businesses and residents
back to the downtown, but they still cant agree on what.
municipal authority, which is responsible for downtown revitalization projects,
and the citys redevelopment authority, which is in charge of financing them,
held a special joint meeting Monday.
But instead of coming up with concrete
plans, members of the two authorities were more indecisive than ever about what
to do with the vacant lot next to the 80-percent empty Kanjorski Center on East
Main Street. The Yoder Group, hired in May 2004 to take on the revitalization
project, is still awaiting orders.
Municipal authority chairman Dennis Butler
wants a 120-stall parking garage with storefronts on Main Street and apartments
upstairs. Redevelopment authority chairman Chester Beggs preferred a 240-stall
garage. Municipal authority member Henry Kellar doesnt want an empty parking
garage sitting next to a still-empty Kanjorski Center in 10 years.
Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, secured the city about $2.5 million in the federal
highway bill for road improvements and $5.6 million, which redevelopment authority
member Walter Sokolowski said has to be used for the parking garage. At the request
of councilman Bill OMalley, Sokolowski agreed to contact the U.S. Department
of Transportation to find out exactly how the money has to be used.
of building a garage, council and mayor John Bushko want it to improve downtown
fix the sidewalks, put in new lighting, clean it up to make it more
attractive to private investors, OMalley said.
The municipal authority
settled a lawsuit with former Kanjorski Center tenant HealthNow, receiving $100,000
from the Medicare claims processing firm, solicitor Richard Hughes said. Without
that settlement, the municipal authority would be broke, OMalley said. The
authority is in no financial condition to assume liability or risk at this time,
Typical Nanticoke, Butler complained after the meeting.
We have three experts telling us we need a parking garage to make the Kanjorski
Center marketable, and once again we disregard the experts.
decided to give the newly-hired Lewith and Freeman until the council meeting on
Sept. 6 to get going with the Kanjorski Center, at which time the commercial real
estate firm will be invited to share its marketing ideas with city officials.
The only other thing the two authorities agreed on is the need for their attorneys
to find out whether Steve Buchinski can keep his seat on the redevelopment authority.
During the last council meeting, Bushko appointed Ron Kamowski of the municipal
authority to take Buchinskis place. The same members can serve on both boards.
The citys position is that Buchinski cant be on the redevelopment
authority because he no longer lives in Nanticoke, does not pay city taxes and
does not have a business there. Buchinski says he was improperly removed from
Voice - Town Crier
months ago, Tom Sadowski was an ordinary guy living a pretty ordinary life. He
would work his shift as a firefighter in Nanticoke, then return home to his wife,
Cathy. Free time would be spent working around the house and with family and friends.
But it was another job that he held that would change his life. Tom served with
the Pennsylvania National Guard as a soldier in the 109th Infantry, 1st Battalion
in Iraq. His home was a canvas tent. Army food replaced Cathys delicious
home cooking and there was no more green grass, just sand everywhere.
After talking with Tom, I realize a little more what our men and women endure
while fighting for our country. I might think twice about complaining about the
heat in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The weather in Iraq is brutal. Most days the
thermometer hovered around 120-plus degrees. Some days it would get to 146 degrees.
Sand would be blowing everywhere.
One of Toms assignments made the conditions
even worse. He was a gunner on a humvee. The job of the 1st Battalion was route
clearance and convoy security. We basically looked for explosive devices
before a convoy went through. For 12 to 14 hours, he would be in full uniform
plus gloves and a netgator, which pulled over his head and face for protection.
It was difficult, but we all did whatever we had to do.
duties included teaching Iraqi soldiers and other foreign nationals to use weapons
Every day was dangerous and life threatening. He remembers an incident
when the turret on his humvee jammed up. There was a car with Iraqis firing
at us. That was a close call. What got him through? For me at the
start of every day I would pray. I would put my head down and say, God my
life is in your hands, he said. It is hard to explain but I
would immediately feel calm and peaceful.
He missed his wife and family
and friends very much. One of the toughest times came when he learned of the passing
of his grandmother, Helen Harvey. We were very close. But I feel gram and
I are still very connected and that God and she had a plan.
A sign that
his grandmother is watching from above came from a box that he randomly received
four hours after he found out about his grandmothers death. Inside the box
were some personal care items and CDs. As I was holding the box a laminated
card fell out from the bottom. It was A Grandmothers Prayer.
I broke down and cried.
Other tough times came when fellow soldiers
were killed. Seven soldiers from the 109th lost their lives in the line of duty.
It never really made a difference whether you knew someone personally or
not. You still felt the loss.
Back home, his wife Cathy was shedding
some tears of her own. I missed him a lot. Especially around the holidays,
she said. What helped me get through were prayers as well as the fact that
he believed in what he was doing.
She explained it was hard taking on
all that he did around the house. I guess I took for granted what he did,
she said. I needed to take care of everything from taking out the garbage
to fixing things.
A surprise came for her around Fathers Day when
she received a package from Tom with a CD and note inside. The CD included the
song You are My Unsung Hero. The note that accompanied it said, You
are always there for me. Quietly in the background, but always supporting me.
Tom had a lot of praise for his fellow soldiers of the 109th. Some people
might think of us as weekend warriors. But each and every one of us that was deployed
did a great job in some very difficult situations, he said.
about media coverage. Bad news sells, he said. We all wish they
would show the good things that are happening. The rebuilding of schools. When
insurgents blew up pipelines, Americans rebuilt them in record time. The Iraqi
people that stand in lines for hours to vote, he explained. They want
democracy in their country. It is just that they have lived a certain way under
the rule of Sadaam for so long that they do not know any different and it will
take a while to turn things around.
Now that he is home, Tom is planning
on catching up on some lost sleep, eating great home cooked meals, and spending
time with his family and friends.
He said he is proud of his service.
I guess I always felt a need to pay back those who defended our country,
he said. I remember watching the events of 9-11 and thinking we have
to do something. I am the we.
I know even more so now that
the greatest place to live is the United States of America. I am glad to do my
More on the 109th.......
Pennsylvania Economy League working with
Nanticoke on debt
By Elizabeth Skrapits
week, Nanticoke was assigned a guide to lead the city down the road to financial
The state Department of Community and Economic Development selected
Pennsylvania Economy League as Nanticokes financial recovery coordinator.
The firm will help the city work its way out of debt, balance its budget, get
loans and grants, and show city officials new ways to save money and make their
departments more efficient.
PEL has four offices across the state, including
one at 88 N. Franklin St. in Wilkes-Barre. The non-profit civic organization also
serves as Act 47 coordinator for the city of Scranton in Lackawanna County and
West Hazleton Borough. Plymouth Township, which was declared Act 47 in July 2004,
has Pittston-based Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance as its recovery coordinator.
DCED Secretary Dennis Yablonsky declared Nanticoke financially distressed in May.
The next step was to hire a coordinator to work with Nanticoke and state officials
to develop an Act 47 recovery plan specific to the citys needs, DCED spokesman
Kevin Ortiz said.
The state received four proposals from firms interested
in Nanticoke, he said.
The department believed that PEL basically assembled
the strongest team of experts in areas that were relevant to Nanticokes
needs, Ortiz said. In terms of recommendations, PEL had an interesting
approach to the use of their staff, where they were subcontracting expertise in
specific functional areas that made the proposal more attractive. Also they had
experience in labor relations and collective bargaining that was relevant to Nanticoke.
PEL Executive Director Gerald Cross will lead the team.
The length of the
initial contract with PEL will be a year, at a cost of approximately $150,000
to be paid by the state, Ortiz said. The contract will be adjusted accordingly
when the recovery plan is in place, he said.
Although the contract with PEL
is not finalized sometimes it takes a while to execute them, Ortiz said
the firm can begin work any time.
In fact, PEL met with Nanticoke officials
and started gathering information this week, Mayor John Bushko said.
gave us a list of things they want, like department heads, whos in charge
of what, number of people in each department, job classifications stuff
like that, he said.
Bushko is anxious to see the city get going with
the Act 47 process.
Things dont move fast enough for me,
he said. To get into this seems like it takes forever. Then Ill be
saying, when do we get out of it, I know.
LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL
wins district title
The 11- and 12-year-old team, which beat Plains,
advances to play the District 29 winner Friday in the Section 4 playoffs.
your typical celebration. Instead of getting a bucket of ice water tossed on his
head, coach Bill Rubasky was pelted with water balloons.
happens when your 11- and 12-year-old all-star team wins a district title.
Nanticoke defended its District 16 Little League title Tuesday with a 15-5 victory
against Plains at the Nanticoke Little League field. Nanticoke will play the District
29 winner at 5:30 p.m. Friday at home in the Section 4 playoffs. Nanticoke will
host the entire sectional playoffs, which run from Friday through Tuesday.
It was hard, said Nanticokes second baseman Sammy Gow. Everyone
was out to beat us since we beat everyone (last year).
celebrated with a water balloon fight and Queens We Are the Champions
blasting through the speakers from the announcers booth. None of the girls
on the team seemed to know the words to the song, but they did know how to celebrate.
It seemed like they could celebrate after taking a 9-1 lead into to fourth inning,
but Plains (4-2) rebounded with two runs in the fourth and fifth inning (and Nanticoke
only scored one in that time), and the lead was cut to 10-5.
kind of scared, said first baseman Hannah Rubasky. We had to pump
each other up.
Nanticoke came back to score five runs in the top of
the sixth, putting the game out of reach, and Elizabeth Dougherty capped the scoring
with an RBI single.
Dougherty was batting second during the teams first
two games of the tournament, and was moved to ninth for the last two games.
I decided to put the little (Gabby) Grabowski up to second, and it worked
out perfect, Coach Rubasky said.
Dougherty finished the game 4-for-4
with three runs scored and an RBI.
I was happy, said Dougherty,
who plays shortstop. It was exciting.
Dougherty wasnt the
only one hitting the ball for Nanticoke. Lindsay Roberts, who started the game
at third but pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief, went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt
and a run scored. Brooke Chapin, who earned the win after pitching 4 2/3 innings,
had a two-run single in the last inning and scored two runs. Five other players
scored runs, and Gow hit the teams only extra base hit a triple to
start the game.
For Plains, Danielle Cerep went 3-for-3 with a run scored
and an RBI. Shelley Black went 2-for-3 with a double, a two-run single in the
fifth and a run scored. Lindsey Humanik went 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI.
Plains defeated Mountain Top 22-9 on Monday in the losers bracket final to advance
to Tuesdays game. After trailing 8-3 during the game, the team rallied to
tack on runs. The Nanticoke players heard about that, and it made them a bit worried.
We knew they were ready for the game, said Gow. They had a big
win (on Monday).
But, thats in the past now, and Nanticoke is
the only D16 team advancing to the sectional tournament. Its familiar territory
for the team, which has claimed four consecutive D16 titles (two as Minors, two
in Little League). But, the team hasnt only been together as a Little League
team. Of the 13 girls on the team, 11 play travel ball and nine of those
11 are on the same team.
We know how to play together, Gow said.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By Pam Urbanski
Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force and Youth Task Force will sponsor their
second annual Drug Awareness Walk and Picnic in the Park Saturday. This day is
for bringing about awareness and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse in and around
our community of Nanticoke.
"It is our hope that this event will bring
together our community," said Drug Task Force member Debbie Reddy. We hope
to continue to raise awareness of the drug problem in Nanticoke and of the Drug
Task Force efforts to provide alternate and positive programs for the youth and
resources to those that need assistance."
Registration for the walk begins
at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10. The two-mile walk, led by the Nanticoke
Fire Department, will take participants down Market Street to Main Street, turning
right onto Kosciuszko Street, around the Nanticoke High School, back down Kosciuszko
Street turning left onto Green Street where it will end at Patriot Park with an
"We hope the community will come out and support
our efforts and just have some fun," offered Don Williams, founding father
and Drug Task Force member.
There will be informational booths dealing with
the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and agencies that provide help and assistance.
Members of the Youth Task Force will be on hand to talk about their many programs
and healthy, positive alternatives to drug use. They will also paint faces and
have a craft booth. Free refreshments will be served. The Nanticoke Police and
Fire Departments will be on hand.
Debbie tells me businesses throughout the
community are very supportive.
"Our businesses have been very receptive
to this event," she said. "They really believe in what we are trying
to do for our youth."
Each walker will receive a T-shirt and some nice
prizes will be awarded in the park. Musical entertainment will also be provided.
The Drug Task Force is always looking for volunteers and the Youth Task Force
always welcomes new members. Look for a table to sign up for both.
great opportunity for the people in our community to come out and support these
very important organizations. Take an hour to show your interest and support.
Youth Task Force keeps busy
Junior and senior high school students
are invited to participant in a new computer program at the Stickney Building
on Prospect Street, Tuesdays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
"This is an opportunity
for our young people to learn to use a computer a little better," said Don
Williams. "They are also welcome to come and use our computers for school
work or whatever they need."
Computer instructors will be on hand to
An ongoing project for the Youth Task Force is the cleaning up of
the cemetery located on Field Street in Nanticoke. Don tells me most of the family
members of loved ones buried there are no longer around and so there is no one
to take care of the property, which is now owned by the Nanticoke Historical Society.
"There still is a lot of work to be done, but we continue to cut down the
high grass and weeds," he said.
The group hopes to rededicate the cemetery
on Veterans Day in November.
Drug free bowling and roller skating have been
a big hit with the group. Members participated in these programs presented in
part by Wyoming Valley Drug and Alcohol.
They are planning more of these activities
as well as a summer picnic.
Girls Night In continues on Wednesday evenings
at 7 p.m. at the Stickney Building. This is an opportunity for girls to talk about
issues that concern them. An adult facilitator is on hand to help guide the group.
Visit the GNA Youth Drug Task Force webpage
Church camp for children
St. Francis Parish and St. Joseph's Parish
will hold a summer camp for children. Children in kindergarten to sixth grade
are invited to this time of encountering Christ living out the Gospel.
will be crafts, games and music. The camp will be conducted by the Sister Servants
of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. A noon Mass and then lunch will be held at
the end of each session. The camp will be held at St. Francis Parish Center on
East Green Street.
Cost is $10 for one child or $15 per family. Registration
forms are available in the back of both churches. For more information, call 735-6903.
Church bingo planned
St. Joseph's Slovak Church will hold its monthly
bingo July 23 in the church parlors on East Noble Street. Doors open at 12:30
p.m. and the games begin at 2 p.m. Refreshments are available and door prizes
will be awarded.
Sign up for vacation Bible school
Parish will hold its summer vacation Bible school July 24 through July 28 at St.
Mary's Church hall and picnic grounds in Wanamie.
Through Bible stories and
skits, songs, crafts and games, children will come to realize "Jesus is our
Greatest Treasure." Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon each day.
Registration deadline is July 15. For more information, call the parish office
at 736-6372 or Phoebe Hillan at 736-6798.
Teen Mass offered at St. Stan's
Teen Mass will be held this evening at St. Stanislaus Rectory on East Church
Street. All youth of the community and their friends are invited to attend.
Community car wash benefit
Nanticoke Terrace Resident Council will
sponsor its annual car wash Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the community
room parking lot located at 200 South St., located off of Hanover Street.
Proceeds for this event will support council activities such as community day,
Thanksgiving food drives, Christmas parties etc. For more information, call the
Nanticoke Housing Authority at 735-1110
No problem with illegal immigrants
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS
What might be an issue with
illegal immigration in Hazleton is not a problem in Nanticoke, its mayor said
Resident Theresa Sowa asked Mayor John Bushko if he considered
joining Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta in opposing illegal immigrants in his own
Barletta was in Philadelphia Wednesday, testifying at a U.S. Senate
hearing on immigration that crimes involving illegal immigrants are straining
Hazleton's resources, according to the Associated Press. Hazleton has received
a large influx of Hispanics over the last six years.
Barletta recently attracted
national attention with an ordinance to punish landlords who rent to illegal immigrants
and businesses that hire them, and also make English the official language of
the city. Hazleton council passed the ordinance on first reading, but has two
more to go.
Sowa said she and other residents would like to see Nanticoke
pass a similar ordinance.
"Stop it now before it starts," Sowa said.
"It happened in Hazleton. It's going to happen here. Wait and see."
Although Sowa said there were "a lot of illegal aliens in Nanticoke,"
Bushko didn't believe that was the case.
"I just never gave it any thought
because I didn't know it was a problem," he said.
Bushko said all official
communications Nanticoke sends its residents are already printed in English only.
In other business, Bushko and Councilman Jim Litchkofski will represent Nanticoke's
on a committee to determine whether Nanticoke, Newport and Hanover townships could
and should have a combined police force.
Nanticoke police are down to one
working cruiser and one in the shop being repaired. Wilkes-Barre City and West
Hazleton Borough have offered to lend Nanticoke police vehicles while the financially
distressed city finds grants or other funds to buy some, Councilman Bill O'Malley
Council gave permission to Anthony T. Graham of Wilkes-Barre and Robert
Hagenbaugh of Hanover Township to transfer a liquor license, when one becomes
available, to the city for their new restaurant.
The two men plan to renovate
the former Kotsko's Tavern at 396 E. Washington St.
Wyoming softens proposed sex offender ordinance
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
Street residents are wary about a proposed ordinance to restrict where sex offenders
can live, but the borough's mayor assures them their neighborhood will not become
inundated with sexual predators.
Wyoming Borough officials have prepared a
revised ordinance to prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,500
feet of any school, community center, child care center, park or public open space
within the municipality. State law does not limit where sex offenders can live.
Currently there are no restrictions in Wyoming. The ordinance originally called
for a half-mile boundary around these areas, which would have essentially banned
sex offenders from the borough altogether, according to an analysis by The Citizens'
Voice. Borough council voted a week after the report to postpone a vote on the
ordinance, explaining that it needed more work.
During that time, the restriction
was scaled back to 1,500 feet to make the ordinance more likely to withstand a
legal challenge, Mayor Bob Boyer said. A half-mile radius didn't make sense in
a borough of less than 1.5 square miles; the original plan was modeled after ordinances
in communities much larger than Wyoming, he said.
If you take a right from
Wyoming Avenue and head down First Street, the side on your left is Exeter and
on your right is Wyoming.
Residents on the Wyoming side of First Street were
not happy to discover their neighborhood could be one of two small corners of
the borough where sex offenders would be allowed to live.
said Anna Marie O'Brien, the mother of daughters ages 16 and 20. "I am absolutely
Her neighbor across the street in Exeter, Jim Gordon
- who also happens to be her brother-in-law - came out of his house.
man," Gordon said when he heard the news. "I don't want any kid pervs
-" he paused. "I don't care what kind of sex predators they are. I don't
want 'em here."
As they spoke, several children on bicycles sped down
the sidewalk. A boy on skates played street hockey.
Cindy Borzell said she
knew council planned to change the ordinance to make it less restrictive.
"But I never thought it would be our street. There are too many kids in this
neighborhood," she said.
The Borzells are angry enough about the amount
of crime they see creeping into their formerly peaceful neighborhood: theft, drug
"It's ridiculous. I'm disgusted with the whole town,"
Bob Borzell said.
The point of the ordinance
is to keep children safe by putting a buffer zone around areas where sex offenders
are likely to congregate, Boyer said. It is not meant to force them into certain
neighborhoods, he stressed.
"Does that mean First Street, Moosic Street
and Colonial Acres will be flooded with sex offenders? No. It just means that
they are outside the 1,500 foot zones," Boyer said. "Legally we cannot
say you can't live in Wyoming Borough as a sex offender."
There is nothing
that can be done about the three sex offenders already living in the borough,
but Boyer said he is trying to send a message that more are not welcome to move
Borough council is set to vote on the ordinance at 7:30 p.m. on
Aug. 14. It will not be voted on during Monday night's meeting because it was
not advertised, Boyer said.
The borough paid the county to make maps outlining
the living restrictions. The maps are available for public inspection at the borough
building during business hours.
is the first Luzerne County municipality to pass a sex offender ordinance, has
even stricter regulations: they may not live within 2,500 feet of a school, child
care facility, recreation center or public park. Offenders who move into restricted
areas have 45 days to move out, or face a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in
Councilman Joe Dougherty, who
came up with the ordinance, said the city is 3.5 square miles, so most of it is
out of bounds to sex offenders.
every house that's here is off limits. But there are areas that can be developed
- not many - where they can live," Dougherty said.
Despite the limitations,
he intends to stay with the ordinance as it is, he said.
"I'm not going
to back down. We need to look out for children and women," Dougherty said.
"It's time people stick up for what's right."
Dobo, staff writer, contributed to this report.
Nanticoke needs state loan to stay afloat
William O'Malley says strapped city is saving money in every way it can.
By IAN CAMPBELL Times Leader Correspondent
saving almost half a million dollars so far this year, the city will still be
running out of money in August without a state loan, city council was told Wednesday.
Councilman William O'Malley noted in his financial report that the city was ahead
of its budget predictions at this time, but the financial state of the city meant
that without emergency aid, the city would "hit the wall" by early August.
O'Malley noted the city's unionized employees had agreed to move to cheaper health
insurance carriers, saving the city about $100,000, and the city also saved money
by pursuing delinquent taxes, trimming payrolls and building costs, as well as
other smaller-scale savings, such as cell phone usage.
With all the savings,
the city should be able to make a significant impact in its $700,000 deficit by
next year, O'Malley said.
The current account balances at the end of June
stood at $53,000 in the black, he noted.
O'Malley also reported that the condition
of the city's police fleet was now reduced to one functioning vehicle, and one
vehicle being repaired. As a result, the municipalities of West Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre
City offered use of loaner vehicles until Nanticoke received grant funding for
a new vehicle.
He expected the city would get the funding within 30 to 60
days, so the loaner vehicle would only need to be insured by the city for that
Grant funding would cover the $18,000 to $22,000 price of a new car,
whereas leasing a vehicle would have cost close to $45,000, he told council.
In other business, pending an imminent appointment of an Act 47 recovery coordinator,
solicitor Joseph Lach told council he was unwilling to present any ordinances,
especially financial ones, that might be part of a likely Act 47 financial recovery
The only exceptions he was prepared to accept were ordinances that would
directly impact the health and safety of city residents, he said.
approved the transfer of a liquor license by Anthony Graham, for a vodka bar and
restaurant planned for the city, despite the fact Graham and his partner no longer
have a license available to them.
Graham had made application to bring a license
in from Shickshinny, but that deal fell through, he told council.
he expects to obtain another within a few days, as licenses are no longer that
hard to find within the region, and run between $12,000-$15,000 each, rather than
the hundreds of thousands they used to cost.
Council granted the request on
the condition he inform them immediately a license is obtained.
Tax relief bill gets signed here
In Nanticoke, Gov. Rendell shows how some seniors property tax bills will
governor served up tax relief to homeowners throughout the state on a Nanticoke
womans kitchen table on Tuesday.
Gov. Ed Rendell visited the home of
88-year-old Nellie Hughes to sign Special Session House Bill 39 into law. Sitting
at Hughes kitchen table between Hughes and Isabel Haydock, a senior who
lives on Hanover Street in Nanticoke, Rendell said the bill will eliminate property
taxes for both women and hundreds of thousands of seniors across the state.
Rendell said the bill will provide $1 billion worth of tax cuts annually to all
The bill ensures that more than $250 million of the
$1 billion in gaming revenue will go to seniors with incomes of less than $35,000,
Rendell said. Prior to the bill, only seniors with incomes of $15,000 or less
were eligible for state refunds. Also, the amount the state will refund has been
increased to up to $650.
The bill also requires taxpayer approval before a
school board can raise property taxes above the rate of inflation. There are exceptions
for school districts with exceptional growth or ones with emergencies.
signing the bill, Rendell stood with state Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston Township,
and state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, under a tent in Hughes back yard
in the pouring rain before about 50 residents, school board members and local
Republican Lynn Swann, the governors opponent in the November
election, issued a press release, saying the bill leaves 80 percent of Pennsylvanias
property taxpayers without a nickel of relief.
Swann, who couldnt
be reached by phone, stated in the release that Rendell broke his election-year
promise to drop property taxes for all Pennsylvanians by 30 percent.
The last time Ed Rendell signed property tax legislation that he deemed
historic, it was called Act 72, and it was rejected by 80 percent
of Pennsylvanias school districts, Swann said. Since then, property
taxes have skyrocketed nearly $2 billion under this administration and Pennsylvanias
homeowners have been left in the cold.
Rendell said criticism of the
bill is unwarranted.
I dont want to hear anyone tell me this isnt
a substantial bill, Rendell said, noting that 42 percent of all seniors
in Luzerne County will have the full cost of their property taxes paid by the
Rendell said Hughes income, with retirement and Social Security,
is about $7,900 per year and she currently pays $698 in property taxes. With the
bill, shell get a $650 rebate, meaning her property tax bill will shrink
to $48 per year, Rendell said. The governor said her property tax bill will be
completely eliminated after the first year. Meanwhile, Haydocks rebate under
the new bill will cover her entire property tax bill in the first year, Rendell
They are tremendous examples of the significant impact this will
have on seniors, the governor said.
Yudichak said his office has helped
Hughes fill out her tax forms and he helped arrange for the governor to sign the
bill at her home.
municipal authority hits snag on parking garage
By Elizabeth Skrapits
The citys general
municipal authority board wants to get started on downtown redevelopment, but
stalled somewhat on the first step: construction of a parking garage.
authority is in the process of hashing out a workable plan to revitalize the downtown,
starting with the block of East Main Street containing the Kanjorski Center.
During Mondays meeting, the board signed a contract to hire real estate
agents Lewith and Freeman to market the center, which has been 80 percent vacant
since October. The buildings main flaw is that it has no parking nearby,
authority president Dennis Butler said.
Butler, tired of delays, urged his
fellow board members to take action, pointing out that a garage would take at
least 18 months to build.
Weve got to get this thing up and moving,
he said. The Kanjorski Center is unleasable without a parking garage.
However, other board members were more cautious. Henry Kellar said he would like
someone who knows real estate to show the municipal authority how much more marketable
the Kanjorski Center would be with a parking deck. Ron Kamowski said he might
prefer surface parking to a garage.
One thing the board did agree on is that
the size of a garage should be reduced from 400 spaces to 120, with the option
of adding more spaces. Board members would also like to see other parking garages
elsewhere downtown, such as Market Street and another part of Main Street.
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, obtained $5.6 million specifically for
the garage in the federal highway transportation bill last year.
redevelopment authority members say they control the finances. Municipal authority
board member Chester Beggs said if the redevelopment authority which he
is also a member of does not approve of the parking garage plans, it wont
release the funds.
The municipal authority board decided to wait to take action
until the redevelopment authority meets July 1 at 10 a.m. and city council meets
July 5 at 7 p.m., to give everyone a chance to offer input on the parking garage.
Then, during the next municipal authority meeting, the board can ask downtown
developer Robert Yoder to draw up some final plans to get started. Under Yoders
contract, he will have to put together the financing, including getting grants
and finding private investors, Butler said.
Pre-kindergarten program at GNA school gets kids comfortable
5-year-old Jonathan McDaniels dressed up in a firefighters costume in the
imaginative play area of the Greater Nanticoke Area Family Center,
5-year old Emily constructed an office building in the building area.
Its six stories high! she said.
Others were painting and
continuing to learn rules and skills they will soon use.
Nanticoke Area School District, in conjunction with the Family Center at K.M.
Smith Elementary, has developed a pre-kindergarten program called Test Drive.
The program teaches students basic skills they will use when they start school
in the fall, such as how to use the bathroom and cafeteria at the school and how
to spell their names, so when they start school they are accustom to procedures
many people take for granted.
Everything the children do in the three days
a week they are at the center is a learning experience from posting the
days date and weather to being classroom helpers and the line leader.
Diane Klish, Family Center director, said that during the first few days the children
came to the program and were told to get in line, many of them didnt know
what a line was, so we had to teach them that too.
a teacher for the program, said its all about how school works. From
raising your hand to being quiet. She said they try to be as hands-on as
possible and do consistent things every day too, along with the new skills they
learn. One student, Bella, who just turned 5 years old, said her favorite part
of the day was eating lunch, and 4-year-old Carly said she liked to learn new
Klish said she and her staff, two teachers and two aides, asked several
kindergarten teachers what they wished kids knew when they came to school. It
was surprising, because most said they wish kids knew how to spell their own names.
The students need to punch in a five-digit number into an electronic pad in the
cafeteria to get lunch. But first you have to teach them the numbers,
she said. And, to learn how to spell their names, those 26 letters need to be
mastered. Klish said the program was spearheaded by GNA Superintendent Anthony
Perrone, who she said has had extensive experience with preschools. Most
of the learning children do is in the first five years, she said. We
saw the need for this kind of program because we see what happens when they arent
prepared for school.
The program was designed for those children who
fall through the gaps and do not qualify for Head Start or their parents
cannot afford preschool. It was originally intended for up to 12 to 15 students,
but when 32 signed up, Klish said she couldnt turn them away, so we
doubled the size of the program. She said the superintendent was awarded
a grant to fund the basic program, and because the program is only for a short
time during the summer, they didnt need to cover expenses for nine months.
Perrone was unable to be reached because he is on vacation.
Last week students
in the program learned how to ride the bus. They road all through town and
their parents picked them up at different places rather than at the school,
Klish said. She said the elementary school buses are identified by colors, instead
of numbers. We have a fuchsia bus, a robins egg blue bus and a light
blue bus. Even a striped bus, she said, as she explained that the colors
were on a piece of paper that was taped to the bus window.
That lesson on
colors was introduced to the children Tuesday while they listened to a story,
Mouse Paint, told by one of their teachers, Wendy Skoniecki. Before
Skoniecki began, she instructed the children to open their eyes, open their ears
and close their mouths, and to give everyone some personal space by
crossing their legs crisscross applesauce, Skoniecki said.
the story was over, the children were instructed to go to the dramatic play, imaginative
play, painting or building stations, identified by colors, to learn skills and
play with each other. To go along with the days theme, children painted
on a plain sheet of paper with the three primary colors: red, blue and yellow.
After the fun painting was over, it was time to get down to business and paint
inside the lines on a sheet of paper that had printed pictures of the mice from
Even lunch, provided by the Commission on Economic
Opportunity, was a learning experience. Tuesdays menu was ham and cheese
pasta salad with mandarin oranges. Some of the kids were reluctant to try it,
but Kartz encouraged them.
Eat one of every color noodle, she
said, and see if they taste different. Then try the pink squares. Thats
Robin Figlerski, mother of 5-year-old Mandy, said she brought her
daughter to the program to associate with the other kids and learn the rules;
like sitting and raising your hand.
She added that the program helps
the kids get acquainted with the school so that it wont be such a shock
when they get there in the fall.
Klish said she hopes the program does well
enough that she and the other teachers are able to do it again next year.
Were trying to pave the way for parents and children to enjoy school.
Slacker remark irks union steward
unfairly criticized public works employees, says Kenny James.
Kenny James, the
steward of the union representing city public works employees, is upset co-workers
were depicted as slackers during a recent council meeting.
James said the
comment from Hank Marks, president of the Nanticoke Area Taxpayers Forum, unfairly
made us look bad.
Marks said the city needed a public works director
to keep city employees from slacking off, noting an incident in which two public
works employees were watching TV while working as another cooked breakfast.
It was during a snowstorm, and the guys were plowing all night, said
James, who also is the vice president of Greater Nanticoke School Board. The
TV they were watching was weather reports. It wasnt like we were watching
The employees were cooking a hot meal in crock pot during
the storm, which occurred this past winter, James said.
meeting, Treasurer Al Wytoshek defended the employees, saying sometimes employee
bull s--- with each other during the workday.
the debate by criticizing the decision to hire Anthony DePietro, a general building
contractor from Nanticoke, as public works director at $35,000 a year.
council and Mayor John Bushko unanimously voted to hire DePietro. The new director
replaces Paul Ushinski, who was fired in April for unspecified reasons.
said the public works department needs more labor and less management.
against the man they hired, but its not necessary at this time, James
The city is in the states Act 47 relief program for financially
distressed communities and is going to run out of money to pay bills and employees
by August or September.
The city is on course to spend about $3.8 million
this year and needs a $700,000 emergency loan from the state to get through the
considers stricter guidelines for landlords
By Elizabeth Skrapits
City officials want to
take their ongoing crackdown on problem properties several steps further, but
arent sure how.
Getting absentee owners to take care of their properties
and pay required taxes and fees is more than a financial issue for the financially
distressed city: officials realize it is only fair to residents whose taxes are
paid and properties are kept neat.
During Wednesdays meeting, Councilman
Bill OMalley said the city has to get policies in place immediately for
landlords to register their apartments and tenants. He is using county records
to compile a landlord database to keep track of property owners.
landlords dont pay required expenses such as taxes, sewer and garbage fees;
they dont live in the city, but use its services, OMalley said.
Every dollar they dont pay is a dollar burden for everyone who does
pay, he said.
Police, fire, and public works department personnel will
be on the lookout for abandoned vehicles, overgrown yards, and other eyesores,
Mayor John Bushko said.
He suggested residents help each other with property
If your neighbors sick, give em a hand. Cut
their weeds for them, Bushko said.
Resident Theresa Sowa wanted to know
if city employees will also be looking for junk-strewn properties, and was told
As previous administrations did before them, council and Bushko
lamented the length of time it takes to go through the legal process after citing
a property owner.
One property had rats and tall grass and snakes coming
out of the house, but it took a long time for the building inspector to
be able to do anything about it, OMalley said.
The city has ordinances
to deal with nuisance properties, but needs to put more teeth in them, Councilman
Joe Dougherty said.
Within a few weeks the state will hire a financial recovery
coordinator for Nanticoke as part of the Act 47 process. City officials will enlist
the help of the state in reviewing the ordinances, OMalley said.
Nanticoke treasurer protests hire
Al Wytoshek says
the cash-strapped city does not need a new public works director.
from Treasurer Al Wytoshek, city council and Mayor John Bushko on Wednesday hired
a new public works director.
Wytoshek, who also complained about being excluded
from a meeting with tax collector Berkheimer Associates, said the cash-strapped
city doesnt need a public works director.
You guys do not want
to work with me, Wytoshek complained during Wednesdays city council
City officials said they hired Anthony DePiertro, a general building
contractor from Nanticoke, as public works director at $35,000 a year. He replaces
Paul Ushinski, who was fired in April.
Hank Marks, President of the Nanticoke
Area Taxpayers Forum, said the public works director was needed to keep city employees
from slacking off. He noted an incident in which two public works employees were
watching TV while working and another was cooking breakfast.
we picking on the poor little guys all the time? Wytoshek responded.
Wytoshek told council members and the mayor they were going to continue hearing
his complaints unless they begin to work with him.
Youre out of
order, Bushko eventually told Wytoshek. Im not going to listen
The city is in the states Act 47 relief program for financially
distressed communities. To avoid another year-end deficit, city officials hope
to get $700,000 from the state in a no-interest loan.
The city is on course
to spend about $3.8 million this year and probably wont be able to pay bills
and salaries by the end of August.
Honey Pot Fire Co. prepares for convention
By Tom Venesky Staff Writer
last year, members of the Honey Pot Fire Co. have rolled cabbages down North Market
Street and have climbed into the ring with professional wrestlers.
a reason behind the unique fundraisers, one which will come to fruition beginning
Thursday when the Six County Firemens Convention rolls into town.
convention, now in its 103rd year, brings together firefighters and their families
from departments in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, Columbia, Montour and Northumberland
counties, along with parts of New Jersey. It will be held from June 22-24 at the
Kanjorski Center parking lot on Lower Broadway in Nanticoke. Chet Kopco, assistant
chief with the Honey Pot department, said more than 100 departments will attend.
Its basically six counties working together on fire prevention and
training, he said. Most importantly, it brings us all together to
share ideas and make new friends.
The event isnt limited to fire
departments. Kopco said this years convention will have many attractions
for the public, including carnival rides, a parade, fireworks and plenty of vendors.
The community element is something the Honey Pot department has emphasized for
Its going to be a learning experience for firefighters
and the general public. Hopefully, it will generate some interest in firefighting
and attract new members.
Members of the Honey Pot department have been
planning for the convention for the last year, holding numerous fundraisers to
fund the event. Aside from the usual bingo nights and breakfasts, the department
held its first-ever cabbage roll last summer. The event invited residents to roll
heads of cabbage down North Market Street, with the longest roll determining the
We know were not going to make money on the convention,
but were doing it because its an honor to host this event, Kopco
said. We want to showcase our community. Nanticoke isnt a lost cause,
there are some good things about us.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Mike Bohan
said the convention will be an elaborate celebration with plenty of
attractions for the community and fire departments. As a firefighter, Bohan said
the convention gives him a chance to network with other departments and share
ideas on pressing issues, such as volunteer recruitment.
For Nanticoke, which
became the third Luzerne County municipality to be declared financially distressed
by the state last month, the benefit will be even greater. Its going
to bring a big influx of visitors to our town, Bohan said.
Fire at Railroad Street home in Nanticoke
A fire in a double block home at 355-357
Railroad Street displaced two residents early Monday morning.
Chief Dave Urbanski said the blaze in 357 side of the home started in the attic
and is believed to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. The homes
owners, Leon and Carol Figlerski, escaped the blaze. Carol Figlerski was taken
to an area hospital, where she was treated and released, Urbanski said.
fire was reported at around 4:26 a.m. Firefighters battled the blaze for about
40 minutes before bringing it under control, Urbanski said. The 357 side of the
home sustained fire, smoke and water damage to the attic and a bedroom, as well
as smoke and water damage to the first floor. The 355 side, which was unoccupied,
sustained water damage, he said.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pam Urbanski
The road to success is always
past week Greater Nanticoke Area High School held class day and graduation ceremonies
for 180 seniors, members of the Class of 2006.
On class day, members of the
community, faculty and staff presented close to 60 awards to students who excelled
in academics, athletics, the arts, and to those who were of service to their community
In her inspirational message to classmates, Sara Dudek, vice president
of the senior class, told her fellow classmates, Live your dreams and go
above and beyond what is expected of you. She also presented a challenge
to them. Test your own limits to see what you can achieve.
weather forced graduation ceremonies indoors, but it did not dampen the spirits
of those receiving their diplomas. Valedictorian Lauren Bowalick thanked parents
for their unending love and support. She also thanked teachers and administrators
for their support and guidance during their high school years. Our teachers
taught us that without challenge there is no achievement, she said.
The evening was filled with pomp and circumstance, speeches and inspirational
messages for students embarking on a new journey in their lives. According to
the guidance department, 70 percent of the graduating class will attend college.
Close to 3 percent will attend a technical school. Six percent will enlist in
the armed forces and 9 percent will join the work force. Nineteen percent obtained
scholarships totaling approximately $1,940,300.00 with some additional scholarship
money still coming in. The top 10 academic students are Lauren Bowalick, Ashley
Chapin, Amanda Gavin, Abigail Gesecki, Eric Brojakowski, Carrie Winters, Amber
Robacheski, Erica Whitebread, Brian Madajewski, and Kaitlyn Malshefski. Congratulations
and good luck in all your future endeavors!
Skate park still in the works
Several people have asked me if I know what is going on with the proposed skate
park to be located in the Nanticoke Recreation Park at Lower Broadway. I talked
with attorney Joe Lach, who is the secretary and spokesperson for the South Valley
Partnership. The partnership is a not for profit organization that will oversee
and maintain the parks initial phase.
The hold up has to do with
the ownership of the land. There are a little more than 100 parcels.
He told me some are owned by the city and the redevelopment authority. The ownership
of some parcels is unclear.
We are looking to resolve all issues so
the land can be consolidated into one ownership through the city. Then we can
decide in which direction we will go in regard to leasing the land from the city,
After the issues with the parcels are resolved, the site work for
the skate park will begin.
The South Valley Partnership has already
purchased the skate park equipment. We just need to make sure everything is done
right so the park will be permanent.
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board
Thursday approved a $21.5 million budget for the new school year that includes
a four mill tax hike.
By Bob Heim - Citizens' Voice Correspondent
Real estate taxes will increase from
245 to 249 mills under the $21,497,990 budget for fiscal 2006-2007.
per capita tax and an earned income tax of one half of one percent on residents
of the district 18 and older were also reenacted.
The budget was approved
unanimously as two dozen residents looked on.
The district anticipated receiving
$8,684,778 in revenue from local sources, $11,190,356 from state sources, $1,586,590
from federal sources and $15,000 from other sources.
in the new budget are salaries of $8,760,917, followed by benefit costs of $4,039,799.
Total anticipated expenditures are listed at $21,497,990.
In personnel business,
Joseph Long was hired as elementarysecondary principal at a salary of $70,000,
and Brian McCarthy, presently a teacher in the district, was hired as assistant
high school principal at an annual salary of $60,000. Ryan Amos, an elementary
teacher, and Rachel Jeffries, high school English teacher, were also hired.
Cafeteria prices for the coming school year for breakfast and lunch will remain
unchanged. Paid breakfast will cost 50 cents; reduced breakfast will stay at 30
cents, and adult breakfast is $1.20. Paid lunch for kindergarten through grade
five is unchanged at $1.30 and $1.50 for students in grades six through 12. Reduced
lunch will be 40 cents, adult lunch is $2.50 and milk remains at 35 cents.
Former fire officials house burns
By Wade Malcom Staff Writer
after 1 p.m. Monday, Bill Ives stood a few feet from police tape as an insurance
company investigator took pictures of his homes charred remains.
Throughout his professional career, he was always on the other end of these
things and on the other side of the yellow tape, helping console dozens
of distraught families who had lost their cherished possessions.
his retirement about two and a half years ago, he had been Nanticokes fire
chief for 19 years.
But at around 3 a.m. Monday, it was his home that was
engulfed in flames.
The fire was fully developed when firefighters
arrived at 65 W. Field St. Flames were shooting out of the homes roof and
windows, said Nanticoke Fire Chief Mike Bohan. To their dismay, many of the firefighters
instantly realized it was the home of their former chief.
They were relieved
to find no one was injured in the blaze. Ives and his family were away on a camping
trip. But the fire could not be extinguished fast enough to salvage anything.
All the years I did this, Ives said. You dont realize
what its like until it happens to you.
The fire nearly claimed
two neighboring homes. The home at 67 W. Field St. suffered external damage and
a moderate amount of internal damage, while the residence at 63 W. Field St. only
sustained external damage. Residents of the other two homes rushed outside before
the flames had spread to any greater extent.
Assisted by the Hanover Township
Fire Department, Nanticoke firefighters had the blaze under control at around
5:40 a.m. About seven hours later, Ives stood in front of what was left of his
home. The lower floor was gutted, the roof half caved in. His wife wanted to watch
with him as investigators combed through the rubble. But he asked her to stay
It would have been too hard, he said.
A state police
fire marshal also investigated the scene Monday afternoon. But because of the
extensive damage the home sustained, Bohan said the exact cause of the fire could
not be immediately determined, though he added the blaze did not in any way appear
He also said the flames probably originated in the first-floor
Mary Stout, 35, of 63 W. Field St., narrowly avoided becoming
a victim, thanks to the Nanticoke Fire Department, she said. When she saw the
high flames shooting out her neighbors roof, she was convinced her home
would be next. But the blaze was contained.
They (firefighters) did
a terrific job, she said.
Stout is still able to stay in her home, while
Denise Chapura, 53, of 67 W. Field St., is temporarily staying with family members.
And Ives said he and his family members will stay in their RV until they figure
out what to do next. On Monday afternoon, Ives spoke to his insurance companys
fire investigator, Kevin Thomas.
I cant believe, all these years
you fought fires, one would bite you, he told Ives. Im going
to do everything I can to find out what it was.
Ives thanked him. At
around 1:30 p.m., after looking at his home one last time, Ives turned and slowly
walked toward his car to leave.
Im gonna go be with my wife,
Nanticoke Deputy Fire Chief Dave Urbanski said a relief fund has
been established at PNC Bank to help victims of the fire. Anyone wishing to donate
may call fire headquarters for more details.
Retired fire chiefs home burns
Responding to a
fire engulfing 65 W. Field St. around 2:50 a.m. Monday, Nanticoke firefighters
realized they had personal reasons to control the blaze.
The property, which
firefighters found with flames coming through the roof, is the home
of retired Nanticoke fire Chief William Ives and his wife, Mary, who were on a
The guys had a lot emotional attachment to it knowing
it was our former chief, said Nanticoke Line Chief Charlie Alles.
to Alles, the house was recently insulated, so the fire burned inside for a while.
Im sure it burned for awhile before it burned through (to the outside)
and a neighbor noticed it and called it in, he said.
could control it, the fire spread to 67 W. Field St., which sustained moderate
damage to the exposed side and the attic, and 63 W. Field St., which received
The fire, which is believed to have started in the center of
the first floor near a television, destroyed the house and caused the roof and
second story to collapse into the first story.
Alles said the fire marshal
considered the fire unsuspicious and accidental, but the
cause wasnt determined.
It took firefighters about 45 minutes to control
the blaze and several more hours to completely dowse it, Alles said.
only problem is it had a jump on us, he said.
No injuries were reported,
and there were no pets in the house.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pam Urbanski
Last Sunday I attended a town meeting
for parishioners of Catholic parishes in Nanticoke. The meeting was very well
attended with several hundred people gathering together for prayer, information
The catalyst for this meeting was the retirement of the Rev.
John Krafchik, who has served as pastor of St. Marys Church for decades.
After 50 years serving God and his people, he will retire.
Bambera, V.E. episcopal vicar, Central Pastoral Region, was pleased with the turnout
at the meeting.
What a wonderful testimony and commitment to you and
your parishes, he said. I believe this is a historic gathering of
Monsignor told us that for now the six Catholic parishes
within the City of Nanticoke will remain open, but change is inevitable.
we will get through it, he said. Ever since the first Pentecost 2,000
years ago, the Catholic Church has always faced challenges and change. He
acknowledged that sometimes change is not easy. We always need to find the
best possible way to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.
with the group an interesting study where, out of the 200 dioceses in existence,
133 responded. Eighty-five dioceses or half said they are undergoing
pastoral planning, restructuring and reorganizing.
In those parishes
where there is change, the most successful are those whose people quickly faced
reality about their parishes and moved ahead in a positive way.
important finding was that decisions for the future were imposed not from the
top down, but rather emerged from the people themselves, he added.
believe Monsignor was genuine when he told us that this was his desire for us,
the faithful of the diocese and also the desire of the Rev. Jim Nash, the Rev.
William Langan and the Rev. Carl Prushinski, who will continue to shepherd the
flocks at the six Catholic churches in Nanticoke. Deacon Florian Giza and Deacon
Thaddeaus Wadas are also part of the clergy serving in Nanticoke
presented at the meeting were interesting.
According to the 2000 census, the
population of Nanticoke is around 10,000 people, and there are approximately 6,000
Catholics in Nanticoke. According to surveys at churches in the city, around 2,000
or one-third attend Mass.
Luzerne and Lackawanna counties are the fastest
declining counties in the diocese, while Monroe, Pike and Wayne are the fastest
In 1965 there were 225 parishes and 450 priests. Today there are
210 parishes and 206 priests. With priest retirements and only about 13 young
men currently answering the call to a vocation to the priesthood, the estimate
for 2010 is around 165 active priests.
Father Langan, pastor of St. Francis
and St. Joseph churches, was grateful for the turnout at the meeting and positive
about the future.
We will bring together all of our resources to best
serve the people of Nanticoke, he said. We must make the Body of Christ
evermore strong and witness to those who have lost sight of Jesus and need him.
Father Nash also remarked about how wonderful it was that all six parishes were
well represented at the meeting and willing to talk about the future.
believe we have new opportunities for future generations. We will have a Catholic
presence here in Nanticoke because of decisions we as a group will make.
Continuing he added, I am excited about this new stage in our faith journey.
After some discussion about the new Mass schedule, it was decided to try the
schedule and then make adjustments as necessary. The following schedule will go
into effect on July 3 for weekday Masses and July 8 for weekend Masses.
now, Masses at St. Francis and St. Joseph will remain the same; Saturday Vigil
Mass at 4 p.m. at St. Francis and 6 p.m. at St. Joseph, and Sunday Masses at 7
and 11 a.m. at St. Francis and 8:30 a.m. at St. Joseph. Weekday masses are Tuesday
and Thursday, 7 a.m. at St. Joseph, and Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. at St. Francis.
For the parish community of Holy Trinity, St. Stanislaus, Holy Child and St. Marys,
Masses are as follows: Saturday, 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity and St. Marys; Sunday,
8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus, 9 a.m. at Holy Cross, 10:15 at Holy Trinity and 11:30
at St. Marys. Weekday Masses will be Monday, 7 a.m. at St. Marys and
8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus; Tuesday, 7 a.m. at Holy Trinity and 8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus;
Wednesday, 7 a.m. at St. Marys and 6 p.m. at Holy Trinity; Thursday, 7 a.m.
at St. Marys and 8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus; Friday, 7 a.m. at St. Marys
and 8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus
Nanticoke housing board wants new site
authority will hire a real estate firm to market space in the Kanjorski Center.
city housing authority wants to become a partner in the downtown revitalization
project, housing authority Executive Director Perry Clay said during Thursdays
municipal authority meeting.
Clay said the housing authority would like to
buy land at Spring and Market streets from the municipal authority for a new administrative
office building. Clay also said the housing authority recently agreed to buy the
Susquehanna Coal Co. building on West Main Street and plans to put housing units
in the building.
Officials plan to disclose more details about the coal company
building plans in the near future, Clay said. Municipal authority members said
they want the housing authoritys plans to match their aesthetic vision of
what a revitalized downtown would look like.
I would like to see if
your concept works with our concept, municipal authority member Ron Kamowski
Also Thursday, the authority voted to hire Lewith & Freeman as a
real estate agent to help sell the Kanjorski Center or lease space in it. The
municipal authority, through a cooperation agreement with the redevelopment authority,
owns and operates the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street.
authority has been struggling to lease space in the 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski
Center, which has been almost 88 percent empty since HealthNow, a Medicare claims
processing company, relocated in October to Dallas.
Officials hope a new parking
garage by the Kanjorski Center would help attract tenants there. Municipal authority
Chairman Dennis Butler said the authority can build a parking garage with $5.5
million from federal transportation grants.
Without HealthNow as the Kanjorski
Centers anchor tenant, the authority lost $33,000 in monthly revenue and
is going broke. Since April, the authoritys fund balance has dropped from
$20,001 to $11,161, officials said.
Nanticoke considers loan
Now that the city is official a financially
distressed community under the Act 47 program, city officials want to borrow $700,000
to avoid another year-end deficit.
The emergency loan would have no interest,
and the city can get the money by August if the application is finished in a week,
The city wont be able to pay bills and salaries by the
end of August, said Councilman William OMalley during Wednesdays council
OMalley said the city is looking at a deficit this year of
about $700,000 about $50,000 more than the states latest projection.
The city is on course to spend about $3.8 million this year.
The city is eligible
for Act 47 relief because of past problems associated with deficit spending. In
recent years, the city covered deficits with unfunded debt borrowing, officials
On May 26, state Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis
Yablonsky officially designated Nanticoke as financially distressed under Act
47. The designation allows the state to partner with the city to improve its financial
By the end of the month, the state will appoint a recovery coordinator
to work with city officials and develop a recovery plan.
Also during Wednesdays
meeting, council voted to advertise a job opening for a new finance director.
City officials said Anthony Margelewicz, who was hired as city clerk and fiscal
manager in February, will become city administrator. Council fired Greg Gulick
as administrator in April.
The beat goes on at annual Music Fest
Despite the cloudy skies,
gathers for melodic tribute on last night of the outdoor Nanticoke event.
that the ominous clouds above would produce little rain, about 200 people mingled
in Patriot Square Park on Sunday evening to enjoy the 9th Annual Nanticoke Music
While John Stevens Doubleshot set the tone with a selection of
danceable polkas, youths made their own popping rhythm by throwing Snap Pops,
which explode with a bang on the concrete.
Heather Evans, who was selling
small toys and gifts from a booth, said she sold out of the popular, small explosives.
The three-day event culminated Sunday, and though the crowd wasnt as large
as it was the first night, given the weather, people involved with the event were
Basically, we break even, and thats all we want to do,
said Yvonne Bozinski, who organized the event.
The past two days were
great. The rain scared (visitors) away, but its coming back, Slyvia
Mizdail said later in the evening while selling raffle chances for a collection
of gift certificates to local restaurants. Called A Taste of Nanticoke,
the raffle is raising money for the Mercy Hospital special care unit.
park has been the setting for live music since the early 1900s. To celebrate that,
this years fest highlighted the bands of Nanticokes past, from the
marching bands and orchestras of the first half of the past century to the four-
and five-member acts that became the rage in the latter half.
remembered her father, Steve, who, at 18, started playing the trumpet in the Peter
Pace band in 1918. He later formed his own orchestra, Steve Cottrinos Sylvans
and his Cadets, in the early 1930s and continued playing locally until 1979.
About 30 years ago, his band was asked to start the Wilkes-Barre Philharmonic,
she said, which eventually merged with the Scranton orchestra to become the Northeastern
He patterned himself after the Boston Pops.
He was an admirer of Arthur Fiedler, she said.
In 1961, while Cottrino
was playing summer concerts at the park, Dan Novak began headlining a series of
bands, including the Original Trailblazers, Danny & the Excels and, in the
1980s, King Rat and the Vermin.
It was a lot of camaraderie. I met a
lot of people, did a lot of traveling, he said. Ever since I was a
kid, I enjoyed singing.
These days, though hes left the music
circuit, he still plays informally with the members of one of his past bands and
spends hours singing karaoke in his basement.
No doubt, others would agree
with his reasoning: Music makes me happy.
on Musicfest 2006......
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pam Urbanski
you are tired of being indoors, looking for something to do, a place to take the
family, I have the perfect place for you! Next weekend, June 2-4, the Nanticoke
Music Fest will be held at Patriots Square.
The Music Fest will be a
weekend filled with great music, food, games and kiddie rides, said Karen
Dougherty, one of the event organizers. The theme for this years celebration
is Music of Nanticoke Throughout the Years. You will be able to take
a step back in time as music memorabilia, including pictures and articles from
local musicians and bands, will be displayed.
The weekend begins with opening
ceremonies Friday at 5 p.m. The band Hickory Rose, a premiere county-western band,
will provide the entertainment from 6 to 10 p.m.
Saturday the annual Battle
of the Bands will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. This is a great opportunity to hear
some great local bands perform. Five bands will compete for the $500 grand prize.
From 7 to 11 p.m. Picture Perfect, voted Electric Citys best party
band for 2003, 2004 and 2005, will take the stage. This nine piece band
puts on an entertaining, high energy performance that covers everything from funk
and R & B to soul and Latin.
The final day, Sunday, the David Blight Dancers
will dance their way onto the stage for a 4 p.m. performance. The John Stevens
Band-Doubleshoot, a polka band that aims to introduce polka music to a whole new
generation and who has performed across the country, will entertain from 7 to
One of the best things about the Music Fest is that you can listen
to all of these great bands for free! While taking in all the great entertainment,
dont forget to try some of the great food, games and rides for the kids.
For information, call 735-2800. See you there!
J Wytoshek, Nanticoke City treasurer/tax collector, announced the 2006 city property
and per capita taxes face value will end Friday, June 9, and are payable at the
Nanticoke Municipal Building Tax Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The tax office will have extended hours June 9 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
are not accepted by postmark. When requesting a receipt, enclose a self-address,
Property owners are reminded it is their responsibility
to forward their tax statements to their mortgage companies. Anyone needing assistance
or an appointment may call 735-2800.
St. Josephs bingo
Josephs Slovak Church will hold a bingo Sunday, June 4, at 2 p.m. in the
church parlors, 107 East Noble St., Nanticoke. Doors open at noon. Early birds
are at 1:30. There will be cash and door prizes. Refreshments will be available.
The parishioners of Holy Child Church invite you to
their annual breakfast buffet Sunday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to noon in the dining
hall of the church in Sheatown. The cost is $6. For information, call 735-2281.
Nanticoke will get state help
The Department of
Community and Economic Development designated Nanticoke as financially distressed
under Act 47, department spokesman Kevin Ortiz said Friday.
Dennis Yablonsky officially approved the designation, which allows the state to
partner with the city to improve its financial conditions.
The state has 30
days to appoint a recovery coordinator for the city, Ortiz said.
and the city will then have 90 days to approve a recovery plan, which will
enable Nanticoke to remedy its distressed status, Ortiz said.
will use their guidance and try to move forward, Mayor John Bushko said.
Some tough decisions have to be made.
Under the Act 47 program,
the state will help provide oversight and can offer additional loans and grants.
Bushko said the state will offer guidance to help improve tax collection, and
he said a no-interest loan from the state will help the city pay its bills this
Without help, the city would run out of money to pay bills and salaries
by August. The city is projected to spend almost $3.8 million this year and only
take in $3.2 million in revenue.
In recent years, the city covered deficits
with unfunded debt borrowing, officials said.
More than 10 percent of the
citys budget is earmarked for debt payments.
Yablonsky had 30 days to
approve the citys request for Act 47 relief after the state conducted a
hearing on April 26.
Ortiz said the city met four criteria for Act 47 relief.
Three criteria are associated with deficit spending.
The city also met the
criteria because it failed to repay short-term loans in 2001 and 2003. The loans
were supposed to be paid off in 12 months when anticipated revenue was collected.
Nanticoke is the 22nd municipality in the state to enter the Act 47 program since
the act became law in 1987. Nanticoke is the third municipality in Luzerne County
to enter the program.
West Hazleton has been in the program since 2003. The
Pennsylvania Economy League is the boroughs recovery coordinator.
Township has been in the program since 2004. The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance
is townships recovery coordinator.
Nanticoke OKs water shutoffs
The city is owed $126,000
in fees. Notices will be sent to delinquent property owners.
Late with your water
or sewer bills? City homeowners are forewarned that their water could be shut
off if they dont pay up.
City council on May 17 approved shutoff agreements
with Pennsylvania American Water Co. and the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.
The cash-strapped city is owed $126,000 in fees from water and sewer bills, Councilman
William OMalley said.
Mayor John Bushko said the shutoff resolutions
are needed because there were no teeth in the ability to collect water
and sewer bills.
If we have the authority to shut off water, people
will come around, Bushko said.
Solicitor Joe Lach said notices will
be sent to property owners in the event of unpaid bills. They will
be warned their water will be shut off, Lach said.|
Bushko said delinquent
bill payers will be charged shutoff fees. OMalley said 246 sewer
bills are unpaid, noting the city doesnt supply water.
population is about 11,000, and the number of homes in the city is about 5,000.
About 12 percent of the homes are vacant.
Because of the citys financial
problems, the city has applied for the states Act 47 relief program as a
financially distressed community. The city could run out of money to pay employees
and bills by August or September.
The city passed a balanced budget in December,
but the city is now projected to spend almost $3.8 million and take in almost
$3.2 million in revenue.
Nanticoke officials sparring over fire hall
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
volunteer organizations are clashing over the Stickney fire hall, and city council
and mayor John Bushko are feeling the heat.
Council leased the Stickney building
at 24 S. Prospect St. to the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force last June.
Task force board members, frustrated that they are unable to use the building
11 months later, said Wednesday night they feel councils deadline of July
1 for the fire company to move out is too long.
Members of the task force,
a community group to educate teens about drugs and give them recreational alternatives,
have put time and money into fixing up the building, but still have to use the
basement of St. Francis Church, task force board member Jim Samselski said.
The city cant afford to keep the Stickney and Washington fire companies
open. Council voted at its last meeting to close the fire house, allowing time
for Stickney members to move their belongings to fire headquarters on East Ridge
Street and sell the fire truck.
Task force board president Frank Vandermark
said the fire company has ignored previous deadlines.
doing any good to be smooth, Samselski said. Its the kids that
Task force board member Lorri Vandermark reminded council
that the task force did not ask for the Stickney fire hall, but when the kids
petitioned for a building, it was what city officials gave them. The task force
has put too much time and effort into fixing it up to walk away, she said.
The fire company has also invested in the building, Solicitor Joe Lach said. Including
buying a fire truck, fire gear, and building repairs and maintenance, the fire
company spent more than $250,000 over the last 15 years, Stickney president Bob
Bray said previously.
The problem officials are grappling with is how to deal
with the best interests of the city, the task force, and the fire company in the
most diplomatic way, Lach said.
Stickney members can either work with the
city and task force amicably, or force city officials to take action, he said.
Last week, Councilman Brent Makarczyk and Lach met with three Stickney fire company
representatives for a discussion that grew emotional and ended without resolution.
Lach said he and Makarczyk would approach Stickney members again.
Zarzycki, who has spent a total of 35 years as a firefighter with Nanticokes
Hanover Hose Co., strongly objected to the closing of the fire hall, saying it
would be the death of the Stickney fire company.
I find it despicable
that council would treat volunteer firefighters like an old piece of furniture
and throw them out on the curb for garbage pickup, Zarzycki said.
Nanticoke to sell delinquent tax liens to boost coffers
The city stands to gain $180,000 as an outside company will collect past-due taxes
By MICHAEL P. BUFFER firstname.lastname@example.org
officials on Wednesday approved a deal to sell delinquent property tax liens that
will bring in $180,000 to the cash-strapped city.
The deal allows the city
to get its money immediately upon the sale, rather than waiting for the lengthy
collection procedure. Under the deal, Municipal Revenue Services Inc. would work
out a deal with a government authority and a bank to borrow money.
would pay $20,000 in transaction fees from $200,000 in proceeds, officials said
during Wednesdays city council meeting. The loan is eventually paid off
as property owners pay their delinquent taxes.
The deal with Municipal Revenue
Services would improve the certainty of cash flow for future budgeting. City council
passed a balanced budget in December, but the city is now projected to spend almost
$3.8 million and take in almost $3.2 million in revenue.
Because of financial
problems, the city has applied for the states Act 47 relief program as a
financially distressed community. The city could run out of money to pay employees
and bills by August or September
Under Act 47, the state partners with municipalities,
providing oversight and offering loans and grants to aid in fiscal recovery.
According to Municipal Revenue Services Web site, Hazleton last year and
Harrisburg in 2004 sold delinquent property tax liens for upfront revenue.
School districts last year also approved deals with Municipal Revenue Services.
The company Web site says those school districts included Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming
Valley West, Pittston Area and Scranton.
Mothers Day twice as nice for couple
After years of effort, a Nanticoke
woman gets more than the child she wanted a set of twins.
By KEVIN AMERMAN email@example.com
Nanticoke woman has received the best Mothers Day gift she could have imagined.
Actually, two of them.
Amy Charnetski, 32, delivered fraternal twins
a boy and a girl on Tuesday at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center
in Plains Township.
The new mom wasnt scheduled to have her babies before
Mothers Day the twins were born four weeks early.
euphoric, Amy said. Its just the most wonderful thing in the
After 2 ½ years of trying to conceive and with the help
of fertility drugs, Amy and her husband, Tony, found out Amy was pregnant on Sept.
27, the day before their third wedding anniversary.
That was a great
wedding present, Amy said.
This is a great Mothers Day present
for you too, added Tony.
Six-and-a-half weeks after learning about the
pregnancy, the couple found out they were having twins.
even express it in words how happy I felt seeing them, Tony said as he recalled
Amy was not sure Friday when she could return home. Shes
recovering from a C-section and said her twins need to gain weight. Ian was born
at 4 pounds, 8 ounces and Abigail weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces.
a miracle, said Amy as she held her baby boy. Theyre so small,
but so healthy.
While at the hospital, Tony said the staff has taught
him many things, such as how to swaddle his babies and feed them.
here has been wonderful, he said.
Dealing with two babies will be pretty
challenging, but the Charnetskis, who are both insurance agents for Unitrin Direct
Insurance near Scranton, say theyll get help from family members. Amy said
the babies are the first ones in her extended family in 14 years and Tony said
his 4-year-old nephew is the youngest child in his family so the twins
should get plenty of attention.
While reflecting on the happiness of finally
being able to celebrate a Mothers Day as a mom, Amy said perseverance has
Anything is possible, she said. Never give up.
Strive for what you want.
Minute Monster at GNA - Citizens Voice
We all know how difficult it can sometimes
be to get our children to turn off the television, log off the computer, hang
up the telephone and read.
For students in kindergarten through fifth grade
who attend the Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary Center, K.M. Smith School or
Kennedy Elementary, the task is a little easier. In fact, reading is fun and challenging.
It was Cindy Evans, mom and Parent-Teacher Association president, who was looking
for a way to bring students and parents together after three Nanticoke elementary
I wanted to come up with something educational and fun
for our students, said Cindy. I also wanted a project that would help
unite our parents.
She created a great one. She took her idea of getting
kids reading on a daily basis, while rewarding them for their accomplishments,
to other members of the PTA and school administrators. They were 100 percent
behind the program, she said.
And so Mots (pronounced Mo), a blue, loving
monster named after the French word for words was born. With a little
help from some friends, the challenge was on for all reading minute monsters.
In September, Mots was introduced to the student body and faculty. Mots challenged
the students to complete two million minutes of reading for the 2005-2006 school
year. During the initial assembly program, the rules were explained. Students
who wished to participate signed a pledge to read 15 minutes a day and were given
pencils and T-shirts bearing the Minute Monster logo. A deal also was made that
Mots would only talk to the students if they reached their goal.
To keep the
students motivation high and the reading on track, monthly assemblies were held.
For every month that students participated in the program they received a piece
of foam that eventually grew into a bookworm. A mystery guest presented
all minute monsters that reached their monthly goal of reading 15 minutes a day
with rewards during these assemblies.
They also were treated to musical performances
complete with songs written by Cindy for and about the students who participated
in the program and even their teachers. To date, she has written five songs that
have the kids very excited. To see hundreds of kids, smiling and happy,
excited about reading is wonderful, Cindy offered. They always wanted
to know what the next song was going to be like.
The monthly rewards
are just as exciting as the first assembly we had, said Jackie McIntyre,
Minute Monster chairperson. Mots even enjoyed the music so much that he read a
book and learned to play the guitar.
Principal Mariellen Scott announced that
Mots would be joining the band for the performance during an assembly. After that
performance, 50 new students joined the program.
Dr. Scott did a great
job keeping the students motivated during the school year, Cindy added.
Eighty-five percent of the students participated in the program. I am happy to
tell you that they have reached their reading goal of two million minutes of reading.
On Monday, May 22, the PTA will hold the final assembly. A huge celebration to
include a parade is planned. Certificates will be given to readers and some cool
prizes, donated by the PTA and local businesses, will be awarded. And Mots will
finally talk. Im sure when he does, Mots will have a lot of praise and positive
things to say to PTA members especially program founder Cindy Evans, as well as
Christine Mash and Brenda Wenner, who Im told played key roles in the success
of the program.
I have a feeling Mots will have great things to say to the
students, parents, administrators, faculty and staff at GNA Congratulations kids
and keep on reading.
Check out the Minute Monster at www.gnasd.com/kenschool.htm
Greater Nanticoke Area will conduct health care benefit
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
Area School Board wants to make sure the district is getting its moneys
worth out of the Northeast Pennsylvania School Districts Health Trust.
board voted Thursday night to launch a health care benefit study, to be done at
a cost of not more than $15,000, with a final written study due no later than
June 30, 2007. Health insurance costs are the districts biggest expense,
and the board wants to make sure the money it is investing in the health trust
is being spent properly, board President Jeff Kozlofsky said.
The board will
appoint a committee to look at the health trust and check out alternatives, such
as other health care consortiums, to see if the district can get health insurance
that has benefits equal to what employees get now, but at a cheaper rate.
If there are money-saving options, were going to go for them,
The health trust was formed in 1998 by 13 districts to curb
rising health insurance costs.
The board accepted the retirement of federal
coordinator Thad Wadas and K.M. Smith Elementary principal and former high school
principal Thomas Kubasek.
Michael Wisniewski was hired for 12 months as a
school police officer, at a salary of $24,480.
Superintendent Anthony Perrone
announced that auditors had just completed their work on the districts finances.
Our audit was perfect, except for one thing. Were getting an additional
$6,000 back we werent anticipating, he said.
Resident Hank Marks
brought up Nanticoke Citys bad financial condition and asked if the district
could help by making the city a donation to buy a new police cruiser.
board questioned whether it would be legal to do so. Board member Kenny James
said there were other ways the city could get money for a police vehicle, such
as through government grants.
Nanticoke Area veterans retire
Principal Thomas Kubasek
and federal coordinator Thad Wadas will be leaving.
By JANINE UNGVARSKY
Times Leader Correspondent
employees in Greater Nanticoke Area School District have announced their intent
to retire later this year.
Former high school Principal Thomas Kubasek will
retire at the end of the school year. School board President Jeff Kozlofski said
that Kubasek, who is serving as principal of the K.M. Smith Elementary, has been
with the district more than 30 years.
Kubasek had served as high
school principal for four years before he was moved to the principals position
at K.M. Smith Elementary School in 2005. The demotion caused a public outcry from
some parents and students.
The board on Thursday approved the posting of the
principals job at K.M. Smith Elementary, along with the positions of principal
of the Educational Center and assistant principal of the high school. Posting
of positions for an elementary teacher, a secondary English teacher and a janitor
were also approved.
The board also accepted the resignation of Thad Wadas,
district federal coordinator. His retirement is effective Aug. 18. The board thanked
both Wadas and Kubasek for their years of service to the district.
personnel moves, the board hired Mike Wisniewski as a full-time school police
officer at a salary of $24,480 effective July 1.
Shelly Shales, confidential
administrative assistant to the superintendent, will receive a pay increase raising
her salary to $33,000, effective July 1.
Motions to appoint all fall and winter
sports coaches were tabled. Kozlofski said that the board wasnt ready to
act on the motions because the recommendations of the athletic director had not
In other business, the board accepted the low bid for work
on the K.M. Smith Elementary School roof. TGW Corporation was awarded the project
with a bid of $198,900.
Tuition reimbursement for teachers was approved as
follows: Rebecca Mendrzycki, $780 for six credits at Wilkes University; Tracey
View and John Gorham each received $390 for three credits at Wilkes University;
Ami Stelma, $390 for three credits at Kings College.
The board also
approved a second reading of the Wellness Policy and a third reading of the Bullying
Superintendent Anthony Perrone touted the districts two-day-a-week
orientation program for next years kindergarten students and urged the board
to visit the program, which is intended to help the children prepare for full
day kindergarten. Perrone said the kids were amazing.
also congratulated the teachers and students involved in the Scholastic Scrimmage
airing on WVIA-TV. He told the board the district students had finished second
out of 39 schools from three intermediate units participating in the competition.
Nanticoke Veteran Going for the
BY HEIDI RUCKNO STAFF WRITER
sclerosis might have placed limitations on Doris Merrills body, but her
spirit is stronger than ever.
Diagnosed in 1957, the disease has progressed
to a point where the 82-year-old World War II veteran from Nanticoke is bound
to a wheelchair.
But physical limitation has not slowed her down. Sports and
volunteer work keep her extremely busy.
Merrill left Saturday for Hampton,
Va., but the trip was not exactly a bayside vacation. She will spend the week
trying to medal in the 20th National Veterans Golden Age Games. The competition
runs through Friday.
The Golden Age Games is a sports and recreational competition
for military veterans over 55, said Jenny Tankersley, the National Public Affairs
Coordinator for the games.
It is the worlds largest adaptive senior
sports event, she said.
This year, Merrill will be one of a record 612
athletes competing. She will participate in several events, including bowling,
swimming and riflery.
Merrill considers bowling her strongest event, and her
son Paul agrees. She has limited use of her arms, so someone hands her the ball
and she uses a ramp to give it enough momentum to get down the alley. Her average
score is a 170.
Since Im competing, I have a whole new way of
life, she said.
Merrill got her first taste of adaptive competition
on a trip to Puerto Rico seven years ago, when The Paralyzed Veterans of America
got her involved with the Wheelchair Games.
She wasnt really sure what
to expect, but was pleasantly surprised about the results.
I did beautifully,
Merrill said. I never would have believed that I could have done that well.
Merrill scored well in the wheelchair obstacle course, and her bowling score was
the highest in the entire contest. Since then shes become a fixture at these
While she is a serious competitor, Merrill takes a casual approach.
For her its about fun and friendship, so she sometimes gets caught up in
You cant believe the wonderful camaraderie we
have. We look for each other, she said.
An upbeat and social person,
Merrill sometimes loses focus on the competition. Shell get to talking to
someone and forget that shes got seven more frames to bowl.
to her the last time she went bowling. At a recent practice session at Chackos,
she socialized so much that she had an off night.
The last time I was
143. My son was very upset with me, Merrill said.
As his mothers
chauffeur and sometimes bowling assistant, Paul plays a large role in her sporting
Shes had a fair amount of it, winning several medals since
she began competing seven years ago.
Paul said she usually wins several medals
a competition, providing she keeps the socializing to a minimum.
also travel to Alaska in July to compete another senior sporting event, but in
the meantime shell keep herself busy volunteering at the VA Hospital.
compliance failures disclosed
officials on Wednesday disclosed some city failures to comply with state and federal
City employment applications dated back to 1976 and contained illegal
questions that would have put the city in risk of a lawsuit, according to a memo
from Robert Sabatini, a city consultant with Keystone Municipal Services. The
city now has employment applications that meet current standards.
Hall facilities need to be upgraded to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities
Act, the memo said. The act requires that public facilities be handicapped accessible.
Sabatini didnt want to disclose these compliance failures last week during
the citys Act 47 hearing. The city wants to be approved for the states
Act 47 relief program as a financially distressed community.
Last week, Sabatini
said he would share the information with a state official off the record.
During Wednesdays city council meeting, city Solicitor Joe Lach said Sabatini
didnt mean to leave the wrong impression that the city wanted
to keep secrets from the public.
Lach noted that Sabatini had not briefed
elected city officials on the compliance failures last week and said they were
functionally irrelevant to the citys financial problems.
In his memo, Sabatini said there is no evidence of any willful disregard
for the laws or criminal activity. The memo also notes that city employees
have failed to file I-9 forms, which confirm legal status.
The city also failed
to display workplace posters that detail laws on minimum wage, workers compensation
and veterans rights. The city displayed the posters in January, Councilman
William OMalley said.
Sabatinis memo noted the city needed to
use a technical civil service commission to hire building and health inspectors.
Council voted to establish that commission during Wednesdays meeting.
Also during the meeting, council voted to close the citys Stickney and Washington
fire stations. The volunteer firefighters at those stations will relocate to fire
headquarters on Ridge Street, and the move is expected to save about $7,000 a
remember at benefit
Proceeds for the event held in James Bertrands name
go to the Nanticoke Volunteer Fire Company.
Its been two years since the
drowning of James Bertrand made headlines, but friends and family are refusing
And theyre trying to use that memory to help his favorite
In April 2004, a Jeep vehicle in which he was a passenger drove
off a dirt trail on Earth Conservancy land in Newport Township and sank in a waterhole.
The female driver was able to escape, but Bertrand drowned.
His mother, Jackie
Bertrand, has sued the conservancy, alleging it allowed its land to be used for
recreation without ensuring its safety. The conservancy argues the driver did
not heed posted warnings that vehicles are barred from the site.
however, the conflicts and arguments were forgotten for at least a day at the
benefit in Jims name at the Holy Child Church Grove in Sheatown.
the second annual Jim Bertrand Memorial Benefit, a reunion of sorts for people
who knew him, music blared and about 300 people mingled and laughed while playing
games and bidding on auctions.
Food and drinks were in ample supply, with
a trailer sporting a line of beer taps and The Cajun Microwave, a
massive wood-fired oven on wheels from Martys
Blue Room restaurant.
In the background, money flowed in for the Nanticoke
Volunteer Fire Company, which was Jims life, according to his
mother, Jackie Bertrand.
He couldnt wait til he turned 18
to join the fire company, she said.
The first benefit, on a bitterly
cold day last year, raked in $7,025 for the fire department, Bertrand said.
A gentle giant at about 6 feet 8 inches tall, Jim Bertrand was the
last hope to carry on the family name, his mother said.
every day. It doesnt matter, she said of coping with his death. But
I really like the fact that he hasnt been forgotten.
was organized by Kristen Pawlowski, who was dating Bertrand at the time of his
death, and his friend Mike Tomko. Through their grief, they bonded and plan to
marry in September.
We just wanted to do something wonderful for Jim
and get all his friends together, Pawlowski said, adding that it takes six
to eight months to plan the event.
Frank Shepanski, Jim Bertrands best
friend and a fellow firefighter, said the department wants to use the proceeds
to help build a fire training facility dedicated in Bertrands memory at
Luzerne County Community College.
We would really like to use the facility
and know that when were there
hes watching over us, Shepanski
stations on chopping block
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
and Mayor John Bushko, faced with a city on the verge of bankruptcy, are talking
about closing two of Nanticokes five fire stations.
However, the president
of the Stickney fire company believes that since the organization is providing
a home for the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force, the fire station should
City officials cited rising costs, declining emergency responses,
and proximity to Nanticoke fire headquarters at 2 E. Ridge St. both stations
are less than half a mile away as reasons for closing the Stickney fire
hall at 24 S. Prospect St. and the Washington fire hall at Washington and Hanover
Honey Pot Fire Co. No. 6 at 13 Honey Pot St. will be left alone.
Its volunteers handle all its expenses and the station is self-sufficient. Hanover
Hose Co. No. 4 at 108 Espy St. is also staying open because of its location
it is two miles away from fire headquarters, and near Luzerne County Community
Nanticokes central fire headquarters was formed in 1975 by
combining the Pioneer Hook & Ladder No. 1, the Lape Hose Co. No. 2, and A.
K. Mowery Hose Co. No. 3. There are nine full-time and four part-time paid firefighters
and drivers in addition to volunteers.
In 2005, the city spent $2,586 on Stickney
and $3,348 on Washington for utilities alone, councilman Bill OMalley said.
That doesnt include other costs such as insurance and maintenance. Councilman
Brent Makarczyk estimated the city spends $80,000 on insurance for all five fire
stations. With rising prices, especially for fuel, city officials expect bills
to increase drastically through 2006 and 2007.
The way were looking
at it is wed get better use of our manpower and trucks
if it was
all centralized, Bushko said. Youre not doing it to be vindictive,
youre doing it because its a necessity.
The non-profit Greater
Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force, which educates teens about drugs, uses the second
floor of the Stickney fire station as headquarters for meetings and a recreation
center. The task force leases the building from the city for $1 a year and pays
its utility bills. Stickney members hold their meetings and events in the basement.
The stipulation was when the drug task force came into the building, they
would pick up much of the cost for the upkeep of the building and we would be
allowed to stay there, Stickney president Bob Bray said.
it will be up to the task force to decide whether it wants to coexist with the
fire company. However, he noted the fire company has so far been uncooperative
about moving its furniture out of the second floor and allowing the task force
to use the first floor, where the fire truck is stored.
The Stickney station
has around 35 members, about 27 of which are active in the fire company, and approximately
six who go to fires, Bray said. He fears closing the station will mean fewer volunteers.
Volunteers are a dying breed. When I got in the company in 1972, our charter
only allowed 30 active members and there was a waiting list, Bray said.
The volunteer fire department, Stickney, means a lot to me. I think its
a short-term solution, but its a long-term problem if you lose that volunteer
Bray is aware that Nanticoke, facing a $2.8 million projected
deficit, held a hearing with the state Wednesday to request distressed status.
But, Bray said, In my opinion, council and the mayor dont know whats
being offered by the volunteers.
Stickney members contribute to the
maintenance and upkeep of the building, including putting in a new furnace at
their own expense, Bray said. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001, there
has been grant money available, but prior to that, volunteers raised their own
funds, even for purchasing Stickneys fire engine, Bray said.
we bought it in 1992, the stipulation with the city was they would allow us to
stay in the building for 20 years. We paid $100,000 to buy and equip the truck
with our own money. At the time, that was the best apparatus in town, Bray
Since then, the city received funds for a new ladder truck and pumper,
so there is not as much need for Stickneys fire engine, he said.
to data from the Nanticoke fire department, from April 2001 to the present, Washingtons
fire apparatus responded to 21 calls. In the past five years, Stickney responded
to 11 calls, the most recent in July 2001. During the same period, Honey Pots
apparatus responded to 33 calls and Hanovers to 73. Apparatus from Pioneer,
headquartered at the central station, responded 645 times and Mowerys apparatus,
The bottom line is, the trucks are not responding to many
calls, the volunteers arent very active, were paying the bills, and
were not getting much in return, Makarczyk said of the Stickney and
Washington stations. When youre financially distressed, anywhere you
can cut, you do so. And if it means cutting buildings instead of manpower, its
an easy choice for us.
As when the three other stations consolidated,
the volunteers, fire trucks and equipment from the Stickney and Washington stations
would be added to headquarters, OMalley said.
Nanticoke Community Ambulance
leases part of the central fire station for $800 a month, but there isnt
much room for its vehicles and equipment, Makarczyk said. If the trucks from Stickney
and Washington are moved in, there will be even less space, Bushko said. City
officials plan to talk to the ambulance company about taking over the Washington
I just think it would be better all around. They would
have their own facilities, they would pay all the utilities, plus they would pay
us rent, Bushko said.
City officials expect fire company members rather
than residents to oppose closing the stations.
All the feedback Ive
been getting from the general public has been positive, OMalley said.
Resident Donald Perkoski lives on Green Street, near the Stickney fire station.
Closing it wouldnt bother him the central department is the first
to respond to fires anyway, he said. And with Nanticokes financial troubles,
Perkoski believes it would be the sensible thing to do.
At this point
in the game, we need to save money, Perkoski said. A dollar here,
a dollar there it adds up.
Employees and volunteers at fire headquarters
seem to agree that five firehouses for Nanticokes 3.5 square miles is too
many, Makarczyk said. Neighboring Hanover Township has six firehouses for 18.6
square miles, and they have been talking about consolidating those, he pointed
We have to do this. Weve been talking about regionalization.
Were trying to go that route, Makarczyk said. Its very
difficult for us to talk to Newport Township or Hanover Township and surrounding
communities if we dont have our own firehouses in order.
SOUTH VALLEY DEVELOPMENT
Business incubator, ATV
Partnership hopes to aid city, Newport and Plymouth townships.
an enormous industry.
State Rep. John Yudichak On all-terrain vehicles
The Kanjorski Center on Main
Street could be used as a business incubator that provides office space for small
businesses, according to a new plan to spark economic development in the South
The plan also proposes an all-terrain vehicle park in Newport
Township that could generate hotels, retail stores and restaurants. More than
100 people on Thursday heard details of the plan at the Luzerne County Community
It was a two-year project that cost $135,000. The South Valley Partnership,
a private nonprofit group, chose planning and architectural firm Facility Design
& Development Ltd. to put together a strategic plan for Nanticoke,
Newport Township and Plymouth Township.
The region has been struggling economically
and has a declining and aging population. Buildings are aging and need renovations.
Even the 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski Center, which was built in the 1990s, needs
to be renovated, according to the South Valley plan. The main problem with the
Kanjorski Center currently is it is almost 88 percent empty.
General Municipal Authority is in charge of the Kanjorski Center and has struggled
to find tenants since HealthNow, a Medicare claims processing company and the
buildings anchor tenant, relocated in October to Dallas.
The South Valley
plan also proposes new bus routes in the region, including a loop from LCCC to
State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, defended the proposal
for an ATV park after hearing a complaint. Noting the region has problems with
illegal ATV use, Yudichak said the park could turn ATV use into a regulated
Pennsylvania ranks second, behind Texas, in the number of
annual ATV purchases, Yudichak said.
Its an enormous industry,
The state provided $100,000 to the South Valley Partnership to fund
the plan, Yudichak said. The Nanticoke Area Development Corporation, donated $30,000,
and PNC Bank donated $5,000, Yudichak said.
South Valley strategic plan unveiled
ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
More parking and green space, but fewer
paved areas. More recreational opportunities and new and better places to shop
and eat. Update the bus routes, fix the sidewalks, and put in some hiking trails.
Those were a few of the suggestions in the South Valley comprehensive strategic
plan presented to the public Thursday night by Alex Belavitz, president of Facility
Design & Development Ltd., and project manager Larry Radel. The architectural
and planning firm was commissioned to come up with the plan by the South Valley
Partnership, which consists of Newport and Plymouth townships and Nanticoke City.
The firm spent two years studying the communities. They worked out possible solutions
to the communities problems, and came up with a plan that included specific
suggestions for Wanamie and Glen Lyon in Newport Township, downtown Nanticoke,
and the West Nanticoke section of Plymouth Township.
During the presentation,
the approximately 80 people who filled the lecture room at Luzerne County Community
College sat quietly, taking everything in. Afterwards, many stuck around to talk
about what they had seen and heard. Some signed up to get involved in upcoming
steps of the planning process, as state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, urged
people to do.
Glen Lyon resident Janine Floryshak particularly liked the recreational
opportunities in the plan.
I dont think enough emphasis is ever
put on recreation, she said.
Her husband, John Floryshak, liked the
idea of turning old railroad beds into bike and hiking trails.
Chester Mack and Mark Kamionka, also of Glen Lyon, were a little more cynical.
Asked if he was impressed with the South Valleys plan, Kamionka said, Not
A proposed all-terrain vehicle park in Glen Lyon sparked the most
discussion among Newport Township residents. Yudichak said a regulated park would
not only help stop the vehicles from being an illegal nuisance in residential
areas, it would spur economic development. Pennsylvania is second only to Texas
in number of ATV owners, he said.
And, Yudichak added in response to a concerned
residents query, hunting would still be allowed in the ATV park.
Distressed status for Nanticoke nears
The citys stagnant tax base and
debt burden are cited by state official during public hearing.
The city is moving
closer toward becoming eligible for the states Act 47 relief program as
a financially distressed community.
At the end of Wednesdays public
hearing on the citys bleak financial picture, a state official recommended
the city be declared financially distressed for numerous reasons, including a
stagnant tax base, a declining and aging population and an overwhelming debt burden.
Dean Fernsler, policy manager for the Governors Center for Local Government
Services, announced the staff recommendation, which was outlined in a 14-page
Fred Reddig, executive director of the Governors Center for
Local Government Services, was in charge of Wednesdays hearing and will
make a recommendation to state Department of Community and Economic Development
Secretary Dennis Yablosky after reviewing hearing testimony and the staff report.
Yablosky must decide in 30 days if Nanticoke is eligible for Act 47 relief. Under
the state program, the state partners with municipalities, providing oversight
and offering loans and grants.
According to Fernsler, the city violated state
law by borrowing $1 million in 2004 without court approval. Court approval was
needed because the money was used to pay off short-term loans from 2001 and 2003
that were supposed to be paid off in 12 months when anticipated revenue was collected.
During Wednesdays hearing, Robert Sabatini, a city consultant with Keystone
Municipal Services, said the city has failed to comply with legal requirements.
But when Reddig asked Sabatini to elaborate, Sabatini said he would share the
information off the record.
Solicitor Joe Lach said disclosing
that information in public could lead to challenges to overturn city actions.
After the hearing, Reddig said he wants to learn more about city failures to comply
with legal requirements.
In recent years, the city covered deficits with unfunded
debt borrowing, Fernsler said. More than 10 percent of the citys budget
is earmarked for debt payments, which is a warning sign of fiscal stress, Fernsler
Since 2001, the city has run deficits that total more than $2.4 million.
The city passed a balanced budget in December, but the city is now projected to
spend almost $3.8 million and take in almost $3.2 million in revenue.
during Wednesdays public hearing opposed the citys application for
Act 47 relief. Hank Marks, president of the Greater Nanticoke Taxpayers Forum,
said Act 47 is the only option.
The city could run out of money
to pay employees and bills by August or September, Councilman William OMalley
According to the citys Act 47 application, the city has
neither the financial resources
nor the administrative capacity to effectively
implement sufficient operational changes that would lead to a reduction
of persistent structural deficits.
In its application, the city
says it has several poorly negotiated collective bargaining agreements that
did not appear to be evaluated for financial impacts. The union agreements
do not include layoff clauses, officials said.
Last year, the city paid a
total of $1.4 million in wages to 67 employees, including part-time employees,
according to city records. The city paid 41 employees more than $10,000 last year.
City revenues have been stagnant, and revenue rates are at their maximum amounts.
The city property tax rate is 60.38 mills, which is expected to yield $475,000
in revenue. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
In the next 30 days, state Department of Community
and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Yablosky will decide if Nanticoke is
a financially distressed community eligible for Act 47 relief. If the city is
eligible, the department would have another 30 days to appoint a recovery coordinator,
who would work with the city and develop a relief plan.
Imagine Nanticoke with a revitalized downtown along Market
Street, featuring new and renovated buildings, a community theater and a new town
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
Imagine a riverside
park, boat launch and hiking trail to Tilbury Knob in Plymouth Township.
an all-terrain vehicle park, a residential and industrial complex, and refurbished
historical buildings in Newport Township.
All these suggestions and more are
included in a recently completed strategic plan for Nanticoke, Newport Township
and Plymouth Township.
The three South Valley Partnership member communities
hope to bring many plan elementswhich will require millions of dollars in
public and private fundingto reality over the next several years.
plan will be unveiled to the public at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke
on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
If people in the South Valley dont
come out for thisthis is something thats going to affect the next
10 yearstheyre missing the boat, Nanticoke municipal authority
chairman Richard Butler said. This is probably the most important meeting
residents can go to.
Plymouth Township was declared financially distressed
by the state in July 2004, and Nanticoke, facing a $2.8 million projected deficit,
is also seeking state aid.
Newport Township doesnt have the same debt
load, but with rising expenses and limited revenue, all three municipalities are
facing similar problems. The three communities need to work together to better
their economic circumstances, said state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, a proponent
of the South Valley Partnerships efforts.
The planning and architectural
firm Facility Design & Development Ltd., which has offices in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre,
New York and State College, has been collecting data about the South Valley since
The firms goals were to get an idea of what exists in the
communities and to lay out guidelines for better commercial and residential development,
more attractive downtown areas, and sensible long-term growth.
planning project revitalize was financed through state grants, a donation from
PNC Bank and by the Nanticoke Area Development Corporation, a local non-profit
Elected officials had a sneak preview of
the strategic plan at Luzerne County Community College last Tuesday.
Township supervisors were unable to attend the meeting, but have been supportive
from the beginning, said Joe Lach, solicitor for Plymouth Township and Nanticoke
and South Valley Partnership spokesman.
The plan sparked discussion among
Newport Township officials, commissioner John Zyla said.
The two most important
concepts for the township are Whitney Pointe, a residential and commercial development,
and a proposed all-terrain vehicle park, Zyla said.
I think thats
going to be a good thing. As long as thats patrolled and licensed, that
can generate revenue for the township, Zyla said of the ATV park. We
have ATVs riding up and down the road. Theyre all over the place. If we
could get them in an isolated area with a buffer zone, it would be good for the
riders and good for the residents.
Whitney Pointe, developed by Ken
Pollack on the site of the former Dan Flood Industrial Park, contains a commercial
site in Nanticoke and a residential site in Newport Township. It is expected to
start with 10 or 15 homes, then expand to 30 or 40, Zyla said.
Whitney Pointe is really going to take off. Thats going to be our start,
Zyla said. Plus we like the idea of the new homeswe have the most
land for development.
Nanticoke Mayor John Bushko likes the idea of
making Market Street the citys main thoroughfare.
Jim Litchkofski is impressed with the research and vision that went into the plan,
combined with a healthy dose of common sense. He called the idea of
turning the historic bank building on Main Street into a theater or culinary institute
in conjunction with LCCC fabulous.
One of the things I liked
most was trying to pull LCCC further into the community. Its an island right
now, Litchkofski said.
WHY THE PLAN IS IMPORTANT
growth is a phrase Alex Belavitz uses frequently.
A vacant old
building is depressing. A vacant new building is demoralizing, said Belavitz,
president of Facility Design & Development Ltd. You dont fix it
with one brand-new office building on Main Street. You fix it with sensible revitalization
Thats why the strategic plan is not just about putting
up pretty streetlights and nice new buildings, he said. Visual improvements
make a downtown appealing. A community has to be clean and perceived as safe.
It also needs easy accessibility and convenient parking, he said. A friendly,
appealing environment attracts retailers, developers and consumers, who infuse
the community with more tax money for additional improvements.
communities nationwide are always reinvesting in themselves, Belavitz said. For
example, communities like Jim Thorpe and Bethlehem have character and charm that
indoor malls dont, he said.
The trouble is, cities like Nanticoke were
built up around a much larger population in the booming coal mining days. The
population is now around 10,000, about a third of what it was at its peak. The
city no longer has the tax base, but still has the infrastructure to maintain.
As a result, If a developer knocks on the door, were happy to roll
out the red carpet and let them build whatever they want, wherever they want,
When commercial (development) came into Nanticoke, instead
of saying, heres where you can go, we said, where do you
want to go? Butler said.
Sometimes officials are so focused on
trying to lure large employers with hundreds of jobs that smaller businesses can
fall under the radar, Yudichak said.
Corbett Insurance was looking for land
to start an office in Nanticoke, he said. There was no inventory of available
space, no plan for development, and no guide to determine the best places for
particular types of businesses.
Fortunately, there was an available lot on
Market Street that was once home to a convenience store, but it was by chance
the agency found the location, Yudichak said. It just underlined the need for
a comprehensive plan.
Its been a point of frustration that even
well-intentioned people dont have a fund of information for making good
decisions, Lach said. This plan provides that fund.
TO GO FROM HERE
The South Valley plan provides a blueprint for the recovery
effort, but it is a long-term vision and will involve small steps to bring it
The plan is comprehensive, optimistic and rooted in economic recovery,
The community didnt get into the shape its
in now overnight, and its not going to reform itself overnight. It went
through several decades of decline, and it will take several decades to get back,
A plans no good if it just sits in the closet. Now its
up to us and the other municipalities to implement it, Nanticoke councilman
Bill OMalley said.
I just wish it would happen sooner instead
of later, Zyla said.
Loss of HealthNow hurts Dallas and Nanticoke
By Elizabeth Skrapits
The loss of HealthNow
and the more than 200 jobs it provided has had a negative effect on two communities:
Dallas Borough and Nanticoke City.
loss of HealthNow and the more than 200 jobs it provided has had a negative effect
on two communities: Dallas Borough and Nanticoke City.
The Buffalo, N.Y. based
Medicare claims processing company recently announced it was closing down operations
at the Twin Stacks Center in Dallas at the end of June because it lost a renewal
bid for a $58 million government contract."We are sorry to see HealthNow
go. They were wonderful to deal with from the beginning straight through to the
end," said attorney Lynn Banta, Twin Stacks owner.
"The Back Mountain
will work a long time to bring back 200 jobs as good as those were."
HealthNow leased 30,000 square feet of the 100,000 square-foot commercial building
Banta and her husband Richard Haas constructed from the former Natona Mills textile
plant in 1999.
The closing of HealthNow might have an effect on Back Mountain
shops and restaurants patronized by its employees. It will definitely mean a loss
of tax revenue to Dallas Borough, including the $52 emergency and municipal services
tax each employee paid.
"I don't know what the financial fallout is going
to be, but I know it's going to have a negative impact on our budget," said
Dallas Borough Council president John Oliver Jr. "I assume it will be something
that will get our attention."
Another company, with 50 employees and
possibly more to come, is interested in renting approximately 11,000 square feet
at Twin Stacks, Banta said.
"We'll fill the space. We're very fortunate
here. We've always been over 90 percent full. But we won't replace 200 jobs,"
The loss of HealthNow was a blow to Nanticoke City last October,
when the firm moved to Route 415 in Dallas from East Main Street, leaving 28,000
square feet of the 32,000 square-foot Kanjorski Center vacant.
understood the appeal of the Dallas location.
The Back Mountain is a growth
area, as opposed to the South Valley, Nanticoke General Municipal Authority chairman
Richard Butler said. And at Twin Stacks, there are amenities such as a restaurant,
childcare facility, gym, and medical services, he said.
"They have a
lot to offer. We don't have that," Butler said.
The Kanjorski Center
doesn't even have adequate parking, although it is closer to Interstate 81 and
other major highways than Twin Stacks, Butler noted.
Authority members are
considering options for the Kanjorski Center, which still lacks a main tenant
nearly six months later.
The authority is going broke without the $32,000
monthly rent from HealthNow.
The municipal authority board will talk about
dividing the Kanjorski Center into smaller office space during the regular meeting
Monday, Butler said. There is a $15,000 grant av
ilable specifically for the
building, which will help, he said.
Also on Monday's agenda is the hiring
of one of two commercial real estate firms to show interest in marketing the building:
Lewith and Freeman and Mericle Commercial Real Estate.
"It'll be turned
over to a company to market. That's definite," Butler said. "Once we
get it filled, we can turn around and market it for sale. I don't think anyone's
going to be interested in it empty."
Nanticoke officials disagree about personnel
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
officials clashed over hirings and firings during their work session Thursday
The meeting was held one day after the city announced the firings of
city administrator Greg Gulick and street commissioner Paul Ushinski. Tax office
employee Karen Wolfe was given two weeks notice she would be laid off.
Council and Mayor John Bushko installed a financial administrator a few months
ago, and plan to revamp the street department with a new supervisor with more
responsibilities and a new public works garage.
Bushko and council say the
personnel changes made and to come will help the city in the long run, despite
its bad financial condition.
Nanticoke is running a $200,000 deficit so far
this year. The deficit is expected to grow to $799,000 by the end of the year,
Councilman Bill OMalley said. The city has $2.8 million total debt overall.
Lack of management, no fiscal control, and accounts that didnt balance were
among the reasons for it, OMalley said.
In response to an attack by
tax collector Al Wytoshek, OMalley defended hiring Tony Margelewicz for
the newly created position of financial administrator at a salary of $30,000.
OMalley said although the position was not budgeted for, cost savings in
other areas paid for it. The city expects to save $79,000 by changing health insurance
providers and found $700,000 in extra tax revenues not collected for three years,
Its unthinkable there was no accounting system.
Thats why were financially distressed, OMalley said. An
organization of this size does not succeed without fiscal input.
improving efficiency and making the departments more cost-effective, OMalley
said council and the mayor want to change the management system to keep political
Council and Bushko plan to advertise for a street department
supervisor to replace Ushinski. The new street department head will have additional
administrative responsibilities, such as preparing the annual budget, performing
inventories, and drawing up maintenance schedules for roads and parks, OMalley
The decision to fire Ushinski, Gulick and furlough Wolfe was made in
executive session two weeks ago, at which only council, Bushko, Solicitor Joe
Lach were allowed to be present. They did not give reasons for firing Gulick and
Ushinski, but said Wolfe had to be laid off because there were too many people
in the tax office.
Wytoshek argued with council over Wolfes furlough,
claiming he was kept out of the process.
Lach said while it would have been
more courteous for Bushko and council to inform Wytoshek they planned to let Wolfe
go, they were not required to do so.
Secret talk of firings criticized
A state newspaper
organization sees the Sunshine Act violated.
City officials violated the state Sunshine
Act by discussing the termination of the city administrator and two other employees
in an April 5 closed session, according to Pennsylvania Newspaper Association
attorney Teri Henning.
City officials needed to notify the three employees
that matters involving their employment would be discussed in the closed session,
and the employees were not allowed to request an open meeting, Henning said.
At Wednesdays city council meeting, council and Mayor John Bushko approved
the dismissal of City Administrator Greg Gulick, street commissioner Paul Ushinski
and tax clerk Karen Wolfe.
But officials actually told the employees about
the dismissals on Tuesday, and during Wednesdays meeting, council members
Joe Dougherty and William OMalley argued what the vote was on April 5.
It was a unanimous vote on the dismissals, OMalley insisted.
Dougherty responded he opposed Gulicks dismissal on April 5, and Dougherty
voted against Wednesdays motion to affirm all three dismissals.
Sunshine Act is the state statute that requires meetings by public bodies be held
in public with limited exceptions.
The act says, In all meetings of
agencies, the vote of each member who actually votes on any resolution, rule,
order, regulation, ordinance or the setting of official policy must be publicly
cast and, in the case of roll call votes, recorded.
Solicitor Joe Lach said
there was less-than-clear communication between the mayor, council and myself
during the April 5 closed session that the dismissals would be made public at
Lach said he was not aware the Sunshine Act allows
employees to request an open meeting. He said the April 5 session was closed to
protect employee rights, noting some comments were unflattering.
Officials didnt give a reason for firing Gulick and Ushinski. Wolfe was
being dismissed because the Treasurers Office didnt need a fourth
employee and Wolfe had the least amount of seniority, officials said.
collector Albert Wytoshek objected Wednesday and said city officials were acting
like Gestapo agents. He said he should have been informed of Wolfes
Gulick was replaced as the citys top administrator in February
when council hired Anthony Margelewicz as city clerk and fiscal manager. Gulick
said Bushko dismissed him Tuesday.
He just told me I was not in their
future plans, said Gulick, who was a paid $41,994 last year.
on Wednesday discussed plans to replace Ushinski, who was paid $24,743 last year.
Wolfes yearly salary was about $16,000, Bushko said.
changes could be coming because of the citys financial problems, officials
said. The state has scheduled a public hearing on April 26 to determine if the
city qualifies for Act 47 relief as a financially-distressed community.
Nanticoke officials fire two, lay off third
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
council and mayor say terminating two employees and laying off a third was a necessary
move, but another official believes it was political.
Mayor John Bushko and
council terminated the employment of city administrator Greg Gulick and street
commissioner Paul Ushinski, effective Tuesday, and gave tax office employee Karen
Wolfe two weeks notice she would be laid off.
Officials did not give reasons
for the termination of Gulick and Ushinski, saying it was a personnel matter.
Councilman Bill OMalley suggested the citys financial condition had
something to do with it and more staff shake-ups are expected in the near future.
The layoffs are naturally because of the financial status and efficiency
reports we looked at for the departments, OMalley said.
Albert Wytoshek didnt buy the explanation.
revenge. When they took office in January, they threw me out of the loop because
they said I had a big mouth, Wytoshek said. Theyre saying its
economy. Thats a pile of hogwash.
Bushko said Wytoshek was not
involved in executive sessions where the layoffs were discussed because the private
meetings were only between mayor and council, who are exclusively responsible
for hiring and firing under the city code.
Leaving him out of the loop
with what? He can give input at any time, Bushko said of Wytoshek.
We dont exclude anybody, really.
Gulick, formerly an Ashley
Borough councilman for 18 years, was hired by Nanticoke in February 2003 to replace
Richard Muessig. The city administrators job includes obtaining grants and
overseeing day-to-day operations.
The announcement that he was being terminated
came as a surprise to Gulick.
I asked why, and was told I wasnt
part of their future plans. That was it, he said. I packed up my desk,
packed up my pictures and stuff, and went home.
Gulick was not a union
member, nor was Ushinski, because he was management. The other seven men on the
Nanticoke street department belong to a union, as do the three tax office employees.
Wolfe, the most recent hire of the three, was with the office for about three
years. Bushko and OMalley said when Luzerne County started collecting its
own taxes last year, there was one-third less work for Nanticokes tax office.
Her layoff had absolutely nothing to do with her work history or performance,
OMalley said of Wolfe. She was probably one of the best workers we
had, but we had to go by seniority.
The state Early Intervention team,
hired in early 2005 to help Nanticoke with growing financial troubles, said there
were too many people in the tax office, Bushko said.
The previous mayor and
council were supposed to lay Wolfe off, but when an extra $10,000 turned up in
the budget, she was kept on for the rest of 2005, Bushko said.
or later it had to come, Bushko said, adding, Karen would be an asset
to anybody that hires her. She did do a great job.
Wytoshek said there
is still a lot of work to do in the tax office, and he wants Wolfe back. He would
also like to move his office out of the city building, alleging it was a hostile
Theres nothing political about this. Its
just the way things worked out, Bushko said. I can understand (Wytosheks)
position. Hes trying to protect his workers, and I give him credit for that.
But it wasnt done to slap anybody around or anything like that.
Asked whether he thought his termination was political, Gulick replied, I
cant say it is, because I dont know whos going to replace me.
Ushinskis position will be advertised, OMalley said, but Bushko said
he wants to wait to hire someone to replace Gulick.
For some, theres no taste like home
Out-of-town shoppers return to the Valley for holiday foods
ROBERT KALINOWSKI STAFF WRITER
Gorka Jones moved out of Nanticoke in 1951, but her appetite for the citys
signature foods never faded.
For more than 50 years, the upstate New York
woman has returned to her hometown to complete her holiday food shopping.
At least twice a year usually prior to Easter and Christmas she
makes the four-hour, 205-mile trip from Waterloo, N.Y., to stock up on homemade
pierogies, kielbasa, candy and baked goods from several longtime family-owned
I just love the things I cant get at home. I dont
visit anyone. I just come, do my shopping and leave, Jones said Friday afternoon
amid her Nanticoke shopping spree while enjoying a lunch of pierogies and potato
pancakes at Nardozzos Pizza on East Main Street. The town has changed,
but the food is the same the traditional Polish food.
the 79-year-old retired Spanish teacher made her pre-holiday trips by herself
for decades, on Friday, like the past few years, she was accompanied by her daughter,
Karen Moretti, 47, and 16-year-old granddaughter, Molly Moretti.
stop was Sanitary Bakery on East Ridge
Street, where they picked up several nut and poppy seed rolls and danishes. They
next visited Park Market on East Broad Street for several rings of kielbasa, Mom
and Pop pierogies, and a ham before dropping by next-door to Diamonds
Candy Shop for Easter treats to give to family and friends. Before lunch at Nardozzos
where they also got pierogies and potato pancakes to take back to New York
they canvassed two grocery stores for Easter dinner food, especially some
items only sold locally.
Apparently many others share Jones affinity for the
Nanticoke holiday delicacies. Each of the places she visited on Good Friday boasted
long lines of people from throughout the Wyoming Valley and even others from out
of state waiting to pick up their orders.
For me, my whole Easter shopping,
food-wise, is done in Nanticoke. Its all the things I remembered my whole
life things I cant get at home, Jones said. These are
the same places my parents went to and took me to.
In Waterloo and its
surrounding areas in upstate New York, the only option for pierogies is the Mrs.
Ts frozen variety. There are homemade candy shops, only stores that
sell boxed sweets. Nut and poppy seed rolls are unheard of in any of the bakeries
and theres nowhere to get fresh kielbasa; stores only carry the packaged
variety, Jones said.
Jones granddaughter, Molly, said shes enjoyed
returning to Nanticoke ever since the first time her grandmother took her shopping
at Diamonds Candy Shop prior to Easter several years ago.
weird walking into a store and seeing the candy I got my whole life on Easter,
Molly said. I thought it was from the Easter Bunny.
occasional shopping trips to Nanticoke also made her believe early in life that
the ethnic food was the norm around the country.
Growing up I thought
everyone ate pierogies until I mentioned it to my friends and they were like,
What is that?, Molly said.
Mollys mother, Karen, said
shes glad her daughter is learning about the family traditions.
was part of my whole life too. We came to these places all the time, said
Karen, who remembers shopping at all the same places when she visited her grandparents
when she was a youngster. Its part of our family history. It wouldnt
be Easter without this. It makes it special.
Nanticoke senior housing project aiding revitalization
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
city officials, the wooden skeleton rising from abandoned mine land is a sign
of hope that financially troubled Nanticoke can eventually achieve its goal of
This is evidence that Nanticoke is going to come back,
Councilman James Litchkofski said during a tour of the Lexington Village construction
When finished, Lexington Village will consist of a 55-unit
senior independent living complex including a recreation center and a 66-bed Alzheimers
facility that will employ approximately 75 people. The development, located on
12.5 acres of former strip mine land down Koskiuszko Street from Luzerne County
Community College, is the largest new revenue-producing construction project the
city has seen in years, officials said.
I think its a good step
for Nanticoke, Litchkofski said to his fellow Councilman Brent Makarczyk.
I think its a shot in the arm, Mayor John Bushko added, surveying
the builders progress. This is all taxable, too.
John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, estimates the development will generate more than
half a million dollars annually in economic impact for the city.
Work on the
first independent living units is under way; the Alzheimers unit will come
later. The two parts of the project will cost a total of $13 million, all privately
funded, developer Dominic Ortolani said.
The only government money involved
is approximately $260,000 in state funding obtained through Yudichak and state
Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston. That grant went to reclaim the land, which was
badly scarred from strip-mining.
Looking back over a number of years,
youd never think this could be developed, Musto said. Behind him,
workers from site contractor Stell Enterprises drove heavy machinery around the
wooden skeletons of the first independent-living units.
Filling in the mine
pits and making it level enough to build on took a long time.
to move so much dirt it was amazing, Ortolani recalled.
was stalled when a prior contractor launched a lawsuit, which has been dismissed
by Luzerne County court, Ortolani said.
I was nervous for a while, because
it seemed (Ortolani) kept hitting roadblocks, Bushko said.
this business, delay is the nature of the beast, Ortolani said. Look
The building contractor, Hanover Homes North, architect
Robert Lack, and Ortolani hope to have the first housing units ready to move in
by the end of summer, if the weather holds. There is already a list of people
who have signed up for the independent living units, which will rent for $900
a month. They are going to be about 1,000 square feet apiece, each with its own
garage and porch, Ortolani said.
I think the Alzheimers unit will
be filled before it is built. The need is there, Musto said.
Nanticoke seeks cash from fire companies
are closing firehouses and making volunteer companies pay.
City officials are looking to save
money by either closing some firehouses or getting volunteer companies to pay
utilities at city-owned firehouses.
Councilman William OMalley said
the utility cost is about $10,000 a year at the Stickney, Washington and Hanover
firehouses. Three weeks ago, OMalley suggested the three volunteer companies
at those pay the cash-strapped city for utilities.
This week, OMalley
said the city could close those firehouses and relocate Nanticokes nonprofit
ambulance service to one of the firehouses. The ambulance company is based at
fire headquarters on Ridge Street.
The city fire department is a combination
department with paid city workers and volunteers. Seven volunteer fire companies
operate out of five fire stations, four of which are city owned.
is staffed 24 hours per day, 7 days per week by 10 city employees. Last year,
the city paid 10 full-time fire department employees a total of $379,460 in wages.
Because of financial problems, the city has applied to be a financially distressed
community under the Act 47 relief program.
The state has scheduled a public
hearing for April 26 to determine if the city qualifies
for Act 47 relief. Under Act 47, the state partners with municipalities, providing
oversight and offering loans and grants to aid in fiscal recovery.
Nanticoke shopping for new health plan
are looking to see if the cash-strapped city can save money on health care benefits.
The city is seeking offers to find a policy thats less expensive than its
policy with First Priority, said Councilman William OMalley. The city pays
$31,000 a month on health benefits, OMalley said.
The city provides
health insurance for 36 employees and 15 retirees, Fiscal Manager Anthony Margelewicz
The city pays health premiums without contributions from beneficiaries,
but that could soon change, OMalley said.
The city has applied to be
a financially distressed community under the Act 47 relief program, and the state
will probably want the city to demand employee contributions for health care coverage,
But changes in the citys health care coverage must
be approved by unions because health care coverage is part of collective bargaining
agreements, OMalley said.
The state has scheduled a public hearing for
April 26 to determine if the city qualifies for the Act 47 relief program. Under
the Act 47, the state partners with municipalities, providing oversight and offering
loans and grants to aid in fiscal recovery.
GNA chief unsure of retirement
Tony Perrone announced
his retirement in 2002 but has remained superintendent.
When quizzed by a member of the meeting
audience Wednesday whether he was ready to finally start his retirement, Greater
Nanticoke Area Superintendent Tony Perrone remained quiet.
announced his retirement in May 2002 and agreed to come back for at least one
year and serve as superintendent without pay as he collects his pension. That
was four years ago.
The 64-year-old Perrone began his career as a Spanish
teacher in the district in 1963 and became the superintendent in 1996.
member Jeff Kozlofski ribbed Perrone Wednesday night, asking whether he would
continue to act as the superintendent to which Perrone replied, Theres
still a lot of work to be done.
Kozlofski said the board has looked
at a host of applications for the position but added that no serious search has
been conducted to find Perrones replacement.
The school district is
expected to restructure several administrative positions within the district and
Perrones guidance and experience is needed during the process, Kozlofski
There are major changes in administration that I really cant
go into details about, Kozlofski said, and didnt elaborate.
The board approved its $12,636 contribution to the
Luzerne Intermediate Unit.
The second reading of an anti-bullying policy
was unanimously approved. The board will vote to give final approval to the measure
meant to clarify the procedure dealing with incidents involving bullies at next
Nanticoke authority, city officials working together
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
authority board members were feeling positive about downtown revitalization after
a closed-door meeting with the developer Monday.
Im really upbeat
about the city. I think things are going to take off, authority Solicitor
Richard Hughes said.
Impact PA principal Robert Yoder, who is in charge of
East Main Street redevelopment, sat down with the authority and other city officials
in executive session for some serious talk about whats happening with the
Although limited in information they could give, board members said
Yoder will continue work on plans for retail and housing space to be constructed
on East Main Street, next to the Kanjorski Center. Ultimately, new construction
depends on what the South Valley Partnerships comprehensive plan suggests
for downtown Nanticoke, board chairman Richard Butler said.
a municipal planner hired by the non-profit community development group, recently
completed a comprehensive plan for Nanticoke and Newport and Plymouth townships.
It will be unveiled in two weeks. The board asked Yoder to get in touch with Belavitz
about the plan.
A $1.5 million federal Economic Development Agency grant slated
for the construction project is definitely being returned, Butler said. The grant
specifically requires the construction of office space, and, with the Kanjorski
Center 80 percent empty, the board does not believe more is needed.
was also told to come up with plans for a parking garage for the Kanjorski Center.
Its size will be based on the needs of new tenants, but the authority is eager
to get started on the garage, Butler said. He estimated it could be completed
within a year.
The authority will select one of the two bidders, Mericle Commercial
Real Estate or Lewith and Freeman realtors, as exclusive marketer for the Kanjorski
Center. Yoder was working on finding tenants and has a few possibilities, but
he has agreed to the hiring of a professional real estate firm, Hughes said.
The municipal authority is still thinking about cutting up the building into smaller
office spaces, but will wait to hear what the firm suggests, Butler said.
No decisions were made during the executive session, Hughes said. The municipal
authority will discuss and vote on all the issues at its April 24 regular session.
Monday was the first time the new board met Yoder, who was hired by the previous
authority board last year. Part of the problem was what Butler called a communication
breakdown, which he said has been cleared up.
Another notable occurrence
was that after years of strained relationships between elected and appointed officials,
they put aside their differences and agreed on plans. In addition to the municipal
authority board, Mayor John Bushko, Councilman Bill OMalley, Nanticoke Redevelopment
Authority chairman Walter Sokolowski, and South Valley Partnership spokesman Joe
Lach attended the executive session.
What should thrill everyone is
were working together for the first time, Butler said.
Nanticoke, developer make deal
and Impact Pennsylvania agree on plan, including a parking lot.
After meeting behind
closed doors with the citys redevelopment consultant, city officials said
Monday the downtown renewal project should begin to move forward soon.
officials were not pleased with the $23 million plan unveiled by developer Impact
Pennsylvania on Jan. 14, and they complained that Impact owner Robert Yoder has
But according to the chairman and solicitor of the city
General Municipal Authority, Yoder and authority members on Monday agreed to a
modified plan involving a new parking garage, which would be east of the Kanjorski
Center on Main Street.
I am very excited now, said Dennis Butler,
chairman of the General Municipal Authority.
In January, Impact proposed spending
$7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a 324-vehicle parking garage.
Butler said Monday that project details, such as the size and cost of the parking
garage, will be disclosed April 24 at an authority meeting.
Also Monday, authority
members officially rejected an offer for a $1.5 million federal grant because
of a requirement that the money be spent building 54,000 square feet in downtown
The authority has been struggling to lease space in the 32,000-square-foot
Kanjorski Center, which has been almost 88 percent empty since HealthNow, a Medicare
claims processing company, relocated in October to Dallas.
as the Kanjorski Centers anchor tenant, the authority lost $33,000 in monthly
revenue and is going broke.
Officials say a new parking garage would help
attract tenants for the Kanjorski Center, and authority members on Monday said
they plan to hire Lewith & Freeman Real Estate on April 24 as a real estate
agent. Lewith & Freeman will help the authority sell the Kanjorski Center
or lease space in it.
Hiring a real estate agent doesnt violate the
authoritys contract with Impact, which still plans to help find businesses
to locate in the downtown, authority Solicitor Richard Hughes said. The authority
voted to hire Impact last May.
Butler said Yoder agreed that the new downtown
plan will be consistent with a development plan from the South Valley Partnership,
which is interested in economic development in Nanticoke, Plymouth Township and
Newport Township. The South Valley plan should be disclosed in a few weeks, Hughes
The closed meeting with Yoder lasted about two hours, officials said.
Hughes said the meeting could legally be closed to the public because it involved
a discussion of leasing matters.
Walter Sokolowski, an aide to
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, attended the closed session. Kanjorski
has secured funding for the downtown and has been a booster of Impacts plans.
Sokolowski also is a member of the city redevelopment authority, which is a partner
of the municipal authority on the downtown project.
details on the Nanticoke redevelopment project are expected to be disclosed April
24, at a meeting of the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority.
to be honored as Woman of The Year by Womans Club
Wyoming Valley Womans Club will meet Tuesday at Genetti Hotel & Conference
Center in Wilkes-Barre with Ann MacFarland presiding.
Lyndall Stout of WBRE-TV
Channel 28 will be the main speaker and will be introduced by Rose Marie Panzitta.
Chairperson Dorris J. Merrill will introduce the Wyoming
Valley Woman of The Year 2006, Alma Berlot of Nanticoke.
is known as the coalminers daughter for her dedicated work in spearheading
the drive for the coalminers statue dedicated last year at the corner of
East Main and Kosciuszko streets. She is now involved with getting a stamp honoring
the coalminers for their courage and bravery.
Berlots father, Ed Salvadore,
was killed in the mines. After her mother, Elizabeth Tulli, was killed one Christmas
by a drunken driver, Berlot, organized a talent group of children and young adults
to entertain nursing homes, veterans, etc., and called the group Make Someone
She received many awards from Clarks Summit and White Haven for her
work with the mentally challenged and the Special Olympics.
For 10 years she
worked as a practical nurse taking care of Alzheimers patients.
is the wife of Alvin Berlot and the mother of four children: Dr. Alvin Berlot,
attorney Melissa McCafferty, Gina Bunchalk, RNBSRN, and Madonna Trombetta, RN,
now works for a fashion institute.
This award is given each year by the Wyoming
Valley Womans Club to any nominee for her outstanding contributions to the
Wyoming Valley. Any members of the club may submit names and resumes of persons
that fit these criteria.
Nanticoke sets public hearing regarding its financial
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
officials are scheduling a public hearing to give the state reasons why it should
declare the city financially distressed.
hearing, which is the latest step in the application process for Act 47 status,
will be held in the municipal building at 15 E. Ridge St. at 7 p.m. on April 26,
council said at Wednesdays meeting.
Council and Mayor
John Bushko unanimously voted on March 1 to apply to the state Department of Community
and Economic Development for Act 47 status, after a presentation by Councilman
The citys financial outlook is bad, with a projected
$2.8 million deficit, flat revenues and rising expenses, and the possibility of
being unable to pay basic costs like salaries by September. Under Act 47, the
city hires a financial recovery coordinator to map out a way to fiscal stability,
and the state helps with grants and loans.
Nanticokes neighbor across
the Susquehanna River, Plymouth Township, received Act 47 status in July 2004.
Prior to that, its board of supervisors gave state officials evidence of the townships
stagnant tax base, shredded credit rating, and more than $800,000 debt.
officials will also have to present testimony and evidence to the state during
the April 26 hearing, which members of the public are encouraged to attend.
In other business, council hired Andy Kratz and George Pavelitz as building inspectors.
They will start as temporary independent contractors, later to become official
city employees, OMalley said. Kratz also serves as building inspector for
Sgt. Kevin Grevera was made detective captain. He will
still be on patrol until the city can hire more officers, Bushko said. Officers
Joe Guydosh and Mike Roke were promoted to sergeant.
This way on every
shift youll have a senior guy in charge, Bushko said.
will get 50-cent an hour raises, which isnt going to kill us at this
point, Bushko said.
Nanticoke debt-relief program hearing set
to determine if the city qualifies as financially distressed under Act 47 will
be on April 26.
state has scheduled an April 26 public hearing to determine if the city qualifies
as a financially distressed community in the Act 47 relief program, Councilman
William OMalley said during Wednesdays city council meeting.
the Act 47 program, the state partners with municipalities, providing oversight
and offering loans and grants.
Last month, Mayor John Bushko and city council
applied for Act 47 help. The city is projected to run out of money to pay employees
and bills by August.
City revenues have been stagnant, and revenue rates are
at their maximum amounts. The city could raise its property tax rate with court
approval, but the city would need a 465 percent property tax increase to balance
its budget this year, OMalley said last month.
If the city enters the
Act 47 program, the state would hire a plan coordinator to work with the city
and develop a relief plan. The city would have to approve the Act 47 relief plan.
Also at Wednesdays meeting, Bushko and the council voted to hire Andrew
Kratz and George Pavelitz as code enforcement officers. City leaders hired them
as temporary independent contractors.
They will be paid hourly rates for each
job assigned to them, and their pay will be based on a schedule of rates for various
tasks, officials said. The pay schedule was not disclosed.
Kratz wants to
work as a city employee, not as an independent contractor, so he would be covered
by the citys liability insurance policy, Fiscal Manager Anthony Margelewicz
said. But Kratz wasnt hired as an employee after OMalley said he wanted
more time to research the financial effect of adding him as an employee.
Joe Lach said the citys insurance policy would cover Kratz and Pavelitz
as independent contractors if the city indemnified them. Margelewicz said he wasnt
sure that the citys insurance policy would allow that.
city leaders adopted a personnel policy. OMalley said the city had no personnel
policies in place.
He said terms of collective bargaining agreements would
prevail if they conflicted with terms in the new personnel policy. The personnel
policy will likely be amended as the city goes through the Act 47 process, OMalley
Last year, the city paid a total of $1.4 million in wages to 67 employees,
including part-time employees, according to city records. The city paid 41 employees
more than $10,000 last year.
City council approved a balanced $3.5 million
budget in December, but an analysis of the city finances showed the city is on
course to spend $3.9 million this year and take in $3.1 in revenue.
property tax rate is 60.38 mills, which is expected to yield $475,000 in revenue.
A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Nanticoke General Municipal Authority board members,
upset with the developer of an East Main Street project, will speak to him next
month before deciding if he should be fired.
Robert Yoder, of the Turbotville-based Yoder Group, did not meet with the current
municipal authority board or submit detailed plans for a new commercial building
which may be financed, in part, with a $1.5 million federal Economic Development
The municipal authority wants to return the grant in
light of increasing evidence that the office space it is meant to build would
not be appropriate for downtown Nanticoke. However, Yoder, hired last May by the
previous authority, contradicted the boards wishes by speaking with federal
officials in Philadelphia about keeping the grant.
Its my understanding
that Mr. Yoder had conversations with EDA indicating that he believes the project
should go forward, authority solicitor Dick Hughes said.
members are unwilling to construct a 54,000-square-foot office building when the
28,000-square-foot Kanjorski Center next to the project site is mostly vacant.
During its most recent meeting, which Yoder did not attend, the board asked Hughes
to tell the EDA the authority might return the grant in two weeks, depending on
what a forthcoming regional plan suggests for downtown Nanticoke.
Partnership principal Joseph Lach said the comprehensive plan of Nanticoke and
Newport and Plymouth townships was completed Thursday and should be made public
State Rep. John Yudichak, who previewed the plan, said it indicates
the project is wrong for the citys downtown.
It is beyond any
concept of rational development, he said. There are questions that
have to be asked, other studies that have to be completed.
the $1.5 million grant has a 70 percent match, meaning the nearly bankrupt municipal
authority would have to come up with $3.5 million, Yudichak said.
chairman Richard Butler was angry that Yoder did not speak to the board, his employer,
before going to the federal agency. Board members are also frustrated at Yoders
failure to meet with the authority or show any concrete plans, documents, or drawings
for the East Main Street redevelopment project.
The prudent thing to
do is wait until we meet with him. The emotional thing to do is fire him right
now, Butler said, referring to Yoder. Hes had a year and there
are no plans drawn up.
The only time authority members saw anything
from Yoders firm was when his representative brought basic site plans to
a Jan. 14 public meeting. Board member Ron Kamowski said Yoder hasnt submitted
any plans to the EDA.
Hughes spoke with Yoder, who is willing to get together
with the board, possibly at its April 10 work session.
authority will be meeting with Mr. Yoder to hear his opinions concerning the project
so it can weigh properly the varying views and come up with a prudent decision
about this grant, Hughes said. If somebody has a good reason why we
should build the building, we need to hear it. We cant make a well-reasoned
decision without hearing all the facts.
No license to loiter
Following complaints, Nanticoke
police target teens loitering near school.
I dont see why you should
just get fined for standing on the street on your way to school.
Armstrong Greater Nanticoke Area High School student
on the sidewalk with friends near Noble Street, Joe Armstrong smoked a cigarette
and watched as police rolled up and told them to move along.
Greater Nanticoke Area High School student, says if he smokes on school grounds
hell be suspended.
Now if he and other students hang around on the sidewalks
and alleyways adjacent to the school they might get a ticket that could cost them
$300 or more. Several of Armstrongs friends were cited in the citys
recent crackdown on loitering on neighboring side streets.
see why you should just get fined for standing on the street on your way to school,
the 17-year-old wondered.
Some who live near the school say it goes beyond
standing around smoking cigarettes. Fed-up residents say the congregation of the
occasionally unruly students damage property, litter and use drugs in public view
in the minutes leading up to the school day.
City council passed a resolution
in October to erect several signs citing a law that refers to blocking public
passageways. At least six signs are posted along Kosciuszko Street and several
side streets and alleys where the students regularly hang out.
I dont think (students) should be hanging around on the sidewalks,
said Kosciuszko Street resident Helen Shipkowski, who complained of litter and
cigarette butts. But for some time theyve been hanging in the back
of my garage and on the corner in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoon.
Nanticoke police began a crackdown in recent months on students they say have
been warned not to block the alleys and sidewalks. Police issued more than 20
tickets, according to Capt. William Schultz. Six citations issued on March 7 included
$279.50 in fines and court costs each.
High school Principal Maryann Jarolen
said she also contacted police to keep students off the grounds after school hours.
You know how kids are; they dont hang out the right way, she
said. We kind of requested help when neighbors began asking for help about
the noise and trash.
Schultz and another fellow officer said the recent
enforcement of the passageway law has nothing to do with a man appointed to the
city council in January who happens to live near the school.
show you hundreds of complaints over the years from neighbors complaining about
property damage. This is a way to try to help them move along, said Sgt.
Kevin Grevera. Some students are obstinate and belligerent and fail to comply.
Councilman William OMalley lives at the corner of Kosciuszko and Ridge streets.
He said that last year students ripped up his fence and that fights, smoking,
drug use, property damage, litter and profanity are just some of the problems
he sees and hears.
The big problem is they dont move for the cars,
OMalley said. Theyre loud, theyre obnoxious and from what
I gather, theyre smoking and using illegal substances in plain view.
My wife leaves to take my son up to school in the morning, she opens the
garage door and she politely asked a bunch of kids to move, and she gets about
500 various obscenities thrown at her.
Schultz said the signs were put
in place in October under former Mayor John Tooles administration. OMalley
wasnt seated on the council until earlier this year when he was appointed
by current Mayor John Bushko.
Phyllis Stamile is the grandmother and guardian
of a student recently ticketed for standing around after she dropped him off for
school on March 7. She understands that officials shouldnt allow kids to
hang about, but complained that the cost of the offense is too high.
beef isnt that they got the tickets, its the cost that these people
have to pay, Stamile said. Its absolutely ridiculous. Its
pathetic for Nanticoke to make this money off of these kids. Theres going
to be a lot of angry parents when they get these tickets.
the summary offense carries a sliding-scale fine of up to $300 that is set by
a district judge. He said police have no role in how much those ticketed pay.
Authority wants developer to attend meeting
project languishes, members wait to hear from Yoder.
Upset with how the citys downtown
redevelopment project has not progressed, members of the city General Municipal
Authority have asked developer Robert Yoder to attend the next authority meeting.
Yoder owns Impact Pa., which has proposed a $23 million plan to redevelop the
Authority members dont support Impacts entire plan,
but they want to build a new parking garage, which could attract new tenants in
the authority-run Kanjorski Center on Main Street.
We have got to get
moving on the downtown, Authority Chairman Dennis Butler said at Mondays
Butler said he hasnt heard from Yoder since contacting
him more than a week ago.
Ten days is a little long
I should have a response, Butler said.
According to Butler, Yoder, of
Turbotville, Pa., claimed he had found an unnamed anchor tenant willing to fill
the vacant space in the Kanjorski Center. But on Monday, the authority proceeded
with plans to divide the empty space in the Kanjorski Center for multiple tenants.
Yoder could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski
Center has been almost 88 percent empty since HealthNow, a Medicare claims processing
company, relocated last October to Dallas. With the centers anchor tenant
gone, the authority is going broke, having lost $33,000 in monthly income.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, urged authority members to support Impacts
$23 million plan at a Jan. 14 meeting, claiming they could spend free money
from federal grants he helped secure.
On Tuesday, Kanjorski issued a statement
on the downtown situation.
Since HealthNow left the Kanjorski Center
and then lost its federal contract, Nanticoke faces both challenges and opportunities.
I have obtained millions of dollars of federal funds to help revitalize Nanticoke,
but ultimately it is up to the elected and appointed officials of Nanticoke to
proceed on a plan to lead to the betterment of the city, Kanjorski said.
Authority members have said they were willing to lose a $1.5 million federal grant
because of a requirement that the money be spent building 54,000 square feet in
downtown office space. They noted they are already struggling to find tenants
for the Kanjorski Center.
Impact has proposed spending $7.7 million from federal
transportation grants on a 324-vehicle parking garage by the Kanjorski Center.
Last fall, contractors demolished three buildings on Main Street to make room
for an office building and parking garage, but the project hasnt developed
Since 1998, Yoder has contributed $1,000 to Kanjorskis campaign
authority may return $1.5 M
earmarkedto expand city centerthat's mostly vacant
The city's general municipal
authority board wants to give up a $1.5 million grant the previous board worked
The municipal authority is on the verge of going broke, and its board
members are frustrated because they can't fill existing office space and the developer
of the East Main Street project - which the grant is for - hasn't shown any concrete
plans and isn't cooperating. That is why on Monday the board discussed returning
the $1.5 million to the federal Economic Development Agency.
The grant was
secured several years ago to expand the Kanjorski Center, but plans fell through.
Last year the previous authority board, afraid of losing the grant, fought for
permission to use it toward construction of a new commercial and residential building
on East Main Street, next to the Kanjorski Center. Under the terms of the grant,
the authority must build a 54,000 square-foot office building that would create
A March 23 letter from the EDA's regional office in Philadelphia
expressed doubts that the project could be completed by the September 2007 deadline,
solicitor Dick Hughes said. Board members agreed. By terminating the grant voluntarily
instead of having it taken away, the authority has a better chance of being able
to apply for other grants when the need arises, board president Richard Butler
One of the main problems with constructing a new building is that the
Kanjorski Center has been 80 percent vacant since its main tenant moved out at
the end of October, and the authority has not been able to find a replacement.
With only $4,800 a month coming in from the remaining tenant, $19,000 in its accounts
and $14,000 in bills due, the authority has "a month and a half of life left,"
"Is there anyone here who would consider building a 54,000
square foot office building to go along with an empty 28,000 square foot office
building?" he asked the other authority members, who did not.
opted to have Hughes contact the EDA to see if the agency would be willing to
wait two weeks before the board decides whether to return the grant. That gives
the consultant the South Valley Partnership hired an opportunity to unveil his
economic development plan for Nanticoke, South Valley principal Joe Lach said.
He added that it was unlikely the consultant would say the city needs the new
office building, but it was better for the authority to make informed decisions.
The developer of the East Main Street project, Impact PA and its affiliate the
Yoder Group, has not submitted specific plans for the new building or for marketing
the Kanjorski Center, which it is solely responsible for under its contract. Although
two commercial real estate firms made offers to market the Center, the authority
can't hire either one until it gets a legal opinion on whether to do so would
violate the contract, Butler said. The developer also hasn't shown any plans for
a $7 million parking garage for the Center, which the authority has other grants
for and wants to move ahead with.
Butler said he has been having difficulty
getting responses from Yoder Group principal Robert Yoder. The board asked Hughes
write Yoder a letter asking him to come in person to the authority's next meeting.
Citys OT pay adds to its budget woes EXCLUSIVE
Extra wages for 30 employees totaled $115,635 in 2005.
The cash-strapped city paid 30 employees
a total of $115,635 in overtime wages in 2005, adding to its financial woes.
According to city records, about 55 percent of last years overtime pay went
to the police department, with 13 police employees earning a total of $64,015
in overtime pay.
City Councilman William OMalley says overtime costs
have contributed to the citys budgetary problems, forcing the city to apply
for financially distressed status under the states Act 47 relief program.
Employees receive overtime pay time-and-a-half their regular hourly pay
whenever they work more than 40 hours in a week.
About 8 percent of
the citys $1.4 million in salaries went to pay overtime. City leaders are
trying to reduce overtime costs by improving staffing levels and paying overtime
only for necessary government tasks.
Mayor John Bushko says police overtime
is costing too much. Overtime in 2005 equated to 11 percent of the police departments
$581,372 wage total.
The city has budgeted $45,000 for police overtime this
year, and Bushko wants to reduce police overtime by hiring more officers.
We need to hire. Were short, Bushko said at the March 15 council
The police department has three vacancies for officers, and has been
understaffed for more than three years, said police Chief James Cheshinski.
Money has always been an issue, Cheshinski said. The issue has
been whether its cheaper to hire or pay the overtime.
said injured officers out on disability have also pumped up police overtime costs.
Sometimes we were down five officers, he said. Mayor Bushko
also realizes the fact you cant overwork the men, either.
13 police employees, all of whom earned overtime in 2005, include the chief, an
administrative assistant, a captain, a sergeant and nine officers.
said overtime costs for the police and fire departments were justified because
However, OMalley called the street departments
overtime excessive and a total nightmare.
The city paid six street
department employees a total of $166,140 in 2005, with five department employees
earning a total of $21,602 in overtime pay. Overtime represented 13 percent of
the departments wage total.
Last year, street worker Walter Paveletz
was paid $9,115 in overtime pay the most of the citys 67 employees.
Overtime bumped his 2005 wages from $30,900 to $40,015.
Councilman James Litchkofski
has overseen the street department since his council term began in January. He
said overtime in the department this year has been minimal because elected officials
are more involved in authorizing overtime and because there was little snowfall
over the mild winter.
The city paid 10 full-time fire department employees
a total of $379,460 in wages, with nine employees earning an additional $17,907
in total overtime or 5 percent of the departments wage total.
the city also paid three sewer department employees a total of $94,948 in wages,
with the three employees earning $12,109 in total overtime. It was almost 13 percent
of the departments total.
The city employee paid the most last year
was Cheshinski, who earned $50,874, with $893 in overtime and $1,127 in holiday
Unlike other municipalities, Nanticokes police and fire chiefs
receive overtime and holiday pay because they are covered under union contracts.
Fire Chief Michael Bohan was the highest-paid employee in the fire department,
earning a total of $45,483.17, with $516 in overtime and $2,312 in holiday pay.
Last year, the city paid 20 employees, including 12 police and six fire employees,
more than $40,000. The two others were Paveletz and City Administrator Greg Gulick,
who was a paid a salary of $41,994.
The city paid 41 employees more than $10,000.
Part-time employees who earned less than $10,000 include the mayor, who was paid
$2,500 last year, and the five city council members, who were paid $2,400.
Bushko was elected last November, replacing John Toole as mayor in January. Bushko
vacated his seat on city council, and OMalley was appointed to fill Bushkos
seat on council.
Greater Nanticoke Area Youth Drug Task Force has been keeping busy with various
projects. They continue to work on their new recreation center and meeting place
located inside the Stickney Fire House on Prospect Street.
Williams tells me adults and students have been busy cleaning and painting and
are just waiting for some fire equipment to be moved. We are looking forward
to utilizing the ground floor for recreation. Our members now total more than
100, so we really need the space, Williams said.
The upstairs has been
transformed into a comfortable meeting place. A computer lab will allow for tutoring
and homework help. A new SAT computer program also has been installed. The
place is really going to benefit a lot of Nanticoke kids, said James Samselski,
Youth Task Force adult leader.
With the increased membership and additional
programming comes the need for more adult volunteers.
Samselski is asking
adults who might be interested in volunteering their time to call the center.
Help is needed Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.
We will work out
a schedule that fits the adults hectic schedule, he added.
March 7, members of the task force were invited to Tunkhannock High School to
support students efforts in starting a new youth task force program. We
really had a great showing on the part of our kids, offered Williams. When
students support other students, good things happen.
On March 23, members
of the task force enjoyed a day of roller skating at Skate-a-Way in Wilkes-Barre.
Students continue to practice for a play that will take a look at a drug addicts
life, past and present.
The task force also is holding a hoagie sale to raise
money to benefit a youth group at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. Their
facility was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Our youth know how difficult
it is to get a program up and running and then maintain it, Williams added.
Frank Vandermark, who took over as president of the task force, knew of the Biloxi
group and the youth decided they wanted to help an organization that has common
Hoagies will be available April 2 and can be picked up at the Honey
Pot Hose Company. Contact any member of the task force or call 762-4009 to order.
Nanticoke board leery of loan cost
fears paying $442 a month would help empty its treasury.
The citys general municipal authority
has asked the state to reconsider a request that the authority pay a monthly interest
charge of $442 to service a 1994 loan used to build the Kanjorski Center.
The authority owes $271,000 from its $900,000 loan provided by the state Department
of Community and Economic Development, said department spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
The authority stopped making payments on the loan in November after the centers
anchor tenant relocated to Dallas, leaving the 32,000-square-foot building 88
The authority lost $33,000 in monthly income with the departure
of HealthNow, a New York-based Medicare claims processing company.
HealthNows departure, the authority paid the state $6,261 a month
$5,819 on the principal and $442 in interest, Ortiz said. The state is allowing
the authority to skip payments from November to April, but is requiring an interest
payment beginning in May.
Authority Chairman Dennis Butler said paying the
interest would just speed up the draining of the authoritys
coffers. The authoritys fund balance is less than $30,000, and it is on
course to run out of money by the summer, officials say.
want to postpone all loan payments until they find another tenant for the Kanjorski
Center or a new source of revenue.
Well review their request,
Authority members have talked to representatives of two real estate
companies interested in helping the authority sell the Kanjorski Center or rent
space in it. The state Department of Labor and Industry, the Kanjorski Centers
only tenant, pays $4,800 a month in rent and has 12 employees in approximately
12.5 percent of the building.
Authority members may subdivide the empty space
in the Kanjorski Center for multiple tenants. But developer Robert Yoder said
he might have found a new anchor tenant to fill the vacant space, Butler said.
Yoder is owner of Impact Pennsylvania Inc., which has proposed spending $7.7 million
from federal transportation grants on a 324-vehicle parking garage by the Kanjorski
Center. Yoder could not be reached for comment Thursday.
If the authority
runs out of money, the city would be on the hook to pay the authoritys bills
and obligations, Butler said.
The city has financial difficulties of its own
and has applied for financially distressed status under the states Act 47
recovery program whereby the state would partner with the city and provide oversight
and additional funding.
Nanticoke asks residents advice to rehab city
The city and
its General Municipal Authority are going broke, and city leaders are urging citizens
to attend and participate at meetings to offer their suggestions to revitalize
People need to get involved in this town if they want to see
this city grow, authority Chairman Dennis Butler said at a recent authority
The only people who attended last weeks authority meeting and
didnt participate were a reporter and city Solicitor Joe Lach.
last city council meeting, Lach noted the low attendance at the March 13 authority
Its an important part of the citys governance,
Lach said the municipal authority could play in key role in revitalizing
the city by creating new jobs and expanding the tax base.
The authority is
reviewing a $23 million proposal to redevelop the downtown, which includes $7.7
million proposal to build a new parking garage.
But the authority is going
broke because bills to operate the Kanjorski Center on Main Street exceed the
The authority lost $33,000 in monthly income last fall
when HealthNow, a New York-based Medicare claims processing company, relocated
to Dallas, leaving the 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski Center 88 percent empty.
The city is also facing financial problems and is projected to run out of money
to pay employees and bills by August. Mayor John Bushko and city council have
applied for financially distressed status under the states Act 47 recovery
Under the Act 47 program, the state partners with municipalities,
providing oversight and offering loans and grants.
About 100 people attended
the city council meeting on March 1 when officials had a presentation on the citys
financial problems. Attendance at last Wednesdays council meeting was about
If the city enters the Act 47 program, the state would hire a plan coordinator
to work with the city and develop a relief plan. The city would have to approve
the Act 47 relief plan.
Municipal authority members have talked to representatives
of real estate companies interested in helping the authority sell the Kanjorski
Center or lease space in it. State and federal grants, rental income and a possible
sale of the Kanjorski Center could fund efforts to redevelop the downtown.
of Music' most satisfying
Mailbag Letters From Readers - Times
By: Alma Berlot
Bravo, bravo, to the cast and wonderful directors,
musical, technical and lighting for a superb presentation of "The Sound of
As my husband, Alvin, and I sat and watched the performance,
we both had commented on the scenery which was not backdrops, but wonderful designing
done by Bruce Phair, who always accomplishes a marvelous, realistic effect.
I had wondered before the show how he would do the scene in the abbey garden.
Believe me, he accomplished the huge tombstone with a cross very effectively.
The production directed by Karen and husband Bruce Phair was done expertly. The
nuns were a great plus because it shoved the talent of many a student who sang
beautifully. The children portraying the von Trapp children were always in full
character and were excellent, depicting the difficult time spent on teaching.
Everyone played their roles to perfection.
As I was watching the show very
attentively, my eyes moved to the right to see Nancy Evans, musical director,
really directing the show with vim and vigor, enjoying every moment with pride
Nanticoke should be proud of wonderful people like Karen and
Bruce Phair, who give our children a cause to show their wonderful talents and
expertise. Nancy Evans also is a great asset to our community and we would like
to thank everyone including the melodious orchestra for a job well done.
Nanticoke authority hopes for big renter
By: Elizabeth Skrapits Staff Writer
possibility of snagging a major tenant for the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street
could put plans to divide the building on hold.
The Nanticoke General Municipal
Authority board, nearly broke and anxious to get tenants for the large Main Street
building, considered cutting it into smaller offices to make it appealing to smaller
businesses. The Kanjorski Center is approximately 32,000 square feet, 28,000 of
which have been vacant since its main tenant, HealthNow, moved out in October
2005.Municipal authority president Richard Butler said he met with Robert Yoder
- the developer in charge of the authority's East Main Street redevelopment project
- who said he has a potential tenant interested in all the available space. Yoder
will let the authority know more in about two weeks, Butler said.Two firms, Mericle
Commercial Real Estate Services and Lewith and Freeman, gave presentations to
the municipal authority at its work session Monday, Butler said. The authority
is considering hiring a firm to market the Kanjorski Center if Yoder's tenant
falls through. It might even sell the building outright."We're hoping to
find out something from Yoder before we lock in with them, because it would save
us a considerable amount of commission," municipal authority member Ron Kamowski
said. "But I still have a gut feeling that even if we get a tenant, we're
probably going to be dealing with a realtor to keep it on the market for sale."The
authority's board will discuss the matter further at the March 27 meeting.The
board must do something about the Kanjorski Center soon because the municipal
authority's bank accounts have been drying up since it lost $32,000 in monthly
rent from HealthNow. The $4,800 monthly rent from the state Department of Labor
and Industry - the only tenant in the center - isn't enough to pay utilities and
maintenance."The water's up to our nose," Butler said.
Nanticoke takes another step toward distressed city status
on Wednesday reaffirmed a vote to apply for financially-distressed status under
the states Act 47 recovery program.
Mayor John Bushko and city council
members unanimously voted two weeks ago to apply for Act 47 relief, and on Wednesday,
they approved a resolution that will be included in the citys Act 47 application.
The state Department of Community and Economic Development will receive the application
by tomorrow and schedule a hearing on the citys application in 30 to 45
days, Solicitor Joe Lack said.
Under the Act 47 program, the state partners
with municipalities, providing oversight and offering loans and grants.
officials want state help because the city is projected to run out of money to
pay employees and bills by August.
City council approved a balanced $3.5 million
budget in December, but a financial review shows the city is on course to spend
$3.8 million this year and take in $3.1 in revenue.
City revenues have been
stagnant, and revenue rates are at maximum amounts.
Also at Wednesdays
meeting, Councilman Jim Litchkofski said the city has agreed to buy a new computer
software program that will detail street work and improve productivity and accountability.
It will cost $100 a month.
Councilman William OMalley discussed a new
purchasing policy that would expand the role of Fiscal Manager Anthony Margelewicz
in approving purchases.
City officials also said they want to see if they
can buy lids for recycling containers because strong winds have been blowing over
residents containers and creating a mess in streets.
Greg Gulick said the city would need to buy about 6,000 lids.
GNA official hurt in food fight
while trying to stop disorderly conduct in the cafeteria.
Area superintendent Tony Perrone was injured Wednesday after slipping and falling
trying to stop a food fight at the high school cafeteria, according to police.
Officer Michael Roke said Nanticoke police were called to the high school at 11:50
a.m. for some disorderly conduct in the cafeteria area, some sort of food
Mr. Perrone was somehow injured, I believe he slipped and
fell and hit his head, Roke said.
Roke said he was told by officer Brian
Kata that Perrone was taken to the hospital. High school principal MaryAnn Jarolen,
though, said Perrone was not hospitalized and went home after the incident.
Perrone did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Officers Joseph Kosch
and Kata responded to the incident, Roke said, but had not completed their official
report as of early Wednesday evening.
Roke said he was not sure if any students
were arrested, but that there could be some charges pending.
said there are video cameras in the cafeteria and that she saw the incident, which
involved juniors and seniors. She said some students involved might be suspended.
Jarolen said that chili, mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding were served at
lunch. She joked that if they would have served carrot sticks and someone
threw one, there wouldnt have been an incident.
Real estate firms may aid authority
says developer has found anchor tenant for Nanticokes Kanjorski Center.
members of the city General Municipal Authority on Monday talked to representatives
from two real estate companies interested in helping the authority sell the Kanjorski
Center or lease space in it.
Without a new tenant in the 32,000-square-foot
Kanjorski Center, the authority could go broke by June, authority Chairman Dennis
Butler said. The authority manages the Kanjorski Center, which is 87.5 percent
vacant because HealthNow, a New York-based Medicare claims processing company,
relocated to Dallas in the fall.
Representatives from Mericle Commercial Real
Estate Services and Lewith & Freeman Real Estate attended Mondays authority
meeting. The authority could hire one of the firms at the next authority meeting
on March 27.
Authority members have discussed subdividing the Kanjorski Center
for multiple tenants, but Impact Pennsylvania Inc., the citys exclusive
downtown developer, may have found a new anchor tenant to fill all the vacant
space, Butler said Monday. Impact owner Robert Yoder hopes to get a commitment
from a prospective tenant in two weeks, Butler said.
Impact has proposed spending
$7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a 324-vehicle parking garage
by the Kanjorski Center. Authority members have said they want a smaller, less-expensive
Butler said Monday he would be willing to build a downtown parking
garage if grant money could be set aside for operational costs. Butler is concerned
the authority wont be able to pay bills associated with a new parking garage.
HealthNows departure cost the authority $33,000 in monthly income. The authoritys
fund balance has dropped from almost $40,000 in January to less than $30,000,
officials said last month.
The state Department of Labor and Industry, the
Kanjorski Centers only tenant, has agreed to stay for another nine months,
officials reported Monday. The department pays $4,800 a month in rent, and has
12 employees in approximately 12.5 percent of the building.
Nanticoke had, could have, many good old days
of Citizens' Voice
Sooner or later,
after many years of distress and confusion and just plain old hard times, I feel
this community is going to band together and develop a plan more geared towards
a long-lost quality of life feeling.
Did your parents or grandparents
ever tell you about how they left their doors unlocked during the day or windows
open at night for that fresh air flowing through the house? How your neighbors
knew every move the kids made and didnt fear the children or each other.
Walking to the Hanover Mall for some Rennas Pizza or hanging out by Ruminskis
store or skating every weekend at L.S.
We, as mid-lifers even had a little
taste of that. The concerts and other sporting events at the Armory. Hanging out
in front of Burger King. The scents of pizza on every corner or some lobster and
fries at Shipps Inn.
I sure do miss the Blue Bird or the how about the
Kove? Thank God the pizzas still the same ... and most in the same families
we all grew up with.
Even some new welcomed newcomers. It hurt to see Y.T.s
go and all our money now going to the big box companies. That sucked.
the good feeling when I saw a renewed interest in the downtown area by small businesses.
If you are going to buy it anyway, see what they can offer and
keep the money here.
Theres this cool coffee shop a few yards from my
house that turns into a pizza parlor late in the afternoon. Good food, conversation,
and very reasonable.
We have excellent hairdressers and barbers in town ...
and a new guy by the park.
Speaking of the park, how about the quality of
meats at the Park Market. And youre torn between them and going up over
Main Street to Jerrys Market. And if you go to Jerrys, you get hit
with the smell of Gerochs Hoagies. I could probably eat at a different spot
every day and it would take a month or so to visit every shop or restaurant or
Hey Green Streets, when are those Jonah crabs coming in again? Gingis
bringing some cool entertainment and another place to chill on the weekends. And
thats only in town.
How about some chocolate from Diamonds?
I also get the pleasure of visiting our brother and sister communities of Hanover
section, Alden, Glen Lyon, West Nanticoke, and Plymouth and visiting their shops
How about the girls basketball team, or the girls
softball team or any of the mens teams. Quality coaches and good family
minded individuals. We go out and field teams and fight regardless. That my friends,
is the coal-miner mentality. We still fight.
Speaking of fighting, how about
that group of friends and neighbors that kicked some tail in Iraq! How about our
public servants? We have an excellent police force right now. And Id like
to see eight more of them instead of a $24 million parking garage.
Think the firemen need anything? Sure they do.
Fix the roads, beef up the
public servant sector and make this one of those communities people rush to, to
get away from it all. Its not as crazy as it sounds. Market ourselves as
one of those places to be. And please, dont regionalize the police force.
Every community everywhere should be afforded the funds to field a police force
capable of full-time coverage.
John W. Krzywicki, Jr., Nanticoke
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pamela Urbanski
Children who attend Head Start in Nanticoke and Shickshinny were a little
warmer this winter thanks to some Nanticoke residents who have big hearts and
Bernadine Aciukewicz spearheaded the project of knitting
and crocheting hats, scarves and mittens for area kids. It was brought to
my attention that some of the kids might need some wintertime accessories,
said Bernadine. She made a few phone calls to some friends and ladies from the
Mercy Special Care Auxiliary. It wasnt long before the kids were wearing
some new winter fashions. Helen Shipkowski is one of the knitters. She lives close
to the Nanticoke schools. She hates it when she sees a young person without a
hat, gloves or scarf and does something about it.
Many times I will
stop them and give them something warm to wear. They tell me they left it at home,
but I tell them they need it right now, she says with a gentle laugh. Its
worth it to see the big smile on their faces.
She is retired now and
doesnt want to sit around. I want to keep busy and do some good.
The ladies also create beautiful lap robes for residents at Guardian Elder Care
Center, Birchwood, Hampton House and the Villa and Mercy Special Care Hospital.
I know my Aunt Stella Lazur who recently passed away, loved to crochet for a good
cause. It really is wonderful that so many take time to think of others,
This is an ongoing project and Bernadine is looking for
others to donate yarn and knit and crotchet for the coming year. If youre
interested, you can give her a call at 735-0112.
Its your last chance
Today is your last opportunity to see a great performance as the students of Greater
Nanticoke Area present their annual spring musical, The Sound of Music.
Karen Phair and her husband, Bruce, co-directors, have put together quite a cast
of talented young people. Karen Evans is musical and choral director.
Georg Von Trapp, a retired officer of the Imperial Navy, played by Tom McGrady,
hires Maria, a Austrian nun played by Amanda Prentiss, as governess/nanny to take
care of his seven children.
The cast includes more than 50 students in grades
one through 12.
The final performance is this afternoon at 2 at the high school
auditorium. Admission is $6.
Veterans enjoy St. Patricks party
A St. Patricks party was held last Friday at the American Legion home on
Broad Street in Nanticoke. Loretta Chumura and Richard Hart chaired the event.
It was open to the public, but some very special guests were also there.
from the Veterans Administration Medical Center joined the party. The Sons of
the American Legion, Nanticoke Post 350, the Nanticoke Home Association and the
Nanticoke Ladies Auxiliary Post 350 sponsored the event.
we bring some of our veterans down for the day, said Loretta. We want
them to know how much we appreciate their service to our country. They have such
a good time and they love to be out among people.
A Civic Pride poster
Hey kids, get out your crayons, markers and colored pencils.
The Nanticoke Civic Pride Committee is sponsoring a poster contest in recognition
of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Month in April.
We need your ideas on
how to keep the City of Nanticoke beautiful, said Yvonne Bozinski, who is
a member of the committee.
The contest is open to children 7 to 12 years of
age. Deadline to enter is March 20. Posters will be on display at local businesses.
Winners will receive cash prizes.
Entries can be dropped off or sent to the
Civic Pride Committee at the Nanticoke Municipal Building at 15 Ridge St.
Spaghetti dinner at St. Francis
Well, its that time of year for
the annual spaghetti dinner sponsored by St. Francis Altar and Rosary Society.
I cant wait to taste the homemade sauce and meatballs. The dinner will be
held Sunday, March 19, at the parish center on East Green Street. Take-outs start
at 11 a.m. and the sit-down dinner is from noon to 5 p.m. Cost is $7.50 for adults
and $3.50 for children. Children under the age of 6 are free.
Josefowicz at 735-5381 or Gerri Wasiakowski at 735-2058 with any questions or
to purchase tickets. Tickets are also available at the door.
in Newport Twp.
The Newport Township Womens Activity Group will
hold its annual Easter bingo Sunday, March 19, at St. Adalberts Hall on
Market Street in Glen Lyon. Doors open at noon. Games begin at 1 p.m. An afternoon
of food, fun and prizes is planned. Admission is $1.
Mom lauds GNA for anti-bully program
The school board
recently unveiled a policy to head off and investigate the practice.
A Pittston Area School
District mother who had problems getting her district to implement an anti-bullying
policy praised Greater Nanticoke Area on Friday
for taking initial steps to do so.
The school board this week conducted the
first reading of the proposed policy that identifies early warning signs of bullying
and describes the process for investigating suspected incidents.
of the national group Bully Police said having such a policy and implementing
it wont prevent all bullying, but it can help decrease it. I think
its great that Nanticokes working on that.
The policy is
not final and changes could be made before its adoption.
Thomas has said her
son, Joey, has been the victim of bullies at Pittston Area and at the Wilkes-Barre
Area Vocational-Technical School. She has asked the district to adopt the new
policy and she and others are circulating petitions that they plan to present
at a board meeting.
Greater Nanticoke grandfather Carl Salloga attended his
districts board meeting last month. He said he was appalled at the districts
inaction after several students bullied his ninth-grade grandson, who is 14. He
said several boys attacked the boy and bruised him by kicking him with steel-toed
shoes. He said he might have been targeted because he is shy and takes medication.
Salloga said his daughter, who is the boys mother, called the high school
on several occasions and left messages. Salloga said school officials did not
call her back. He said she is selling her home and his grandson is attending school
in another district.
Superintendent Tony Perrone has said the district knew
the identity of the bullies and they would be dealt with. Thomas said she sent
anti-bullying information to the district after learning of the incident.
The districts proposed anti-bullying policy says Greater Nanticoke will
have zero tolerance of bullying and that anyone witnessing it has
the obligation to report it to a staff member. The policy details the procedure
to be followed, to include contacting parents of possible victims and witnesses
before interviewing the children and asking for a written statement.
Quad-type vehicles appearing on city streets
looks at ATV problem
John Bushko says he will see what police can do to stop people from driving all-terrain
vehicles on city streets.
The noise drives me nuts, Bushko said
at Wednesdays city council meeting in response to a complaint about ATVs
driven along the 1600 block of South Hanover Street.
Bushko says he has heard
ATVs whizzing around alleys in the city at 2 and 3 a.m. on their way to and from
strip mines. Teenagers are usually driving the vehicles, the mayor said.
to the state vehicle code, ATVs may be operated only on streets and highways designated
and posted as an ATV road by the government agency with jurisdiction over the
ATVs also known as quads or four-wheelers may cross a
road under certain circumstances, and they may be operated on streets during declared
emergencies or when its necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.
problem is they are so difficult to catch, unless you have a helicopter,
said District Judge Donald Whittaker, who handles civil and criminal matters in
Nanticoke, the borough of Plymouth and the townships of Newport and Plymouth.
The state Game Commission in the past six months has issued numerous citations
for ATV use on mine-scarred land owned by Earth Conservancy in Newport Township,
but no citations have been issued for ATV use on streets, Whittaker said.
Bushko said the number of ATVs being driven on Nanticokes streets has been
progressively rising over the years.
Maybe we can put a cop up there
(by South Hanover Street), Bushko said.
During Wednesdays council
meeting, a city resident said he has seen unregistered ATVs illegally getting
gas at local stations. State and local officials have not confirmed it is illegal
to pump gas into an unregistered vehicle. Another city resident at Wednesdays
meeting said unregistered ATVs can be and should be confiscated.
in Pennsylvania, except ATVs used solely for business or agricultural purposes,
need to be registered and titled with the state Department of Conservation and
The state had 222,373 registered ATVs in 2005, up from
207,182 in 2004, according to Christina Novak, spokeswoman for the Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources. The state acknowledges a problem with unregistered
ATVs but doesnt have any statistics on them, Novak said.
A child under
16 can drive an ATV on land owned or leased by a parent or guardian and on other
land if the child has a valid safety certificate or is under the direct supervision
of a certified instructor. A child under 8 is not eligible for a safety certificate
and is prohibited from operating anywhere except private property.
four children under 16 have been killed in ATV accidents in Luzerne County since
officials voted unanimously Wednesday night to apply to the state for Act 47,
or distressed city status.
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
members and Mayor John Bushko made the decision after a presentation by councilman
Bill OMalley and financial advisor Bob Sabatini of Keystone Financial Services,
showing the extent of the citys fiscal troubles.
Nanticoke faces a projected
$2.8 million deficit, its revenues are flat and falling far behind expenses, and
by September, the city will be unable to pay even for essentials like salaries
and benefits, OMalley told the roomful of residents.
An occasional muted
whistle of surprise or murmured comment broke the silence as they listened to
how the city took out loan after loan and dug deeper in debt over the years to
the point it is now seeking state help to recover.
It was like making home
mortgage payments with a credit card someday you have to pay the credit
card bill, and in the meantime, interest has accumulated, OMalley explained.
I think its going to be kind of hard to reduce the expenses, especially
since we need police and fire protection, so it looks like were going to
have to increase the revenue side, resident Joe Modla said after the presentation.
I dont like the idea of raising taxes, but if thats what has
to be done, so be it.
Although Act 47 would allow the city to raise
certain taxes, city officials dont want to increase real estate tax, and
they dont intend to cut services to residents, OMalley said.
said Nanticoke fits enough criteria to qualify for distressed status, and, if
officials apply now, they should hear from the state Department of Community and
Economic Development by July whether the city was approved.
Sparse attendance at meetings is frustrating general
municipal authority board members who are looking for input from residents on
downtown revitalization plans
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
Show up at meetings. Find out
whats going on. Bring ideas. Disagree with us and give us reasons why,
municipal authority board president Richard Dennis Butler urged after Mondays
meeting, which was attended by two residents.
With a $23 million construction
project in the works, a diverse new board looking for fresh ideas, and a city
facing massive fiscal problems, the need for community input is more important
than ever, authority members say.
If we do something stupid and blow
a bunch of money - it goes back to the city, Butler said. If Nanticoke
wants to survive into the future, people have to get involved.
cant spare the money to pay for the results of bad decisions by the municipal
authority. City officials, facing a projected $2.8 million deficit, are considering
having Nanticoke declared financially distressed by the state.
the mayor are planning a presentation on the citys financial condition for
Wednesday at 7 p.m., which they hope residents will attend.
construction company, Yoder Group, and its related consulting firm, Impact PA,
were hired last May by the previous board to design and build a commercial and
retail complex with a parking garage next to the Kanjorski Center on East Main
Butler said he is meeting with the firms principal, Robert Yoder,
to make sure he understands the vision of the new board. The municipal authority
wants the project to include residential space and other components specific to
Nanticokes needs, based on public input and market and population studies
Either we can come up with a meeting of the minds and
make this a happy marriage or its going to be an ugly divorce, Butler
said of Impact PA.
Although board members want to hold the project until things
are worked out, they would like to see work proceed on the parking garage. They
say its necessary for revitalization because there is no parking for the
Kanjorski Center or the new construction planned around it.
members Ron Kamowski and Chester Beggs said they will meet with Cong. Paul Kanjorski,
D-Nanticoke, on the $7.7 million in federal transportation money the congressman
has obtained for the garage. The authority wants to know whether some of it can
be set aside to pay for the garages operating expenses, such as utilities
and security, until new tenants can be found for the Kanjorski Center.
make the 80-percent vacant center easier to lease, the authority wants to subdivide
it. By cutting up the 28,000 square feet formerly rented by one company into smaller
office spaces, it would be more likely to attract several tenants who will hold
leases of different lengths, so the municipal authority will not be faced with
the financial impact of losing one major tenant, Butler said.
State wont control Nanticoke
An official clears
up misconceptions about what declaring distressed city status would entail.
The state will
not run Nanticoke if the city becomes a financially distressed community under
the states Act 47 recovery program, state and city officials say.
are a lot of myths the state takes over, the state will fire people,
said state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
Municipalities dont lose
autonomy, but they can face sanctions if officials make unwise fiscal decisions
that are inconsistent with adopted recovery plans, said Fred Reddig, executive
director of the Governors Center for Local Government Services.
involve withholding state funding, and they have been imposed one time since Act
47 became law in 1987, Reddig said. The state imposed sanctions against Scranton
in 1998 when Scranton approved two collective bargaining agreements inconsistent
with its Act 47 plan, Reddig said.
Under the Act 47 program, the state partners
with municipalities, providing oversight and offering loans and grants to prevent
municipal bankruptcies, Reddig said.
Its not a state bailout,
City officials plan to discuss Act 47 at tonights city
Councilman William OMalley plans to give an hourlong
presentation on city finances, Mayor John Bushko said.
When we say we
dont have any money, were not kidding. Its there in black and
white, Bushko said at the last council meeting on Feb. 15.
Bushko said he doesnt think the city can avoid entering the Act 47 program.
An $800,000 deficit is projected for this year, and estimated deficits totaled
$1.8 million over the past three years.
In December, city council adopted
a $3.5 million budget. City revenues have been stagnant, and revenue rates are
at their maximum amounts.
To enter the Act 47 program, the city must apply
to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which would conduct
a public hearing on whether the city should enter the program, city Solicitor
Joe Lach said.
If the city enters the program, the state would hire a plan
coordinator after soliciting proposals, said Lach, who is a familiar with the
process because he is also the solicitor for Plymouth Township, which has been
in the program since 2004.
The biggest rap Act 47 gets is people look
at it as loss of local control. Thats not totally accurate, Lach said.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance is Plymouth Townships Act 47 plan
Since Act 47 became law in 1987, 21 municipalities have entered
the Act 47 program. West Hazleton has been in the program since 2003.
Nanticoke authority reviews plan
Members want to
discuss details of the downtown redevelopment project with consultant, Rep. Kanjorski.
Members of the
city General Municipal Authority said Monday they plan to discuss their new vision
for redeveloping the downtown with its consultant and U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski.
Impact Pennsylvania Inc., the citys exclusive downtown developer, has proposed
a $23 million redevelopment plan that includes expanding the Kanjorski Center
on Main Street and building a parking garage facility with an additional 54,000
square feet in commercial space.
Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, has touted the proposal,
which would spend $7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a 324-vehicle
Authority members said they want a smaller, less-expensive
downtown project that will not result in more empty government-owned space. The
authority is running out of money because the Kanjorski Center, a 32,000 square-foot
government facility managed by the authority, is 87.5 percent empty.
fund balance has dropped from almost $40,000 in January to less than $30,000,
officials said Monday.
But not all the news from Mondays meeting was
that bad. Officials disclosed that they had $15,000 from unspent federal grant
money that could be spent on improvements to the Kanjorski Center.
a New York-based Medicare claims processing company, left the Kanjorski Center
and relocated to Dallas in the fall, the authority lost $33,000 in monthly income.
Authority Chairman Dennis Butler said the authority should divide the vacant space
in the Kanjorski Center for multiple tenants because he doesnt believe the
authority can find one tenant to fill the empty space. He said he plans to meet
with Impact owner Robert Yoder and hopes Impact will figure out how to divide
space in the Kanjorski Center at no additional charge.
Mayor John Bushko,
a Yoder critic, said he doubts Impact will do that for no additional money. Last
year, the five-member authority had four different board members, and they agreed
to pay Impact $75,000 and various percentages of redevelopment project costs.
Authority members Chet Beggs and Ron Kamowski said they plan to meet with Kanjorski
to discuss how federal grant money can be spent on the downtown project.
the next meeting on March 13, authority members plan to interview real estate
company representatives interested in a contract to sell the Kanjorski Center
or lease space in the building.
At the Center of controversy in Nanticoke
building was supposed to help revitalize the downtown, now it stands practically
the Kanjorski Center on Main Street opened in 1994, it was supposed to spark the
revitalization of the downtown.
But today the center, barely a decade old,
is quite empty 87.5 percent empty. That vacuum has created a big headache
for city officials trying to redevelop the downtown.
Of the buildings
32,000 square feet, 28,000 square feet is tenantless.
HealthNow, a New York-based
Medicare claims processing company that occupied the space, relocated to Dallas
in the fall.
HealthNows 200-plus workers and their desks are gone. The
only things left behind are the dirt stains on the carpet.
The state Department
of Labor and Industry is the Kanjorski Centers lone tenant, with 12 employees.
The Nanticoke General Municipal Authority manages the government facility, and
without HealthNow, the authority is running out of money. The centers monthly
bills exceed revenues by about $7,500.
In 2005, the authority hired Impact
Pennsylvania Inc. of Turbotville as the citys exclusive downtown developer.
Impact has proposed a $23 million redevelopment plan that includes expanding the
Kanjorski Center and building a parking garage facility with an additional 54,000
square feet in commercial space.
The parking garage would be across from the
Kanjorski Center, named after U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, a Nanticoke native.
Kanjorski touts the Impact plan. The Democrat is also working to secure federal
and state funding to carry it out.
But critics complain the plan is not based
on any marketing study.
State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, criticized
the plans goal to create a government village in downtown Nanticoke.
Yudichak prefers private sector involvement to a project all paid by the
taxpayers and run by the government.
He also said Impacts plan
is flawed because the company has a motive to build buildings.
Last year, the General Municipal Authority agreed to pay the consultant $75,000
and various percentages of redevelopment project costs. Critics pointed out that
Impact owner Robert Yoder has contributed $1,000 to Kanjorskis campaign
New members now control the municipal authority, and they are
putting together a new game plan for the downtown. They want to sell the Kanjorski
Center and build a smaller parking garage.
I want to get out of the
real estate business, authority Chairman Dennis Butler said.
said the authority should not build a parking garage until it either unloads the
Kanjorski Center or leases space in the building. He says the authority cant
spend money and create additional liabilities until it has more revenue.
authority also owns the former CVS building next to the Kanjorski Center, containing
another 15,000 vacant square feet.
Right now, the municipal authority
is not ready to assume the risk (of a parking garage). If it goes south, it cant
absorb the loss, City Councilman William OMalley said.
said he has talked to prospective tenants who will sign lease agreements
after the authority commits to building the parking garage. He wont disclose
They wont come if an empty lot is there, Kanjorski
said at the authoritys Jan. 14 meeting.
The empty lot across Broadway
from the Kanjorski Center was created last year when the authority, under previous
leadership, demolished three Main Street buildings. Those buildings housed Lechers
Hardware, a coin shop, a coffee shop and Galazin Cleaners.
Kanjorski has urged
city officials to support Impacts plan by saying it would be funded with
free money from federal and state grants.
I dont know
anyone who would turn down a free building, Kanjorski said at the January
Other officials dispute the contention that the project will not
cost the city a penny.
Its not free money, Yudichak said.
You have to invest it wisely. You should not just throw up a building, so
politicians can cut a ribbon.
Butler wants downtown redevelopment to
be a mix of small commercial and residential buildings. He is not interested in
national retail chains, such as PetSmart, mentioned as a prospective tenant in
a new authority building.
If you live in Kingston, where are you going
to drive to for retail shopping? Nanticoke or Wilkes-Barre Township? Butler
said. Nanticoke is not designed for that kind of business.
types of businesses that can succeed in Nanticoke are coffee houses, restaurants
and book stores, Butler said.
Authority member Ron Kamowski said he wants
to see a 200-space parking garage, which would cost about $2 million. Impact has
proposed spending $7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a parking
garage with additional commercial space.
Butler said the authority should
divide the vacant space in the Kanjorski Center for multiple tenants because he
doesnt believe the authority can find one tenant to fill the empty space.
The Kanjorski Center was built to accommodate 300 employees of Travelers Insurance
Co., which processed Medicare claims and was purchased by United Health Group.
In 2000, HealthNow assumed United Health Groups Medicare claims processing
The authority lost $33,000 in monthly income when HealthNow relocated,
and in January, the authoritys fund balance fell from $39,602 to $32,931.
The authority is responsible for utility and insurance costs associated with the
Kamowski said the authority keeps the temperature inside
the vacant portions of the Kanjorski Center at 55 degrees to reduce heating bills
without risking frozen pipes.
Kanjorski contends the Kanjorski Center was
poorly managed and should have a huge surplus. But rental fees were limited to
95 percent of market rate, said OMalley, who managed the Kanjorski Center
from 1994 to 2005.
During a heated exchange at the Jan. 14 meeting, OMalley
noted that Kanjorskis nephew, Peter Kanjorski, was authority administrator
in the 1990s.
Butler said the authority made a mistake by relying too heavily
on one major tenant. Kanjorskis critics blamed the congressman for HealthNows
departure, but Kanjorski said HealthNow was no longer a viable anchor tenant because
it was going to lose its federal Medicare contract.
Yudichak said problems
with the Kanjorski Center resulted from poor planning before its construction,
such as not planning for parking.
The Kanjorski Center has not been
a success, Yudichak said.
Foes: Kanjorski isnt the citys dictator
isnt your typical Nanticoke political appointee.
He isnt a longtime
city resident, and hes a Republican in a city where the Democratic primary
decides who holds local elected positions.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke,
objected to Butlers appointment to the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority,
disparagingly dismissing him as a Republican from Tennessee at a recent
Butler, who also goes by Richard, wasnt born or raised
in Tennessee. He lived there from 1990 to 2000, but he grew up in Allentown.
There is no politics being played here, Butler told Kanjorski after
the congressman claimed Butlers appointment was politically motivated.
Kanjorski criticized Mayor John Bushko and city council for appointing Butler,
Ron Kamowski and Henry Kellar to the authority. Kanjorski said the Jan. 3 decision
to replace three members of the five-member authority was wrong.
is the sole remaining member of the authority, and another seat remains vacant.
They made miles of progress. We were well on the way of having the project
go, Kanjorski said, claiming that plans to redevelop the citys downtown
were progressing under the previous authority.
The new authority members do
not embrace the redevelopment plan Kanjorski supports.
state Rep. John Yudichak, said the congressman has tried to bully and intimidate
Nanticoke officials since voters sent him to Congress in 1984.
he runs the town, said Yudichak, D-Nanticoke. We welcome his input
and solicit his support. But hes not the dictator of Nanticoke.
Kanjorski tries to micromanage city affairs, Yudichak said.
my way or no way. Use my money the way I tell you, Yudichak said of Kanjorskis
Before his election to Congress, Kanjorski was the citys solicitor
for 12 years.
Kanjorski did not reply to requests seeking a response.
Kanjorskis press secretary, Gretchen Wintermantel, requested a Times Leader
reporter e-mail questions on Thursday. He had not responded as of 5 p.m. Friday.
A phone message was also left with Wintermantel on Friday.
Butler, who will
chair the authority, said he doesnt plan to let political bickering influence
I did not campaign or support John Bushko, said
Butler, a mortgage banker for Citizens Mortgage Corp. Nobody has ever done
me political favors. This is not going to be political. Ill serve as long
as this doesnt get political.
In the 1980s, Butler served two
years on the borough council of Alburtis, a small borough in Lehigh County. He
moved to Nanticoke in 2001.
American dream realized thanks to Habitat group
work pays off for a family from Bolivia when it takes the keys to its new home
moldy two-room cottage that Juan Orellanas and his family were staying in was
a far cry from the living conditions he envisioned when he came to the United
States from his native Bolivia six years ago.
But on Saturday, Orellanas said
his dreams were fulfilled when a Habitat for Humanity representative handed him
the keys to his new three-bedroom home on West Ridge Street in Nanticoke.
This is where I want to settle and raise my family, said Orellanas
through an interpreter, while standing in his daughters new bedroom, which
is almost the size of his entire former cottage near Tobyhanna.
and his wife, Mery, put in about 400 hours of sweat equity by renovating
another Habitat for Humanity house in Wilkes-Barre, said Mark Rutkowski, president
of the Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity.
The Orellanas new home was
actually slated for another family, but personal problems prevented
the family from completing the necessary hours, Rutkowski said.
About 30 Habitat
volunteers and representatives took part in a dedication ceremony at the Orellanas
new home Saturday morning. They sang, prayed and congratulated the family, which
includes 7-year-old Yessenia and 2-year-old Edwin. The family rented a home in
Nanticoke for about two years while completing their mission.
and his wife say they left their town in Bolivia for a better life and improved
educational opportunities for their children. The first settled in Virginia, then
went to the Poconos.
While living in their broken-down cottage, someone notified
Sister Joel Marie Sheehe of St. Anns Church in Tobyhanna that they needed
They have helped evangelize my life, Sheehe said. They
have so much to offer us, so many lessons to teach us.
Sheehe said Juan
and Mery have shown a tremendous determination to provide for their kids. She
predicts that Juan, who puts exterior stucco finish on commercial buildings for
a living, will someday be a supervisor. Juan and Mery are learning English, their
third language. They have learned to speak fluent Spanish and their native language
The Orellanas will have a no-interest mortgage, but the cost will
be about 50 percent of the market value of the house, Rutkowski said. The United
Methodist Churches of the Greater Wyoming Valley helped fund the homes renovations.
Nanticoke officials say police need better funding but
dont know where theyll get money
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS
Shotguns, bullets and
bulletproof vests; tires, a typewriter, rubber gloves, computers and an unmarked
Those are just a few items Nanticoke police have had to buy over the
last 10 years using their own money or by borrowing from future budgets.
did it because it was needed, Sgt. Kevin Grevera said. We had to become
a little self-reliant.
Mayor John Bushko and council agreed at Wednesdays
work session that was unfair and the department needs better funding, although
they dont know where the nearly bankrupt city will find the money.
January alone, the citys revenues were $129,096 and its expenses were $233,465,
for a deficit of $104,369, councilman Bill OMalley said. He anticipates
the city will continue to spend more than it takes in at least until June.
When we say we dont have any money, were not kidding,
Bushko said. Its there in black and white.
Despite the situation,
the new administration is aware of the financial strain on the police department
and is starting to reimburse it for out-of-pocket expenses, Grevera said.
In the past, money got so tight officers had to bring in their own computers and
buy a typewriter to write police reports. Grevera said he even donated an unmarked
car. Four years ago, the officers renovated their headquarters, buying and installing
windows for ventilation, and adding DUI, booking, and evidence rooms, Grevera
Morale was just so low, the guys wanted to get together to change
that atmosphere, he said.
At the time, police salaries ranged from $28,000
When expenses go over the budget, officers are allowed to borrow
ahead. Bushko said the department is probably through next years budget
Officers purchase guns, bullets, and bulletproof vests from their
annual clothing allowance of approximately $600, Bushko said. He believes the
city should be providing that equipment so police can use their allowance for
There are 19 police personnel on the force, but the department is
understaffed, Bushko said.
Luzerne Countys new central court will cost
the city money and manpower: prisoners have to be transported to Wilkes-Barre
from the Nanticoke police department instead of being marched upstairs to the
office of Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.
If an officer is out
of town, he will have to be called in and paid overtime to attend cases.
is some government funding available for specific police needs.
dont cover everything, and the city is facing a growing deficit expected
to hit $1.8 million by the end of 2006. City officials plan to present a detailed
description of Nanticokes financial condition at the meeting on March 1.
Multiple tenants eyed for space
Impact Pennsylvania could decide how to divide space in Nanticoke site at no extra
charge, official says.
city General Municipal Authority has no prospective tenants to fill 28,000 vacant
square feet in the Kanjorski Center on Main Street and should divide the vacant
space for multiple tenants, authority Chairman Richard Butler said Monday.
The vacant space was occupied by one tenant HealthNow, a New York-based
Medicare claims processing company that relocated in the fall. The state Department
of Labor and Industry is the only tenant in the 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski Center,
a government facility managed by the authority.
During Mondays authority
meeting, Butler said the authority will probably not fill the vacant space with
one tenant. He said the authority needs to find out how much it costs to divide
the vacant space for multiple tenants.
A problem is the authority is running
out of money and doesnt have much money to pay an architect to figure out
how to divide the space.
The authority lost $33,000 in monthly income when
HealthNow moved, and in January, the authoritys fund balance dropped from
$39,602 to $32,931. The authority is responsible for utility and insurance costs
associated with the Kanjorski Center.
Butler suggested that Impact Pennsylvania
Inc., the authoritys exclusive downtown developer, figure out how to divide
space in the Kanjorski Center at no additional charge. Last year, the authority
agreed to pay Impact Pennsylvania $75,000 and various percentages of a redevelopment
Impact has proposed a $7.7 million parking/retail facility next to
the Kanjorski Center as part of a $23 million plan to redevelop the downtown.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, has secured $7.7 million in federal
transportation funds for the city, and he has supported the Impact plan.
Butler said Monday the authority should not build a parking garage facility until
it has tenants in the Kanjorski Center. The authority wants to hire a commercial
real estate company to find tenants or sell the Kanjroski Center, which opened
in 1994 and cost more than $4 million.
The authority plans to interview real
estate company representatives at a work session on March 13. Impact Pennsylvania
has failed to find tenants for the Kanjorski Center, Butler said.
has said tenants will sign lease agreements after the authority commits to building
the parking garage.
threat at GNA High probed
Student receives online message about a gun threat,
causing police to be called.
responded to Greater Nanticoke Area High School on Monday morning to investigate
a threat sent to several students over the Internet.
High school principal
Maryann Jarolen said school officials increased security at several entrances
to the building after a student received a message through his or her America
Online Instant Messenger that someone planned to enter the school with a gun sometime
after classes started.
Its kind of like that old game, telephone,
Jarolen said. Apparently somebody started a rumor that there was going to
be a student in the school with a gun. We are taking all precautions in case this
isnt a prank.
Several parents pulled their kids from the school
Monday morning after word of the message leaked out, but Jarolen wouldnt
say how many kids went home.
Police questioned at least one student Monday
who received the note on his home computer Sunday night, but the student couldnt
recall who started the rumor because he receives online messages from about 200
Right now were taking precautionary measures,
said police Capt. William Schultz. No one can give us any information about
a site or where the threat came from.
The Internet is quickly replacing
word of mouth as a way for students to spread information, Jarolen said. The principal
sent letters to parents warning them about the use of the online personal profile
network MySpace.com after what she called a few incidents earlier this year.
Its a great way to communicate a rumor, Jarolen said. To
do it before, all you have to do was find the person with the biggest mouth. Now
all you have to do is hit bing and it goes out to 200 people.
MySpace is among a handful of popular profile Web sites where users can post personal
information, pictures, music and messages about themselves.
Jarolen said as
technology progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for schools and law-enforcement
officials to keep track of who is doing what.
The technology is way
ahead of what law enforcement and school officials can do, she said.
Bullying frustrates GNA grandfather
says district officials didnt act in addressing problem with his grandson.
Salloga said he is appalled at what he says is the Greater Nanticoke Area School
Districts inaction after several students bullied his ninth-grade grandson.
I felt that we were completely ignored, Salloga said Friday. He said
frustration prompted him to speak at Thursday nights school board meeting,
where he told the board his grandson was attacked on and off school property.
Salloga said a Dec. 2 letter from a local legislator to the high school failed
to bring action. They asked the three boys if they did it and they denied
it and that was it. My grandson is out of here, but if I can make this better
for another child, thats what I want to do.
State Rep. John Yudichak,
D-Nanticoke, said that after Salloga contacted him, he wrote the letter to high
school officials. Yudichak said Principal Maryann Jarolen and the dean of students
did act. They reached out to the students involved and tried to address
it at the school level.
Superintendent Tony Perrone said he thought
the alleged victims mother had talked to someone at the high school when
the problems arose. Perrone would not comment on what action high school officials
might have taken.
Perrone said the district knows the identity of the alleged
bullies and he plans to meet with their parents. He said the male students will
have due process to defend against the allegations, but that they could face expulsion.
Salloga said several boys attacked his 14-year-old grandson and bruised him by
kicking him with steel-toed shoes. He said he might have been targeted because
he is shy and takes medication for bipolar disorder.
Board members told Salloga
they werent aware of the situation and expressed dismay when he told them
no action was taken.
He said his daughter, who is the boys mother, called
the high school on several occasions and left messages. Salloga said school officials
did not call her back. He said she is selling her home and his grandson is attending
school in another district. The boy is an emotional wreck.
said he learned of the alleged bullying relatively late. He said he has an open-door
policy and he does not know why he wasnt told sooner. He said he obtained
a homebound instructor for the boy and wanted him to return to the district, but
the teen was afraid.
wants former store razed
officials want the owner of the former Y-T Hardware building to demolish the crumbling
eyesore on Main Street.
The citys engineering firm, Pasonick Engineering,
concluded the Y-T building should be torn down immediately, said city Solicitor
The buildings roof began collapsing last week. Mayor John
Bushko said he wants to condemn the building, which has stood vacant for more
than a decade.
Lach said the city wants to get owner Joseph Darlak to demolish
the building before the city condemns it, and is waiting to hear from Darlaks
attorney, Stephen Roth.
We cant wait forever, Lach said.
Roth was not available for comment.
The Y-T building stands next to vacant
lots on Main Street, where three buildings were taken down in the fall. Those
buildings had housed Lechers Hardware, a coin shop, a coffee shop and Galazin
The city general municipal authority paid $336,000 for the buildings
and demolished them to advance plans to build a parking deck/retail complex.
The authority also wanted to buy the Y-T building, but couldnt come to terms
with Darlak, officials have said.
Impact Pennsylvania Inc., a company based
in Turbotville, Pa., has proposed a $23 million plan to redevelop the citys
downtown. Authority members, appointed by Bushko in January, have been critical
of the project.
OKs budget; tax hike may be eliminated
By Janine Ungvarsky Times
The budget news
is good for taxpayers in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.z
the school board unanimously passed a preliminary budget of $21,270,540 that includes
a 4-mill tax increase, but board members made it clear that the millage increase
is tentative and could be eliminated if enough state funding comes through.
The original preliminary budget held millage at last years rate of 245.
Board member Gary Smith proposed the additional 4 mills be added to the budget
as a cushion until we find out if we get that money from the state.
Business Manager Albert Melone told the board that Gov. Ed Rendells proposed
budget includes increased funding for schools that could bring an extra $800,000
to the district, but cautioned that the governors budget still has to be
approved by the Legislature.
The districts preliminary budget is an
increase of $466,869 over 2005-06. Debt service, increases in the costs for special
needs education and staff benefits as well as higher energy costs accounted for
the increase, Melone said.
A mill is equal to $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed
Melone said the average district home is assessed at just
over $3,000 and pays an average property tax of $748 at the current rate of 245
mills. The district grosses about $23,845 per mill.
Melone said the district
is in negotiations with both the professional and support staff and that the proposed
budget doesnt include any funds for increased salaries.
In other business,
the board heard the concerns of a man who said his 14-year-old grandson had been
bullied out of the district.
Carl Salloga related how his grandson, a ninth-grader
at the high school, had been attacked several times both on and off school grounds
by three boys who hit him in the face and kicked him with steel-toed shoes.
He said that calls to the district and a Dec. 2 letter to the high school from
a local legislator failed to bring any action in the attacks.
said they werent aware of the situation before and expressed dismay that
action hasnt been taken. I dont know what to tell you. Im
so embarrassed, board member Sylvia Mizdail told Salloga. Ill
be at the school tomorrow to find out about this.
Nanticoke offering home drug testing
BY HEIDI E. RUCKNO STAFF WRITER
As a general rule,
the earlier a problem is detected the easier it is to solve.
Nanticoke police are trying something different when it comes to solving the citys
drug problem. Officers will hand out free home drug testing kits to anyone who
They were anonymously donated to us and a person had asked if
we would anonymously distribute them to any parent who thought their children
had a problem with drugs, Nanticoke Police Sgt. Kevin Grevera said. Approximately
100 are available, and anyone who wants one can pick it up at Nanticoke Police
Headquarters, 15 E. Ridge St.
The kits, which can be sold at retail stores
for approximately $25, can detect the presence of amphetamines, cocaine, opiates,
marijuana, PCP and tranquilizers such as Valium in a urine sample, but they are
not sophisticated enough to detect the amount of drugs in ones system.
The department has no interest in the results, Grevera said. The police are not
looking for people to prosecute; they are offering them solely as a community
service, he said. In fact, officers will not allow any testing to be done at the
As far as Grevera knows, Nanticoke is the only municipality
to offer free drug testing kits. The theory behind it, he said, is to put a dent
in the drug problem before users resort to violent crime.
It all stems
back to the philosophy that if you cut off the head the body dies, he said.
The kits are fairly easy to use, but if someone runs into trouble interpreting
the results all he or she has to do is call a local pharmacy. Tony Dougalas, head
pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe, 69 Market St., has offered to help read the
test results. He said anyone with questions can stop into the pharmacy, or call
him at 735-5114.
Dougalas, like other members of the community, thinks the
test kits will help.
Also on board with the program is Greater Nanticoke Area
Superintendent Anthony Perrone, even though the school district is not directly
I cant second-guess the Nanticoke police because I tell
you, they have been tremendous with this, he said referring to the departments
aggressive approach to fighting the drug problem. They are a resource for
Perrone thinks the first step to solving a problem is accepting
that there is a problem. He admits students in Nanticoke schools have had their
share of substance abuse problems, but in his opinion the district is getting
a handle on it.
In Nanticoke theres a lot of reach-out places,
Students in crisis work with school counselors as well as outside
agencies, according to Perrone.
Nanticoke officials bicker
Skrapits - Citizens' Voice
all sit in, and let the court sort it all out.
That was the consensus after
old and new members of the citys redevelopment authority met Saturday morning
and controversy arose over who belonged on the board and who did not.
members of the citys General Municipal Authority, recently appointed to
the redevelopment authority by Mayor John Bushko, showed up for what they thought
was a meeting to exchange information with old municipal authority members. They
found themselves in a redevelopment authority meeting they didnt know was
scheduled, but which attorney Susan Maza said had been advertised.
was solicitor for the previous municipal authority and is serving as solicitor
for the redevelopment authority, recognized former mayor John Tooles appointments
and swore them in.
But attorney Joseph Lach, who briefly represented the new
municipal authority between Mazas resignation in December and the hiring
of attorney Dick Hughes last week, said he believed Bushkos not Tooles
were the valid appointments.
Toole reappointed Steve Buchinski and
appointed Robert Bray to seats on the redevelopment authority at the Dec. 7, 2005
council meeting. Buchinski and Bray were previously on the municipal authority.
Bushko rescinded Tooles appointments on Jan. 25, and, during Wednesdays
council meeting, appointed current municipal authority board members Ron Kamowski,
chairman Richard Butler, and Henry Kellar to replace Bray, Buchinski, and Mike
Jezewski, whose term was up. Members of one board can also sit on the other.
Kellar was allowed to fill the vacancy, but Bray, Buchinski, Butler and Kamowski
werent certain who would join Walter Sokolowski and Chester Beggs on the
redevelopment authority board.
Maza produced a 1978 state Supreme Court ruling
that a newly elected mayor could not remove two persons from the redevelopment
authority who had been appointed by his predecessor; mayor does not have the right
to remove members of the redevelopment authority at his pleasure. Lach offered
to give Maza case law to support his position later.
Ultimately both parties
opted to let the Luzerne County court settle the matter.
let a judge decide this, Lach said.
Another dilemma, this one to be
worked out by Hughes, is exactly what the redevelopment authority controls and
what it doesnt.
Property is owned by the redevelopment authority, but
it is maintained and administrated through the municipal authority.
Sokolowski made a motion authorizing himself and Buchinski to contact Mericle
Commercial Real Estate Services about negotiating the sale or lease of the Kanjorski
Center, Butler objected, saying he was not sure the redevelopment authority could
The new municipal authority board made a similar motion at the Jan.
30 meeting, to solicit proposals from commercial real estate firms to market the
East Main Street building.
Authority membership disputed
sees new, previous appointees disputing who belongs on panel.
A judge might have
to decide who holds two of the five seats on the city redevelopment authority,
officials said during Saturdays chaotic authority meeting.
could give appointees of former Mayor John Toole a chance to keep some power and
continue to promote a $23 million plan to redevelop downtown Nanticoke. U.S. Rep.
Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, has supported the redevelopment plan and wants
to use $7.7 million from federal transportation grants on a parking/retail facility
next to the Kanjorski Center on Main Street.
On Wednesday, Mayor John Bushko
appointed Richard Butler and Ron Kamowoski to replace Toole appointees Bob Bray
and Steve Buchinski on the five-member redevelopment authority. But Bray and Buchinski
still hold the seats, said Susan Maza, who insisted she was authority solicitor
and ran Saturdays redevelopment authority meeting.
On Jan. 3, Bushko
appointed three new members to the five-member general municipal authority, and
they have been critical of downtown plans supported by Toole appointees.
last month criticized Bushko for replacing three municipal authority members.
Last year, the redevelopment and municipal authorities hired Yoder, a Kanjorski
campaign contributor, as the downtown projects exclusive developer.
A cooperation agreement allows the redevelopment authority to own property, but
the municipal authority manages the properties, collects revenue from them and
pays the bills, officials said.
Bushko, who didnt attend Saturdays
meeting, said he and council will consider disbanding the redevelopment authority
if it doesnt cooperate with the municipal authority.
meeting, the redevelopment authority approved a motion from board member Walter
Sokolowski, a Kanjorski aide, to consider hiring a real estate firm to market
the Kanjorski Center, a 32,000-square-foot building owned and run by the authorities.
On Monday, municipal authority members said they wanted to hire a real estate
firm for the Kanjorski Center, which has 28,000 vacant square feet because anchor
tenant HealthNow relocated in the fall.
City Solicitor Joe Lach said Saturdays
redevelopment authority meeting was invalid because Bray and Buchinski were no
longer board members. Maza allowed Bushko appointee Henry Kellar to take a seat
on the board.
Butler, who is chairman of the municipal authority, said Maza
was no longer the solicitor of the redevelopment authority because she resigned
as solicitor of the municipal authority.
In December, Toole reappointed Bray
and Buchinski to the redevelopment authority, but on Jan. 25, Bushko and council
voted to rescind those appointments, claiming they were illegal because Toole
was a lame duck.
officials pondering financially distressed status
The citys financial adviser suggested
a drastic, long-term solution to Nanticokes financial woes during Wednesdays
Act 47 is, in my view, your best option, Bob Sabatini
of Keystone Municipal Services LLP, one of the citys Early Intervention
coordinators, told council and Mayor John Bushko.
Nanticoke is already in
the state Early Intervention program for financially troubled municipalities,
but its situation has grown so dire that having the state give it Act 47
financially distressed status is something city officials have to consider.
Councilman William OMalley expects the city to spend $800,000 more than
it will get in taxes and other revenues in 2006. Combined with debts from the
last two years, it adds up to a $1.8 million deficit, he said.
there is $222,000 in the general fund, but after bills and payroll, the city will
be left with only $18,000 by March 1, not counting any tax revenue that comes
in, OMalley said.
Nanticoke wont have enough funds to make it
through the year, and isnt going to be able to cut its way out of the deficit,
The citys revenues are stagnant there are no new
income sources such as housing developments and the cost of running the
city goes up each year.
Nanticokes neighbor, Plymouth Township, was
declared Act 47 in July 2004. The program is not a bail-out: the state
doesnt just hand over money. Instead, Nanticoke officials would receive
a long-term financial recovery plan, be able to levy new taxes, and get additional
resources from the state.
Council and the mayor will consider their options
before their Feb. 15 meeting, at which time the subject will be discussed more
fully, OMalley said.
In other business, Bushko and council filled numerous
positions. Attorney Joseph Lach was hired as city solicitor, replacing Bernard
Kotulak, who Bushko said resigned verbally.
Anthony T. Margelewicz was appointed
as city clerk and hired as fiscal manager. As fiscal manager, Margelewicz will
be in charge of setting up new financial programs with OMalley and overseeing
daily operations of the city. His salary will be $30,000 a year. The position
existed previously, but was eliminated a year ago, Bushko said.
was hired as building inspector and code enforcement officer at an annual salary
of $40,000. Sgt. Kevin Grevera was appointed as a deputy code enforcement officer.
Municipal Authority members Ron Kamowski, Richard Butler and Henry Kellar were
appointed to replace Robert Bray, Steve Buchinski and Mike Jezewski respectively
on the redevelopment authority.
Former councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski was appointed
special events coordinator.
Dorothy Hudak was appointed to replace Ed Brosh
on the housing authority.
Nanticoke mulls recovery plan
the states Act 47 program to the financially distressed city.
The city cant
pay its bills this year and should seek assistance as a financially distressed
community under the states Act 47 recovery program, a consultant told city
City officials last year hoped joining in the states
Early Intervention Program would prevent the need to enter the Act 47 program.
Robert Sabatini, a consultant for Keystone Municipal Services, worked for the
citys Early Intervention Consortium and said Act 47 is the citys best
option to solving its financial problems.
An $800,000 deficit is projected
for this year, and deficits totaled $1.8 million over the past three years, said
Councilman William OMalley.
In December, city council adopted a $3.5
million budget for 2006. The city property tax rate is 60.38 mills and could only
have been raised with court approval or a higher debt payment.
A mill is a
$1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. Other city revenues and assessed
property values are stagnant, OMalley said.
City officials will meet
with state officials about entering the Act 47 program and will discuss Act 47
at the city council meeting on Feb. 15, OMalley said. Under the program,
the city could qualify for no-interest loans to help pay bills, OMalley
Plymouth Township is a distressed community in the Act 47 program. West
Hazleton recently left the Act 47 program, Sabatini said.
Also during Wednesdays
meeting, council and Mayor John Bushko hired Anthony Margelewicz as city clerk
and fiscal manager. He will be the citys top administrator and supervise
city Administrator Greg Gulick, officials said.
Council and Bushko also hired
William Harvey as the citys code enforcement officer and appointed Joe Lach
as solicitor. Lach is also solicitor of Plymouth Township, and Harvey worked as
a code enforcement officer in Wilkes-Barre.
The fiscal managers job
was left vacant to save money. OMalley said the city is in desperate need
of fiscal oversight.
City officials have been busy making personnel and policy
changes since Jan. 3, when Bushko became mayor and OMalley, Jim Litchkofski
and Brent Makarczyk began terms on council.
Authority seeks real estate firm
to deal with center
Nanticoke body wants a new tenant or buyer for building
vacated by HealthNow.
city General Municipal Authority is looking for help leasing space in 32,000-square-foot
Kanjorski Center or possibly selling the Main Street facility.
on Monday said they want to hire a commercial real estate firm to find a tenant
or a buyer. The center has 28,000 vacant square feet because HealthNow left in
the fall and relocated to Dallas.
The authority lost $33,000 in monthly income
when HealthNow moved and is running out of money. In January, the authoritys
fund balance dropped from $39,602 to $32,931, accountant Karen Hazleton said.
We dont want to be in the real estate business, said authority
Chairman Richard Butler.
Butler also suggested paving and creating a parking
lot on the site of a proposed parking/retail complex. Impact Pennsylvania Inc.,
a company based in Turbotville, Pa., has proposed a $7.7 million parking/retail
facility next to the Kanjorski Center as part of a $23 million plan to redevelop
the citys downtown.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, has secured
$7.7 million in federal transportation funds for the city, and he has supported
the Impact Pennsylvania plan.
The Kanjorski Center opened in 1994 and cost
more than $4 million. A problem finding tenants has been a lack of parking.
The proposed parking/retail complex would include: a 4½-deck parking garage
for 324 vehicles; 29,800 square feet in retail space; 15,000 square feet in office
space; and 30,000 in potential commercial space.
Butler said his objection
to the proposal is the authority would own everything. He said about
80 cars would fit on a parking lot next to the Kanjorski Center.
If the authority
runs out of money, the city would be responsible for paying its bills, and the
city is having its own financial problems.
The city has accumulated $1.8 million
in deficits over the last three years, Councilman William OMalley said.
OMalley suggested the authority use the equity of its property to borrow
Also Monday, the authority voted to hire attorney Richard Hughes as
its solicitor and met with other attorneys handling a legal dispute with HealthNow.
The authority is seeking more than $800,000 from HealthNow, and the dispute is
in a nonbinding arbitration process, said interim solicitor Joe Lach.
September, the authority hired Scranton firm Elliott, Greenleaf and Siedzikowski
for the dispute. The authority wants HealthNow to pay for renovation costs in
the Kanjorski Center.
Nanticoke hires real estate firm to market largest asset
By Elizabeth Skrapits staff writer
Nanticoke General Municipal Authority is destined for bankruptcy unless it sells
or leases its largest asset.
The board opted Monday night to hire a professional
real estate firm to market the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street. The 32,800
square-foot building has been 80 percent empty since Medicare claims processing
firm HealthNow moved to Dallas in October 2005, and the loss of its main tenant
means the authoritys expenses outweigh its revenue.
We have to
stop the bleeding, and the Kanjorski Center is a gusher, authority chairman
Richard Butler said.
Impact PA, the firm selected by the previous authority
board to construct a commercial building and parking garage on East Main Street
next to the Kanjorski Center, was supposed to search for tenants for the center,
but has not produced any, Butler said.
The authority hopes to receive at least
three proposals from large commercial real estate firms by next months meeting,
The Kanjorski Center was built about 10 years ago for $5.3 million
total, all grants, and there is $1.2 million left on the mortgage, said councilman
Bill OMalley, former building manager for the center. If the building is
sold, the authority has to pay back a portion of the grant money to state and
The authority currently has $32,931 cash on hand, accountant
Karen Hazleton said. With some bills due and more on the way, and only $4,900
coming in a month from the Kanjorski Centers remaining tenant, the state
Department of Labor and Industry, board members estimate the municipal authority
will be broke by May.
According to its charter, if the municipal authority
goes broke, it starts using city funds, Butler said.
However, Nanticoke, facing
a $1.8 million deficit from the past three years, is in even worse financial shape
than the authority, OMalley said. He suggested the authority take out a
line of credit, which is a loan it would only have to tap into in case of emergencies.
The board agreed to solicit proposals from banks for an amount to be determined
based on how much repair the Kanjorski Center needs.
It also depends on what
happens when a legal action filed against Health Now by the previous board in
September 2005 is settled, Butler said. The former board asked for $804,968 in
expenses, mostly for returning the Kanjorski Center to its original condition.
Municipal authority temporary attorney Joe Lach said the authority and HealthNow
are going before a neutral mediator to try to resolve the matter.
If the non-binding
mediation does not work, the next step is to go to an arbitrator, who will act
as judge and hand down a binding ruling, Lach said.
Nanticoke Area Notes
Celebrating Catholic Schools
By: Pamela Urbanski
This week students,
faculty, and staff of Pope John Paul II School will join with approximately 8,000
Catholic elementary and high schools nationwide to celebrate Catholic Schools
An annual celebration, it is a time to show the important role that
Catholic schools play in educating Americas young people.
Schools Week celebrates education that goes beyond preparation for a secular life,
it prepares students for a Christian life, said Robert Kaluzavich, principal.
Continuing he said, Catholic Schools Week is a time for the teachers, staff,
students and parents of PJP II to celebrate the school and to let the entire community
know what a great place this is to learn.
Each year, a different theme
depicts a thought about Catholic education. This years theme Catholic
Schools: Character, Compassion, Values, points to the very mission of Catholic
schools, said Kaluzavich. It is important that we impress upon our
students how important each one of these are, especially in todays world.
To kick off Catholic Schools Week students and their families are asked to attend
the Sunday liturgy at Holy Trinity Church at 10:15 a.m. or St. Francis Church
at 11 a.m.
Time to visit
Mass, families that might be interested in enrolling their child or children at
PJP are invited to an open house from noon to 2 p.m. today. The main building
for students in grades two through eight is located on South Hanover Street, next
to Holy Trinity Church. Students who are interested in the three and four-year-old,
kindergarten and first grade programs can visit the primary center on East Green
Street, next to St. Francis Church.
Registration for all grades also will
be held at this time and during the week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
full of activities
Activities for the week include spirit day when students
can wear their favorite team outfit or PJP basketball jerseys instead of the regular
The seventh and eighth grade students will host a math fair and
the scholastic book fair begins at the main building.
On student appreciation
day, students will be honored for their hard work throughout the year.
schools could not run without the Board of Pastors, principal, teachers, staff
and parent volunteers, so a breakfast will be held in their honor.
Mayor John Bushko will stop by to speak to the students and State Rep. John Yudichak
will be on hand to present a $10,000 check from the Bravo/Bridge Educational Foundation.
This scholarship would not have been possible without the support of Rep.
Yudichak and a generous donation from Greg Cavoli at Enterprise Rent-A-Car,
Ten students received scholarships from this donation.
At the primary center, students will have a vocation day. According to Eleanor
Anthony, its never too early for students to start thinking about their
gifts and talents. I think it is good that we encourage students, even from
a young age, to think about where God may be calling them and to realize that
God has a plan for their lives.
For more information, call the main
building at 735-7935 or the primary center at 740-6150.
Nanticoke officials find funds will not cover needed
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
new elected officials are prioritizing repairs to the citys crumbling infrastructure
and looking for ways to finance them.
Many roads, sewer lines, and the municipal
building need fixing, but theres no money. Since 2004, the city has accumulated
a $1.8 million deficit, Councilman Bill OMalley revealed at Wednesdays
Last year, U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, secured
$2.1 million for the city in federal highway transportation money, plus $5.6 million
specifically for a parking garage at the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street.
Kanjorski wants to add the $2.1 million to the East Main Street project, but Mayor
John Bushko would rather put it to the use it was originally intended for: repairing
city roads. Alden Road, Lower Broadway, and Kosciuszko, Market, Prospect and Union
streets are bad, OMalley said.
The federal funds require a 20 percent
state match and can only be used for certain transportation-related projects.
Council made a motion to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
to see about getting matching funds.
City Administrator Greg Gulick suggested
two road crew employees be designated to go through the city street by street
this summer, doing such necessary things as replacing street signs and repairing
catch basins. The work would be paid for from the citys sewer fund and the
liquid fuels fund money the city is given each year for its roads from
the state gasoline tax.
Councilman Jim Litchkofski, who is in charge of the
road department, said residents can leave questions or suggestions for him through
the municipal building.
The building needs a whole new electrical system and
some cosmetic repairs, Councilman Joe Dougherty said. Bushko said the road crew
will work on the building in rainy weather.
In other business, Bushko made
a motion, which passed unanimously, to cancel all appointments made by the previous
Former Mayor John Toole and outgoing members of council appointed
Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker as the citys representative
to Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, and put former municipal authority members
Robert Bray and Steve Buchinski on the redevelopment authority on Dec. 7 2005.
I think as lame ducks, theyre not legal, Bushko said.
Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority already swore in William Kearney, who was Nanticokes
representative in the past, Solicitor Bernard Kotulak said.
For him, its no small change
Nanticoke man driving force behind switch in state unemployment regulation.
that prevented older Pennsylvanians from receiving full unemployment compensation
is off the books thanks to Joe Gryskiewicz.
The Nanticoke man set the
wheels in motion for new legislation that ended the practice of deducting half
the weekly amount of a Social Security or railroad pension from an unemployment
Gov. Ed Rendell touted the legislation during a recent ceremonial
bill signing in Scranton. Gryskiewicz, 75, was there.
I was penalized
because I received Social Security, Gryskiewicz said. I didnt
think it was fair.
Four years ago, Gryskiewicz was laid off from a part-time
job making transformers at Dennis Winding Co. in Wilkes-Barre. Instead of collecting
a weekly unemployment payment of $150, Gryskiewicz received a $20 unemployment
Gryskiewicz mentioned this to his next-door neighbor, state Rep.
John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
I put the idea in this head (to change the
law), Gryskiewicz said. John kept pushing it.
the lead Democratic sponsor of the new legislation, praised state Rep. William
Adolph, R-Delaware County, and the AARP for promoting the bill.
it was unfair to deny benefits to working seniors who return to the work
force to help their families meet the pressing demands of rising health care costs,
increasing energy bills and the drastic pension cuts being made by many of Americas
The new law will affect about 1,300 older Pennsylvanians,
Yudichak said. But it is expected to help more than 40,000 as more Social Security
beneficiaries return to work, he added.
Gryskiewicz retired as a department
store manager before he started working part-time at Dennis Winding Co. He hasnt
worked since, in part because he wanted to spend more time with his wife, Margaret,
who became ill and died in January.
Council OKs mayors plan to use grants
U.S. Rep. Kanjorski had hoped to use all the federal money for
council on Wednesday unanimously supported a motion asking PennDOT for matching
funds that would allow the city to spend federal transportation grant money on
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, has secured $7.7 million
in transportation funds for the city, and he has touted a plan to spend that money
on a parking/retail complex.
But Mayor John Bushko has proposed spending money
from a $500,000 grant and a $1.6 million grant on roads. The city engineer will
begin putting together a road-repair proposal this week, Bushko said after Wednesdays
Councilman William OMalley made the motion to contact PennDOT
about matching funds for road work. The federal transportation money requires
a 20 percent match from the state or city, officials said.
The $500,000 grant
and the $1.6 million grant are for the city, and a third transportation grant
of $5.6 million is for the city redevelopment authority, officials said.
a July news release, Kanjorski said the legislation approving the transportation
grants has flexible language that allows the city to use the funds for revitalization
projects such as paving and road construction and enhancement.
has touted a $23 million plan to redevelop the citys downtown and, under
that plan, the $7.7 million in federal transportation money would fund a parking/retail
complex. Impact Pennsylvania Inc., a company based in Turbotville, Pa., unveiled
the $23 million plan Jan. 14.
The redevelopment authority and Nanticoke General
Municipal Authority hired Impact Pennsylvania last May. But new members of the
municipal authority are skeptical of Impacts plan, and Bushko plans to appoint
two new members to redevelopment authority.
Council and Bushko on Wednesday
voted to rescind two December appointments to redevelopment authority made by
outgoing mayor John Toole. Bushko said Toole didnt have the power to make
the appointments because he was a lame duck.
Also Wednesday, city council
approved an ordinance that will prevent a sex offender from living within 2,500
feet of any school, child-care facility, community center, park or common open
space. Nanticoke is the first municipality in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties
with such legislation, said Councilman Joseph Dougherty.
WVSA swears in Kearney
Donald Whittaker disputes
move, saying Nanticoke officials chose him for spot.
District Judge Donald Whittaker maintains
hes Nanticokes representative on the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority,
but another man holding that seat was sworn into office Tuesday for another five-year
William Kearney, owner of a funeral home on South Prospect Street in
Nanticoke, kept his seat on the 17-member board during Tuesdays meeting
at the authoritys Hanover Township complex. He has had the seat for 20 years.
Whittaker claims he has the seat because Nanticoke City Council and the mayor
appointed him to the board Dec. 7. But a new mayor and new council members voted
on Jan. 3 to reappoint Kearney.
The dispute could be ultimately decided in
court, but Kearney has it now because he was the last man appointed to it, authority
Solicitor Tony Panaway said Tuesday.
Whittaker read a city document that says
Kearney was re-appointed to a five-year term that ends Dec. 7. But the Pennsylvania
Municipal Authorities Act says terms end on the first Monday in January, authority
member Pat Judge said.
Whittaker asked if he could have a copy of the law
for his lawyer to review.
If were wrong, well bow out gracefully,
The authority has been providing wastewater treatment since
1962 and has 17 board members from 14 charter municipalities. Wilkes-Barre has
On Dec. 7, Nanticoke officials voted 4-1 to appoint Whittaker
to the seat.
The four votes in December included votes from three lame ducks
Mayor John Toole and council members Bill Brown and Yvonne Bozinski.
John Bushko voted against appointing Whittaker on Dec. 7 and became mayor Jan.
3. Also on Jan. 3, William OMalley, Jim Litchkofski and Brent Makarczyk
began terms on city council, and the vote to appoint Kearney was 4-1.
Joseph Dougherty, the only council member left from last year, voted against Kearneys
reappointment on Jan. 3.
Whittaker was re-elected as district judge last year.
His office handles civil and criminal matters for Nanticoke, the borough of Plymouth
and the townships of Newport and Plymouth.
Kanjorski, mayor divide on $7.7M
Its for project,
says congressman. Bushko eyes $2.1 million for roads.
Federal transportation grants would
provide $7.7 million for a parking/retail complex in the citys downtown,
according to U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski.
But Mayor John Bushko has a different
idea for spending $2.1 million of that money.
Bushko wants to use $2.1 million
from two grants to repair designated city roads that can be fixed with federal
funds, including Alden Road.
That road should be done, Bushko
said, noting surface and drainage problems.
Alden Road is a link to key businesses
in the city, such as Reilly Plating Co., Bushko said. He added that the city could
also use the federal grants for other roads, such as Market, Prospect and Union
Impact Pennsylvania Inc., a company based in Turbotville, Pa., has
proposed the $7.7 million parking complex, which includes retail storefronts and
office space, as part of a $23 million proposal to redevelop the citys downtown.
Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, is a vocal supporter of the redevelopment plan.
am interested in getting the fullest extent to the revitalization of downtown,
Kanjorski said of the funding. If we have flexibility, I want to see it
used for the benefit of the town.
Regarding Bushkos call to use
$2 million on roads, Kanjorski said, I havent talked to him sufficiently
about what he has in mind.
Bushko said he supports doing a downtown
project but wants to see private investment and ownership. Kanjorski has
said the project would be free for city taxpayers because federal
and state funding would pay for it.
But state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke,
disputes Kanjorskis contention that the state would provide matching funds.
The transportation money requires a 20 percent match from either the state or
city, and Yudichak said PennDOT would not provide the match if the federal money
is spent on a parking garage.
Kanjorski said the funds are discretionary
and would likely become available with the support of the state senator
and legislator. State Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston Township, represents
City council ultimately may decide if the $2.1 million from the
two grants is spent on roads or the proposed parking garage. Those grants are
for the city, while a third transportation grant of $5.6 million is for the city
redevelopment authority, Yudichak said.
The redevelopment authority and the
municipal authority hired Impact Pennsylvania last May. The municipal authority
handles administrative duties for the redevelopment authority.
Nanticoke Targets Sex Offenders
are prepared to pass an ordinance one councilman hopes will make the city safer,
by limiting areas in which convicted sex offenders can live
will vote Wednesday night on the final reading of the sex offender residency restriction
ordinance which, if passed, would make Nanticoke the first municipality in Luzerne
County to have one, said Councilman Joseph Dougherty, who proposed the measure.
Whats great about this ordinance is it doesnt just protect children,
but women and everyone, really, he said.
Under the terms of the ordinance,
which city police will enforce, sex offenders may not live within 2,500 feet of
a school, child care facility, public park or recreation center. If an offender
moves into a restricted area, he or she has 45 days to move out. Violators face
a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in prison.
The four or five sex offenders
already living in the city would not be affected, Dougherty said.
to bring a map to Wednesdays meeting showing restricted areas. The
map will later be posted on the citys Web site.
Megans Law, named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was murdered by a convicted
pedophile neighbor in New Jersey in 1994, requires convicted sex offenders to
register with state police. However, state and federal laws do not place any restrictions
on where the offenders can live.
Dougherty said he got the idea for the supplemental
ordinance from a newspaper he read while visiting his sister in Bucks County.
Several communities there, including Bristol, Doylestown and Lower Makefield townships,
have passed sex offender ordinances.
Allentown and Whitehall Township in Lehigh
County and Northampton Borough in Northampton County have also passed sex offender
ordinances, according to a Jan. 10 article in the Allentown Morning Call.
Despite concern by Nanticokes previous administration, Dougherty does not
believe the ordinance, which is based on similar ones from Bucks County and references
others from Alabama and Iowa, could be considered unconstitutional.
someone wants to challenge it down the line, let them come forward, he said.
You dont know what the higher courts are ever going to do, but based
on other ordinances, its legal.
Dougherty, the father of four
daughters, believes the ordinance is an important step in protecting the citys
children from sex offenders.
When I grew up, it was easy. There werent
problems like this. Your child could roam at his own free will. Now you cant
even let them play on the sidewalk without watching them, he said.
Programs in Nanticoke help teens with drug problems,
offer substance-free entertainment options for other youngsters
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
upstairs rooms of the Stickney Fire Hall on Prospect Street are being painted
bright colors, blue and white, green-and-orange stripes, in preparation for the
spring grand opening of the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force headquarters.
The drug task force, Luzerne Countys first grassroots organization dedicated
to raising awareness about drugs and providing young people with an alternative
to them, and its offshoot, the Youth Task Force, are so successful they have outgrown
their first location in St. Francis Churchs basement.
The drug task
force has an ever-growing roster of members, including Greater Nanticoke Area
School District personnel, mental health and drug and alcohol treatment professionals,
parents, clergy and city officials. The Youth Task Force, for ages 18 and under,
started with eight or nine kids and has grown to about 85, said board member Don
Williams, an associate of Clearbrook Lodge.
That more of the kids are
coming shows our message is getting out, board president Frank Vandermark
The task force started in 2003 when police Sgt. Kevin Grevera, frustrated
by drug use among young people and saddened by the overdose death of a young man
he had tried to steer away from drugs, approached the Rev. William Langan to discuss
what to do.
Young people had few options for entertainment in Nanticoke, so
providing them with a positive place to go was one of the first goals, Williams
said. Langan volunteered use of the church recreation room.
I was down
there the one night, said Mayor John Bushko. I bet there were about
60 kids there in the basement of St. Francis. They were playing ping-pong, checkers,
they had music going, he said.
It seemed like a good place for
kids to go, instead of hanging out on street corners smoking like I did when I
was a kid.
In June 2005, Nanticoke City Council voted to lease the Stickney
Fire Hall to the task force for $1 a month. The kids helped paint, and local businesses
offered many services.
The task force pays its own expenses. Raising money
has not been a problem for the group because of generous community members and
business leaders, board member Jim Samselski said.
The task force holds outings
and events; members do community service like cleaning up Patriot Park and cemeteries.
There are also prevention programs, such as Thugs and Drugs, in which
addicts tell their stories.
Besides recreation, activities include teen-on-teen
nights for discussing issues and offering advice. Girls wanted to speak about
womens issues without men around, so task force member Renee Dougalas formed
Girls Nights In.
The purpose is to support one another,
to let them know, hey, youre not alone, youre not the only one going
through this, Williams said. Its better than taking your feelings
to the park and getting high.
As the kids get older and graduate from
high school, there has been a membership turnover, Williams said. Some new kids
are rough around the edges, with poor anger-management skills, but
the group teaches control, Williams said.
For legal reasons, counseling is
not allowed, but mentors try to provide support and guidance, he said.
have a way with kids. Its not hollering and yelling, its talking,
Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Anthony Perrone said. And it works.
Greater Nanticoke Area was one of the first school districts to publicly acknowledge
it had a growing drug problem, Perrone said. In 2002, some students were found
with heroin. Instead of trying to cover it up, district officials brought it intothe
open and made parents aware of the problem, he said.
The task force works
closely with the district through high school Principal Mary Ann Jarolen, a founding
member, Grevera said.
Possibly as a result, heroin is less common in Nanticoke
schools this year, Perrone thinks.
Though there is still work to do, task
force board members agree the primary mission of raising awareness has been successful.
In Nanticoke, overdoses have dropped and overdose deaths have decreased dramatically:
two since 2004 as opposed to 37 between 2000 and 2004, Grevera said.
than 20 people have gotten help getting treatment, Grevera said. We will
approach people rather than letting them hit rock bottom. Weve had people
go into the military, assisted them in getting jobs, some went on to college,
some went to mental health treatment.
communities have taken notice of the success and want to start similar programs.
The task force, in cooperation with the Stakeholders Committee created by Wyoming
Valley Drug and Alcohol Services, will meet with representatives from two interested
school districts this week: Crestwood and Hazleton Area.
Wrestlers raise roof, money for charities
Kong Bundy is an enormous man.
And to his young fans, who saw him in person
for the first time Saturday night at the Honey Pot Volunteer Fire Company's wrestling
benefit, he's also a legend.
"He's old-school," said 10-year-old
Kyle Gregory, barely able to contain his excitement. "He's known for his
strength and he always wins."
And win he did, easily defeating his villainous
opponent, Brolly, and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
It was clear to the
crowd of about 200 at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School gym who the bad guys
were. The first wrestler of the night, an Italian mobster type called Lucky Zaccone,
came out throwing insults at the local crowd.
"I didn't come here for
no cow tipping," he yelled. "I came here on Italian family business
that none of youse would understand!"
The crowd booed and hissed.
And then out came his opponent, the folk hero Gino Caruso, clad in a green, white
and red singlet and clapping to the sound of "Angelina," by Louis Prima.
And the crowd went wild.
The most passionate fans in the crowd Saturday night
were also the youngest. Nine-year-old Joseph Kirschner, holding a sign in support
of King Kong Bundy, said he wants to be a wrestler someday. It was a great night
for Joseph. His favorite wrestler, The Honky Tonk Man, was the night's main event.
The Honky Tonk Man's opponent was billed as "the mystery opponent,"
but rumor flew it was 61-year-old Nanticoke resident Tom Rumsby, who would come
out of retirement and enter the ring under his old moniker, The Executioner. Before
donning his black mask and spandex, Rumsby hustled about the gym and kept the
show running smoothly.
"We're real satisfied with the turnout,"
Rumsby said. "The Honey Pot guys did what they had to do and got the crowd
Chester Kopco, a Honey Pot firefighter, was also getting
warmed up for his first-ever wrestling match as part of the night's main event.
"I'm terrified," he said. "I'm 51 and I'm out of my league. But
I've lost 15 pounds in three weeks training with The Executioner. But I'm still
The event was held to raise money to host a six-county firefighter
convention in June, and to help fire companies in southeast Texas devastated by
Donations to the Orange County Fire Fund can be sent to 35
Main St., Nanticoke.
(Nanticoke City Webdesign note:
Please keep coming back and checking the "Fire Dept." section of the
website for pictures from this wrestling event.)
For Luzerne County Community College officials,
the future is now
By Robert Kalinowski, Staff Writer
the top officials for Luzerne County Community College, Dr. Patricia Donohue and
Dr. Dustin Swanger study national and regional trends to map the future of the
school that serves 16,000 students year.
Three trends in particular have caught
Since 9/11, they've realized the need for professional and
well-trained emergency workers.
The recent boom in retail stores, restaurants
and entertainment venues, and a growing number of metropolitan transplants and
commuters in Northeastern Pennsylvania, make it clear the hospitality market will
Reports of staff shortages in the health care profession, most notably
nurses, make them see immediate post-graduation jobs for well-trained graduates.
Donohue, LCCC president, and Swanger, the college's provost and vice-president
for academic affairs, say these are signs of changing times, trends the school
wants to tackle head on.
So, the infrastructure of the school's main campus
in Nanticoke must change as well, they say.
The school's Board of Trustees
last month approved a $41 million master plan that includes the construction of
a Public Safety Training Institute, a state-of-the-art health sciences building,
a dramatic expansion of the hospitality facilities, and campus-wide renovations
"I don't think you'll see anything in Northeastern Pennsylvania
that will rival what we're planning," Swanger said. "This will be a
real shot in the arm for the region."
School officials will submit the
plan to the state Department of Education later this month. If all phases of the
project are approved by the state, the state would contribute half, or $20.5 million,
which is the state's capital project formula. Funding for the other half would
come from a combination of money from Luzerne County, which normally funds a third
of the school's operating costs, fundraising and/or loans.
Completion of the
overhaul is expected to take six to eight years from whenever construction begins.
Health Science Building
The driving force behind the project is the need to
expand the school's health sciences program. Interest is high, classes are at
or near capacity, and there's no sign of a slowdown, Donohue said.
expanded these classes as much as our facilities will allow," Donohue said.
"Of all the facilities we have, much of it needs to be upgraded."
Donohue says staff shortages in hospitals, particularly among nurses, is a problem
that only will get worse. Studies show a significant portion of the nursing work
force is within 10 years of retirement, she said.
"We're going to have
what is already a serious demand complicated by retirements," she said.
By expanding health science offerings and implementing the newest technology,
LCCC could help attract potential nurses and train its students to be among the
A proposed $12 million building will serve students pursuing
associate degrees in nursing, surgical technology, respiratory technology, emergency
medical services, dental hygiene, dental assistance and physical fitness, Swanger
A highlight of the new building will be new digital equipment, such
as X-ray photography machines, he said.
"This is a huge step forward,"
LCCC and other community colleges are already the stepping stones
to careers in the medical profession. Studies show 60 percent of registered nurses
are trained at community colleges, Donohue said.
"Our jobs are to keep
them home, and there are plenty of jobs here for them," Donohue said.
"They usually have a job before they walk across the stage," Swanger
Public Safety Training Institute
When Donohue was the president
of Harrisburg Area Community College in 1990s, she worked to build a public safety
center, a facility used to train students interested in the emergency services
field, as well as firefighters, police officers and paramedics in the Harrisburg
Since arriving at LCCC in 2002, she has wanted to bring a similar facility
to the area.
Currently, most fire departments travel outside Luzerne County
to conduct their "live burn" training, a practice fire fighting drill
on an engulfed prop building. Other training is conducted in throughout other
parts of the county.
LCCC's $9.9 million Public Safety Training Institute,
which will be located on now-vacant land at Middle Road and Prospect Street, will
centralize many of these training options. It will be available for credit and
non-credit classes, as well as for public and private emergency departments and
workers on a fee basis.
"I can't tell you how many time people have stopped
me to say, 'I can't wait until you get this built,'" Swanger said.
will be able to train up to 4,000 emergency workers per year.
will consist of modern classrooms, in-door shooting range, burn tower, rescue
props, hazardous material props, an emergency vehicle operations course and more.
Though there's not a need for a new building, LCCC officials
say the school's hospitality training program is another focus of the master plan.
In recent years, an influx of people have moved to the area from New York and
Philadelphia and are commuting from the nearby Poconos to New York for work, Swanger
People from those areas are accustomed to various choices for fine dining,
recreation venues for adults and kids and tourist attractions, he said.
introduction of the Wachovia Arena, the subsequent commercial boom surrounding
it, and the proposed casinos at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and in the nearby
Poconos, is a new market for Northeastern Pennsylvania, he said.
a large industry right now, and it's only going to get larger. It's going to grow,"
The school plans a major overhaul of its culinary arts kitchens.
Built in the 1970s, they are outdated and wearing out. The norm back then was
large industrial kitchens, but the current trends are smaller workstations, he
said. Officials are also considering creating a day spa-like facility to help
those interested in pursuing that field.
The master plan
There is more
to LCCC's master plan. School officials want to renovate classrooms, improve technology,
add high-tech conference rooms, create suite-style offices, add places for students
to congregate, relocate several offices to centralize critical student services,
expand the library, address campus traffic and parking issues and change building
and campus entrance signage.
In conducting the master plan study, LCCC officials
and its consultants thoroughly reviewed enrollment projections, professional needs,
space utilization of the school's buildings and current education of employment
LCCC currently services roughly 16,000 credit and non-credit students
a year. Officials predict a surge in adult students in the next decade. The school
needs to be ready to prepare those students for the future of the ever-changing
work force, Swanger said.
Donohue and Swanger are hopeful the state will approve
its comprehensively devised plan. Because its too early to say what the state
will determine, it's too early to discuss exactly how much local funding would
be needed and from where it would come, they said.
"I think this project
addresses the future needs of this community. It's going through a change,"
he said. "This positions the college to address those changes. It's brining
tremendous valuable resources to this community."
FUND-RAISER IN NANTICOKE
Former-pro wrestler plans a smack-down for a cause
Hes been out of the professional
wrestling game for years, but Tom Rumsby still has some daunting arms.
to mention a Brooklyn accent strong enough to take down a full-grown man.
Hes 61 years old, but Rumsby, a.k.a. The Executioner, is getting ready to
return to the canvas to benefit his adopted town.
Saturday, Rumsby, with a
few of his colleagues from the sports earlier days, will take to the ring
as part of a fund-raiser.
The barrel-chested wrestling veteran recently moved
to Nanticoke to be closer to his daughter, and despite sounding like hed
be more at home in an episode of The Sopranos than this former coal
town, the place has grown on him, he said.
About 10 months ago, he struck
up a friendship with Tony Prushinski, president of the Honey Pot Volunteer Fire
Co., and the two began kicking around the possibility of the wrestling benefit.
Nanticoke will host an annual six-county firefighter convention this June, a weekend-long
affair that could cost $30,000.
They hope to raise money for the convention
as well as for fire companies in southeast Texas devastated by Hurricane Rita.
This area is so close and they believe in each other so much. I wanted to
be a part of that, Rumsby said. I wanted to help them.
helped pull together the three-event card that reads like a main card from 20
years ago. These are all guys from the 80s, said Chester Kopco,
a member of the fire company. Thats when my kids were small and we
used to watch all these guys.
This time, Kopco will do more than watch.
As one of the The 911 Bees the other half of the duo is fire
Chief Frank Wolfe Kopco will team up with the Honky Tonk Man to take on
401-pound Big Dave Duncan.
Kopco wouldnt divulge what costume, if any,
he would be wearing, but said he plans to don spandex.
and I work out at the Stars and Stripes Gym in Nanticoke, said Kopco, a
Apparently Rumsby has been showing him a few moves.
I showed him the ropes and he liked them, he said. I want to
show him the canvas. Thats what I want to show him.
wrestle in the third event, right after King Kong Bundy squares off against a
Wrestling with WWC champ Tommy Thunder who happens
to be his son Rumsby is billed as Executioner #1.
Wrestling since 1965,
Rumsby was the original Executioner. The characters black mask spawned a
number of anonymous successors, so to keep things straight, Rumsby tacks the #1
after his stage name.
As he put on his mask on a recent afternoon to throw
some holds on Kopco and mug for a photographer, he seemed displeased with its
It looks like a freakin Glad bag, he said.
Regionalism ... consolidation ... cooperation; any one
two-thirds of a century for the area's anthracite mining industry to suffocate
It has taken only one-third of a century since that demise for many
Luzerne County communities that hosted mines or served as the hometowns of miners
and their families to reach financial distress.
This city is one of those
Nanticoke is deep in debt and shows scant prospect of becoming fiscally
solvent. The $3.2 million in annual total tax income and fees can't fund necessary
services for some 10,000 people.
Late on a sunny January morning, Nanticoke's
new mayor, John Bushko, sits in his office and declares bluntly, "If we don't
partner with other towns shortly, we're done."
The $700,000 debt staring
Nanticoke in the face and the inability of the city to pave streets, among other
things, has Bushko and city council looking to make dramatic changes in the way
Nanticoke meets the needs of its people.
"We need regionalization or
consolidation," Bushko says. He cites the dismal failure of an initiative
seven years ago to start a Council of Governments in southern Wyoming Valley and
he sees a COG or selling services to other towns as patchwork steps. Real municipal
cooperation is needed, he says, and towns should not be afraid to explore all
Bushko has been on the phone and he expects to meet with Newport
Township officials soon. He sees Hanover Township as another possible partner.
The mayor, full of enthusiasm at age 61 after 12 years on city council, wants
to move and to move quickly. He laments towns eliminating or reducing police forces
and questions the wisdom of any town relying on state police. "They (state
police) might have one guy on duty at midnight and he might be in Buck Township.
How is he going to help you?" Bushko asks.
Bushko intends to foster a
good-neighbor policy. He said he would suggest to Plymouth Borough that the borough
and Nanticoke respond to calls in Plymouth Township, a distressed community that
has no police force, until the township gets back on its feet. "The people
deserve protection, and we might be next (in the same position)," he said.
The mayor pointed to the redundancy of fire stations lined up like peas in a pod:
Sugar Notch, Warrior Run, Askam in Hanover Township, Hanover section of Nanticoke,
and then into the city where several stations serve mainly as social clubs, at
a cost to the city of $6,000 each annually.
"Nanticoke has more fire
trucks (equipment vs. population) than New York City," Bushko said.
wonders why Hanover, Nanticoke and Newport can't regionalize and save money. Echoing
comments in this column, Bushko says old thinking must give way to new and change
can be a win-win-win-win for paid firefighters, volunteers, towns and the citizenry.
"Thank God for the volunteers," he says, seeing them as key to realignments.
"We need a plan," Bushko says. He and Nanticoke's council are drafting
a financial report that will be presented to the public in March. That report,
state early-intervention efforts to head off distressed status and partnering
concepts should be digested and debated, Bushko said.
"If we do nothing,
we're into Act 47 as a distressed community. We don't want that," he said.
Regionalization...consolidation...cooperation. Any one beats bankruptcy.
Golias, the retired managing editor of The Citizens' Voice, writes a weekly column
on regional issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nanticoke Area Notes
Firemen help a Texas firehouse
time and serving others is nothing new for members of the Honey Pot Fire Company.
The company's latest undertaking involves taking care of fellow firefighters.
Chet Kopco, assistant fire chief, came up with the idea to adopt a fire company
in Vida, Texas, that was hit hard by Hurricane Rita. Orange County Fire/Emergency
District 1 serves 200-square-miles with a population of 38,000 people.
town lost two fire companies because of the hurricane," Kopco said. "Not
only are these firefighters trying to rebuild their own lives, they are trying
to piece together a fire company."
Kopco is in the process of forming
a coalition to help with the fundraising. He already has received positive responses
from the Nanticoke Fire Department, Hanover Township Fire Department and Plymouth
and Newport Township are about to come aboard. "It's good we can all work
together," he added.
Kopco said he feels the system to help hurricane
victims have failed to some degree. After talking with the fire chief in Texas,
he thinks that FEMA and some of the insurance companies have not been channeling
moneys to the Orange County Fire Department, as they should have.
that is raised by the coalition will go directly to the firefighters in Texas
to help to rebuild their stations and buy the necessary equipment to make sure
residents are taken care of in emergencies.
It's wrestling for a good cause
The Honey Pot Fire Company is hosting the annual Six-County Volunteer Fireman's
Convention on June 22-24. This will be a great boast for the city because it will
bring some 2,500 firefighters together. They will attend workshops, meetings and
elect officers for the coming year.
For the city of Nanticoke, it will mean
fireworks, a huge carnival and a silent fireman's parade.
To raise funds for
the convention, the fire company is sponsoring a WWC Pro Wrestling Competition
on Jan. 21, at the Nanticoke Area High School gymnasium. During the event, firefighters
will take a collection for the fire company they have adopted in Texas. "The
gym holds 1,600 people," said Kopco. "This is a big event. Hopefully,
everyone will be generous and help fill our collection jars."
enjoy wrestling, you won't want to miss this one. The first event has the Honky
Tonk Man accompanied by partners 911Bs (Kopco and Frank Wolfe, who is the fire
chief of Honey Pot) versus former WWC wrestling champion, 400-pound Dave Duncan.
Frank works out daily, so the only thing he is a little worried about is getting
tossed around. "I hope Dave takes it easy on the throws," Wolfe quipped.
Kopco tells me he has been working out for the match, but that his wife is still
a little nervous. "Anything to raise money for a good cause," Kopco
The second match will have WWF/WWE superstar King Kong Bundy wrestling
Mystery Opponent and the third bout will feature WWC World Champion Tom Thunder
and Nanticoke's own Executioner #1 (can you guess who?) versus Mr. Motion and
The halftime show will feature 1993-94 world champion full-contact
karate expert Sam Hyder. "We want this to be family entertainment,"
Kopco said. "That's why even though it is a fundraiser, they decided to keep
the prices down compared to other places that host this type of event."
Tickets purchased in advance are $10 for bleacher seats and $15 for floor seating.
At the door the price is $12 for bleacher seats and $17 for floor. Refreshments
also will be available for purchase.
Tickets can be purchased at Stars and
Stripes Gym, Ruminski's Market, Marty's Pizza and Bonks Bar. For more information,
If you would like to make a donation to the fire company in
Vida, Texas, you can do so by sending it to the Orange County Fire Fund c/o Omega
Bank, 35 N. Main St., Nanticoke.
Developer unveils plans for Nanticoke
By Elizabeth Skrapits, Staff Writer
Many city officials and residents
have been asking to see downtown redevelopment drawings since the former municipal
authority board hired developer Impact PA in May 2005.
They got their wish
on Saturday, 11 days after the new board was appointed. Impact PA vice president
Greg Patryna outlined the proposed East Main Street project in the Greater Nanticoke
Area High School auditorium.
But city and state officials still have questions
about funding and whether the project will succeed for the long term in a changing
and competitive environment.
The project includes a 324-space parking garage,
renovations to the Kanjorski Center on East Main Street, and construction of more
than 44,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on East Main Street and
The Kanjorski Center, cited by city officials as an example of
poor planning, does not have parking for its employees. Plans call for the $7.7
million garage to be built with federal transportation funding.
Most of the
$23 million project will be offset by government grants, the rest, by equity in
the form of tax credits, Patryna said.
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke,
urged the municipal authority to get started on the project, telling the board
the money is in place.
But State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, cautioned
the board not to rush into anything.
He said $11 million of the $23 million
is not a sure thing. The state's total $4 million contribution to federal grants
is not a certainty, and $7 million in equity and other funding does not yet exist,
The municipal authority would own the parking garage and other properties,
Private ownership is preferable because the city needs tax revenue,
city councilman Bill O'Malley said.
His concern is that if the project fails,
the city will be responsible for maintenance, mortgage payments and other expenses.
And Nanticoke is not in a financial position to take on debt run up by the municipal
authority, he said.
Municipal authority interim solicitor Joseph Lach asked
what was done to assess existing business conditions and how the project will
fit in with them.
Impact PA president Robert Yoder's firm, the Yoder Group,
was hired by a former municipal authority board for the redevelopment project
in 2000. The firm pulled out.
A market study was done at that time, but isn't
being updated because the firm didn't see the need for the approximately $15,000
expense, Patryna said.
"The best market study we have is all the people
who are interested in moving in," Patryna said, a statement later echoed
Things have changed dramatically in the area since 2000, municipal
authority chairman Richard Butler said. Since then, Wilkes-Barre Township has
grown and Wilkes-Barre City has started revitalization efforts, and both municipalities
could be competition for Nanticoke in luring new businesses.
pointed out new developments in Nanticoke, such as the expansion of Luzerne County
Community College and the construction of the Whitney Pointe industrial and residential
park. He noted that Impact PA's contract requires the firm to commission a professional
market study to determine the marketability of the proposed project, so not doing
so could be a violation of the contract. Butler stressed that the municipal authority
should not build until there is a five-year plan in place, but Kanjorski said
there is no need for one.
Butler's concern was putting the municipal authority
and city at financial risk by constructing a building and being unable to find
tenants for it.
"We're not going to put any bricks and sticks up until
we get a signed lease," he said.
The municipal authority is already struggling
with the problem. The Kanjorski Center is 80 percent vacant since the Medicare
claims processing firm HealthNow moved to Dallas in October.
There is a lot
of interest in the Center by potential tenants, Patryna said. There are also what
he described as "major players" interested in leasing space in the new
buildings at $7 per square foot, he said.
After the meeting, Patryna said
Impact PA had work sessions every few weeks with the previous municipal authority,
and will do the same with the new board.
Nanticoke plan received coolly
company unveils its proposal for a downtown parking and commercial building.
Inc. has a $23.4 million plan to redevelop the citys downtown, city officials
New members of the city General Municipal Authority doubted
the Turbotville, Pa.-based companys plan existed and insisted the company
disclose it at Saturdays meeting.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke,
said the project would be free for city taxpayers, noting he has lined
up federal and state funding for it. Some officials, including state Rep. John
Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, expressed doubts it would cost the city nothing.
plan includes a new parking and commercial building along Broadway and East Main
and Arch streets, a pedestrian bridge over Broadway from the parking deck to the
Kanjorski Center, renovations to the Kanjorski Center and an expansion of the
Kanjorski Center along Arch Street.
The parking building would cost $10.7
million and includes: a 4½ deck parking garage for 324 vehicles; 29,800
square feet in retail space; 15,000 square feet in office space on the second
floor on Main Street; and 30,000 in potential commercial space.
and renovating the 32,000-square-foot Kanjorski Center would cost $12.7 million.
The center has 28,000 vacant square feet because HealthNow left in the fall and
relocated to Dallas.
The municipal authority, with the city redevelopment
authority, owns and operates the Kanjorski Center and is responsible for finding
tenants. It also would own the parking building.
The authority approved Impacts
contract in May. On Jan. 3, Mayor John Bushko and city council filled three of
five authority seats with new members.
Authority Chairman Richard Butler,
one of the new members, said he was pleased to see a conceptual plan, but he still
expressed doubts it would succeed. Butler said Impacts plan was based on
an obsolete marketing plan from 2000 and relies too much on government funding.
Butler said vacant buildings would cost the authority, which is going to run out
of funds in February because it lost $33,000 in monthly income when HealthNow
relocated. Butler added he doesnt want to build the proposed facilities
without signed leases.
Kanjorski said prospective tenants wont agree
to a lease if an empty lot is there. In the fall, three Main Street
buildings which housed Lechers Hardware, a coin shop, a coffee shop
and Galazin Cleaners were demolished.
You are not building the
World Trade Center in downtown Nanticoke, Kanjorski said.
said he didnt understand why the authority would turn down a free
Yudichak said later during the meeting: Its not
free money. Its taxpayer money, and you should use due diligence on how
you spend it.
The state legislator said the grants for the project are
based on contingencies and assumptions and said federal transportation grants
that total $7.2 million require the city to provide a 20 percent match. Yudichak
disputed Kanjorskis contention that the state would provide the match.
Yudichak also said Impacts contract required the company to conduct a new
marketing study. Impact representative Greg Patryna said the company will update
the 2000 marketing study when we are further along in the process.
Impact owner Robert Yoder was not at the meeting. Yoder has contributed $1,000
to Kanjorskis political committee since 1998, according to Federal Election
Also Saturday, former Solicitor Susan Maza said she and
former authority member were not aware of the authoritys work session on
Wednesday. During Wednesdays meeting, authority members said they were disappointed
Maza and the former members were not available for questioning.
Authority focuses on finances
Group prepares for
meeting with downtown developer as it faces dwindling cash balance.
Faced with running
out of money in February, new members of the General Municipal Authority on Wednesday
tried to get answers about authority finances.
But authority members were
disappointed that former authority members and former authority Solicitor Susan
Maza didnt attend the meeting and were not available for questioning. Wednesday
nights work session was held to prepare for Saturdays meeting.
Authority members expect developer Robert Yoder on Saturday to produce concept
and marketing plans for a Main Street redevelopment project, which began in the
fall when three buildings were demolished. Those buildings housed Lechers
Hardware, a coin shop, a coffee shop and Galazin Cleaners.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, warned the authority not to interfere
with the redevelopment plans because the city could lose more than $21 million
in federal and state grant funding. Kanjorski said plans will be based on unidentified
tenants who want to lease space in a new commercial building.
could have between 20,000 and 60,000 square feet. The project also includes a
parking garage for at least 300 vehicles and could be done by September 2007,
Authority member Ron Kamowski on Wednesday complained that
previous authority members approved a contract with Yoders company, Impact
Pennsylvania Inc. of Turbotville, Pa., without seeking bids for the redevelopment
project. Kamowski said the authority violated rules governing the use of a $1.5
million federal grant by not seeking bids.
Authority Chairman Richard Butler
complained about the contract terms. The authority agreed to pay Impact Pennsylvania
$75,000 and various percentages of the projects costs.
Mayor John Bushko
said the authority owns 11 properties in the city, including the Kanjorski Center
on Main Street. The authority is running out of money because it lost its anchor
tenant in the Kanjorski Center, officials said.
The authority lost about $33,000
in monthly revenue when HealthNow moved out of the Kanjorski Center in the fall
and relocated to the Twin Stacks Center on state Route 415 in Dallas. The authoritys
cash balance at the end of 2005 was $39,602.
Last week, Bushko and city council
appointed Butler, Kamowski and Henry Kellar to the authority. One seat remains
Chester Beggs is the only remaining member, and he was the only member
from last year to attend Wednesdays meeting.
Nanticoke officials discuss city project, money
By Elizabeth Skrapits, Staff Writer
Nanticoke General Municipal Authority members hoped to sit down with their predecessors
Wednesday night for a constructive informal work session, but none of the former
municipal authority members showed up.
So new board members Richard Butler,
Henry Kellar and Ron Kamowski opted to question Chester Beggs, the only former
authority member still on the board, about issues, including the East Main Street
project and the authority's financial troubles.
A letter sent Saturday by
former authority member Stephen Buchinski to city officials and the three new
members said he and former member Robert Bray would be "willing to meet with
the current members of the municipal authority in order to effectuate a smooth
However, Buchinski, Bray and former solicitor Susan Maza
did not attend, despite being invited, Butler said.
The intention was not
to pick on Beggs personally, interim solicitor Joseph Lach said. However, Lach
faulted previous boards for a lack of sound guidance and failure to "do their
due diligence" before getting involved with projects.
A major concern
of the new board is a contract with developer Robert Yoder of Impact Pennsylvania,
and whether he has concrete plans for the commercial building he is supposed to
construct at 108-120 East Main St.
The contract does not have a fee schedule
for Yoder's consulting work, meaning he can charge anything he wants, and requires
the municipal authority to pay him if he is fired without or even with cause,
among other provisions, Butler said.
Kamowski said the previous board signed
the contract with Yoder without having put it out for bid - a possible violation
of government rules for the grants the authority hopes to use for the building.
Beggs defended the decisions, saying former authority members were on a strict
timetable and feared losing a $1.5 million federal grant for the project.
The board is asking Yoder or his representative to attend a special meeting Saturday
to show his concept plans and financial and marketing studies to the public, Butler
On the financial issue, the 80-percent vacant Kanjorski Center on East
Main Street means the municipal authority is not getting enough rent to pay its
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know we're broke in February
unless we get a tenant," Butler said, adding that he did not think it likely.
Nanticoke Area Notes
Club provides a real 'boost'
is a true Trojan basketball fan.
Mr. Bavitz recently brought me up to speed
on the good work the Greater Nanticoke Area Basketball Booster Club has done over
the years. I'd like to share a piece of history with you today.
1986 by the late Milton Owens and several other men, the club's primary purpose
was to help coaches and players in any way.
"They wanted to help out
without interfering with the overall operation of the boys' basketball team,"
Knowing that sending young men, who had an interest in basketball,
to camp would enhance their playing skills, fundraisers were started and camps
became a part of the program and proved to be successful. Supporters of the girls'
basketball team soon became a part of the booster club. Currently, both clubs
work together to ensure players and coaches have what they need.
years, the club has provided such items as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts,
jackets, warm-up pants, etc. The club also purchases visual aids such as game
films, equipment that will improve a player's game and trophies for foul-shooting
contests, sponsored by the Nanticoke Recreation Group.
In 1987, the first
alumni basketball game, pitting players from previous years against each other,
was held. Today, it is known as meet-the-player's night. The game showcases the
talents of the present players. In 1988, the annual awards presentation banquet
was started to honor senior members of the team. Awards also are given at this
time for those who have been selected for outstanding basketball performances
throughout the year. This required some funding, so in 1988 the first edition
of a 12-page program book was printed. "The book is very popular and this
year we will have a book that contains as many as 60 pages, some in color,"
In 1990, Nanticoke was put on the map when the girls' basketball
team, coached by Rose Volpicelli, captured a state title. The booster club was
proud to contribute toward the purchase of championship rings. The club also has
produced the Wall of Fame, plaques that hang in the vestibule of the Sylvester
Bozinski gymnasium. It is a way to pay tribute to those players, boys and girls,
who at the conclusion of their high school careers earned 1,000 or more points.
It just didn't seem right to recognize only one of the state championship teams,
so in 1993 the booster club invited players and coaches of the Nanticoke Rams
basketball team that won a state title in 1961 to a dinner and awards presentation.
"It was a very nice affair," said Bavitz. "We had players from
all over the U.S. attend."
One player, Joseph Shepela, couldn't attend,
but he wanted to remember his alma mater. In 1994, he decided to offer an annual
scholarship of $1,000 for a senior boy and girl basketball player who displayed
academic excellence. The award has now grown to $1,500. The booster club acts
as a liaison between Shepela and the school district.
Yes, the Nanticoke Basketball
Booster Club is alive and well because of men like Bavitz and Joseph Czech, who
also has been a member of the club since its inception. "I really enjoy being
a member of the club," said Bavitz. "It's good when we can make a difference
in the lives of young people. We need to keep them involved in positive things
in their lives." Spoken like a true champion.
The booster club is always
looking for new members. You can sign up at any home basketball game or by contacting
Nick Pucino, membership chairman, at 735-2970. Meetings are held the third Wednesday
of each month at Alden Manor.
Children's programs at the Mill
Cindy Higgins, children's program director at Mill Memorial Library, reminds children
and their parents that winter sessions for children's programs begin Jan. 18.
Preschool classes will be held Wednesdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. from Jan. 18
to Feb. 15 and March 1 to April 12. Monday night programs for those in preschool
to third grade will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Jan. 30 to April 3.
Mash, library volunteer, will hold a program for toddlers and their parent or
caregiver on Mondays at 10:30 a.m. from Jan. 23 to March 6.
For more information,
call the Mill at 735-3030.
Levandowski a collegiate scholar
College Misericordia graduate Tiffany Ann Levandowski has been named to serve
as a collegiate scholar in the 2006 International Scholar Laureate Program Delegation
on Anthropology and Archeology. Selection for the program is based upon exemplary
leadership and outstanding academic performance during college years.
is a 2001 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School. She is the daughter
of Michael and Connie Levandowski of Nanticoke and the granddaughter of Bernard
and Josephine Levandowski of Wapwallopen and Shirley Savage and the late Walter
Savage of Plains.
Authority, Kanjo feud in Nanticoke
U.S. Rep. Paul E.
Kanjorski on Saturday warned new members of the city General Municipal Authority
not to interfere with redevelopment plans for Main Street because the city could
lose more than $21 million in grant funding.
Im not stopping this
from working, said Richard Butler, who became the new authority chairman
Butler said he wants developer Robert Yoder to produce conceptual
and marketing plans for the Main Street project, which is required in his companys
contract with the authority.
It is done, said Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke.
But never produced, Butler said.
Because it is not final,
Kanjorski said the final plan will be based on the tenants
in a new commercial building, which could have between 20,000 and 60,000 square
feet. The project also includes a parking garage for at least 300 vehicles and
could be done by September 2007, Kanjorski said.
The project resulted in the
demolition of three Main Street buildings, which housed Lechers Hardware,
a coin shop, a coffee shop and Galazin Cleaners. The demolition was done last
My concern is were flying by the seat of our pants,
Authority members scheduled another meeting for this coming Saturday
to see Yoders plans and drawings. Yoder or a representative of his Turbotville,
Pa.-based company was not at Saturdays meeting.
Kanjorski, who spoke
on Yoders behalf, warned authority members not to disclose in public the
names of prospective tenants or terms of prospective leases because it could kill
Yoder has contributed $1,000 to Kanjorskis political committee
since 1998, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Kanjorski said it was unfair to blame the authority losing HealthNow as the anchor
tenant of the authority-operated Kanjorski Center on Main Street. In the fall,
the company relocated to the Twin Stacks Center on state Route 415 in Dallas.
Kanjorksi said HealthNow was no longer a viable anchor tenant because it was going
to lose a contract to process Medicare claims. The federal government officially
gave the contract to another company Friday, Kanjorski said.|
authority on Saturday also appointed Joe Lach as acting solicitor because Susan
Maza resigned as solicitor. She is responsible for turning over authority records
On Tuesday, Mayor John Bushko and city council appointed Butler,
Henry Kellar and Ron Kamowski to the authority. One seat remains vacant, and Chester
Beggs is the only remaining member.
HealthNow jobs uncertain
Skrapits, Staff Writer
The loss of a federal contract means an uncertain
future for one of the Back Mountain's newest and largest employers.
which moved to the Twin Stacks Center on Route 415 in Dallas Borough in October,
employs 175 people. The New York-based Medicare claims processing company was
notified Friday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that
it failed to receive a new five-year-option, $58 million contract.
of the federal contract makes the fate of HealthNow's local facility unclear.
"It's so preliminary right now for us to state how this could affect HealthNow
and all our employees in Dallas," said HealthNow communications director
Karen Merkel-Liberatore. "It will certainly have an effect, but at this point
we don't know what to expect."
Federal guidelines require Medicare administrative
contracts to be bid every five years. Liberatore did not know why HealthNow, which
she said submitted a "solid" bid proposal, did not get the renewal.
In 2000, BlueCross and BlueShield of New York, operating as HealthNow, took over
the federal contract from United Health Care, which operated a claims processing
facility in the Kanjorski Center in Nanticoke. That contract, which expires June
31, 2006 required HealthNow to hire the United Health Care employees.
Health Care, based in Minnesota, no longer operates a claims processing facility
in the region. Now that National Heritage Insurance Company has the contract,
there is no such guarantee, U.S. Rep Paul Kanjorski, D-11, said on Saturday.
A fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said National
Heritage operations would be headquartered in Biddeford, Maine, and Hingham, Mass.
The federal agency is not requiring the company to offer jobs to HealthNow employees.
Approximately 278 HealthNow employees, including those in Dallas, are potentially
When HealthNow moved from the Kanjorski Center to Twin Stacks, company
officials signed a three-year lease contingent on the federal contract being renewed,
said attorney Lynn Banta, owner of Twin Stacks.
A huge amount of work had
to be done to modify space at Twin Stacks for HealthNow, Banta said, adding that
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had to approve the facility and the
lease before it was signed.
In Nanticoke, the city's municipal authority,
which is responsible for the Kanjorski Center, spent more than $200,000 to accommodate
HealthNow, including hiring professionals to draw up plans for an expansion that
never materialized, Kanjorski said.
But he claims he was not upset when HealthNow
left his district for that of U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-10.
a lot of ado about nothing," Kanjorski said. "They (HealthNow) were
not considered a likely candidate for this contract for the past six months. That's
why it didn't bother me."
He said it was "grossly unfair" of
HealthNow not to tell the municipal authority it might not get the federal contract.
The Kanjorski Center remains 80 percent vacant. By contrast, Banta said Twin Stacks
has had at least 90 percent occupancy since she and her husband Richard Haas developed
the center from the former Natona textile mill in 1999.
Finding new tenants
if HealthNow leaves won't be a problem, she said. Banta, as president of the Back
Mountain Business and Professional Association, is more concerned about the impact
on the community from the loss of a large employer.
"We will just have
to wait and see what happens. It would certainly be a blow to Twin Stacks, and
a blow to the Back Mountain," she said. "We would hate to see them go,
and we would do everything we could to work with anyone who had the contract to
make sure that, as a business community, we were able to stay healthy."
Nanticoke restaffs development board
The municipal authority has been accused of not making enough information public.
Big changes could
be in store for the city General Municipal Authority, which has been under fire
for not having an anchor tenant for the Kanjorski Center and not having a East
Main Street redevelopment plan.
The five-person authority has three new members
and one vacancy. Chester Beggs remains on the authority.
A new mayor and three
new city councilmen looking for change appointed the three new authority members
We need to evaluate and start over, said Richard Butler,
a mortgage banker and new authority member, who joins Ron Kamowski and Henry Keller,
also freshly appointed.
Kamowski, president of K&K Electric in Nanticoke,
said the authority will begin operating more openly and cooperatively.
will definitely make as much information as we can public, Kamowski said.
We will keep executive sessions down to an extreme minimum, personnel issues
and certain financial contract negotiations.
The authority next meets
Joe Lach, a founder of the South Valley Partnership, which is interested
in economic development in Nanticoke, Plymouth Township and Newport Township,
said the municipal authority has been very secretive.
Susan Maza did not return calls Tuesday or Wednesday.
At Decembers authority
meeting, officials failed to disclose any type of spending plan for 2006, Lach
The authority lost more than $30,000 per month in revenue when HealthNow,
a Medicare claims processing company, pulled out of the Kanjorski Center, Kamowski
Lach blames the authority for HealthNows decision to relocate
to Dallas in the fall. The company had been the primary tenant in the center since
State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, said the city needs a solid
He said he is optimistic new authority members will be
able to use a comprehensive, regional plan, which will soon be completed by the
South Valley Partnership.
Lach said the authority failed to disclose its plans
for East Main Street before recently demolishing three buildings. There was some
general talk of constructing a 60,000-square-foot office building, Lach said.
Kamowski said he wants to question developer Robert Yoder, who has a redevelopment
contract with the authority, about the East Main Street project during Saturdays
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, said criticism of the municipal
authority is undeserved. He said the authority has performed extraordinarily
well and is responsible for securing federal grant money, including $1.5
million for the East Main Street project.
Politicizing authority business
will hurt Nanticokes redevelopment efforts, Kanjorski said.
Municipal Authority meets at 10 a.m. Saturday
at Nanticoke City Hall at 15
E. Ridge St.
Nanticoke mayor, council see reason for optimism
By Elizabeth Skrapits,
The city begins
2006 with a new mayor, a youthful new council, and a reorganized municipal authority.
Mayor John Bushko and new Councilmen Brent Makarczyk and James Litchkofski were
sworn in by Luzerne County Judge Thomas Burke Tuesday morning in front of a crowd
of relatives and residents.
Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker gave
the oath of office to re-elected tax collector Albert Wytoshek and controller
Minutes later, Bushko resigned as councilman and nominated
William O'Malley to complete the remaining two years of his term.
passed 4-1. Councilman Joseph Dougherty voted against it because he said it took
him by surprise.
"I knew they were going to appoint somebody. But I should
have been part of the discussion," Dougherty explained later. "What
we need is open dialogue between mayor and council. No one should be left in the
O'Malley, 38, ties with Dougherty, also 38, as oldest member of
council. Litchkofski is 35 and Makarczyk is the youngest at 28.
town's going to go, that's what you want - new ideas, young ideas," Bushko
said. "This council isn't going to be business as usual."
who has a master's degree in business administration and is self-employed at a
document-shredding firm, was building manager for the Kanjorski Center until his
resignation a few months ago.
Bushko said he chose him because of his business
experience and financial background, qualities the new mayor also sought in his
municipal authority appointees.
Henry Keller, retired after 30 years in management
positions at the former RCA Corp., takes the seat of Mike Borowski who resigned
in March. Richard Butler, a banker with real estate experience, replaces Robert
Bray, and Ron Kamowski replaces Steve Buchinski. Both terms expired Dec. 31.
Kamowski owns 154 Market St., where HealthNow had additional offices before the
Medicare claims-processing firm moved from the Kanjorski Center on Main Street
to Dallas Borough at the end of October.
"The first six months are going
to be tough. Everybody's flying blind," Butler said. "You've got downtown
being torn down with no plan, you've got the Kanjorski Center empty ... Our biggest
task will be developing a plan, and it has to be long-term. We're not going to
solve all the past errors overnight."
Council and Bushko voted to re-appoint
William Kearney as Nanticoke representative to the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.
The previous council and Mayor John Toole appointed Whittaker to the seat, amid
controversy because Kearney's term had not expired. The sanitary authority did
not seat Whittaker at its last meeting, Bushko said.
Solicitor Bernard Kotulak
said it will be up to the sanitary authority's attorney to determine which appointment
Nanticoke changes political leadership
The municipal and
housing boards get new members as city council reorganizes.
A new mayor and three
new city council members took power Tuesday and began steering the city government
in a new direction.
Some of their first actions involved appointing new people
to serve on the municipal and housing authorities.
We need new blood
all over, said John Bushko, who resigned his council seat Tuesday to begin
a four-year term as mayor.
Bushko was elected mayor Nov. 8. City Councilmen
Jim Litchkofski and Brent Makarczyk, who ran as Bushkos running mates in
last years Democratic primary election, also were elected Nov. 8.
Mayor John Toole and his council running mates were defeated in last years
Bushko, Litchkofski and Makarczyk on Tuesday picked William
OMalley to serve on council during the final two years of Bushkos
OMalley, 38, is a lifelong resident of Nanticoke. He is
self-employed with a background in accounting and finance.
Dougherty cast the only vote against OMalley.
This is the first
I heard of this appointment, Dougherty said.
Before the vote, Controller
Kevin Coughlin suggested council request applications from city residents interested
in the council seat.
Thank you for those comments. I made the motion,
Coughlin and Treasurer Albert Wytoskek were also sworn into
office Tuesday. In November, they were elected to four-year terms.
and then-Mayor John Toole appointed Coughlin, a microfilm technician in the Luzerne
County Prothonotarys Office, as city controller in February 2004, amid controversy.
He is the son-in-law of Stanley Glazenski, a former Nanticoke mayor and retired
county deputy clerk of courts.
Bushko on Tuesday nominated three people to
the city municipal authority Richard Butler, Ronald Kamowski and Henry
Kellar and three others to the housing authority David Hornlein,
Josephine Bashista and Christina Butrick. They were all confirmed.
of the municipal authority are upset the authority approved the demolition of
three East Main Street buildings without a plan to replace them. That demolition
was done last month.
Critics are also upset that HealthNow, the primary tenant
in the authority-managed Kanjorski Center, relocated to Dallas. HealthNow is a
Medicare claims processing company.
Bushko said of the new municipal authority
appointees: Theyre businessmen. They have knowledge about downtown,
and they will go out and pursue businesses.
Nanticoke reverses sewer board vote
The new councils
decision puts incumbent William Kearney back in the position.
District Judge Donald
Whittakers bid to serve on the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority board suffered
a setback Tuesday.
City council and Mayor John Bushko voted 4-1 to reappoint
William Kearney to the authority board, reversing last months 4-1 vote to
replace Kearney with Whittaker.
The four votes in December included votes
from three lame ducks Mayor John Toole and council members Bill Brown and
Bushko voted against Whittakers appointment in December
and took over as mayor Tuesday. Also Tuesday, William OMalley was appointed
to serve in Bushkos seat, and Jim Litchkofski and Brent Makarczyk began
serving the council terms they won in the Nov. 8 election.
Dougherty, the only council member left from last year, voted against Kearneys
reappointment on Tuesday.
He questioned if council could reappoint Kearney
after voting to replace him last month.
Solicitor Bernard Kotulak said authority
solicitor Tony Panaway is responsible for deciding which appointment is valid.
Panaway said the authority typically defers to municipalities regarding appointments.
The authority has 17 board members from 14 charter municipalities. Wilkes-Barre
has three members.
Whittaker declined comment, a worker in his office said
I dont think he ever should have been there, Bushko
said Tuesday. Change is good, but not all change is good.
month, Bushko said Whittakers appointment was not legal because Kearneys
term on the authority didnt expire until Dec. 31.
During the Dec. 20
sanitary authority meeting, Whittaker sat in the back of the meeting room as Kearney
represented Nanticoke on the authority board.
Kearney, owner of a funeral
home on South Prospect Street in Nanticoke, said Tuesday he asked council members
to reappoint him.
We are doing a lot of new things, Kearney said.
I have been there 20 years. I want to finish what we started.
The authority has been providing wastewater treatment since 1962.
December appointment was also disputed because Whittaker doesnt live in
the city. Whittaker lives in Newport Township but can represent the city on the
authority because he maintains a business a magisterial office in
the city, Kotulak said.
Luzerne County is budgeted to pay the city $12,500
next year to rent space in city hall for Whittakers magisterial court operation.
His office handles civil and criminal matters for residents of Nanticoke, the
borough of Plymouth and the townships of Newport and Plymouth. Whittaker was re-elected
to his post last year.
Municipal finances among worries
for new mayors
By Tom Long , Staff Writer
Pittston get new leaders today; Kingston's Haggerty returns for third term
mayors begin new terms today in large Luzerne County municipalities. Two new men
take office hoping to solve their cities' financial troubles, while Kingston Mayor
James Haggerty plans to extend a history of balanced budgets into his third term.
Kingston, Nanticoke and Pittston all swear in mayors today.
Nanticoke and Pittston, the entering mayors didn't hesitate in listing their top
priority for 2006.
"Finances are going to be the main thing," said
new Pittston Mayor Joe Keating. "Without money, you can't do anything."
"Get the budget in order," said Nanticoke's Mayor John Bushko. "Get
the city running like a business."
In sharp contrast to many towns and
cities in the region, Kingston starts the year without major financial headaches
- and with a $1 million surplus.
Employment and real estate values there are
strong, said Haggerty - whose third term could be cut short if the attorney succeeds
in his run to replace retiring state Sen. Charles D. Lemmond Jr.
has a municipal manager and mayor is only a part-time job, Haggerty said his campaign
wouldn't interfere with city operations.
Kingston's government relies mostly
on income tax, not property tax, so the city's revenue grows with wages.
and Nanticoke have struggled with largely stagnant revenue as property values
stay flat and population slides.
"2005 will be our eighth consecutive
balanced budget," Haggerty said. "Our financial picture going forward
is very bright."
Bushko, however, realizes he will have major fiscal
worries in Nanticoke.
"We have to get more revenue coming in," he
The new mayor called regionalization "a top priority," and
hopes it might solve some problems for struggling, small towns.
to withering funds, Keating is worried Pittston could have major problems because
of mine subsidence.
Pittston's Mill Street suffered a collapse Dec. 23, and
street could need a new sewer system. The city can't afford it, Keating
said, and he hopes to attain state and federal funds.
Area Notes - By: Pam Urbanski
New mayor lists priorities
With the start of a New Year, the
City of Nanticoke will have a new mayor and three new councilmen.
John Bushko will be sworn in as Nanticoke's new mayor. I asked Bushko what some
of his priorities will be when it comes to the city.
I found him to be upbeat
about working with council and he wants to make the people a priority "All
of us, myself and council are servants of the people," Bushko said. "We
should always be mindful of that first and foremost."
tells me he would like to make the city staff members more accessible to the people.
"I think we need to take a look at possibly keeping open during lunch hour
since that's the only time some people can' take care of bills or have questions
answered. He said he expects all city employees to be helpful and cordial. "We're
here to serve."
Bushko plans on meeting with all department heads and
keeping the lines of communication open. "We have good people in our police,
fire and street departments, he added. "I think we all need to help each
Finances are Bushko's top priority He plans to watch how
money is spent and wants more accountability when it comes to money in accounts.
"I think all department heads have done a good job in keeping expenses down,
but I think we have to do more."
He also believes that financial reports
are too general and would like to have a better idea of what is in each account.
Taking money from one account to cover a bill in another has been necessary and
done frequently "I think we need to make sure that when we borrow money from
one account it gets put back into that account."
The conditions of the
streets also are a concern for Bushko.
"We need to keep improving our
roads and repairing and paving as many as possible. He would like to utilize the
regional equipment center and have city departments do the work. "I think
we can save some
money that way," he added.
He allso intends to
ask for job descriptions from city employees. "I think we need to know who
responsible for what and how they are accomplishing their duties."
Bushko also intends to develop a relationship with Luzerne County Community College.
He said the college is a great asset to the city. "That facility is a gem
in our own backyard. It's a great institution that we have neglected for too long."
The new mayor plans on working toward recreation for all residents. "The
project in Lower Broadway will really be a boost for the city. They are doing
good work there." He hopes the new development being built by Ken Pollock
will add to the tax rolls. The new development planned for seniors on Kosciuszko
Street is also a plus.
Bushko is looking forward to working with council.
"Joe Dougherty, Brent Makarczyk and James Litchkofski are smart and hardworking
individuals. I think we will work well together," he concluded.
Fire at Oplinger Towers
Fire broke out
in an elderly high-rise apartment complex Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.
According to the Nanticoke Fire Department:
The fire started in the bedroom
of apartment 526 in Oplinger Towers at about 2:30 p.m. All residents were taken
to a day room on the first floor while firefighters battled the blaze.
fire was put out quickly. The bedroom of the apartment sustained heavy fire damage
and there is smoke and water damage in other parts of the apartment.
said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it appears to be
accidental. Emergency crews from Hanover and Edwardsville assisted.
NEW YEAR - "2006"
of the Times Leader's Sports Stories of 2005
Greater Nanticoke Area head football coach Len Butczynski resigned from his alma
mater after consecutive 1-9 seasons and a dwindling roster. Two months later another
Trojans alum, Bob Colatosti, was hired to replace him.
Greater Nanticoke Area junior Aimee Bono set a state record when she scored 11
goals in a 15-0 soccer win over Bishop OReilly on May 4.
Greater Nanticoke Area (Class 2A) and Bishop OReilly (Class A) won District
2 girls volleyball titles on Nov. 3.