Glory days: Nanticoke
Area celebrates 1989-90 state title run
Matt Bufano - Citizens
Imagine: Its March 1990 and you
are the pride of Nanticoke.
The fanfare is evident by the oversold gyms on
the road, and the decorated homes and storefronts in your city of 12,267. You
receive fan mail and are asked to autograph pieces of merchandise bearing your
school name and, sometimes, your own.
You reward the frenzied fandom with
what the entire city joins you in celebrating: a state championship.
was an unbelievable experience, one that I will never forget, said Lori
Scally Zaleski, one of five senior starters for the 1989-90 Nanticoke Area Trojanettes
girls basketball team. The gym was always packed. There would be a line
of fans outside the gym, waiting to get tickets for playoff games.
off the bus before the Eastern Final at Pottsvilles Martz Hall, Holly Kozlowski
Udzella one of the teams four 1,000-point scorers recalled
being greeted by an aisle of people five rows deep on each side.
What followed that crazed scene was the Trojanettes beating North Schuylkill,
80-68, and earning a place in the state championship game against Beaver Falls.
Then, behind the 36-point performance of future St. Bonaventure Hall of Famer
Casey Comoroski Hunt, Nanticoke Area defeated Beaver Falls, 77-67, for the PIAA
Class AAA title and a perfect 30-0 record.
No Class AAA boys or girls team
from the Wyoming Valley Conference has since won a state title.
One of the
all-time great teams produced in Luzerne County scholastics, the Trojanettes will
be honored at a boys-girls doubleheader Wednesday against North Schuylkill at
Nanticoke Area as part of a 25th anniversary celebration.
Admission is $4
for adults and $2 for students, and the celebration will begin after the boys
game that tips off at 6 p.m.
In hindsight, members of the team are still amazed
but more aware of what they meant to the community.
not until years later that I have realized the impact we had on our community
and the accomplishments we made, Comoroski Hunt said. Those memories
are just as vivid today as they were 25 years ago.
On the court
The 1989-90 lineup could be pegged as something of a team of destiny.
starting five Comoroski Hunt, Scally Zaleski, Kozlowski Udzella, Ellen
Bartuska and Holly Ryncavage first achieved great success by winning the
WVC eighth-grade title.
I think we gelled together, Scally Zaleski
said. We played together for a long time from when we were in seventh grade.
Everyone had a role. It wasnt that one person did everything. We all had
a role within that team, and we all respected those roles. We looked to help and
support each other.
Then-head coach Rose Volpicelli and assistant Elaine
DeLuca knew, at the state level, their team with an average height of about 5-foot-6
would be undersized.
So, as far as a style of play, it was scrappy.
Trojanettes pressed and forced turnovers on defense, played streetball
and improvised on offense, and fundamentals were paramount every step of the way.
It didnt hurt, too, that preparation started by playing against a second-team
that could have been plenty successful on its own.
We were playing against
the second-best team in the state day-in and day-out (at practice), Kozlowski
Goals were set prior to each game, among them: shooting 80 percent
from the free-throw line and 50 percent from the floor (not including layups),
and keeping the opposition to less than 50 points.
More often than not, those
goals were reached and the Trojanettes scored 100-plus points five times.
The always-lopsided scores did produce some vitriol against Nanticoke Area, but
Volpicelli who always preferred the accolades and positive recognition
go to her players took the brunt of the criticism.
She got beat
up pretty bad (in the press) and she never let it deter her. Shed tell us,
Dont let it bother you, recalled Bartuska, who today works
at the Philadelphia Zoo. The work ethic that she instilled in us, to this
day, its so much of who I am. I havent played basketball in years,
but those little things that she coached us on the fundamentals, the mental
game, how we conduct ourselves that has translated into so much of my life
that I owe to her and her coaching abilities on and off the court.
the time the state final rolled around, the Trojanettes were an unstoppable force
and led Beaver Falls at the end of each quarter.
High drama came in the final
seconds, though, when a Beaver Falls player grabbed Ryncavage by the hair and
pulled her to the floor.
A double-technical foul was called, and Ryncavage
bruised ribs, chipped teeth and all made every free throw.
The day after winning the state final at a sold out Hersheypark Arena,
the Trojanettes came home to a kings welcome.
Chet Zaremba, Vice president
of the Nanticoke Historical Society, was then working as a sergeant with the state
police. From inside his marked police car, he met the Trojanettes bus on
Interstate 81 and escorted the Trojanettes into the streets of Nanticoke, where
a massive parade was forming.
Everybody felt that they were part of
what was going on, said Zaremba, who recalled former Nanticoke mayor Walter
Sokolowski and U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski riding alongside him in the parade.
Citizens Voice news reporter Bob Kalinowski, a life resident of Nanticoke,
remembers attending every game that season with his aunt and grandfather. They
went to cheer on his cousin and team member Lisa Przekop.
Even as a
child, I knew I was witnessing something special, Kalinowski said. Those
girls were absolutely my idols growing up. After they won the state championship,
they became legends and were treated like rock stars. It was a magical time. That
team brought immense pride to our city.
The Trojanettes last hurrah
came before a standing-room-only crowd at Bishop Hoban High School for the WVC
Senior All-Star Classic.
Each member of the starting-five played, but not
at the same time, until all five were inserted with 2:01 left.
a really packed house, and they got a standing ovation, maybe three minutes,
said former Citizens Voice sports editor Neil Corbett, who hailed the Trojanettes
as perhaps the best basketball team he came across in the WVC. It was incredible
Some team members still live in the area. Some moved away but
get back often.
Today, they are still recognized as members of the historic
It was 25 years ago and people still talk about it. Thats
how important it was to the city, said Bartuska, the center. Looking
back in retrospect its amazing to see how it brought the whole town, whole
Nanticoke Area holds reorganization meeting
Susan Bettinger - Times
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board held
its reorganization meeting last week.
Leonard Olzinski was sworn in as new
board member. Kenneth James, Tony Prushinski and Ryan Verazin, all who were re-elected
to their seats, were also sworn in.
The following re-elections were also made:
Verazin as board president, James as vice president, Prushinski as secretary,
and Gary Smith as treasurer.
Attorney Vito Deluca remains as the districts
solicitor through 2016 at an annual salary of $22,000.
During the regular
Superintendent Ron Grevera announced that the district
received a $9,000 grant from the Workforce Investment Board. The grant will be
used for a program that will help high school students with career choices and
The emphasis will be on specific fields: health, business and
finance and manufacturing. In addition to exploring the opportunities associated
with these fields, students will receive lessons in interviewing skills and resume
Grevera said that the program will take place at the close of
the close year.
Grevera also expressed his concern over the lack of a state
The district is running on local property taxes, Grevera
said. He added that the district is being careful to only utilize what is necessary
to keep the schools running.
The board approved the appointment of Matthew
Landmesser as a member of the board. The appointment was made due to the recent
resignation of Bob Raineri.
Ken James of the Athletic Department announced
that the GNA Winter Sports Flex-Pass is available to students for $10 and $30
for adults. The Flex-Pass can be used for boys and girls basketball and wrestling.
It is good for admission to 10 events in any combination. Flex-passes are on sale
at the games or at the Athletic Office.
The board accepted a donation of $150
from Mary Swigonski, MaryLou Ramsey, Ruth Ann and David Balla, Jean, Michael,
and Matthew McCloskey. The donation was given to the GNA Elementary Library in
memory of Regina Angle.
The first board meeting of 2016 will be at 7 p.m.
on Jan. 14.
Senate passes act named for slain Nanticoke correctional officer
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
His name will live on.
the name of slain correctional officer Eric Williams from Nanticoke, the United
States Senate on Wednesday passed a bill mandating that workers in the most dangerous
federal prisons must be armed with pepper spray for protection.
divided chamber united together and approved the Eric Williams Correctional
Officer Protection Act of 2015 by unanimous consent.
father, Don, happened to be watching C-Span on Wednesday afternoon at his home
in Nanticoke when senators began discussions on the bill named for his son, who
was killed by an inmate nearly three years ago.
Were happy there
will be something so lasting in our sons name and so needed that will have
the ability to save lives, Don Williams said shortly after the vote.
Don Williams said hes left to wonder if his son would still be alive if
he had pepper spray on him.
Thats hard to say. Id like to
believe it could have made a difference, Don Williams said. Pepper
spray and another officer, and there absolutely would have been another outcome.
Williams, 34, was working alone in a unit housing about 130 inmates when he was
attacked, beaten and stabbed to death at nightly lockdown on Feb. 25, 2013, at
U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan in Wayne County.
Prosecutors say an inmate, a
gang assassin already jailed for murder, stabbed Williams more than 125 times
with a crude, hand-made knife after ambushing the officer. Williams was equipped
with just a radio, keys and handcuffs.
The bill passed Wednesday authorizes
correctional officers, and all other employees required to respond to inmate emergencies
in federal medium-security and higher prisons, to carry pepper spray.
Williams, who has vowed to fight for correctional officer safety the rest of his
life, called the Senate vote a great start to reforms that should
focus more on employee safety than the coddling of convicts.
to be totally unarmed, it was ludicrous, Don Williams said. I cant
believe all we had to go through for people to see this. Its common sense.
At the time of Williams murder, correctional officers at seven of the 122
prisons in the federal system were equipped with pepper spray as part of a pilot
Three days after the Williams slaying, the federal Bureau of Prisons
expanded the pilot program to include all 17 of the nations penitentiaries,
which are the highest security level prisons in the federal system, like USP Canaan.
In the years since Williams murder, the bureau continually expanded the
program to eventually include all staff exposed to inmates in all high- and medium-security
prisons, or 65 total facilities.
Wednesdays legislation brings the expansion
closer to becoming law. If passed in the House of Representatives, as expected,
it will move to the desk of President Barack Obama for approval.
Bob Casey, D-Pa. who introduced the Williams bill along with Pennsylvanias
other senator, Pat Toomey argued on the Senate floor that correctional
officers are law enforcement just like police and deserve to be armed with something
to protect themselves.
We have an obligation to keep safe the men and
women who serve in our correctional facilities. The tragic murder of Eric Williams
illustrates the risks they take every day just by going to work, Casey said
in a statement after the vote.
The bill keeps the memory of Williams alive
and is a tribute to the dedicated advocacy of his family, Casey said.
Casey had been fighting to arm correctional officers with pepper spray as far
back as October 2011, but leadership in the Bureau of Prisons had been long hesitant
about issuing pepper spray or weapons to staff, arguing those items could be seized
by inmates and used against staff.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty
against Jesse Con-ui, 38, the gang assassin accused of killing Williams. He remains
jailed at ADX Florence, the supermaximum security prison in Colorado known as
the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
After Wednesdays vote, the
union that represented Williams and his colleagues applauded the law.
staff, day to day, work with some of the worst offenders our society has ever
produced, said Eric Young, national president of the Council of Prisons
Local. Our colleagues deserve to feel safe in their workplace, and we are
thrilled that this passage permanently ensures a means of self-defense to all
of our correctional staff working at medium or higher security prisons.
Toys R Us gift card meant for Nanticoke grade school
students put up for sale online
Was intended to provide presents for economically
Toys R Us gift card paid for from donations and intended to provide
presents for economically disadvantaged grade school students at Greater Nanticoke
Area appeared for sale on at least one Facebook page, prompting swift response
from a district employee and stinging rebukes from online observers.
noticed the lady was selling the gift card shortly after picking up the donation
for my son, Tricia Shilanskis said. I immediately took screen shots
and sent them to the secretary at the elementary center, making them aware of
Shilanskis said the district told her the number on the
card matched one of those handed out by the district. Shortly after that, an employee
from the district identifying herself as Bonnie Dembowski posted a warning urging
others not to buy the cards. These cards were given to you as a Christmas
drive donation for your children, she wrote.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera
confirmed Shilanskis account, and said he hoped the incident would not mar
an otherwise worthy program conducted annually by the district.
of the cards source was posted, several people who had expressed an interest
quickly rescinded, and the criticism commenced.
This is pathetic,
one person wrote.
My daughter and other mothers would be so grateful
to receive such a wonderful gift to help at Christmas, another commented.
My children received this last year and it was a great help
where (sic) unfortunately denied this year, and then I see someone selling theirs
when it could have been returned and given to another family, a third offered.
Shilanskis stressed she did not forward the screen shot to the district as
a revengeful thing, but felt the attempted sale was inappropriate. When
you donate something, you dont take that for granted. You dont take
(the cards) knowing you are going to sell them. I think its a shame,
The post was removed from the site, NEPA Rummage Sale, and is no
longer available. There was no response to a message sent to a person listed as
one of the pages administrators.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said
it was the first time he has seen such an attempt in his two years with the district,
and it was a single bad mark on a program that has helped hundreds annually.
According to state data, 62 percent of the students in Greater Nanticoke Area
schools are economically disadvantaged the third highest rate in Luzerne
County behind Hazleton Area and Wilkes-Barre Area.
Grevera said for years
the district has raised money through donations from teachers, vendors, residents
and by holding events, all to help low-income students or others facing hardships
that year. I gave $200 myself, he noted.
The district also holds
food drives to contribute to the local food bank, he added. In all cases, its
donations only; no money comes from the district budget.
Teachers choose students
from kindergarten to sixth grade as possible recipients, and gift cards or other
items are provided until the money runs out, Grevera said. Typically, he added,
they start by picking one student from each homeroom, and usually have some left
to give out additional gifts.
Abuse of gift cards was a concern, Grevera added.
The district switched last year from giving grocery store gift cards to cards
for Toys R Us and Babies R Us because, I was worried
people might use the grocery cards to buy cigarettes or magazines, he said.
Last year,there was enough money to give Toys R Us gift cards and
some food items, Grevera said. This year, only gift cards were provided. He was
unsure of the exact number but said about 150 cards were handed out.
Solicitor Vito DeLuca said he was not familiar with details of the program and
he had not heard about a parent trying to sell a gift card, but he suspected the
district could not legally control what a person does with the card once it is
For starters, DeLuca said, the district could not know the circumstances
that may have prompted a person to try to sell a card.
In response to a Facebook
request for comment, the parent apparently associated with the card said she had
a card from my childs grandmother. I do not know what any of this
is pertaining to, and that people need to get there(sic) facts straight.
of Nanticoke, will compete for 2015 Miss Junior Teen Title
Kropiewnicki has been selected to participate in the 2015 Miss Junior Teen pageant
this weekend in Philadelphia.
Kropiewnicki, 13, was anonymously referred for
the 2015 Miss Junior Teen pageant and sent a letter about her referral. Kropiewnicki
had an interview earlier in the year at the Holiday Inn East Mountain Inn
where she was selected to be part of a contingent to represent the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
According to Isabellas mother, Christine, this is the first Miss
Junior Teen pageant in which Isabella will compete. The pageant is not associated
with the National American Miss (NAM) pageants.
The competition includes a
personal interview on Saturday and a casual and formal wear modeling routine in
the division of Miss Junior Teen (ages 1315), one of four age divisions.
If Kropiewnicki wins the title of Miss Junior Teen this weekend, she will represent
Philadelphia and the surrounding communities (Allentown, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton,
Philadelphia, Trenton, New Jersey) at the National Pageant in Orlando, Florida.
The national competition has a share of $30,000 in prizes.
Kropiewnicki has been participating in NAM pageantry for three years
and was surprised when she received notice of the referral.
She keeps busy
four days a week with dance, which includes ballet, tap and pointe technique,
at Joan Harris Centre in Luzerne. She has been dancing for 10 years and will soon
begin Irish step dance.
She is also a member of the Greater Nanticoke Area
chorus and field hockey team.
An injury in her leg had Kropiewnicki sidelined
from field hockey and on crutches for two and a half months but, according to
her mother, she is getting back to normal.
favorite part of the pageants is meeting new people and keeping in contact
with friends from previous pageants.
Kropiewnicki would like to become
a pediatric oncology nurse because she loves children and wants to help
them feel better.
Her advice to those thinking about doing pagentry
is dont be afraid to do things and dont be out to
win, just have fun.
makes an appearance at Nanticokes annual Christmas in the Park'
Residents lined the streets
and watched from their homes as the Nanticoke Fire Department ushered Santa Claus
to town Sunday.
The second annual Christmas in the Park began
with a parade which included Greater Nanticoke Area cheerleaders and football
players, various Nanticoke-based Girl and Boy Scout troops, Nanticoke Crime Watch
and a float by Nanticoke Community Garden. Parade participants left Greater Nanticoke
Area High School on Kosciuszko Street and traveled three blocks to Patriot Square
Santa Claus watched the parade from atop a Nanticoke fire truck and,
when he reached his destination, he was greeted in the middle of Patriot Square
by young and old, waiting to see him and give him their Christmas list.
matching Santa-faced red and white striped dresses, sisters Gulia and Ava Knutzon,
of Nanticoke, along with their mother, Allison, were just three of the hundreds
of individuals in attendance to meet the man in the big red suit.
was excited to see Santa and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around the square.
Gulia, 5, couldnt wait to tell Santa she wanted a smart board for Christmas.
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski attributed the amount of people to the extremely
We (City of Nanticoke Events Committee) are excited
for the amount of people, Wiaterowski said. The weather obviously
Its nice to see people out, Wiaterowski said
because he remembers doing this as a kid.
Committee member Lindsey
Temarantz said the committee planned for 300 children based on the response from
last years event.
She also said it takes about three months to plan
so that everybody is on the same page.
Once were done
with Trunk or Treat, we start with this, Temarantz said, referencing a Halloween
event in the city.
A horse and carriage ride around the park, hot chocolate
sponsored by the firemen of Nanticoke and cookies donated by the Luzerne County
Community College culinary students were also available.
4U2Rent Events Center opens in Nanticoke
Nanticoke as a destination
Thats what Bernie Norieka, owner of the new 4U2Rent Events
Center, 400 Middle Road, said about the city. Its why Norieka chose the
city to play host to his new brainchild: a new appointment-only events center,
with different types of flooring and accessories to accommodate all types of events.
In the two months since its opening, 4U2Rent Events Center has seen several birthday
parties, a Sweet 16 party, a craft show (which utilized the entire building) and
a bridal shower, among others. The businesss Facebook page boasts several
five star reviews.
The center has four rooms, which can be rented separately
or together. One room has a rubberized floor, perfect for cheerleading,
Norieka said. The smallest room, with tiled floor, can fit up to 70 comfortably.
An arcade and a ready-to-use, if you provide the snacks, snack bar are also available.
Two rooms contain TouchTunes Digital Jukebox players.
The arcade currently
has a pinball machine, pool and air hockey tables.
We will update (the
arcade) as we get customer feedback, Norekia said. The biggest thing
we saw was kids sitting along the wall waiting for their turn to play.
The place also has three bounce houses: a small, medium and large, for events
to add on, if desired.
We didnt want to just be a bounce place;
we wanted to be destination location, Norekia said.
want the business to be known as just a birthday party place; he wants to help
start-up businesses, such as karate, yoga and other local instructors as well
as host events for corporate meetings.
Recently, installation of a 108-inch
screen was completed. The screen has a computer hook up, perfect for PowerPoint
presentations, according to Norieka.
He wants to use the screen to host
community parties, as well. Norieka suggested something like a parents night
out, which could make use of the building and utilize the certifed
and vetted babysitters from Big Daddys Daycare, located next door
to the center.
Or maybe something for the Super Bowl, he said.
Rental rates start at $30 an hour plus $1 per person. Discounts are also offered
for those who do multiple bookings.
The biggest complaint we heard (when
looking into how to run the new center) was the food, Norieka said, which
is why, he said, renters supply their own food and drinks.
For more information,
call the center at 570-262-8397, reach it on Facebook or log onto 4u2rentevents.com.
Nanticoke council approves 21.5 percent tax hike for
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
City property taxes will
rise by more than 21 percent in Nanticoke next year.
City council on Wednesday
gave final approval to Nanticokes 2016 budget, which includes a total millage
rate of 5.93 mills. The rate represents an increase of 21.5 percent over this
years rate of 4.88 mills.
That means the owner of a property valued
at $100,000 will see a 2016 tax bill of $592.58, an increase of $104.73 over this
years bill of $487.85.
Council voted unanimously, 4-0, to adopt the
budget. Councilman Stephen Duda was absent.
Council had also voted unanimously,
with Duda absent, to give preliminary approval to the budget on Nov. 18. At that
meeting, city residents let council members and City Manager Andy Gegaris know
they were not happy with the size of the proposed tax increase, which city officials
said will be used to improve Nanticokes crumbling infrastructure.
Lesley Butczynski, reached by phone on Friday, said there are widespread misconceptions
about the budget and tax increase.
Salary increases for non-union city employees
did not cause the tax rate to rise, Butczynski said. Those raises were among the
complaints citizens expressed to council last month. The pay increases
a total of 7 percent, given in two separate 3.5 percent increases represent
only a sliver of the citys increase in expenses, Butczynski said.
bulk of the increased tax revenue will fund projects to fix and improve Nanticokes
roads and sewer system, which are in dire need of repair, she said.
and council President William Brown made similar remarks at the Nov. 18 council
Hank Marks, president of the Greater Nanticoke Area Taxpayers Forum
and one of the most vocal complainants at last months meeting, said on Friday
that council members ignored repeated pleas from members of the public who said
they cannot afford to pay any more in taxes.
Marks said he and his group will
try to unseat Brown and council Vice President Kevin Coughlin when they are up
for election in 2017.
We have to get new people in there, he said.
You have to realize you cant keep raising taxes and giving raises.
Nanticokes 2016 budget includes a general millage rate of 4.7514 mills as
well as dedicated millages for debt service (1.155 mills) and Mill Memorial Library
A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed value.
Census report: Poverty rates soar in Nanticoke, Hazleton
Poverty rates in
two cities in Luzerne County have skyrocketed in the last five years, a census
report released Thursday shows.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its five-year
estimate of national demographic and socioeconomic data, including poverty rates,
household income and government assistance between the periods of 2005-2009 and
2010-2014. Many Pennsylvania cities have seen statistically significant changes,
with Hazleton and Nanticoke reporting some of the most major changes.
poverty rates in 24 of the 57 Pennsylvania cities listed in the report changed
significantly between the two reporting periods. Hazleton (59 percent) and Nanticoke
(54 percent), reported the second and third largest percent increases in the number
of persons living below the federal poverty level, which is $11,770 for an individual.
Wilkes-Barre also had an increase of almost 25 percent. The report does not include
the most recent percentage of people in the state living in poverty. Census information
from the most recent report, covering 2009 to 2013, shows persons below poverty
level in the state is 13 percent.
Only 15 cities in the state had a statistically
significant change in median household income between the two periods. Of those,
only two Jeannette in Westmoreland County and Aliquippa in Beaver County
experienced an increase. The remaining cities with a significant change
all showed a decline in median household income. Among those reporting the largest
losses in median household income was Hazleton with a decrease of $5,181.
Between 2010-2014 and the previous five-year period, 38 cities in the state reported
significant changes all increases in the number of people receiving
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Hazleton was among
four other cities that had increases above 70 percent.
Nanticoke residents to see 21.5 percent tax increase
The city council voted, with the exception of Steve Duda
who was absent, to approve the 2016 budget of $5,537,429 at Tuesday night's monthly
The budget includes a 21.5 percent increase in property taxes. A
home valued at $75,000 will see an increase of $78.55 or less than an additional
$6.55 per month. A $125,000 home will incur an increase of $130.91 or an addition
of less than $10.91 per month.
The total millage rate is 5.93 mills. A mill
is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed value.
Following residents' complaints
regarding the property tax increase, Council President William Brown explained
that half of the increase will be used to fund major road repair projects, which
will begin in the spring of 2016.
It will also enable the city to obtain a
$3 million Pennsylvania Infrastructure Loan at a guaranteed fixed interest rate
of less than 2 percent for 10 years.
Brown added that the many of the city's
streets are in desperate need of repair and that the city wanted to take advantage
of the very low interest rate.
The remaining half of the increase will be
used for necessary increases, such as the rising cost of workers' compensation,
payroll taxes, utilities, general legal services, pension plans, as well as a
federally mandated health insurance premium increase, among other essential budget
The total revenue increase is 6.9 percent, which is within the
8 percent increase limit as per the Home Rule Charter agreement.
meeting of the council will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 16.
Artists transform Wilkes-Barre windows for the holiday
Santa waves from a window at the Geisinger Health Systems office, Yoda and C3PO
of Star Wars fame offer seasons greetings across Public Square at
Meanwhile, Heat Miser and Snow Miser remember them from
a 1974 television special? grimace menacingly at Rodanos and, at
Katana, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang throw back
their heads and open their mouths wide to offer Joy to the World.
From the gingerbread cookie at Dunkin Donuts to the word J-O-Y created from
peppermint sticks at Frederick Dental Group to the mirror in which you can see
your selfie at Luzerne Bank, downtown Wilkes-Barres windows
have recently taken on a festive appearance.
Its a real labor
of love, said Leonardo Davenport, of Nanticoke, one of about 20 artists
who volunteered to paint decorations on the storefront windows.
at this as our gift to the community, said John Maday, speaking for the
promotions committee of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Association, which organized
the painting. It recreates the memory of the downtown from long ago when
every store had its displays and whats nice is, each of the artists gave
a different perspective on what the holidays should be.
So you might
find Snoopy singing while Lucy offers advice at El Zocala restaurant, a snowman
riding a sled at the Kirby Center, Rudolf wagging his tail at Bottlenecks.
Davenport is the artist responsible for the Rudolf at Bottlenecks, as well as
characters he named Macey after a waitress, Jason after
the owner and Peppermint Patty after a drink.
Carrying a variety
of different colored paints in the trunk of his car, he also painted the big Santa
and a waif-like child that represents the Valley Santa charity on the Geisinger
Health Care building and an array of holiday motifs on the F.M. Kirby Center.
This will really make them stand out, he said, dabbing a touch of
red here and there along the edges of his work.
Sporting a beret and suspenders
covered with images of palettes and brushes, Davenport said he was wearing his
His first name wasnt always Leonardo, he explained.
Id tell people my name was Leonard, and theyd forget it,
he said. I added the o and now they remember.
70 years of polka joy: John 'Stanky' Stankovic of Nanticoke
is still performing
Performing since age 9, John 'Stanky' Stankovic reaches
- "Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun! Roll out the barrel,
we've got the blues on the run
"Apples, peaches, pumpkin
pie. Who's not ready, holler 'I.' Let's all play hide and seek
Polka after polka, long-time musician John Stanky provided the vocals, his buddy
Eddie Derwin accompanied him on accordion and about 60 residents of Providence
Place Retirement Community sang along on a recent Tuesday afternoon.
88-year-old Rosemary Ondeck could resist no longer. She stood up, linked hands
with Providence Place staffer Mary Donna Chehovich and danced to the tunes she's
enjoyed for decades.
"Are you tired?" Chehovich asked a few minutes
"No!" Ondeck told her emphatically.
Stanky smiled as
he watched the infectious energy, this polka magic, take hold.
For 70 of his
79 years he's been a part of it, creating cheerful, peppy music that makes toes
tap, hands clap, and feet dance.
"My father told me, 'If you learn 10
songs on the accordion, you'll never starve.' So I learned 20," he said with
a gentle laugh.
Well-known throughout the region as leader of the band Stanky
and the Coal Miners, the musician - whose given name is John Stankovic - is a
lifelong resident of Nanticoke.
That city's tidy little Hanover section is
where he started - at age 9 - to play for audiences, sometimes by himself; sometimes
with local band leader Guy Ambrose.
As a high school student in his early
teens, he formed a polka-playing trio called the Tip Toppers. About nine years
later, in 1959, he started Stanky and the Coal Miners, choosing the name as tribute
to anthracite workers like his father.
Playing for birthday parties and wedding
celebrations in private homes was just the start.
Eventually Stanky would
play all over the world. During one busy week in September 2000 his band played
a USO show in South Korea, the Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania and a venue in
Switzerland. "Three continents in one week," he said.
performances at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, at the National Folk Festival
in Butte, Montana, and at so many weddings and church picnics they would be difficult
Crazy, but rewarding, is how Stanky's wife, Dottie, describes his
long career. "We met so many wonderful people," she said. "We made
so many good friends."
Dottie Stankovic, who served several terms as
Luzerne County's Register of Wills before she retired in 2013, married the band
leader in 1962. They had met at the Citizens Club in Nanticoke, where Stanky was
playing the night Dottie showed up for a Halloween party dressed as Pocahontas.
Laughing, Stanky remembers how he hesitated to tell this young woman who was "so
pretty" about his day job as a "rag man" who drove an old vehicle
up and down the streets, blowing a horn so people would bring him their junk and
he could recycle it.
It turned out, she didn't mind; she eventually went along
for the ride and blew a horn herself.
Stanky's self-published autobiography,
"Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, The Story of Stanky and the Coal Miners,"
tells lots of Dottie stories. There was the time, before they were married, when
he was sick and she walked about four miles from her house in Ashley to his home
in Nanticoke to bring him medicine.
There was the time after they were married
when he forgot to take his accordion on a gig. She found it at home and, since
cell phones hadn't yet been invented, called the radio station to which she suspected
he'd be listening on the car radio and persuaded the announcer to broadcast her
message. Stanky heard it, turned around and went back for the accordion.
with the band provided Stanky with fascinating stories, from a bus that burst
into flames to the 5-pound wheel of cheese that came in handy because it was the
only food they had to eat during a blizzard. Then there were the times the group
played aboard airplanes in flight.
"I would get the captain's permission
first," Stanky said. "We loved it and the people loved it."
Long-time fan Shirley Shaw, 79, of Scranton, said traveling with Stanky's groups
was a treat.
"Every trip he ever took to Ireland, or to the Passion Play
in Germany, my husband and I went along," she said. "It was fantastic.
We loved it all."
Stanky believes he might not have traveled so extensively
if not for one snowy night when his six-piece band played at the Knights of Columbus
Hall in Luzerne for an audience of "maybe four people."
his musicians they should play as well for a small group as for a huge one, and
they impressed one of the audience members, local travel agent Barry Tenenbaum,
so much he asked "How would you guys like to go on cruises?"
than 150 cruises would follow, giving Stanky a chance to see places as far-flung
as Alaska and the Panama Canal.
But after suffering a stroke about five years
ago, Stanky sticks closer to home. He still has about three gigs a week, mostly
at retirement communities or nursing facilities, and while he might strike up
his accordion in his house on Espy Street, he's more likely in public to sing
the polkas while his buddy Eddie Derwin plays the accordion.
That's how the
duo performed at Providence Place last week, where 92-year-old Betty Kaylor got
to her feet and danced, supported by two staff members, and 88-year-old Tommy
Yankus sang along with just about every number, whether it was in English or Polish.
After the concert, resident Florence Yodzio, 89, told Stanky she remembered hearing
him play at Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, and she happily translated some
polka lyrics from Polish to English. "That one means 'I'm like a young man,
a warrior going onto the battlefield,' " she told a reporter.
may have added a few younger folks to his fan base during the Providence Place
event, too. One fresh-faced staff member asked him to pose with her while her
co-worker snapped a photo.
Their take on the one-hour, afternoon concert?
faces 21-percent property tax hike for 2016
Eric Mark - Citizens
Property taxes will increase in Nanticoke next year and
residents let council know they are not happy about it on Wednesday.
gave preliminary approval to the citys proposed 2016 budget at a contentious
meeting Wednesday night.
The bottom line: Nanticoke property owners will pay
about 21 percent more in property taxes in 2016 than they did this year.
owner of a property valued at $100,000 will see a 2016 tax bill of $592.58, an
increase of $104.73 over this years bill of $487.85.
and city Manager Andy Gegaris said the tax hike is needed to fund badly needed
repairs to Nanticokes infrastructure. Several city residents disagreed.
I strongly urge the council not to pass the budget, said Walter Griffith,
a former Luzerne County controller and vocal advocate for fiscal restraint. I
just dont think the city can afford it.
Hank Marks, an 83-year-old
life resident, agreed.
I also urge council not to pass this budget,
he said, adding that council members who voted for such a steep tax increase were
committing political suicide.
Marks noted that many Nanticoke
residents are senior citizens who will not get any increase in Social Security
benefits next year.
He and Griffith took turns debating details of the budget
with Gegaris throughout the council meeting and a budget work session that preceded
it. They interrupted and spoke over one another repeatedly.
One point of dispute
was how much the tax hike amounts to, in terms of percentage.
that the tax increase should be defined as 7 percent, which represents the projected
increase in revenues in the budget. To make that math work, the proposed general
millage rate of 4.7514 mills must be separated from dedicated millages for debt
service (1.155 mills) and Mill Memorial Library (.0194 mills). The total proposed
millage rate for 2016 of 5.93 mills is about 21.4 percent higher than the 2015
rate of 4.88 mills.
Residents at the work session urged council to consider
options to curtail spending, including the possibility of eliminating the citys
paid fire department and relying on volunteer firefighters instead.
members largely let Gegaris espouse the citys position during the work session
and the voting meeting. In remarks after the meeting adjourned, they expressed
regret over the need to raise taxes so much.
The council did what we
needed to do, said Councilwoman Lesley Butczynski, who added that the citys
roads and sewer lines are in desperate need of repair. Council President William
Brown said some roads in Nanticoke have been deteriorating for many years and
repairs cannot wait any longer.
Council voted unanimously, 4-0, to approve
the budget on Wednesday. Councilman Stephen Duda was absent.
vote on whether to give final approval to the proposed 2016 budget on Dec. 2.
Nanticoke school district seeks letters for board seat
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School
District is seeking letters of interest for an open board seat vacated by Robert
Raineri was re-elected in 2013 and stepped down with two years of
his term remaining. His service on the board began in 2000.
The school board
plans to appoint a successor at its next meeting on Dec. 7, board President Ryan
The district website asks
applicants to send letters to Verazin at the district office in Nanticoke.
Mums are good choice for a fall garden, Nanticoke man
Nanticoke man reports flowers still going strong in November
Thank heaven for mums.
Thats what retired teacher Frank Mrufchinski, 81, of Nanticoke thinks on
cold but sunny autumn days when hes out feeding birds or simply enjoying
The morning glories have faded, of course. So have his miniature
roses and coleus. But the mums, bless their hardy root systems, have kept the
yard colorful this October and November.
Theyre white, yellow,
purple, pink and rust, Mrufchinski said. Ill be sad when theyre
gone. I like to go out and just admire them.
Contemplating the beauty
of the flowers reminds Mrufchinski of his youth, when he and his twin sister,
Teresa, would accompany their mother to the Forty Hours Devotion at the former
St. Stanislaus Church in Nanticoke and see beautiful white mums in golden
vases on the altar.
Hes not sure where those particular flowers
came from, although he distinctly remembers another time when a Sister asked the
twins to bring her white peonies to decorate the church for First Holy Communion.
We didnt have any, but our neighbor Mrs. Rynkiewicz did, he
said. She was glad to give us some.
The rectory of that church
had a well-kept garden, too. It was like the flower showplace of Nanticoke,
Mrufchinski said, recalling how children from the parish school enjoyed munching
grapes from the rectory gardens arbor as an occasional treat.
aside, Mrufchinski still enjoys tending his garden. Last May, he bought several
mum plants for his yard, dug the holes and stuck them in. I have good dirt,
he said. Youve got to have good dirt.
Some of the mums he
planted in previous years bloomed again this year, but he suspected not all of
them would come back so he planted additional ones.
Beverly Turner, of Perennial
Point Gardening Center in Plains, said not all hardy mums will return
year after year as perennials in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hardy
means that they can withstand a few fall frosts without blackening and either
going dormant or dying, she said.
A fall-purchased hardy
mum has been specifically produced to provide fall color, and they should
usually be treated as annuals, Turner wrote in an email. Planting
them as early in the season as possible will increase their chance of survival,
as will not cutting back their foliage.
When Turner saw a photograph
of Mrufchinskis mums, the gardening expert said, Wow, these are really
beautiful! They look exceptionally well cared for.
A lot of folks, including
me, will take a potted mum home and miss daily watering it, resulting in an alive
but less beauteous plant, Turner said.
If you want to have flowers that
bloom in the fall, Turner said, mums are a great choice as are Montauk Daisies
and Shasta Daisies. Mentioning the Latin names Dendranthemum, Leucanthemum and
Nippoanthemum, she said theyre all in the chrysanthemum family, all late-blooming
and, incidentally, all deer-resistant.
Hooligans opens for business in Nanticoke
City residents know the face associated with
the name Mark Neylon Jr. because his family owned and operated Ridge Street Cafe
The Neylons are expanding their breakfast business into a sit-down
lunch and dinner business at their new venture, Hooligans Restaurant & Pub,
396 E. Washington St.
Ridge Street Cafe n'More offically closed on Oct. 4
after the breakfast rush and Hooligans officially opened for business during the
dinner rush on Monday.
"I wouldn't call it a soft opening," Neylon
said. "It's just a Monday and it seemed like a good day to open."
The business has a social media manager who runs its Facebook page. According
to the page, individuals have been waiting since June for the opening of Hooligans.
Those who ate a pre-opening dinner commented on how good the food is.
said it's a family business, just like the Cafe. His sister is the front house
manager, his father is general manager and he is the executive chef, but no one
gets a title because "we're all going to help each other out."
Ridge Street Cafe, the bar and pub has a full bar and a liquor license. Neylon
stresses that families can sit down and enjoy the food "without dropping
To the Neylons, Ridge Street Cafe was a stepping stone and, because
the family enjoys the people and atmosphere of Nanticoke so much, they wanted
to stay in the area. The family feels the new restaurant is in a good space because
it's close to those wanting to come in from the Back Mountain or Wilkes-Barre.
"It has a good population looking for something new," Neylon said. "We're
at a great location."
The menu, posted on the Facebook page when it reached
500 likes, boasts a butchers block, pasta and pizza selection, as well as the
standard salad and chicken dishes. Appetizers are called "appeteasers."
"The menu is a lot more varied, eclectic," Neylon said.
is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day but Monday when it opens at 4 p.m.
Presentation shows highlights of 2015 for Greater Nanticoke
Susan Bettinger - For Times Leader
this months Greater Nanticoke Area School Board meeting, board President
Ryan Verazin gave a year-in-review presentation.
The slide show included highlights
from each committee in the district.
Among the highlights were improved academic
programs, increased safety measures, improvements to facilities and the holding
of the tax rate for the 2015-16 school year.
The addition of check-in points
for all visitors to the high school and grant money being used for a full-time
police officer were just some of the safety measures taken.
The district also
opened the GNA Cyber Lab, allowing cyber students to earn a GNA diploma and participate
in district activities.
A new baseball field will be available starting in
the spring of 2016.
In other matters:
Ken James of the Athletic
Department announced that Amber Grohowski was selected to represent Nanticoke
in the Wendys High School Heisman competition. She advances to the state
level. Grohowski participates in basketball, field hockey and track.
The board had accepted a letter of resignation from Bob Raineri as a member of
the board, effective Nov. 12.
Nanticoke hospital sold at auction
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
The former Nanticoke Special Care Hospital sold
Monday at an auction.
Fortna Auctioneers of Annville announced on its website
that the hospital was sold at Absolute Auction to the highest bidder!!
Details about the sale were not listed on its website.
formerly owned the approximately 80,000-square-foot hospital on four acres of
land and it formerly provided long-term acute care services to seriously ill patients
with complicated medical needs. Last year, Commonwealth Health sold the hospital
and its satellite operations to a subsidiary of specialty health care company
Post Acute Medical based in Camp Hill. Post Acute Medical moved to the seventh
floor of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
The Nanticoke property, built in the
early 1900s, formerly was Mercy Special Care Hospital until Community Health Systems
purchased it in 2011 as well as Mercy Hospital in Scranton and Mercy Tyler Hospital
recognition committee forms in Nanticoke area
Athletic Recognition Committee has been formed at the Greater Nanticoke Area School
District to recognize athletic and scholastic achievements of students past and
present. This also includes graduates of the former Newport, Harter and Nanticoke
high schools. The committee is seeking volunteers and plans to raise funds for
a trophy case to display various trophies and academic accomplishments over the
years. Anyone who knows or has a history of their school success in sports or
academics or would like to assist with any of the committee activities is invited
to the next meeting to be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16, at the administrative
offices of the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, Kosciuszko Street. Call
the district office at 570-735-1270 for information.
A salute to those who served
- Citizens Voice
Youre about to take a
journey through World War II.
This commemorative section is filled with riveting
stories from the men and women who lived it, survived it and remember it well.
This year marks 70 years since the wars end and we thought the areas
surviving WWII veterans deserved some recognition.
Over the past year, Ive
met and interviewed 21 men and women who served during the war. The youngest of
them turns 88 in February.
The goal of this special project unveiled
now to coincide with Veterans Day 2015 is to preserve their stories.
And time is running out.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War
II, only about 850,000 are alive today. Nearly 500 die each day. The federal government
predicts theyll all be gone by 2036.
This project was personal for me.
My grandfather Leon Kalinowski our Polish family called him Dziadzi
served honorably in World War II with the Navy in the Aleutian Islands, between
Alaska and Japan.
Sadly, thats about all I know. Im sure he had
some great stories to tell. I just never took the time to sit down and document
What kills me is I wanted to. He was my best buddy and I visited him
often. I had a video camera at the time. I had grand ideas to sit down with him
in the yard and talk about his whole life from the Depression to the war
to the hellish life as a coal miner. I kept putting it off.
one day in March 2006 my world came crashing down when he died after having a
stroke in his sleep. The heartache of losing him was bad enough. But, I was infuriated
with myself for letting his life story pass away with him.
That was my motivation
for this project to do for other families what I regrettably did not do
for my family and myself.
I wasnt sure where to start in my search for
World War II veterans. I had a list of 150 veterans who visited the World War
II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on a bus trip organized by Leadership Wilkes-Barre
in 2008. I searched each name in our archives and, sadly, the overwhelmingly majority
of them had died.
I was able to start with a few veterans who regularly contact
our paper. Each veteran I spoke to seemed to have a friend who also served and
thats how I landed each subsequent interview. I likely could have found
some by making requests on social media, but we didnt want to reveal our
special project until it was time to launch.
And now is the time.
people featured in this section are often referred to as part of The Greatest
After getting to know them over the past year, it is clear
they are still great.
Each of the 21 veterans still had a sharp mind. Most
of them are still active. And some of them are still working for a living. One
continues to serve as a state constable. Another is a state-certified veterans
counselor. The eldest of the group, a 98-year-old Army veteran, still heads out
for beers each Thursday night with his buddies.
And, as you will read, each
of them has a unique story of service in World War II.
Bob Kalinowski, the
lead reporter for this special section, is the grandson of two World War II veterans.
The Nanticoke resident has been employed by The Citizens Voice since graduating
from Kings College in May 2003. He was later accepted into the Navys
Officer Candidate School and was to join the February 2005 class in Pensacola,
Florida, but was given an honorable discharge due to an injury and has remained
at the paper ever since. He can be reached at email@example.com, 570-821-2055
and @cvbobkal on Twitter.
Nanticoke brothers served during WWII
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens
They were Nanticokes Band of Brothers, said Mark
Brown while tidying the family burial plots that cover the remains of his father
and two uncles, all of whom served in World War II. Nearby a freshly dug grave
awaited the body of another uncle, Joseph Cionzynski, a Coast Guard veteran who
died Oct. 28.
Days later, on an unseasonably warm and sunny morning, his family
gathered in Holy Trinity Cemetery to mourn yet celebrate the end
of an era.
Each of the four Cionzynski brothers Henry, John, Charles
and Joseph served in a different branch of the military in the war years.
Browns father, an Army veteran, was the first brother to pass away in July
2002. His uncles, John and Charles, one a Navy veteran the other a Marine, were
the next to go. On Tuesday, it was time to say farewell to his uncle Joe.
Im sorry I didnt learn more about all of my uncles involvement
in World War II, said Brown, 65. There is so much younger generations
should ask their relatives. Because after theyre gone, its too late.
Henry fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded a Bronze Star. Charles
took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. John fought in the Pacific. Joseph
guarded the harbors in New York and San Francisco.
In the years after the
war, Charles and John moved out of the area and felt they were discriminated against
because of their Polish surname pronounced Chin-Gin-Ski. They
opted for Brown. While Henry and Joseph remained lifelong Nanticoke residents
and Cionzynskis, much of the rest of the family went with Brown.
Cionzynskis alike gathered at the cemetery to note a family passage Tuesday.
Unfortunately, we had more funerals in recent years than weddings,
said Josephs son, also named Joseph Cionzynski, who lives in Lansdale.
In the past few years, his father missed his fallen brothers.
often he made reference about him being the last of the brothers, Joseph
Cionzynski said. Those guys, they were really tight through their whole
life. Before my uncles passed away, my father would spend hours on the phone,
almost on a daily basis. They looked forward to that phone call.
a beautiful fall morning in Holy Trinity Cemetery, the story of the Cionzynski
brothers came full circle, as the next generation gathered to pay their respects.
Joseph Cionzynski said the gorgeous, sun-filled weather was fitting.
father absolutely loved sunshine. He had arthritis. Gloomy, rainy, cloudy days
were painful for him. It was 74 degrees with brilliant sunshine. It was a perfectly
clear day, he said. How often do you get weather like that in November?
We all took note of that.
In the years after the war, Charles and John
Cionzynski moved out of the area and felt they were discriminated against because
of their last name. The Polish family surname is pronounced Chin-Gin-Ski.
They changed their last name to Brown. Henry and Joseph remained lifelong Nanticoke
residents and kept their last name until their death. Much of the rest of the
family, however, changed their name to Brown.
There at the beginning of the end
Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Walter Sowa had
been working non-stop for months to support the bombing raids on Japan when a
secretive crew of servicemen were shuffled into his radar repair unit on Tinian
Island in July 1945.
They were kind of cocky, Sowa recalled. They
said, We are here to finish the war.
All they would say
is they were sent to end the war. They wouldnt disclose their mission.
It just so happened that small group was the one assigned to drop the atomic
bomb, Sowa said.
Tinian, part of the Mariana Islands about 1,500 miles
south of Japan, served as the launching point for the Enola Gay for its Aug. 6,
1945 mission over Hiroshima.
It also served as the starting point for the
lesser known plane, Bockscar, that dropped an atomic bomb over Nagasaki on Aug.
For about six months prior to the nuclear attacks that ended the war, the
island had been a busy starting hub for daily bombing missions.
regular B-29s were bombing the heck out of Japan, Sowa recalled.
had been busy working in the radar repair department on the island.
B-29s, when they took off from the islands, had a trip of 1,500 miles. At that
time, they couldnt predict what the weather would be like when they got
to Japan. It could be overcast and they couldnt use a Norden bombsight
a visual bombing. So they had to resort to radar, which was able to penetrate
the clouds and give them a better picture, he said.
When the mysterious
new soldiers were added to the unit in July 1945, Sowa didnt know what to
They were relatively green as far as repairing radar, but we
assimilated them into our shops, Sowa recalled.
The men promised they
were going to end the war, but wouldnt say how.
Well, by George,
they dropped the bomb and after they dropped the bomb, one month later, they were
back in the states. What ticked me off more, I was still there six months later,
Sowa said. They were hailed as heroes. But lets face it. It was a
Before the rest of the world became familiar with the
plane used to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan, Walter Sowa posed for a picture
in front of the Enola Gay, which returned to Tinian Island after the bombing.
I didnt think it was going to be that important later on. Nonetheless,
its a classic, Sowa said. Its hard to believe that skinny
guy was me.
Sowa obtained a bachelors degree in electrical engineering
and a masters degree in physics. After several years working in the field,
he started teaching engineering at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, where he worked for
32 years prior to retirement. He and his wife Marie have been married for 63 years.
They have two sons, one daughter and seven grandchildren.
After Sowa graduated
from Newport Township High School in 1942, he enrolled in a free summer course
in science, engineering and management that Penn State was offering at Nanticoke
High School. The $18 textbook for the class was the only charge and thats
exactly how much he received in graduation gifts. After that, a seemingly too-good-to-be-true
offer came his way. The federal government offered to pay him $1,420 to go to
school to receive technical training that included radar classes. As soon as that
schooling was done, he was drafted and placed in the radar repair unit. I
think they deferred me so I could finish that school. The government probably
had me tagged where I was going to go, Sowa said.
Veterans Day special to Nanticoke woman who served in
her military ID some 70 years ago turned out to be the best thing that ever happened
to 91-year-old Doris Merrill, a disabled veteran who will represent the Paralyzed
Veterans of America at a Veterans Day ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.
The Paralyzed Veterans chose the Nanticoke resident to represent the organization
because she has served as an inspiration for other veterans with physical disabilities
through her decades of organized athletic competition, professional endeavors
and community service.
Her association with the military began in 1944, when
the then 20-year-old Merrill was a serving as a transcriptionist in Cape May,
New Jersey. She had joined the U.S. Navy as an opportunity for further education.
With a high security clearance, she was trying to make her way into the seashore
towns Admiral Hotel, which served as a covert military headquarters tracking
every U.S. military ship globally.
Then this man, a U.S. Marine, wouldnt
let her in the building to do her job.
To make matters worse, Merrill ended
up scrubbing floors as a consequence of not having her ID with her.
in the week, Merrill bought two sandwiches at the Salvation Army for 35 cents.
She couldnt eat the second one, so she turned and asked the person behind
her if he wanted it.
Not only did Paul Merrill, the Marine who had berated
her for not having her ID with her, take the sandwich, he asked her what she was
doing that weekend.
Im going home to Pennsylvania, she said.
Ive never been to Pennsylvania, he said, I should come
Merrill remembers calling her mother
in Nanticoke all those years ago.
I said to her, theres a Marine
that wants to come home with me for the weekend, she said. I dont
know if you would really want him to come.
To her surprise, her mother
was delighted to host a Marine for the weekend.
Bring him home,
she said. We have an extra bedroom.
That, said Merrill, was the
beginning of the best decision she had ever made in her life.
Less than a
year later, on April 21, 1945, she married Paul Merrill, in a ceremony that she
said was like a parade.
With about 20 attendants in the wedding
party, the only vehicles available to transport them to ceremony were two hearses.
There wasnt any room for me to sit down, she said. So,
I sat on the floor of the hearse.
In that spirit,
the nearly 92-year-old woman is making her way to Washington on Wednesday to lay
a wreath at the World War II Memorial, representing the Paralyzed Veterans of
America, during a Veterans Day ceremony.
The U.S. Navy veteran, who has used
a wheelchair consistently since 1957, has competed in the National Veterans Wheelchair
Games since 1999 when they were hosted in Puerto Rico. She competes in various
events, including ramp bowling.
She feels displaying over 60 medals she has
earned in those games unnecessary.
I know that I won them, she
said. Thats enough.
Of her military service, Merrill said
she was very grateful for the opportunity to serve her country.
The only woman working on a project which tracked the movement of
Navy ships throughout the world, she said her military superiors treated her with
In a mans world, they treated me with great respect,
she said. And, I in turn, did my job.
Because of the high degree
of security associated with the project on which she worked, she was precluded
from mentioning it to anyone.
You didnt go home and talk about
it, she said.
Because of that she said, she became very good at listening.
Living in the barracks with other WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency
Service), she said found herself listening to the stories of others carefully,
but not really able to share her own.
When the movie The Hunt for Red
October came out in the 1990s, Merrill remembered getting the chills as
she watched it in a theater.
Someone talked, she said, not
Passion for teaching
Having gone on to get both her bachelors
and masters degrees, Merrill spent many years teaching at Wilkes, Penn State
and eventually Nanticoke High School.
She said she has never regretted one
minute of it.
When teaching for the Greater Nanticoke Area School District,
she needed assistance making her way to and from the school building.
football players helped me during basketball season and the basketball players
helped me during the football season, she said. I have not one bad
thing to say about any student that I ever taught. Their parents raised kind,
After her retirement from that district in the late
70s, she established a Wall of Fame in Nanticoke for athletes scoring over 1,000
Its one of the accomplishments of which I am most proud,
she said. I felt I was giving back.
Merrills husband Paul died in 1982, it is evident that his memory is very
much a part of her life.
Her home in Nanticoke is filled with photos of the
man she called her best friend.
When she speaks of her children Paul
II (Pepper), Heather and Toby she is quick to share a specific memory,
describe their personalities and express gratitude for their presence in her life.
Pepper died last year, a great sadness for Merrill.
I never realized
how much he helped me, she said. Each day I realize more fully all
that he had done for me, things I didnt even know about.
also has three grandchildren and three great grandchildren, all of whom she has
a fun, positive relationship with.
Grandson Paul is accompanying her Wednesday,
which she said he considers an honor.
Despite the fact that she has MS and
her husband had a heart attack early in his life, her memories are not of illness,
but of family.
When we were with our grandchildren, we forgot,
she said. We forgot we were sick, we forgot we were older. We made games
out of everything from laundry to cleaning their room. They were working and they
didnt even realize it.
Carol Hayes of the Paralyzed
Veterans of America, sponsor of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, said she
looked forward to meeting Merrill in person.
As one of the few remaining veterans
of World War II, Hayes said Merrill embodies the courage and character which define
I know of her wonderful reputation and positive
attitude from her participation in the games, she said. She has been
the oldest competing athlete for several years in a row.
Merrill also will be honored at a Veterans Day breakfast where she will have a
chance to meet several Washington dignitaries.
home is small, but her life is big.
On the wall, next to photos of family,
is her photo with President George W. Bush and wife, Laura.
She speaks easily
of her love for Penn State and of her friendship with the late Joe Paterno and
his wife, Sue Paterno.
Sue found out I was having a difficult time attending
games, she said, of Sue Paterno. Right away, she got me a parking
space very close to the stadium.
She also remembers meeting award-winning
actor Tom Hanks.
I said you starred in Survivor, she
said. He never corrected me.
Hanks actually starred in a movie
entitled Cast Away.
Merrill, though taking time for necessary
rest, still remains active.
Involved in the Wyoming Valley Womans Club,
she is looking forward to their selection of Woman of the Year this year.
When asked what her secret to such a long and robust life is, Merrill points to
a plaque on the wall which greets visitors.
Trust in the Lord with all
your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledging
Him and he will direct your path, said Merrill. I believe that.
Athlete of the
Week: Ed Lukowski, Nanticoke Area soccer
Matt Bufano - Citizens
Parents, Ed and Wendy; sisters, Sophie, Amiah and Scarlett.
Ed scored six goals including the 100th of his career in Wednesdays
win against Wyoming Area.
Getting to Know Ed
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite book: Among Heroes by Brandon
Favorite movie: Olympus Has Fallen
Favorite TV show:
Favorite actor: Tom Cruise
Favorite musical artist: Eminem
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite sport to follow: Soccer
Favorite team: Manchester
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite color: Red
Away from soccer, Ed enjoys ...
fishing and playing basketball and hanging out with his friends.
If Ed could
switch places with any athlete for one day, hed switch with ... Cristiano
If Ed could meet anyone in history, hed like to meet ... George
If Ed could travel anywhere in the world, hed travel to
Eds favorite thing about soccer is ... the camaraderie
he develops with his teammates.
The hardest thing about soccer for Ed is ...
staying calm and focused.
One thing Ed cant live without is ... his
Eds biggest role model has been ... his father.
that best describes Ed is ... determined.
Eds biggest fear is ... not
being able to play sports.
Up next, Ed ... hopes to play soccer and study
accounting in college. He is undecided where he will attend.
A new heart for Brian Dougherty
- Citizens Voice
Brian Dougherty was born with
half a working heart.
When his mother, Susan Boncal, was 22 weeks pregnant,
she learned he would be born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The left side
of his heart would be underdeveloped. The right side of his heart was taxed with
pumping blood throughout his entire newborn body.
The 15-year-old from Nanticoke
has dealt with a host of problems, more than many teenagers.
Through it all,
hes been a great kid, said his teacher at Greater Nanticoke Area, Jean Marie
Hockenbury. She has taught Brian as a homebound student for the past six years.
Hes been an amazing kid, she said. Hes always ready
Brian had his first surgery when he was six days old. Before
he turned two, he had been through three open-heart surgeries.
a digestive problem called Protein Losing Enteropathy. The maladies piled up:
malnutrition, stunted growth, cataracts and osteoporosis. Brian started taking
medicine regularly to cope with a list of health issues, and for about seven years,
his health was stable.
Around age 10, problems began coming back. Fighting
the PLE was a constant shifting battle. When he got sick, the problem got worse.
A stomach bug could be life-threatening. His family and physicians did their best
to make him as healthy as possible.
In June of 2014, Susan asked the doctors
treating Brian about a heart transplant. His health had been too poor before for
a transplant. In the spring of that year, the levels in his blood of albumin,
a protein made by the liver, were dropping. Before his health deteriorated, doctors
evaluated Brian for a heart transplant. That fall, they went to Pittsburgh for
a transplant evaluation. He was on the list.
He was at a camp for children
with heart problems when he had a severe heart failure. A doctor admitted him
to the hospital and he started taking intravenous drugs. On June 24, 2015, he
was bumped to the top category of transplant candidates. Two months later, the
call came. A heart was ready.
Brian prepped for surgery. On Aug. 20, he went
into the operating room at 4:20 a.m.
All he and his mother know about the
donor organ is that it came from a young man. Brian has adapted well to his new
For four days after the surgery, Brian was intubated and paralyzed.
He is walking now.
Recovery has brought its own frustrations and victories.
Will he ever catch a break?? Boncal wrote on Brians GoFundMe
Web page after describing trouble with his kidneys, two days after Brian could
have been discharged from the hospital.
And then, in the same post, came a
moment of joy:
On a lighter note, Brian has continuous contractions
in his left foot and ankle due to one of his strokes. As I was massaging his foot
last night (a routine practice these days) I started singing a song (about piggies)
that I used to sing to him as a baby, she wrote Well, he cracked up
laughing and giggling to hiccup point! A priceless moment that the song still
had the same result!!
Brian will stay in Pittsburgh now while he continues
to recover. Doctors monitor his health and perform biopsies to make sure his body
accepts the new heart. The first biopsy showed no rejection. A second test showed
mild rejection. For now, he and his family wait.
Brian said hes feeling
better now. Hes looking forward to his health improving. He wants to try
Ive never done that before, he said.
is hopeful his health will improve.
When the doctors look straight at
your face and say he should not be walking and he is ... , she said. The
podiatrist thats going to be taking care of his rehab said if another physician
came into his office and looked at his MRI and saw what he was able to do, they
would say that was not the same person. Theres no way this person should
be able to walk and function as he can. But it is the correct MRI. I can see the
name and medical record and the time it was taken. I can see the damaged area
of the brain from his first stroke, so I know it is the right MRI, but pretty
much hes a miracle.
Brian is still recovering. He said he is doing
better. For now, he is staying in Pittsburgh, monitored by physicians, gaining
When his health improves, Brian also wants to get back in the kitchen.
He loves to cook. His grandpa taught him how.
I got kicked out of the
kitchen a few years ago, Susan said.
Instead of cartoons, he watches
cooking shows. He likes Guy Fieris Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
His favorite meal to cook is a dish of noodles with meat sauce, and his favorite
restaurant is Nanticokes R Bar & Grill. He recommends the dill pickle-flavored
His goal, powered by his new heart, is to become a chef.
GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/WholeHeartforBrian.
Brandon Murtha sells cupcakes and more from mobile bakery
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
At age 16, Brandon Murtha is already
a successful entrepreneur known for his colorful cupcake camper.
grader at Greater Nanticoke Area High School started his own bakery called Murts
Desserts. He specializes in cupcakes and also makes cakes, cake pops and other
He takes a 10-foot camper to events to sell cupcakes. His family
found the camper on Craigslist, drove to the Poconos to buy it and fixed it up.
When I started this, I wanted to have an ice cream truck about two years
ago. Then, my mom asked me what I would do in the wintertime because you cant
sell ice cream in the winter so I said I would have a cupcake truck, Brandon
said. There were really none around here at the time so then we decided
to start looking for one. And, I started to make cupcakes and I was pretty good
at it so I just kept going.
Brandon taught himself to make cupcakes
by watching YouTube videos. He makes cupcakes for anyone who orders them. People
find him through his Facebook page called Murts Desserts and word of mouth.
Metz Culinary Management has purchased his cupcakes and they are sold in a Starbucks
kiosk on the first floor of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. He makes two dozen
cupcakes to sell in the kiosk each week.
People also have ordered cupcakes
and cakes for birthday and graduation parties and other events. Specialty cakes
he has made included a Minion cake and luau cakes. He recently made and decorated
11 dozen cupcakes with four different flavors to fill an order. He sells cupcakes
for $2 each or $15 a dozen.
Its just something I like to do,
Brandon said. Its fun and people like it when you make the stuff for
He has taken his camper to sell cupcakes in a variety of places
including Nanticoke festivals, outside the R Bar and Grill in Nanticoke and Wyoming
Valley Motors. Brandons dad, Dave Murtha, hooks up the camper and drives
him to events.
When asked what motivates him, Brandon said, I always
try to do things the best I can. When I start doing something, I just want to
finish it until it looks goods and it tastes good.
He said his favorite
part of running a bakery is seeing the people when I give them the things
I make for them.
Brandon juggles his schoolwork with his business as
well as a part-time job as a cashier on the weekends at Wegmans.
Debbie Murtha, said they received a zoning permit from Nanticoke for Brandon to
operate a home-based bakery. He passed a state inspection and got insurance. His
19-year-old brother Nick is a supervisor at Metz and he is studying hospitality
business management at Luzerne County Community College.
Brandon would like
to continue to run a bakery in his future. His advice to other kids working toward
a goal is to just keep going and try your best to do it.
Nanticoke Fire Dept. earns quick response status from
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
The Nanticoke Fire Department
recently earned Quick Response Service certification from the state Department
of Health, a development that the citys fire chief says could help save
The certification as a QRS-worthy emergency response unit will allow
Nanticoke firefighters to aid seriously injured patients they find at emergency
scenes before ambulance crews arrive, according to Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton.
What its really going to do is let us provide a better service to
the citizens of Nanticoke, Hazleton said.
Now that the departments
two engine trucks and their crews are certified as QRS, they can render more extensive
assistance and care to victims of traumatic injury at fire scenes or accidents,
the chief said. While all firefighters are trained in emergency first aid, a QRS-certified
unit has access to more equipment and works under the direction of a medical doctor,
The QRS system in some ways is roughly similar to the 1970s television
program Emergency, according to Hazleton.
If a medic unit
is being delayed for some reason, we can at least start (treatment) until the
ambulance can get there, he said.
All of Nanticokes career firefighters
are certified emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, which is one of several
pre-requisites for agencies that seek QRS status, Hazleton added.
achieved QRS certification last month, after a months-long application process
that Hazleton described as not the easiest thing in the world.
To become certified, the department had to buy medical equipment and supplies
to keep on both of its engine trucks, Hazleton said.
The Nanticoke Fire Department
is among a handful of QRS-certified responders in Luzerne County, the chief said.
He credited Nanticoke firefighter Justin Gildea, a certified paramedic, with playing
a large role in making that happen.
Were fortunate to have a firefighter
who is a paramedic, he said. He coordinates our EMS for us.
The Pennsylvania Code describes a Quick Response Service unit as an EMS
agency that ... uses EMS providers to respond to calls for EMS and provide EMS
to patients before an ambulance arrives.
Former Nanticoke Hospital on auction block, will be sold
to highest bidder
Auctioneers will conduct auction selling the Former Nanticoke Hospital/Medical
Facility at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9 at the facility, 128 W. Washington St., Nanticoke.
The unique property is being offered at absolute auction with no minimums and
no reserves and will be sold to the highest bidder.
Potential buyers may inspect
the facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.
The former hospital/medical
facility/special care hospital resides on 4+ acres and consists of 80,000+ square
Details on the sale may be obtained from Fortna Auctioneers at 800-831-4242
or by logging onto www.fortnaauctioneers.com for a virtual tour.
LCCC trustees support student housing plan
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Luzerne County Community College
Board of Trustees voted Thursday to support a plan for student housing across
from the main entrance of the college campus off Kosciuszko Street.
is not providing funds to build the housing, and Building Solutions LLC of Selinsgrove
plans to build student housing in phases on land currently owned by the nonprofit
Earth Conservancy, college President Thomas P. Leary said. Building Solutions
will determine how many housing units to build and the construction schedule,
A company representative was not at Thursdays meeting. In
a letter of support, Leary wrote that the potential development of housing
is the result of a collaboration between the city of Nanticoke and Luzerne
County Community College and will produce positive growth and economic
The college has a strict separation from Building
Solutions regarding the housing and wont let the company use the college
logo, Leary said at last months board meeting. The board of trustees postponed
a vote last month because some members wanted to modify clauses that could expose
the college to liability and defense payments in litigation.
The company will
not get exclusive rights to student housing, so the college could build its own
student housing in the future or reach an agreement with another company for more
student housing, Leary said.
Student housing should increase enrollment and
be most attractive for students who live outside Luzerne County, officials have
said. Building Solutions has built student housing for other state universities,
Tap: Benny's Brewing Co. expanding in Hanover Twp.
Jim Reeser -
In 2010, Ben Schonfeld started
Bennys Brewing Company in a small room at Martys Blue Room in Nanticoke.
He brewed a barrel at a time and used four converted refrigerators as fermenters.
In a few months, that will all change with the opening of the new Bennys
Brewing Company and Restaurant at 1429 San Souci Parkway in Hanover Township.
Its the next step in Schonfelds maturation as a brewer and it gives
him the opportunity to further market his line of beers.
foot facility features a 10-barrel, open-view brew house, a fully-operational
restaurant with an open view of the kitchen and a beer garden patio.
will be a full bar and Schonfeld plans to have eight or nine of his beers on tap
along with four or five guest beers. Amber Lager, Wit, Pale and Hopenstein IPA
are Schonfelds flagship beers and they will always be on tap.
planning a chalkboard series which will be one-off or experimental
beers. Beer will be available to go. Schonfeld is installing a canning line to
sell 12-ounce cans of his product. In addition, patrons can get growlers and sixtels.
Construction continues on the facility and Schonfeld hopes to start brewing in
the space in November. He hasnt set date to officially open, but said he
hopes it will be by the end of year or early 2016.
While Schonfeld is going
out on his own, it will be business as usual at Martys
Blue Room the place that launched his brewing career. That was
a stepping stone, he said. Its my parents place and nothing
will change there.
unveils 9/11 memorial made of World Trade Center steel
- Citizens Voice
Two sunny September mornings, 14 years and 8 days apart,
could not have been more different.
The community came together on Saturday
as the Nanticoke Fire Department unveiled its 9/11 memorial, made of steel from
the original World Trade Center towers that fell to terrorist attack on Sept.
11, 2001. Uniformed firefighters and emergency responders, elected officials and
ordinary citizens gathered to share the message written on signs seen throughout
the crowd outside the city fire station: Never forget.
The youngest person
holding a sign on the side of East Ridge Street appeared to be Christian Bonk,
almost 4 and a skilled sign-maker, according to his mother, Jennifer
The Bonks sign read: Never Forget 9-11-01. Mother
and son worked together to make the sign on Friday, then showed up early for Saturdays
unveiling to show their support for those who died on 9/11 and for first responders,
living and dead, Jennifer Bonk said. She noted that she has a relative who works
in emergency services.
Christian Bonk, wearing a tricycle helmet with an image
of a dinosaur on it, smiled and quickly answered yes when asked if
he wanted be a firefighter someday.
The Sauers family, of Nanticoke, also
arrived early to support the cause.
It should never be forgotten,
said Mike Sauers, a former firefighter and lifetime Nanticoke resident.
message was hammered home by the speakers at a brief ceremony before the unveiling.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton welcomed visiting firefighters from New York
City, with whom the Nanticoke department retains close ties through local connections.
Those connections helped Nanticoke secure one of the last available pieces of
Twin Towers steel for the monument, through New York City firefighter Carl Scheetz,
according to Hazleton.
Hazleton also pointed to the large turnout of firefighters,
police and emergency medical personnel from throughout the region. The morning
sun glinted off dress blues and well-shined badges as it grew warmer by the minute.
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski spoke of the disbelief and horror he felt
on Sept. 11, 2001, as he watched the towers collapse on television.
day, a group of cowards shattered thousands of lives, he said.
I personally will never forget, he said. This (monument) will
serve as a reminder.
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township,
who graduated from Greater Nanticoke Area High School in 1988, called 9/11 the
defining event of his generation.
The monument made of World Trade Center
steel, as a tangible part of that, will serve as a constant
and eternal reminder, he said.
Then came the unveiling. The monument
reads, in part: All gave some, some gave all. FDNY 343.
Passing the torch: Lukowski breaks father's scoring record
at Nanticoke Area
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice
to 1996, Edward Joseph Lukowski Jr. was the record-setting standout of Nanticoke
Areas boys soccer program.
He continued playing soccer at Wilkes, pursued
a teaching career and four years ago returned to Nanticoke Areas sidelines
as an assistant coach.
All the while, his 163 career points stood tall atop
Nanticoke Areas record books.
There was probably better athletes
than me, better goal-scorers than me, kids that were more skilled, said
an all-too-humble Lukowski. But I dont know what it was that held
(the record) up this long.
The 20-year record, though, finally fell
last Saturday when a current standout, a four-year starter, netted a hat trick
to put him at 167 career points and counting.
The new record-holder is none
other than Lukowskis son, Edward Joseph Lukowski III.
the father, then the son comes along and beats the fathers record,
said Nanticoke Area coach Mark Matusek, who has led the program since 1989. It
was fun to be a part of it, I was really happy for the two of them.
While Lukowski III showed immense potential at an early age, the road to becoming
an all-time Trojan great was anything but easy.
When I was younger,
soccer was every month of the year, Lukowski III said before rattling off
several states he played in. At 10, he was also one of five Pennsylvanians selected
to play in Portugal.
When Lukowski III got to high school he made an immediate
impact, scoring 17 goals and helping the Trojans go from zero wins the year prior
I knew what I had in him as a freshman, Matusek said. The
very first game, he was the best player on the field.
Then came the
Lukowski III missed five games as a sophomore because of offseason
knee surgery. He missed eight games the following season with a pulled hamstring.
I know when I wasnt playing and (my dad) was still coaching, I was
sitting here the whole time, Lukowski III said. It hurt not to play.
Now healthy, Lukowski III is making up for lost time in a major way.
passing his fathers record, the younger Lukowski has tallied six goals and
one assist in two league games. He currently leads Wyoming Valley Conference Class
AA players with 10 goals for the 3-2 Trojans.
In addition, Lukowski III has
followed in his fathers footsteps by parlaying his soccer skills into a
spot on the football team as a kicker. So far, he has kicked eight extra points.
The advice the elder Lukowski gave his son on playing football?
the ball and when guys are coming at you, pretend like youre going after
it, take a bad angle and miss, the elder Lukowski laughed. But he
doesnt. He had two tackles in the game the other day.
elder Lukowski is looking out for his sons health on the football field,
Lukowski III said the best soccer advice he got from his dad was learning to play
With three younger sisters including freshman Amiah Lukowski,
who scored four goals in a game this season Lukowski III is now trying
to be the teacher to them, as opposed to the student he was to his dad.
book will close on Lukowski IIIs high school career after this season with
a school record, at least three winning seasons and at least one District 2 playoff
He is undecided on whats next for him, whether its to continue
playing local college soccer or focusing strictly on academics.
But the four-year
ride with Nanticoke Areas varsity, through its ups and downs, has been an
Its been a very good career here, the
elder Lukowski said. I wouldve liked to have seen him more healthy,
but hopefully we can stay healthy this season. But hes obviously done well
in the time that hes been on the field.
Made us proud.
garden group plans fall festival
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Community Garden will hold
a Fall Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 4, at Luzerne County Community Colleges
parking lot and the Community Garden space, located across from Weis Market on
The Community Garden organization is inviting vendors to participate.
The fee is $20 and an item to be raffled.
Festival hours will be noon to 5
p.m. Vendors should provide tables, chairs and tent or canopy. For information,
contact Becky Seman at 570-793-7910.
GNA borrows $9.3M for school expansion
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School
District will borrow $9.3 million to fund a project expanding Kennedy Elementary,
according to information disclosed Thursday at a hearing.
A 30-year bond issue
will cost $17.9 million in principal and interest payments, and the state will
provide almost $8 million in reimbursements. No one from the public addressed
the board during the hearing.
The expansion will allow the district to close
K.M. Smith Elementary School after the 2016-17 school year. It is currently used
for kindergarten, pre-K and first grade classes and is the only district facility
not on the district campus off Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke.
on Robert Street in the Sheatown section of Nanticoke and also is the districts
oldest facility. It dates back to 1930 and has structural deficiencies, including
not being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
expansion will save $68,400 in annual staffing costs and $50,000 in energy costs.
The new debt will increase the tax rate by 0.3259 mills, and the cost savings
will decrease the rate by 0.1909 mills.
The net result is an increase of 0.1350
mills. A mill is $1 on every $1,000 in property assessment.
The district gets
$620,272 from each mill. The school board in June approved a $26.5 million budget
that maintained a tax rate of 10.4932 mills.
Kennedy, which currently is only
used for second grade, will be used for pre-K, kindergarten and first grade after
the expansion is done by August 2017.
After the hearing, the school board
conducted its monthly meeting and voted to hire Jeffrey Gregory as high school
principal with an annual salary of $88,000. He will replace Joe Long, who will
become an elementary school principal in the Wyoming Area School District.
Gregory has been working as the director of admissions at Lackawanna College and
has administrative experience in the Lake-Lehman, Old Forge and Lackawanna Trail
school districts. He lives in Peckville.
Nanticoke memorial will serve as constant reminder of
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the supply of coveted
pieces of World Trade Center steel for memorials is about to run out.
piece is coming to Nanticoke.
City firefighters will unveil the piece of steel
as part of a permanent Sept. 11 memorial outside fire headquarters on Ridge Street.
With demand for the steel exceeding supply, they were able to obtain a piece as
a thank you for the strong relationships built with the Fire Department, City
of New York (FDNY) over the years.
Its an honor, really, to be
one of the few, said former Nanticoke Fire Chief Mike Bohan, who took part
in the process to obtain the steel before his retirement last year.
this week, the Associated Press reported that fewer than 30 pieces of World Trade
Center steel remained in possession of The Port Authority of New York & New
Jersey at a hangar at the Kennedy Airport that was once crammed to the rafters
with the metal.
The FDNY, which lost 343 members in the terror attacks, only
has about 10 pieces left, said New York City firefighter Carl Scheetz, a member
of the famed Rescue 1 unit in Manhattan and friend to many Nanticoke firefighters.
Scheetz has been FDNYs steel request coordinator since the program began
in 2003 and was the one who helped award Nanticoke its piece. He also helped craft
Were pretty much running out, Scheetz said, noting he
is cutting up smaller pieces as the supply dwindles. Weve been trying
to get it out to as many places as possible for memorials so people dont
Many of Nanticokes firefighters got to
know Scheetz through a Luzerne County native who is a member of Rescue 1 and the
units former leader, Capt. Robert Morris, who taught advanced fire training
classes in Luzerne County.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton said that years
ago they learned Scheetz was the FDNYs steel guy, who crafted
a steel cross he hand-delivered to President George W. Bush.
They wanted a
piece of steel, but didnt think they had a chance to get one.
the years, we were like, Lets not even bother him. Hes
telling us about giving steel to the president and the pope and people like that,
But at Morris retirement party, they approached Scheetz.
So, youre the steel guy? What would be the odds for a small fire department
like ours to score a piece of steel? Hazleton recalled asking him.
outlined the application process, which included a formal letter and plan be submitted
to the citys fire commissioner. He promised to put in a good word for Nanticoke,
which had consistently sent crews to FDNYs Medal Day ceremonies and other
Nanticoke eventually was awarded a piece.
Many FDNY members
plan to return the favor and will travel to Nanticoke for a Sept. 11 memorial
dedication ceremony the fire department is hosting Sept. 19.
have been hard to get, and soon theyll all be gone, Hazleton said.
At the end of it all, we wanted one so people never forget.
Nanticokes piece of World Trade Center steel has been inset
in a slab of granite, which has a plaque affixed to it honoring the bravery displayed
by first responders on one of Americas darkest days.
According to the
recent Associated Press report, steel from the World Trade Center anchors memorials
and exhibits in all 50 states and eight countries. In all, about 1,500 individual
nonprofit groups, governments or museums have been awarded a piece, the report
The piece must be in public view and not be used to make money. Of his
remaining pieces, Scheetz said hes making a steel cross he hopes to give
to Pope Francis.
After dealing with and handling World Trade Center steel
for more than a decade, Scheetz said his duties are a constant reminder of Sept.
But its a good one, because you know its going out for
memorials and hopefully people will never forget what happened, Scheetz
Members of the Nanticoke Fire Department will
unveil a Sept. 11 memorial monument containing a piece of steel from the World
Trade Center. The dedication is Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at fire headquarters, 2 E.
Ridge St., Nanticoke. Any fire or EMS department planning to attend the dedication
is asked to contact fire headquarters at 570-735-5860 with the name of the department
attending and the number of personnel attending.
Earth Conservancy awarded $400K grant for site cleanup
Elizabeth Skrapits - Citizens Voice
On the site of
a onetime strip mine that may one day be an industrial park or housing development,
Earth Conservancy Executive Director Mike Dziak indicated a site behind a strip
of trees that will soon be a new highway.
The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency delivered a $400,000 brownfields grant to the Earth Conservancy
to help clean up the mine-scarred and waste coal-laden Bliss Bank, so that it
can be used for commercial or residential purposes.
What makes the site particularly
desirable is that starting with the bidding of the project in late October, the
$50 million South Valley Parkway is slated to become a reality. The highway will
connect Route 29 and Interstate 81 with Kosciuszko Street, near Luzerne County
Community College and right by the Bliss Bank site.
In addition, a
private developer is looking to build a four-story building on five acres of Earth
Conservancy land near Luzerne County Community College and the Bliss Bank site
that could house up to 250 students, with room to build more, Dziak said during
a press event at the site on Wednesday.
Creating economic opportunity while
cleaning up the environment is the best use of tax dollars, said state Sen. John
Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, who in January 2014 assisted in obtaining a $928,000
state Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener grant to help with
the Bliss Bank site.
While in operation, the Blue Coal company used the Bliss
Bank, located at the intersection of Nanticoke City and Hanover and Newport townships,
as a dump site for mine waste. There was also coal exploration, as evidenced by
the strip pits among the huge culm heaps. Theres also plenty of acid mine
drainage, which finds its way into the Nanticoke Creek watershed.
Executive Administrator Geoff Shaw said the piles of waste coal will be removed
to make the site conducive to commercial and residential development, as well
as reduce the acid mine drainage. Phase II, which is expected to be completed
in fall of 2019, includes grading and contouring the site; stormwater management;
the channeling of Espy Run, a small stream that is lost underground in the mines;
and re-vegetating the site.
Earth Conservancy is extremely thankful
for what the EPA has done, Shaw said.
Since 2003, the EPA has given
Earth Conservancy a total of $2.4 million in grants to help clean up 12 sites,
EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said.
the organization for the great work it is doing, which goes with the federal agencys
focus on making visible differences in communities, both in terms of the environment,
public health and economic development.
This is about quality of life
for our communities, Garvin said.
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport
Township, who attended Wednesdays conference, noted in a statement that
an EPA study showed residential property values increased by 5.1 percent to 12.8
percent after cleanup of nearby brownfields sites once used for industrial
or mining purposes.
Yudichak has a particular affinity for the Earth Conservancy:
His father, Joseph Yudichak, was on the original board of directors when the nonprofit
organization was formed in 1992, and as a child, Yudichak would accompany him
to the sites.
Ive literally grown up with Earth Conservancy,
Then-U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski was the force behind securing the former
Blue Coal land in 1994 for reclamation. The company had been in bankruptcy since
1976, Yudichak said, tying up more than 16,000 acres in the heart of the
Its a great project: A lot of history, a lot of
fights well fought and this is the fruit of those battles, Yudichak
said of the Bliss Bank reclamation.
Earth Conservancy has already reclaimed
thousands of acres for industrial, recreational and residential use; Yudichak
described it as Taking the negative legacy of King Coal and transforming
it into something positive.
Nanticoke City Administrator Andy Gegaris also
thanked the Earth Conservancy for what it has done for the city and LCCC, which
is its largest employer.
group seeking cooks for upcoming contest
Paul Golias - Citizens
It will be chili for supper and
pie for desert in Nanticoke on Saturday, Sept. 19.
The Greater Nanticoke Area
Community Garden farmers market is looking for cooks and bakers to join a chili
cook-off and a pie-baking contest.
Rebecca Seman, garden project coordinator,
said the market will hold its final sales on Sept. 19 on Patriots Square, Nanticoke.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those entering the pie contest are asked to bring
two fruit pies, one for appearance and tasting by judges and the other to be sold
to raise funds for the community garden. Crusts should be homemade. The contest
is open to bakers of all ages. The limit is one entry per contestant and the fee
The chili cooks should bring two gallons, and some will be sold to
benefit the community garden. Fee for the chili contest is $5.
entry forms is Sept. 14. Forms are available at the Mill Memorial Library or via
the community gardens Facebook page.
A health fair also will be held
in conjunction with the final farmers market, she said.
To become a farmers
market vendor, to make a donation or for information on the chili or pie contests,
call Seman at 570-793-7910 or email her at GNA.Community.Garden@gmail.com.
For information on upcoming events, visit the Greater Nanticoke Area Community
Garden Facebook page. The group meets on Saturdays at 1 p.m. at Mill Memorial
Library, off Kosciuszko Street.
Health fair set for Nanticoke
- For Times Leader
Guardian Elder Care of Nanticoke
is sponsoring its inaugural health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 19 in
The event will be in collaboration with a farmers market.
Councilwoman Lesley Butczynski said that there will be approximately 25 vendors,
and more are welcome to join the event.
Butczynski added that
information on a variety of health, wellness and substance dependency topics will
be available. For more information, call Guardian Elder Care at (570) 735-7300.
During the Sept. 2, council meeting, the council confirmed the appointment of
Thomas Wall to the Wyoming Valley Sanitation Authority Board of Directors with
a term expiring on Jan. 3, 2021.
The annual autumn city-wide yard sale will
be held on Sept. 12 with a rain date of Sept. 13, 2015.
The next meeting of
the City of Nanticoke council will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16.
Court: Nanticoke residency requirement unconstitutional
city manager cannot be singled out
firstname.lastname@example.org and Geri Gibbons
That is what a judge had to say about a provision in Nanticokes Home Rule
Charter requiring the city manager to live in the municipality even though other
workers do not.
Luzerne County Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. issued the ruling
Its over, Mayor Richard Wiaterowski told the
Times Leader this afternoon.
And that means City Manager Andy Gegaris, who
lives about 30 minutes away in White Haven, wont have to quit or move.
Gegaris was hired on May 22, 2014 and informed that he had
to become a city resident by May 22 of this year, according to the petition.
At a council meeting earlier this year, local resident and critic, Henry Marks
questioned Gegariss professional qualifications, and inquired about the
managers residency status. Council then authorized solicitor William T.
Finnegan to seek the courts judgment on whether the provision should stand.
Gegaris is the citys third manager since the charter took effect on Jan.
1, 2012, the document points out, and the fifth person to hold the post since
The charter, which had been prepared by a study commission, was approved
by city voters in November 2011.
Nanticoke has just under 50 employees, but
according to the charter, only two are required to live in the community: the
city manager and the city clerk.
Current City Clerk Mary Beth Cheshinski is
a Nanticoke resident.
Burke pointed out that Cheshinski is a part-time employee,
making Gegaris the only full-time employee subject to the provision.
the judge wrote, violates both the U.S. and state constitutions, adding that
the imposition of a residency requirement for the position of City Manager represents
disparate treatment for that position as contrasted to the police, fire, clerical
and public works employees of Nanticoke City who are not subject to the same requirement.
Gegaris is the citys third manager since the charter took effect
on Jan. 1, 2012, the citys petition pointed out, and the fifth person to
hold the post since 2004.
The charter, which had been prepared by a study
commission, was approved by city voters in November 2011.
The City of
Nanticoke is experiencing difficulty in recruiting and maintaining highly qualified
candidates to discharge the significant responsibilities of the position of city
manager in light of the residency requirement which has been imposed in the charter,
the petition states, adding that when Gegaris was interviewed for the post, there
were six people who had applied for the position and none of them resided in the
The City of Nanticoke needs stability which cannot be effectuated
with the high turnover rate in the city manager position, the city argued.
Gegaris on call
The petition also pointed out that Gegaris is required to
be available by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, other than during
vacations, and he has been fulfilling that requirement.
this day and age, technology makes it easy to always be able to contact these
employees in cases of emergency due to the use of cell phones and email,
the petition stated.
The judge agreed, referencing testimony made by Gegaris
when a hearing on the matter was held in July.
Burke wrote that the
potential issue relating to the City Managers availability to handle emergency
matters is further diffused by the credible testimony of Mr. Gegaris, who testified
that he is available virtually 24/7 by way of cell phone service enabling text,
cell email communications on an as-needed basis, including responding to calls
at 4:30 a.m.
Nanticoke late last month became the first city in Pennsylvania
to shed financially-distressed status under Act 47. Burke also pointed out that
an official with the Pennsylvania Economy League, Nanticokes state-appointed
financial recovery coordinator, credibly and persuasively testified
to the excellent job Gegaris was doing as manager, and that in his opinion, the
imposition of a residency requirement would hinder the recruitment of qualified
professionals for the post.
We advertised for the job twice, and
not anyone from Nanticoke applied, Wiaterowski said in an interview.
Noting that the managers post is at-will and dependent on the
support of the current mayor, Wiaterowski also said its not fair
to require Gegaris to pick up and move for a $65,000-per-year job that could be
gone when the political winds change.
Wiaterowski said he plans to consult
with Finnegan about whether and how the charter language needs to be amended in
light of Burkes decision.
Nanticoke manager can stay
City of Nanticoke cant require just two employees to live within the city,
a county judge ruled last week.
Nanticokes home rule charter stipulates
that the city manager and city clerk must live within the municipal boundaries,
but because the charter only asks that of those two employees, the rule violates
the state and U.S. Constitution and is unenforceable, Luzerne County Judge Thomas
F. Burke Jr. said in a order filed Aug. 28.
City manager Andy Gegaris lives
in White Haven. He was hired on May 22, 2014 and the charter gave him a year to
move into the city.
The charter also requires that the city clerk move into
the city within a year of hiring. However, clerk Mary Beth Cheshinski already
lives in Nanticoke.
A Nanticoke resident raised the question of Gegaris
residency at a council meeting, and solicitor William Finnegan asked county court
to decide whether the city charters requirement was legal.
people work for Nanticoke government. The charter only stipulates that the manager
and city clerk must live in the city.
There is no escaping the fact
that the imposition of a residency requirement for the position of City Manager
represents the disparate treatment for that position as contrasted to police,
fire, clerical and public works employees of Nanticoke City who are not subject
to the same requirement, Burke wrote.
Priest finds vocation after teaching career
The Rev. James
Nash of St. Faustina Parish in Nanticoke is an advocate of men considering the
priesthood as a second career.
Thats what he did.
always intrigued him, but he decided to become a teacher first. After 23 years
as an English teacher, he no longer could resist the calling from God and retired
early in 1985 to enter the seminary.
I was a teacher for 23 years and
all of a sudden Im on the other side of the desk, taking notes and doing
research all the things I used to have my students do, Nash, 73,
Nash, then 43, attended Pope St. John XXIII seminary near Boston,
a religious training school that caters to older, second-career men seeking to
become priests. One of Nashs proteges a 50-year-old retired Pennsylvania
Army National Guard officer just entered the school.
they are more sensitive to the fact weve been out in the world and have
life experiences, Nash said. They understand the transition is different
than that of a young man.
Nash said second-career vocations are nothing
new. The earliest followers of Jesus had prior careers, he said Matthew
was a tax collector, Luke was a doctor and Peter was a fisherman.
time at the seminary, Nash said he studied alongside doctors, lawyers and military
Nash, originally from Hanover Township, was ordained a priest in 1989.
His first assignment was at Our Lady of Snows Church in Clarks Summit, serving
as assistant to Monsignor John Bendik, who is now the priest at St. John the Evangelist
Church in Pittston.
Looking back, I feel so blessed he was my first
pastor. He showed me what it is to be a priest. He was a tremendous role model
for me, Nash said.
Nash spent five years there before being assigned
for a year as an assistant pastor at then-Holy Trinity Church in Nanticoke under
Monsignor Bernard Toloczko.
After that, Nash was appointed to lead his own
church, Holy Name of Mary in Montrose.
The promotion was rare at the time
because normally priests had to serve nearly two decades as an assistant before
being appointed to lead their own church, Nash said.
The 10 men from the Diocese
of Scranton currently in the seminary will likely be assigned their own church
rather quickly because of the priest shortage, Nash predicted.
theyre going to have to, Nash said. They arent going to
be assistants very long.
In 2005, after 10 years in Montrose, Nash returned
to Nanticoke, which had six Catholic churches at the time. He was appointed to
lead Holy Trinity, Holy Child and St. Stanislaus. Within a few years, he was also
placed in charge of St. Josephs and St. Marys. St. Francis was closed.
There were five open churches at one point, he recalled.
the churches were consolidated into St. Faustina, with the former Holy Trinity
location as the main worship site and St. Marys as an alternate site.
With the continuing shortage of priests, the diocese is asking lay people to step
into the roles of parish life coordinators to run the churchs day-to-day
business while priests focus on sacramental duties.
People have to start
thinking differently, Nash said. Priests arent always going
to be available, but the parishes will remain, Nash said. The positive
side of all this will be if it calls out people to live out their baptisms. Maybe
the shortage is the catalyst.
Nash said well-respected mentors in the
Catholic community helped shepherd him to become a priest. He thinks everyone
in the faith could and should do the same when they see a person with potential
to become a priest.
Although our diocese is pursuing vocations, we all
have to be vocation directors, Nash said. If you see a person who
would make a good priest, say something. Maybe youll plant the seed in him.
LCCC student housing plan on hold
P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
An agreement to bring student housing to Luzerne
County Community Colleges Nanticoke campus is on hold.
At a work session
before Wednesdays board of trustees meeting, several board members asked
to modify some clauses in a proposed agreement with Building Solutions LLC of
Selinsgrove. They expressed concerns that the agreement could expose the college
to liability and defense payments in litigation.
If the company agrees to
renegotiated terms, the board could vote on the agreement at its meeting on Sept.
24, board Chairman Carmen F. Magistro said.
Under the proposed agreement,
Building Solutions would build student housing in Nanticoke within walking distance
of the college campus, college President Thomas P. Leary said. The college would
not provide funds for the housing and would agree to promote the housing to students,
Leary defended the proposed agreement at the work session and
seemed eager for a vote at Wednesdays meeting.
We have an opportunity
to accomplish this, Leary said. We cant do it on our own.
The agreement has a strict separation between the college and company
and would prevent the company from using the college logo, Leary said. The company
would determine where to build and how many units to build, he said, adding it
would have an economic impact on the city of Nanticoke.
also will not get exclusive rights to student housing, so the college could build
its own student housing in the future or reach an agreement with another company
for more student housing, Leary said.
Student housing would increase enrollment
and would be most attractive for students who live outside Luzerne County, several
board members noted. Building Solutions would initially build housing for several
hundred students in phases, Leary said.
The company has built student housing
for other state universities, he said.
Wyoming Area hires new principal
P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Wyoming Area
School Board voted Tuesday to hire Joe Long, the principal at Greater Nanticoke
Area High School, to be the principal at Sarah J. Dymond and Montgomery Avenue
The annual salary for Longs new job will be $82,000,
Superintendent Janet Serino said. Last month, the school board approved a medical
leave of absence for Robert Kaluzavich, who had been principal at Dymond and Montgomery
Avenue elementary schools and will retire at the end of the school year.
district interviewed 12 applicants for the job, Serino said. Long, 51, lives in
Jenkins Township. He was the principal at Greater Nanticoke Area High School in
2014-15, and for eight years prior to last school year, he was the principal of
two elementary schools in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.
school board on Tuesday also voted to close the districts tennis courts
because of safety, surface and structural concerns. The district plans to remove
unsafe lighting and poles on the courts.
The district also plans to execute
an agreement that allows district tennis players to use Pittston Area School District
Nanticoke officially sheds financially distressed status
State Sen. John Yudichak has heard a lot about
Pittsburgh from his colleague Sen. Jay Costa.
The City of Champions
stuff. Reminders that the city is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, six-time winners
of the Super Bowl.
Today, I have one up on Jay Costa, said Yudichak,
D-Plymouth Township. A municipality in his district became the first city in the
state to leave financially distressed status.
After nine years, Nanticoke
will leave the states program for financially distressed municipalities.
Other boroughs and townships have left the program, but Nanticoke is the first
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin
made it official with his signature at a ceremony Monday at city hall.
the state legislature passed the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act in 1987,
the Department of Community and Economic Development has declared 29 municipalities
distressed, according to DCEDs website. The cities of Farrell in Mercer
County and Aliquippa in Beaver County have been in the program since its inception.
The largest city in the program, Pittsburgh, has been financially distressed since
2003. In Luzerne County, West Hazleton borough left in 2014, and Plymouth Township
The financially distressed municipalities program, known as Act
47 after the law that created the designation, provides loans, grant funds
and technical assistance to local governments to help them improve their finances.
Act 47 grants allow municipalities to fund their plans for leaving distressed
status, said Lyndsay Kensinger, DCED communications director.
recovery included changes in the earned income tax and professional help to develop
a recovery plan.
Former mayor John Bushko remembered assuming his office in
2006, the year Nanticoke joined the Act 47 program, and looking at the city finances.
From 1970 to 2005, Nanticoke changed. In 1970, close to 14,600 people lived in
the city, according to U.S. Census figures. By 2010, about 10,500 people lived
there. The citys population also grew older. In 1980, about 13 percent of
residents were older than 65. In 2000, about 23 percent of residents were at least
that old, according to the citys first financial recovery plan.
with a shrinking population, the citys physical area didnt change,
the 2007 recovery plan pointed out.
The miles of streets to be plowed
and repaired and the sewer lines to be maintained are likely to remain the same
despite an exodus of taxpayers. Similarly, the loss of population does not necessarily
reduce the demand for public safety services, the report read.
heavy debt and taxes at their limit, something had to be done, Bushko
The city prepared an Act 47 application. The designation allowed the
government to raise the earned income tax on residents from 0.5 percent to 1.5
Thats really what helped us out of the hole, Bushko
The states Act 47 fund also provided two zero-interest loans to
Nanticoke, totaling $900,000, according to the citys most recent financial
plan. The city is repaying those loans, and owes $445,000 on the principal.
While in Act 47 status, Nanticoke government adopted a home rule charter. The
charter allowed it to continue its higher tax rate.
City manager Andy Gegaris
said the tax rate is set at what it needs to be to provide adequate services.
Were not going to sacrifice public safety. People look for a safe,
clean community, including full-time police and fire services, he said.
A sewer project in the citys downtown will likely need an increase in sewer
rates to pay for it, he said.
Not raising taxes is what put us here
in the first place, Gegaris said.
The city also hired consultants from
the Pennsylvania Economy League to coordinate its recovery. Gegaris said he plans
to apply for a grant to continue the $24,000 annual contract with PEL for two
The removal of the designation is part of a larger pattern of
positive change in the city, Mayor Richard Wiaterowksi said. He thanked former
mayors Bushko and Joseph Dougherty for beginning and continuing the program. Now,
he said, the city is seeing investment from Luzerne County Community College and
Geisinger Health System and a planned sewer project and new downtown streetscape.
Im thrilled, Wiaterowksi said.
Nanticoke city first in state to leave Act 47 distressed
City is first in state to leave designation under Act 47
With a stroke of Dennis
Davins pen, the City of Nanticoke exited distressed status Monday afternoon.
The city was assigned distressed status under Act 47 in 2006 and became the first
city to exit the status Monday.
Davin, Department of Community and Economic
Development secretary, credited city officials with making tough decisions that
made fiscal improvements a reality.
He assured attendees at Mondays
announcement at City Hall that Gov. Tom Wolfs policies would ensure the
building of strong, stable communities all across the commonwealth.
Davin said the decision was a result of careful review of the citys financial
records following a public hearing held on June 22.
The termination makes
Nanticoke the first city and 10th municipality of the state to exit the program.
In contrast, Scranton has not been able to obtain the measure of financial health
necessary to leave the program and continues to struggle, having entered the Act
47 program in 1992, with no tangible hope for leaving the program on the horizon.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, addressed those gathered, saying
the city was making history, calling the announcement incredible.
West Hazleton Borough, also in Yudichaks district, recently exited distressed
A decade ago, news from Nanticoke was all bad, said Yudichak,
reflecting on Nanticokes need to borrow a police cruiser from Wilkes-Barre
to put policeman on the street and a pronounced deficit.
He credited current
and past community leaders with making financial success possible.
credited the Pennsylvania Economy League with drafting an effective recovery plan
for the city.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski called the exit from distressed status
the beginning of a new chapter for Nanticoke.
The days of
borrowing funds for operating expenses is no longer, he said.
the administration, staff and citizens with hard work and support.
several developments aided the citys return to economic health.
a county-wide reassessment allowed Nanticoke to increase collection of property
taxes in the long term.
It also began operating under a Home Rule Charter
in 2012, enabling an increase in revenue.
City Manager Andy Gegaris has assured
residents that while he is extremely grateful that the city will no longer be
deemed distressed, the real success lies in its commitment to sustaining its recovery,
maximizing its scarce resources.
Rick Vilello, of the Governors Center
for Local Government Services, said he considered the opportunity to address those
gathered a real honor.
I know the challenges and the hard
decisions necessary to get here, he said. Its wasnt easy,
but it certainly was worth it.
In Focus: Nanticoke first city to shed states Distress
experience with Nanticoke City has never been one of distress.
town known for its great people who could play basketball, make kielbasa and hold
elective office at all levels.
Yet there was an atmosphere of joy Monday when
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin joined
state and local officials to sign a determination letter honoring Nanticokes
request for termination of distressed status as determined under Act 47.
will be the first city and 11th municipality to exit the program.
may have been financially distressed, but this city and its people never had their
Its been a long haul for the city to go from that
$2.4 million deficit in 2006 when the general budget was around $5 million, to
becoming the first city in the history of the Commonwealth to have its distressed
State Sen. John Yudichak said, it is a remarkable
accomplishment. He said many other towns have wallowed in distress
Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, has represented Nanticoke for years,
first as a state representative and lately as its state senator. He is a proud
graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School and he knows the struggles the
city has been through and he knows the people.
Before Mondays meeting
with the state Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin, I
took a ride around Nanticoke looking for signs of distress.
What I found was
a city improving.
Oh sure, there remains some blight Mayor Richard
Wiaterowski and the City Manager Andy Gegaris have that in their long-term plan
but there is a lot of new to Nanticoke.
Just drive down Main Street
and you will see a new mega-building built by Geisinger Health System, the Luzerne
County Community Colleges Culinary Arts School and Commonwealth Health Systems
And you can rely on places like Rite Aid, Burger King, Weis Market,
Sanitary Bakery and the aesthetically beautiful Patriot Park in the center of
Distress was difficult to find, and that is due to the commitment
made by the mayor and city council, all city employees and the tax paying residents.
Its been a true team effort.
Nanticoke is famous, legendary even, for
its great athletic teams.
Yudichak told me there are plenty
of state championships to back that up, along with many more contenders. Nanticoke
embraced the school merger decades ago and school spirit permeates the towns.
The Trojans and Trojanettes still offer high-caliber competitive teams with that
small town feel. That feel of one community, one school, one constant goal.
Remember those days of Coach Syl Bozinski and those basketball teams?
Secretary Davin talked about lifting the distressed status, he talked about the
challenges the city faced. He mentioned the tough decisions and the difficult
None of it was easy, he said.
And thats nothing
new for this city.
It has always faced adversity head on and attacked, never
retreating, whether it be on the basketball court, the softball diamond or the
accounting office. This latest victory and it is an historic victory at
that is typical of Nanticoke and its people.
Yudichak talked about
his Democratic leader in the Senate, Sen. Jay Costa, who is from Pittsburgh, often
referred to as the City of Champions. Its hard to argue with that title,
given the number of Super Bowl victories alone.
But today, I have one
up on Sen. Costa, Yudichak said. The City of Nanticoke has made history.
This is a title well-earned.
Yudichak remembers those dark days when
Nanticoke was in the news every day and always with a negative slant. He talked
about the days when Nanticoke had to borrow a police cruiser from Wilkes-Barre
because there was no money to purchase one. Yudichak remembers the battles at
public meetings, the concern about jobs and pensions and public safety.
took courage, he said. The city leaders came up with a game plan and
the mission is now complete. Tomorrow only gets better if you work hard today.
Tools to succeed
DCED determined that the city has eliminated structural deficits
and has greatly reduced debt service payments. The city now has the tools to make
the decisions necessary to maintain responsible budgets, meet its obligations
to vendors and creditors and provide essential services to city residents.
Weve had our fiscal house in order for some time now, Gegaris
But the road to a better future will have bumps too, Gegaris said. Taxes,
for instance, will likely rise not dramatically, but gradually to assure
that the fiscal house stays orderly.
It has been a long, rough road to this
day. The city has lost that negative perception of being fiscally distressed.
Syl Bozinski would be proud.
program set to launch for Luzerne County children in October
after-school SHINE program is ready to start in Luzerne County and has secured
more than $1 million in funding, officials announced Monday.
The program will
start at seven schools in October and serve roughly 500 students from nine schools
in Luzerne County. Officials announced more details about the program during an
event at Heights Murray Elementary School, and the Wilkes-Barre school will be
one of the seven locations for the program.
Jeanne Miller, the programs
interim director, said an interview process is currently underway for program
teachers. The program will have 17 teachers and eight home visitors,
who will start assisting Kindergarten students at their homes in September, Miller
Miller was the director of Carbon County SHINE Schools &
Homes In Education. The program has been operating in Carbon County for 10 years.
The after-school program is for students in kindergarten through eighth grade,
and the curriculum will be project-based STEAM Science, Technology, Engineering,
Arts and Mathematics. Wilkes University is the Luzerne County programs administrator.
Today, we are here to announce that we have reached a first-year funding
goal of $1 million to open the SHINE program to 500 children in five Luzerne County
school districts, said state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township.
In July, the Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded $831,454 to the program
when allocating local slots revenue from Mohegan Sun Pocono. The city of Wilkes-Barre
applied to get slots revenue for the program.
The United Way of Wyoming Valley
will provide $160,000 over two years for the program, and the Greater Hazleton
United Way will provide $10,000 over two years. The William G. McGowan Charitable
Fund will provide $50,000.
Yudichak said he and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton,
are proud cheerleaders for this program and noted local educators
will drive this program. Barletta, who also spoke at Mondays
event, said its a proven program that will help at-risk
Educators have already selected children to participate in
the first year of Luzerne Countys program, and most schools have waiting
lists, Miller said. The Luzerne County program is expected to expand to 800 students
in its second year and 1,000 students in the third year.
Local school districts
wont contribute funds and only have to provide facilities and equipment
for the after-school program. The other locations for the first year of the Luzerne
County program are:
The Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center
in Plains Township for middle school students from GAR Junior/Senior High
School in Wilkes-Barre and the Greater Nanticoke Area and Hanover Area
the West Side Career and Technology Center
for Wyoming Valley West Middle School students;
The Hazleton Area Career
and Technical School for Hazleton Area Middle School students;
State Street Elementary School in Larksville;
Area Elementary Center in Nanticoke;
Maple Manor Elementary School
in Hazle Township.
Fire Department mural will honor 9/11 first responders
- Times Leader Correspondent
A sacrifices emergency
responders made after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 will be commemorated
at the city fire department with a mural.
The city council on Wednesday gave
permission for Nanticoke artist Leonardo Davenport to paint a mural on the side
of the fire hall.
Davenport said that the murals
theme will be Never Forget 9/11 and will be dedicated to the first
responders whom Davenport names as the firefighters, paramedics, police,
and those serving the emergency medical community.
The mural will face
Davenport also stated that his goal is to have the mural completed
by the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy Sept. 11, 2016. Anyone wishing
to contribute to cover the expenses associated with the completion of the mural
may utilize the website www.gofundme.com,
where an account soon will be created.
Grove Street resident Ann Paveletz
addressed council regarding an issue that she has described as greywater
running from her neighbors property. Paveletz stated that she has spoken
with numerous people regarding the situation, which she said is causing
damage to her property.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski said that this was the first
time he heard about the situation.
Wiaterowski and his family were out of
the area on vacation when Paveletz first spoke about the water damage at the Aug.
5 council meeting.
Immediately after the adjournment of this evenings
meeting, Wiaterowski introduced himself to Paveletz and her husband, Bill, giving
them his personal guarantee that the problem will be addressed.
He and council
members remained after the meeting to speak with the family, and Ann Paveletz
said she was pleased the mayor took the time to personally address the problem.
The following events also were announced:
The Valley with a Heart will
host the 15th Annual Benefit Ride & Family Picnic to benefit seriously ill
children on Sept. 6 at the Holy Child Grove in Sheatown. Call 570-735-5333 or
570-675-1504 for more information.
The annual City Wide Yard Sale will
be held on Sept. 12, with a rain date of Sept. 13.
PIAA upholds D2 ruling on Berwick transfers
Stephen Pianovich - Citizens Voice
A PIAA Board of Appeal unanimously
upheld District 2s ruling that two WVC student-athletes are ineligible to
play football at Berwick this season.
It was ruled by the district in June
that Jules and Damon Beckhorn transferred from Nanticoke Area to Berwick for athletic
reasons which is against PIAA rules.
The Beckhorns appealed the decision,
and after nearly two-and-a-half hours of testimony Wednesday that was closed to
the public and media, the states athletic appeals board found the same result
as District 2 in a 5-0 vote.
The Beckhorns were represented by a new attorney
in the hearing, Steven Hoffman, who practices in Allentown.
After the vote
was announced, Hoffman said he and the family were disappointed.
believe this has been wrongly decided based on hearsay based on a Facebook post
that nobody has been able to establish was written by Damon, Hoffman said.
Hoffman said there was no new evidence presented Wednesday, and one of his main
arguments was around the Facebook post.
On an account under Damons name,
the post read Berwick football coach on my couch talkin (sic) to my parents
and was made before the two students transferred.
Hoffman said Damon denies
writing the post.
Representatives from both Nanticoke Area and Berwick were
in attendance Wednesday, and the schools have each previously voiced they thought
the transfers were made with athletic intent. Nanticoke Area head football coach
Ron Bruza was at the hearing, but Berwicks George Curry who has been
at the center of the controversy was not.
Curry denied any recruiting
or wrongdoing after the District 2 hearing in June. The winningest coach in PIAA
history, Curry previously announced that he will be resigning as the Bulldogs
head coach after the 2015 season.
Like the District 2 board, the PIAA was
also unanimous in its decision.
The states voting board was comprised
of James Zack (District 4 Chairman), Douglas Bohannon (District 3 Vice Chairman),
Robert Hartman Jr. (District 11 Chairman), Audrey Hall (Girls Athletic Representative)
and Dennis Nemes (Private Schools Representative).
The Beckhorns are
allowed to play any other sport at the school during the 2015-16 school year,
and they could practice with the football team. But they cannot appear in football
games or scrimmages.
With the football season just more than two weeks away
and the Beckhorns out of options to appeal, the family still might seek further
legal recourse, according to Hoffman. Hoffman said were going to explore
filing a lawsuit against the PIAA, but he did not know if it would definitely
happen or a timetable on such an action.
Berwick Superintendent Wayne Brookhart,
who has been dealing with the situation since the school shut down its program
for an internal investigation on the matter in May, said he is ready to put it
in the rearview mirror.
Am I ready to move forward? Yeah, absolutely,
said Brookhart, who was one of three Berwick administrators at the hearing. If
they file a suit, well get everybody together again and say the same things
we said the last two times.
Senior citizens celebrate at new Rose Tucker Center in
crowd of about 100 or so at the new Rose Tucker Active Adult Center were sipping
coffee and munching treats Wednesday as they awaited the grand opening ceremony
And then singing DJ George Rittenhouse played an Elvis Presley song.
The place erupted into a dance club with many seniors dancing and gyrating to
Gail Voyton, director of the center at 145 E. Green
St. in the former Pope John Paul II School that closed nine years ago, said the
new location opened July 6 and it offers much more space than the previous center.
She said the clients have been raving about the new gathering spot.
relocation has not been much of an adjustment for our seniors, Voyton said.
I think its been more of a celebration.
Voyton said seniors
enjoy the social aspects of the center where they have lunch and play games and
plan trips to casinos and other events.
One of his first songs Rittenhouse
played was Ramblin Rose, a fitting tune for the center that
is named in memory of former Luzerne County Commissioner Rose Tucker.
Gregory, who will turn 89 in October, said the new center has attracted more people.
I love the camaraderie, she said. We plays games like pinochle
and bingo and pokeno. Were taking a bus trip to Mount Airy (casin0) to hear
a Barry Manilow impersonator.
Dorothy Dougiallo, 81, said she enjoys
the socializing at the center.
I like everything here, she said.
Theres always something fun for us seniors to do.
and Gregory were at a table with Maxine Carey, 71, Loretta Minsavage, 91, Bernadine
Aciukewicz, 82, Marion Samselski, 82, Marion Bertoni, 82, and Janet Martin, 76.
This is a great place to pass the time, Bertoni said. It takes
a couple of hours out of our day. It gets us away from cleaning our houses.
John Marcinkevicz, 92, enjoys the meals and he loves to play cards. He also loves
to spend time with all the women, who outnumber the men about 15 to 1.
I stayed at home, Id be staring at the four walls, he said. Here,
I meet a lot of people and have some fun.
Marcinkevicz brings his harmonica
and plays a few tunes every day, like You Are My Sunshine, and Down
in the Valley.
Marcinkevicz said the women at his table are all girlfriends.
And then he said, And there are a few more over there.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and Rep. Gerald Mullery,
D-Newport Township, attended the ceremony and offered comments.
the centers grand re-opening a celebration of the continued revitalization
of our beloved hometown of Nanticoke.
Yudichak said just a few years
ago the center was located on Main Street and had to be relocated to make way
for Luzerne County Community Colleges Culinary Arts Institute a $30
million investment in Nanticokes downtown.
He said progress is being
made on the Nanticoke Streetscape project and more good news is on the way with
investments in Main Street and Patriot Square that could attract new businesses.
Mullery said the opening of the Rose Tucker Active Adult Center is another step
forward in the revitalization of Nanticoke.
The remodeled parish center
provides our senior citizenry with a modern and pristine gathering center,
Mullery said. Nine years ago, my heart broke when Pope John Paul II School
closed its doors. Today, my heart was full of joy seeing the refurbished building
filled with grateful constituents.
Yudichak praised the effort to keep
the center in Nanticoke and he heaped more praise on Rose Tucker, for whom the
center is named.
In Luzerne County, we have unique institutions.
he said. We have great traditions and we have special people. In Rose Tucker,
we had all three wrapped in one. She was a trailblazer and a shining example of
how with hope in your heart can do great things, no matter your age or station
Tucker was the first woman in Luzerne County history to be
elected county commissioner as a Democrat and the first woman to chair the Luzerne
County Board of Commissioners.
And she did it all after her 60th birthday,
That was more music to the ears of the centers clients.
It was only rock n roll & they loved
it A nostalgic look at sixties rock n roll with Eddie Day
William C. Kashatus - Citizens' Voice
is a staunch supporter of community involvement. As state representative for the
121st District, Pashinski is a tireless worker for health care reform, public
education and services for the elderly.
But once in a while, he re-lives the
good old 1960s when he was a popular local musician who played all the old haunts.
Known as Eddie Day, Pashinski was the lead singer for various rock
n roll bands, including the Star Fires, the Nightimers, and TNT.
The Star Fires, in particular, were so successful that their song Youve
Done Me Wrong scored in the Top Ten of the local record charts in 1966.
On Saturday, August 15, Eddie Day and the Star Fires will host a summer reunion
dance with Joe Nardone & the All Stars, another popular 60s band, at
Irem Temple Country Club, Dallas. Those who attend the event will be able to turn
back the clock to a more innocent time when rock n roll embodied a
young generations hopes, dreams and aspirations.
roll originated in the United States in the 1950s. Heavily influenced by
rhythm and blues and country music, rock also drew strongly on a number of other
musical genres such as folk, jazz and classical.
like Little Richard and Chuck Berry initially dominated rock. Their lyrics emphasized
romantic love, and later social issues.
Unlike pop musicians, who played the
piano and had their songs written for them by professionals, black rockers composed
their own songs. It was also a guitar-based genre that emphasized rhythm, not
During the 1960s, however, white, male musicians became more prominent,
political lyrics were introduced and rock became an expression of social consciousness.
Rock was, in many ways, the by-product of changes that were taking place within
American society: racial integration, the sexual revolution, consumerism and the
widespread diffusion of the radio, the juke-box and the 45 RPM record that put
teens from far-flung communities in daily contact.
While discontent and dissent
already existed in white mainstream society, it exercised very little influence
over the masses. But rock n roll offered a powerful conduit for an
entire generation of young people who began searching for an identity. The process
would continue for decades, having a reciprocal influence on the evolution of
rock music, its lyrics and expression.
Eddie Day and the Star Fires helped
introduce rock music to this region. Organized as a garage band in the late 1950s
by drummer Richard R. Jay Gumbravich and bass player Roger Griff
Griffith, the Star Fires added singer Eddie Day Pashinski a few years later when
he was an undergraduate at Wilkes College.
At the time, Pashinski intended
to become a math teacher. But a visit to the Fred Waring Music Work Shop at Shawnee-on-Delaware
in Monroe County in 1963 changed all that. Waring, a famous musician in his own
right, convinced Pashinski that if he wanted a career in music, he had to study
the subject. So he changed his major and, as he would later say, the decision
changed my life.
Like other contemporary bands who took the name
of a popular car, the Star Fires were named after a trendy Oldsmobile model. The
group soon became the house band at Hansons Amusement Park at Harveys Lake
during the summer and the Star Fire Ballroom in Wilkes-Barre during the winter.
We would draw a thousand people when wed play on a weekend night,
500 or 600 on a week night, said Pashinski in a recent interview. It
was the thing to do.
Success followed when the group began performing
with some of the top recording artists of the 1960s, including Chubby Checker,
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Bobby Goldsboro,
Freddie Boom Boom Cannon, the Four Tops, Shirelles and the Shangri-Las.
Bobby Goldsboro was one of the nicest artists we ever worked with,
recalled Pashinski. Once, he lost a pair of his good shoes and asked if
he could borrow a pair from us. Charlie, one of our band members, agreed. But
after he completed his performance, Bobby left town with Charlies. Last
time I heard, Charlie is still looking for Goldsboro and those shoes!
Soon the Star Fires were recording songs on the Laurie and Bell record labels.
They made four recordings, all on 45 rpm singles. The best known was Youve
Done Me Wrong, which reached No. 8 in the top ten on the local record charts
After graduating from Wilkes with a degree in Music Education, Pashinski
became a music teacher and choral director in the Greater Nanticoke Area School
District. He also held several union positions, including chief spokesman, vice
president and president of the GNA Education Association, and president of Luzerne
County Coordinating Council. He also kept performing.
Pashinski left the Star
Fires when he was in his early 20s and began his own band called Eddie Day
and the Nightimers. Over the years, the group evolved into Thee Eddie
Day Groop, and finally, Eddie Day and TNT.
There were also
dramatic changes in rock music itself. The early 1960s were a simpler time,
explained Pashinski. We were a dance band that only played Billboard Top
40 songs like Stand By Me and My Girl. These were dance
As the decade unfolded, the music began to change from dance
to concert music, so we were forced to do a combination of songs. The music also
became more political. We started to play Revolution by the Beatles,
Aquarius by the Fifth Dimension, and You Cant Always Get
What You Want by the Rolling Stones.
Eddie Day and his various
bands also played different genres of rock, including progressive (Pink Floyd),
heavy metal (Led Zeppelin) and psychedelic (Sly and the Family Stone).
genres of the late 1960s also had a good solid beat, but it was more gutsy than
the music we played earlier in the decade, said Pashinski. But we
never played songs based on genre, we played songs if we thought people would
dance to them.
There were changes in clothing and hair styles, too.
In the early 1960s, the Star Fires wore their hair short and dressed in matching
outfits. By the mid-1960s, Eddie Day and the Nightimers adopted Edwardian style
jackets, dress slacks and Beatle boots. At decades end, Eddie Day and TNT
eliminated the matching outfits, grew their hair longer, wore bell bottoms, bright
colors and paisley patterns reflecting the psychedelic mood of the times.
Pashinski and his bands were also forced to become entertainers as well as musicians.
One of the things that set them apart from other groups was their unique ability
to dazzle audiences with professional showmanship, more complex production equipment
and an engaging experience.
We went from playing dance halls and school
dances to playing the college and club circuit, said Pashinski. But
we were always professional. We never used profanity or appeared in revealing
clothing, which many of the nationally-known rock bands were doing by the end
of the decade.
In 2006, Pashinski ran for an open seat in the 121st
District and won election to the State House of Representatives where he still
serves today. A recent widower, he is the proud father of four children and seven
grandchildren. He also returned to the Star Fires.
The current group consists
of Pashinski, a vocalist who also plays keyboard; Griffith, who became an ordained
Presbyterian minister and is now retired; drummer Gumbravich; vocalist Charlie
McCuen and saxophone player Bob Gardner, along with recent recruits Louis Cossa
on keyboards and Sheffee Abram on guitar.
People still love rock and
roll dance music, Pashinski said. Im 18 when Im on stage
and the people dancing are teenagers again. I think we are all truly blessed that
we can still go out there and relive those wonderful times again and again.
Nanticoke amends Project Labor Agreement
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
The City Council voted
to amend the citys Project Labor Agreement at Thursday nights meeting.
The agreement assures that individual unions will only need to sign documents
once, instead of multiple times as has been the case on various occasions.
Council President William Brown stated that the resolution will provide for more
efficiency as well as the Saturday and Sunday overtime for city employees
will be clarified.
The deadline to apply for the Luzerne County 2016 Gypsy
Moth Suppression Program is Aug. 14.
The individual request for treatment
states that in order to qualify for the program the property that is requested
to be treated must meet the following criteria: (1) There must be a residence
on the property. (2) Residence must be within 200 feet of the forest. In addition,
the property may not qualify if any of the following exist: (1) Property is commercial.
(2) Adjacent properties are not participating. (3) Tree species are not favorable
to gypsy moths. (4) Adjacent property owner(s) are opposed to aerial application
There will be no extensions for the submission of the applications.
Residents who do not qualify for the program can look for other options, such
as searching for additional programs or hiring a private company for the treatment.
The Greater Nanticoke Area Community Garden Organization will host a Farmers Market
from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 15. For more information, contact Rebecca Seman
at (570) 793-7910.
The annual autumn city-wide yard sale will be held on Sept.
The council will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 19.
Paul Golias - Citizens
What began as a routine good deed
day for a Boy Scout and his dad in Nanticoke became an once-in-a-lifetime heroic
good deed morning that likely saved some lives.
14, a member of Boy Scout Troop 418, and his dad, Frank Marshallick, 49, an assistant
scoutmaster in the same unit, continue to receive awards and plaudits for their
bravery in entering a burning house to save people.
The occupants of the six-unit
house on Green Street Nanticoke, and their pets, escaped. The Marshallicks were
unhurt but soot-covered and, remarkably, they were calm during and after the episode,
Frank Marshallick said. He credits their involvement in scouting for bringing
them through the experience.
Feb. 21 began as a project day for Troop 418.
Jared Marshallick and his fellow troop members were out putting doorknob hangers
on houses, advising that the Scouting for Food program would
be looking for bags of food on the following Saturday. The donated food is taken
to the pantry run through St. Faustina Parish.
We ran out of hangers
and we were returning to the American Legion Home (Post 350 sponsors the troop)
to get more hangers, Frank Marshallick said.
that house is on fire, Jared yelled as they drove on Green Street.
We saw smoke coming out from under the eaves and from bottom windows,
his dad said. The two jumped out of the car and Frank Marshallick called 9-1-1,
only to get a busy signal, he said. Another guy also could not get through
(to 9-1-1), he said.
People were trying to get a door open, Frank
Marshallick said. He told them to back up, and he then kicked
in the door. The smoke was heavy. It was totally black. You couldnt
see beyond your own face, he recalled.
He said people began yelling
that dogs, cats and a bird were in the house. The father and son went to a first-floor
window and pulled burning curtains out of the way. The blaze then blew out another
window, Frank Marshallick said.
A six-year-old child came out a door
and we asked him if anyone else was in the house. He said, Yes, my mom and
dad and sister and brother, Frank Marshallick said. The situation
was now more serious than endangered pets.
Father and son went up a flight
of stairs and began yelling at people to get out. Someone said they had
to get their dogs, Jared said. I tried to help them get the
The roar of sirens and approaching fire trucks scared
the dogs and they ran back into the building, Frank Marshallick said.
hectic episode continued with a woman coming out of the house, carrying a two-month-old
baby. The Marshallicks restrained the six-old-old who had exited earlier from
returning to the house but the woman took the baby across the street, gave the
baby to someone to hold and then amazingly went back into the house.
fighters ordered everyone out and the woman and her husband came back out,
Frank Marshallick said. The dogs, pit bulls, also ran out and the Marshallicks
took one and fire fighters took the other to safety.
It was a two-alarm
fire and damage was extensive, Frank Marshallick said. A second house
also was damaged.
The Marshallicks have received commendations from Congressman
Lou Barletta, state Sen. John Yudichak, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, Nanticoke Fire
Department, Mayor Richard Wiaterowski and the American Legion. Still to come is
a Boy Scouts of America heroism award.
We are really proud of them,
Scoutmaster Matthew Matyas said.
Frank Marshallick, a sheet metal worker in
Local 44, and Jared, a Star Scout working his way toward the coveted Eagle Scout
rank, said their actions came naturally, an outgrowth of the scouting experience
in which the motto Be Prepared and the scout laws admonition
to be brave are repeated at weekly meetings.
As they sat for an interview,
troop members began a weekly meeting with recitation of the scout oath, motto
and law. Fifteen scouts and six leaders were on hand in a troop that, founded
in 1996, boasts of some 40 Eagle scouts, a remarkable average of two per year.
Matyas, 24, has been scoutmaster for one year, succeeding Chester Prymowicz who
served in 2013-14. Matyas said Scoutmaster Michael Nestorick, who died in 2013,
gets the credit for launching the troop and creating the culture of service and
advancement. Matyas, a teacher at Crestwood High School, himself earned the Eagle
rank under Nestorick.
Troop 418 will camp this summer at Camp Winnebago in
Rockaway, NJ. The unit hikes and camps regularly, including treks to Civil War
battlefields, historic sites such as Valley Forge and the USS New Jersey and on
the Appalachian Trail and other trails.
One scout working toward Eagle is
creating a butterfly sanctuary that will be located on the Susquehanna Warrior
Trail in Plymouth Township.
Troop 418 is the lone unit in Nanticoke. Our
scouts are dedicated. This can be a rugged experience. We have football players
who juggle their schedules to stay in scouting. We work to build pride. The Marshallicks
heroism is another chapter in our history, Matyas said.
Email the unit at Troop418nanticokebsa@gmail.com
Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m., Nanticoke American Legion, 23 W. Broad St., Nanticoke.
Regional Scout council: www.nepabsa.org
Nanticoke man working to ensure inmates who kill are
Williams wont ever allow his sons death to have been in vain.
His son, Eric Williams, 34, had only handcuffs, keys and a radio and was the only
corrections officer working a cell block at the U.S. Penitentiary Canaan in Wayne
County when he was killed Feb. 25, 2013.
A federal grand jury indicted inmate
Jesse Con-Ui on first-degree murder charges in June 2013. Prosecutors are seeking
the death penalty in the trial scheduled for July 2016.
Don Williams is working
to improve conditions for prison employees. He also wants more severe penalties
for inmates who kill or injure corrections officers.
Williams founded Voices
of JOE, a political advocacy group whose primary purpose is to lend a voice to
the families of corrections workers as well as corrections workers themselves.
The group held its first roundtable discussion Wednesday night Wednesdays
meeting at the Watson Inn, Watsontown.
Williams, of Nanticoke, started the
group that seeks to identify on-the-job safety concerns for corrections workers,
promote and support legislation pertaining to safety of corrections workers, and
raise awareness of the dangers encountered in working within the prison system.
I made a commitment to my son upon his death that I wont allow him
to have died in vain, Williams said Thursday. I wont be satisfied
until these concerns are acknowledged and rectified. Im not looking to attack
people and have heads roll. Im looking for change for protection
for those working in prisons and for justice for inmates who attack them.
Voices of JOE is named for three fallen corrections officers Jose Rivera,
Osvaldo Albarati and Eric Williams. All three were killed by inmates. Rivera was
killed at a federal prison in California and Albarati was killed when he left
his job at a facility in Puerto Rico.
Williams said Wednesday nights
meeting went well.
Williams said there was a discussion about a recent decision
by a U.S. Attorney to accept a plea bargain for Jose Riveras killer.
The inmate was doing life in prison already, Williams said. They
allowed him to plea out and gave him another life sentence.
said the decision has caused a tremendous response in the corrections community.
Thats like painting a target on all prison workers, he said.
If an inmate kills a corrections officer, nothing will happen. We feel the
same thing could happen to Erics killer.
Williams said he and
members of Voices of JOE feel the U.S. Attorneys Office threw in the
towel by accepting the plea bargain.
We all found it unacceptable,
he said. They never went to trial. They just gave up.
said Voices of JOE has asked federal legislators to do a retrospective review
of the case. The group wants U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to look into
it as well.
Williams said the first meeting also discussed safety issues within
the corrections system, including staffing ratios and special housing.
concerned about reducing prison population to save money, Williams said.
And too many inmates who should be in special housing are being integrated
with the general population. That was the case with Eric. His killer should have
been in special housing.
Williams said more and more reports of inmates
attacking corrections officers are being heard.
The inmate populations
continues to rise, while staff is being cut, he said. Thats
a formula for disaster.
Williams said Voices of JOE is calling for oversight
hearings in the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate.
the death penalty should be invoked in cases where an inmate already serving a
life sentence kills an officer or another inmate.
Even if youre
not a supporter of the death penalty, common sense tells you that you cant
allow these inmates to get no penalty for killing someone, Williams said.
Some of these cases are slam dunks. They are caught on video. You cant
murder somebody and have nothing happen.
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming
Township, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville,
all had representatives attend Wednesdays meeting. Marino sits on the House
The federal death penalty needs to remain a viable
option available to the Department of Justice as a way deter and protect our officers,
Marino said the first meeting of Voices of JOE brought together
the corrections officers union and elected representatives and gained a great
deal of clarity about the state of our federal prisons and issues facing correctional
Casey said meeting participants discussed the overall concern
that prison officers and their families have about the dangerous nature of their
work. The need to ensure that correctional facilities are staffed by an adequate
number of guards was also discussed.
Prison guards take incredible risks
every day, Casey said. We have an obligation to prison officers and
their families to take common-sense steps to ensure theyre safe on the job.
Allowing more prison officers to carry pepper spray could make all the difference
when it comes to an attack from an inmate.
Toomey said the murders of
corrections officers are horrific and shocking. Toomey favors expanding the use
of pepper spray.
While some level of risk will always be present in
a prison, Congress can and must do more to protect our correctional officers,
work will reduce Route 29 to one lane
Eric Mark - citizens Voice
Motorists should expect travel delays on the South
Cross Valley Expressway (Route 29) thanks to a major resurfacing project that
The project will reduce Route 29 to one lane in both directions
in some areas between the John S. Fine Bridge and Interstate 81 in Nanticoke,
according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The lane closures
and roadwork start at 7 a.m. today on Route 29 South, PennDOT said, in a news
release. Starting Friday, Route 29 North will also be reduced to one travel lane,
Significant travel delays are possible in the four-mile work
area, as crews install a new center median guide rail in addition to the milling
and resurfacing work, PennDOT cautioned.
The single lane pattern will continue
until late October, when the $8.9 million project will be halted for winter, according
to PennDOT. Work will resume on the project next spring and finish next summer,
if things proceed as planned by PennDOT.
Nanticokes Steve Bilko joins a shrine for those
who made an impact on baseball
swing of the late Nanticoke native Steve Bilkos bat could cause quite a
So could the reputation of his legendary minor league career.
when you put them together, it creates a legendary game-changer.
the type of player The Baseball Reliquary members are looking for when they vote
players into their Shrine of the Eternals promoted as an alternate to the
National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The difference is,
in Cooperstown, you have to be among baseballs statistical elite to get
in the Hall of Fame, said Terry Cannon, the executive director of The Baseball
Reliquary, which sponsors The Shrine of the Eternals. We throw the record
books out the window.
As a result, some pretty controversial figures
from baseballs history came through The Shrine of the Eternals door.
Pete Rose is in. Shoeless Joe Jackson is in The Shrine of the Eternals,
said Gaylon White, a member of The Baseball Reliquary who co-introduced Bilkos
induction into The Shrine of the Eternals during a ceremony Sunday in Pasadena,
Curt Flood, who challenged the Philadelphia Phillies for the right
to free agency, is in there, too. So is Dick Allen, one of the most controversial
players in Phillies history. Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseballs
color barrier, is among the 51 members inducted since The Shrine of the Eternals
was formed in 1999, along with infamous Players Union negotiator Marvin Miller.
They stand side-by-side in the Shrine with gentler giants of the game like Roberto
Clemente, softball icon Eddie Feigner and Dr. Frank Jobe, the godfather of Tommy
The bigger their impact on the sport, the more likely they are
to be considered for the Shrine.
These were people who made important
contributions to the game, Cannon said, people who were good leaders,
trailblazers. Their contributions came in other ways than statistical contributions.
As an example, Cannon points to Glenn Burke, who played only four major league
seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland As but was inducted into
the Shrine on Sunday along with Bilko and Sy Berger.
Glenn Burke was
a pioneer, Cannon said of the former fleet outfielder, who died of complications
from an AIDS-related illness in 1995 and whose induction Sunday was accepted by
his sister, Paula Hunt and introduced by media producer/director Doug Harris,
who co-produced the 2010 documentary OUT: The Glenn Burke Story.
was a gay athlete, Cannon continued, he was the first player in baseball
to play while everyone knew he was gay a perfect kind of candidate The
Reliquary would consider for The Shrine of the Eternals. What were interested
in is their impact on the baseball world outside of the record books.
Each April, The Baseball Reliquary a national organization of 300 members
sifts through 50 nominations and enters a vote. The top three vote-getters
are automatically elected into The Shrine of the Eternals, which included Flood,
Doc Ellis and Bill Veeck Jr. in its first induction class in 1999 and later honored
Bilkos Nanticoke neighbor Pete Gray a one-armed outfielder for the
St. Louis Browns who passed away in 2002 and was inducted into the Shrine in 2011.
For now, artifacts from and historical references about the inductees can be found
in the large Centennial Room of the Pasadena Central Library in Pasadena, California
where Sundays induction ceremony was held but arent
likely to remain there for an extended duration.
Unlike the Baseball Hall
of Fame, which houses busts and relics honoring its inductees in a museum in Cooperstown,
New York, The Shrine of the Eternals kind of floats through different stops in
Were more like a traveling museum,
Cannon said. Were spread out all over Southern California. We dont
have a home base.
But Bilkos lasting legend and popularity as
a minor league player apparently hit home with The Baseball Reliquary voters.
A whole wing of the Pasadena Central Library is dedicated to Bilko, who suffered
a heart attack and passed away in 1978 after walloping 313 home runs over 13 minor
league seasons. He did it while displaying superhero power that mesmerized the
Pacific Coast Leagues Los Angeles Angels from 1955 through 1957 at
a time when the city didnt yet have a major league team and played
parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues while accumulating 76 home runs with
six different teams.
He was so big, it still resonates, Cannon
said. People still talk about him. That was the big leagues for the Los
Angeles area. He was such an important cultural figure. There were a lot of hitters
who didnt do that well in the major leagues but had these extraordinary
minor league careers. Guys like Bilko, who were huge talents but never quite made
it at the major league level, kind of roamed the baseball planet and had a great
impact on large generations of fans. Im sure it resonates with The Reliquary.
Thats one of the reasons why, Im sure, he was voted in.
Greater Nanticoke Area to put cameras on school buses
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
The Greater Nanticoke
Area School Board approved the monitoring of student activities on the district
school buses at Thursdays meeting.
The monitoring will consist of both
audio and visual cameras installed on the coaches.
Only Bob Raineri and Frank
Shepanski, both of whom were absent from the meeting, did not vote for the measure.
The board also approved policy changes that add cyber school attendance requirements.
Cyber school requirements previously had no minimum time of attendance. Beginning
with the new school year, the attendance requirement will be set at 2.5 hours
per week per course.
Kenneth James, of the athletic department, asks that
anyone who has knowledge of GNAs former athletes, contribute their information
to the Greater Nanticoke Areas Committee to Honor Past Athletes. James said
that he wants to make sure that no one is forgotten.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera stated that how students dress needs to be discussed
during the August board meeting. Grevera added that many of the students need
to begin dressing in a more appropriate manner.
The board will
meet next at 7 p.m. on Aug. 13.
Bilko throws out first pitch of Angels game on honorary weekend for his father
Its been a good
bit since Stephen Bilko played the part of a three-sport star at Nanticoke High
So naturally, the son of the famed minor league slugger by the same
name was a little nervous before his debut on a big league mound.
dont even know if I can reach home plate, Bilko said.
no ordinary warmup toss, though.
Bilko threw out the first pitch Friday before
a game between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim Stadium, kicking
off a big weekend of festivities for his late father Steve Bilko.
of the most revered home run hitters in Pacific Coast League history nearly 60
years after he played for the minor league Los Angeles Angels, Nanticoke native
Steve Bilko will be inducted posthumously Sunday into the Shrine of the Eternals,
a traveling baseball Hall of Fame museum in Southern California that recognizes
the achievements its inductees accomplished off the field as well as on it.
I didnt realize the enormity of my fathers popularity out here,
said Stephen Bilko, who joined his brother Tom Bilko among the 10 Bilko family
members on hand to celebrate the honor this weekend.
Both Stephen and Tom
Bilko played on Nanticoke High School teams that won Wyoming Valley Conference
championships in baseball, football and basketball about a decade after their
dad made his legend as a minor league Babe Ruth while playing for the Angels.
Steve Bilko went on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels
during their inaugural seasons in major league baseball among the six different
big league clubs he played for.
Stephen, a standout wide receiver, later signed
a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns in 1973 (back before the NFL established
a team-by-team draft) and went to training camp with the Browns before suffering
an injury that ended his pro football hopes. He still lives in Nanticoke and spent
35 years as a teacher at Nanticoke High School before retiring, and still lives
Tom Bilko went on to become an orthopedic surgeon and spent his fellowship
working under reknowned sports surgeons Drs. Robert Kurlan and Frank Jobe. Tom
Bilko, who now lives and practices in the Chicago area, also spent some time in
the 1980s as the team doctor for the New England Patriots and Boston Bruins, working
on former NFL standouts John Hannah, Irving Fryar and Tony Eason.
first started playing when my father played with Detroit, Tom Bilko said.
Next thing you know, we were playing Little League. We both played football
and baseball and basketball in high school. People dont realize, my father
was all-league at Nanticoke in football as a freshman. He did track and field,
would go from a baseball game to do field events in high school.
was selected to throw out the first pitch as Steves oldest son, but Tom
was standing close by before Fridays first pitch.
You never know
what can happen, Tom joked. If, by some circumstance Steve is not
able to throw, I am capable of stepping in. Hell probably need treatment
before or after the pitch.
Thats my doctor talking,
Stephen Bilko quipped.
Berwick players appeal to PIAA
Stephen Pianovich - Citizens Voice
The two brothers who were ruled ineligible
to play football at Berwick last month have appealed the ruling to the PIAA, District
2 Chairman Frank Majikes confirmed Thursday.
Jules and Damon Beckhorn, two
students who planned to play for Berwick and coach George Curry this fall, will
likely not have their appeal heard by the PIAA until the second week of August,
No official date or place has been set for the appeal hearing.
By a 10-0 vote, the District 2 athletic committee ruled last month that the Beckhorn
brothers transferred from Nanticoke Area to Berwick for athletic purposes, which
is not permitted under PIAA rules. That vote came after a four-hour hearing at
Dallas High School that featured testimony from representatives from Berwick,
Nanticoke Area and the Beckhorn family.
Majikes said the Beckhorns will be
notified of an exact date and place for the hearing as soon as one is set. And
though the PIAA has a meeting slated for next week, the Beckhorns hearing
will not be discussed due to so many other ongoing issues, Majikes said.
tough right now because a lot of people are on vacation and theres a lot
of other hearings they need to address, Majikes said.
as they know, the family will be notified by (PIAA executive director) Dr. Robert
The controversy around the transfers started in May when Berwick
shut down its program for two weeks for its own internal investigation, which
ultimately found no conclusive evidence Curry recruited players, Berwick
superintendent Wayne Brookhart said last month.
Curry, who is resigning from
Berwick after the 2015 season, has maintained he did not recruit the two brothers
to his program.
city manager, solicitor challenge residency requirement in county court
A Nanticoke administrator
says living outside the city does not impact his ability to do his job.
Manager Andrew Gegaris maintained his position from a witness stand Thursday in
Luzerne County Court.|
But one city resident argued thats not the point.
The home rule charter is the law of this city, just like the Bible is the
law of God, Henry Marks said in court Thursday.
Gegaris, who lives in
White Haven, testified before Judge Thomas F. Burke in support of a city petition
challenging the legality of a charter provision requiring the city manager and
city clerk live within the city limits.
Hired on May 22, 2014, Gegaris had
until May 22 of this year to become a city resident.
The charter does not
place such a residency requirement on other municipal employees.
solicitor William T. Finnegan in his closing statement to Burke said courts have
long-upheld the legality of residency requirements, but they have not allowed
for distinction between subclasses.
Finnegan said his argument against
enforcing the provision is rooted in the equal protection and due process clauses
of the U.S. Constitution, which provide for equal treatment under the law.
He also noted that courts historically have struck down laws when finding them
in violation of the Constitution.
But Marks who did not formally testify,
but rather made an unsworn statement before the bench argued that the law
is the law, and the the mayor and council are picking and choosing which
provisions to enforce.
Marks also said Gegaris agreed he would move
to Nanticoke when he was hired, but has not kept his word. Until then, he said,
he admired the city manager.|
If you cant take a man at his word,
what can you take him for? he said.
Marks said he supports the home
rule charter, but disagrees with the individuals in charge. Near the end of his
statement he attempted, to deep sighs from Gegaris, to issue other criticisms
of the city manager before an objection from Finnegan shuttered the attack.
Former Luzerne County controller Walter Griffith, who resides in Trucksville but
operates an auto repair business in Nanticoke, also argued against striking down
the residency requirement.
The people of Nanticoke chose the home rule charter,
he said, suggesting the responsibility for changing the law should rest with those
citizens and not the court.
To make requirements moot or somehow watered
down defeats the purpose, Griffith said. We stand on very slippery
Burke took the matter under advisement at the conclusion of
the proceeding. He is likely to issue a decision by order at some date in the
claims Legion crown
Tom Romanelli - Citizens Voice
Nanticoke American Legion baseball team rode the hot bat of Mike Sulcoski to the
championship and a berth in the regional tournament.
Sulcoski, who was named
playoff MVP, went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs in an 11-1 win over
Greater Pittston on Tuesday.
Two of those hits were for extra-bases, including
a double and a home run that put the exclamation point on the afternoon.
just need to keep playing our game and keep doing what were doing,
Sulcoski said. We are making quality at-bats and our pitchers are making
Both Nanticoke and Greater Pittston, after knocking off
defending champion Swoyersville earlier in the afternoon, are headed to the regional
tournament beginning this weekend in Bloomsburg.
The kids worked hard
all year and we came around and played great defense, had good pitching, and timely
hitting, Nanticoke coach Joe Yudichak said. We put it all together
in this tournament to lead us into regionals this weekend.
was hitting on all cylinders right out of the gate.
With a run already across
in the inning, Mike Blazaskie laced a bases-loaded RBI single into center field
to plate two runs. Two batters later, Steve Kreitzer came up big with a double
down the left field line to add two more runs to the total.
seven runs in the inning.
Blazaskie, who started the game, carried the momentum
from the bats onto the mound. He picked up the win and pitched three innings.
He allowed one run and struck out six batters.
After holding Nanticoke off
in the bottom of the second Greater Pittston got one on the board.
by Gavin Malampy and Tyler Dougherty brought Steve Homza to the plate. He delivered
for his team an RBI single to right field cutting their deficit to 7-1.
came up in the bottom of the third inning and answered right back.
by Kreitzer and single by Tyler Myers gave Christian Pack an opportunity with
a runner in scoring position. He did his job and got the run in with a ground
out to shortstop.
Sulcoski would drive another run in with a RBI double in
the inning giving Nanticoke an eight run lead.
After Myers drove in a run
with a double in the fourth inning, Nanticoke took a nine run lead into the bottom
of the fifth inning. Sulcoski promptly ended the game with a home run over the
left field wall.
For Greater Pittston, Dougherty went a perfect 3 for 3 at
I have the utmost confidence in my players (going into regionals),
Greater Pittston coach Jerry Ranieli said Its baseball, so you never
know what is going to happen. Whoever plays the best baseball will win the tournament.
Nanticokes newest police officer breaks rewrites
history at established department
the citys first female police officer in the police departments history,
Kara Kroll made history as she took her place among fellow officers.
manager Andy Gegaris, however, is quick to point out that Kroll was not hired
because she was a woman, but because she was the person most qualified for the
She fills a vacancy created when a member of the force transitioned to
a school-based officer.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski and Chief William Shultz
joined Gegaris in expressing confidence in Krolls abilities, having served
with the Newport Township Police Department and coming through the civil service
system, placing third.
Shultz took a moment to reflect on his own career which
started 41 years ago when he joined the Plymouth Township Police Department.
They gave me a gun and a badge, he said, I learned on the job.
Four years later in lieu of a raise, he went through Act 120 training, and the
rest is history, now having served on Nanticokes police force for 25 years.
Its an added benefit that Kara is already trained, he said.
She has experience and gets along well with other officers.
a 2010 of Wyoming Area, said she looked forward to her tenure of the force with
Ive always wanted to help people, she said.
Being a police officer gives me a chance to do that.
has not been without challenges. With crime sporadically increasing and drugs
and related crimes at issue, the 16-member force, including two part time officers
consistently works to keep residents safe by any means possible.
is certified as a firearms instructor, and two offices have also been trained
in rifle and handgun instruction.
Two detectives on the force are intensively
trained to address drug related and violent crimes.
It seems that since
2002, use of heroin seems to have quadrupled, said Shultz. We live
in an area where a lot of people are addicted to drugs, and we need to aggressively
He said the city also experiences cyclical crime such as
vehicle break-ins and burglaries, which happen frequently over the period of a
month or two, and then cease when the perpetrators are caught, or move to another
He said the department was being brought in 21st century, embracing
technology and forensic science in such areas as DNA testing
however, that the present administration, including the mayor and city manager,
will make a difference in the long term.
Were committed to long
term sustainability, said Gegaris, using existing funds effectively
Gegaris said the city would also pursue available grants
and consider a tax increase.
I think more officers on the department
would make the city safer, he said, public safety is our number one
concern, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to combat crime.
I believe with these two men in charge, in several years, we will have a
whole new Nanticoke, said Shultz, also crediting the support of Sen. John
Gegaris and Wiaterowski both said they invite residents to voice
their concerns during office hours they hold every two weeks.
operates with transparency, said Gegaris, and we welcome input from
authority approves distribution of $12.7 million in slot revenue
A state authority approved the distribution this morning
of $12.7 million in slot revenue from Mohegan Sun Pocono to help fund 54 economic
development and civic improvement projects in Luzerne County.
range from $831,000 to help Wilkes-Barre operate an after-school program that
promotes learning in science and math to $600,000 to assist Medico Industries
in Hanover Township with upgrades to its facility and a new press line. Other
approved projects include:
Hazleton, $475,000 to help renovate the former
Security Savings Bank building into a performing arts center.
$500,000 to renovate Public Square into a new hub to foster technology.
Lake, $450,000 to install flow meters at sewage pump stations.
Borough, $150,000 to help with start up of North East Pennsylvania Land Bank Authority
and acquire and demolish blighted property.
Wilkes-Barre, $100,000 to help
build new outpatient clinic for Children Service's Center.
to acquire and demolish 26 properties in downtown corridor.
$200,000 to continue efforts to create Northeast Luzerne Co. regional police department.
Wyoming, Exeter and West Pittston boroughs, $500,000 to improve stormwater and
The funds were distributed to projects in municipalities across
The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved the annual distribution
by a unanimous vote without debate. The distribution was established by a 2004
Grohowski is finalist in pageant
Rose Grohowski, 17, daughter of Diane and Eric Grohowski, Nanticoke, has been
chosen as a state finalist in the National American Miss Pennsylvania Pageant
Aug. 16-17 at the Hilton Harrisburg.
The National American Miss pageants are
held for girls 4-18 and have five age divisions. Grohowski will participate in
the teen age division. The winner of the pageant will receive a $1,000 cash award,
the official crown and banner and air transportation to compete in the National
Pageant in California where she will receive a complimentary tour of Hollywood
and two tickets to Disneyland.
Grohowski participates in basketball, field
hockey and track.
She cares for an injured foster dog from Blue Chip Animal
to trap, neuter Nanticokes stray cats gets underway
Mendygral could not have chosen a more fulfilling way to spend a Sunday morning.
While many were still reading their morning paper or recovering from holiday festivities,
Mendygral and other volunteers from Happy Hearts & Tails, a non-profit organization,
were setting traps for about 20 feral cats in areas of the city with high populations
of the felines, so they could be neutered and returned to their home environment.
The early morning activity marked the beginning of a two day Trap-Neuter-Return
(TNR) effort that will conclude later today, with cats being returned to their
home colony, neutered, having received a rabies vaccination and with ears tipped
for future identification.
The event is a cooperative effort among Happy Hearts
& Tails, the city of Nanticoke and the Eastern Pennsylvania Animal Alliance
(EPAA) a non-profit, providing a spay mobile to neuter the felines.
The EPAA also provided spay and neutering services for pets of area residents
who previously had appointments.
The organization has a full staff including
veterinarians, Mendygral said. They had a full day and did a wonderful
She said the TNR program improves the lives of feral cats, improves
their relationships with area residents and decreases the size of colonies over
It also reduces undesirable behavior such as spraying or cat fighting,
She said cats are generally healthier after they have been neutered,
with a reduced incidence of infection and less physical stress from repeated mating
The effort however, requires a great deal of commitment and effort
on the part of volunteers. After the traps are placed, they must be monitored
until a cat is trapped. The cat must then be removed and kept overnight awaiting
Sunday began early and ended late. she said. Early
morning and at dusk are the best times for successfully trapping.
said volunteers literally didnt sit down throughout the day, moving from
one location to another.
As she speaks, her concern for the long term benefit
of the cats is evident.
Im motivated to do this because I love
the cats, she said. Perhaps because there arent a lot of people
Mendygrals efforts to address feral cats have been strongly
backed by city officials.
City Manager Andy Gegaris said residents have come
to him with concerns in regard to cats that seem to roam the city, spraying peoples
porches, getting in cat fights or upsetting domestic cats.
He said the cooperation
of the city reflects not only a willingness to address an overpopulation of feral
cats, but a willingness to keep an open dialogue with residents in regard to any
concerns they might have.
I dont know if this is the complete
solution, said Gegaris, but I think its worth a try and certainly
better than ignoring the problem.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski agreed.
Were working to make the city better in any way possible, said
Wiaterowski. We value resident input.
The program is taking place
at no cost to the city.
Those interested in contributing to TNR efforts can
do so by accessing http://tlgets.me/i7h. Checks
made out to Dawn Mendygral with TNR Project in the memo
line can also be mailed to or dropped off at City Hall.
Activist questions Nanticoke 911 times
Crime Watch President Travis
Buchanan encourages group members to refrain from handling dangerous situations
by themselves. He directs them to immediately call 911 and then to wait for police.
Recently, he says, that wait has been unnecessarily long.
Police Chief William
Schultz disagrees, telling the Times Leader that each and every call to 911 receives
a timely response.
Of course, sometimes one issue might have priority
over an another issue. For example, a domestic issue may have priority over suspicious
activity in a playground, he said, and some calls warrant only a phone
Buchanan, a resident of South Nanticoke,
cited three incidents in which he alleges he called 911 and was met by inadequate
On June 21, he called 911 with a report of a black Escape
driving around his house, with its passengers yelling derogatory remarks. He said
an officer did call back, but had the response been quicker, police could have
directly addressed the issue rather than simply looking into it after the
On June 19, he alleges that a blue Mercedes and a blue
Chrysler Sebring were parked in close proximity to his house, engaging in suspicious
It seemed that one of the passengers got out of his vehicle
and threw money on the seat, said Buchanan. Then they were discussing
something that seemed to be hidden on the floor of the car.
alleges that a call to 911 resulted in a wait time of about 30 minutes, and that
the responding officer did not have access to information he previously relayed.
I asked the officer if he had seen the vehicles as they exited the area,
Buchanan said, and he said what vehicles?
May 18 Buchanan says he was hit by a dirt bike that was traveling at a high rate
of speed in his neighborhood.
At about 9 p.m., I was hit by a vehicle
which was not registered, was not legal to have on the roadway and was operating
in a dangerous fashion, Buchanan said. When I called 911, it took
almost an hour and a half to get a call back. Then I was asked why I was in the
Need to prioritize
City Administrator Andy Gegaris said
that in his 13 months on the job, he has fielded only one complaint regarding
Gegaris said that although the overwhelming majority of city
residents are upstanding, law abiding citizens, there is a small undesirable element
that the police consistently address.
I support our police 110 percent,
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski said he also supports the police, believing
their responses are timely, while acknowledging their need to prioritize.
Fellow Crime Watch member Jill Kochanski said she shares
Buchanans frustration with police response.
Kochanski alleges that on
June 28 she called 911 at about 5 p.m. complaining about a very large white
Ford with a red trailer attached, that was blocking an alley, and therefore
blocking access to her garage.
It was a least an hour between the time
I called and the time that the truck was moved, said Kochanski. The
police never made contact with me.
Kochanski said she got involved with
the group because she had a desire to gather with like-minded residents concerned
about their city.
Sometimes at a meeting, someone will share a concern
about someone loitering around a certain area and someone will step up and say,
that person was also hanging out near my home.
said in the past she believed police were quick to respond to 911 calls.
remember almost exactly a year ago, there was a problem across the street and
I called and they were here in two minutes, she said. I dont
know what happened.
Her concern, she said, was that a call would go
out in regard to a more serious incident without timely response.
wouldnt want to report a prowler in my neighbors house and then have
him wander around there for over an hour, she said.
Both Kochanski and
Buchanan credit Nanticoke with being poised to leave distressed city status under
the states Act 47. They question, however, if the city has the resources
to sustain its police force.
Perhaps we need more police, or police
on a different schedule, said Buchanan.
The chief, meanwhile, said he,
too, is looking for more information.
Its difficult because Travis
has been both a witness and a victim in multiple cases, said Schultz. I
am also still waiting for him to provide specific dates and times of calls he
said he made to 911.
Schultz encourages residents to call 911 in regard
to any crimes or troubling incidents they observe.
Twins not only best friends, but business partners
Bob Kalinowski, - Citizens Voice
Webmaster Note: Edited from original article
They grew up together, lived
together, went to school together and have done just about everything in life
together. They are not only twins, but best friends.
And for two sets of local
twins, the togetherness continues in the workplace as business partners.
and Jason Negron operate a gyro shop and a cheesesteak business in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
They just celebrated 10 years since they took over and grew the family business.
Meanwhile, Brianne and Brittany Dougherty recently assumed ownership of a growing
day care theyve managed since it opened in Newport Township four years ago.
So do these twins ever get sick of being around one another? Both sets said not
We actually hang out with each other outside of work. Were
always together, Brianne Dougherty said. The business has brought
Joan Friedman, a psychotherapist who is one of the nations
leading experts on twins, says identical twins often make good business partners.
And she knows a lot about the topic. Friedman is a twin and also has twin sons.
She has authored several books about twins.
Identical twins that get
along the best, and choose to go into business together, are the pairs of twins
who use their skills to compliment the other, rather than threaten each other
or be competitive, Friedman said.
The Dougherty sisters
and Brittany Dougherty, 27, went to school to become teachers and obtained degrees
in elementary and special education.
After filling in as substitute teachers
one school year, they sought a summer job and heard about a day care opening.
They started working there and never left.
Now, they own the place.
The twin sisters from Nanticoke recently purchased Magic World Child Care Center
at 14 Kirmar Parkway in Newport Township. As directors, theyve built the
business over the years from a small center with eight kids into a center now
caring for more than 40 children.
And they love it.
Not being able to
immediately land a teaching job after college was a blessing in disguise, the
Dougherty sisters said.
Were happy we didnt because we couldnt
have asked for anything better than this, Brittany said on a recent day
after being mobbed with hugs from a group of youngsters. Were still
able to do our passion and teach children.
Brianne agrees that it all
worked out better than they planned.
This wasnt something we originally
thought about for our future. Now, we couldnt imagine doing anything else,
Brianne said. For us, its more than a business. Our hearts are in
it. Its been our livelihood the past four years.
Unlike the Negron
twins, the Dougherty sisters dont live together. They also parted ways for
college. Brianne went to Bloomsburg University, while Brittany went to Wilkes
But, of course, they sought and obtained the same degree.
We separated for college and then we got back together, Brianne joked.
Now, their corporation name is the same as what they were called in high school,
Twin Dough, pronounced twin dock.
The sisters say
they love their work because they get a sense of pride seeing children thrive
in their program.
Seeing them advance through our program from infancy
or toddlers, all the way up to pre-K and seeing them graduate, its so rewarding,
Brittany said. Its a big thing to see them graduate from barely
being able to speak to being ready for kindergarten.
2015 Coming to America: The Bau family
By Jennifer Bau from Times Leader
The story of Guerrino
Bau, my grandfather, began in 1922, when he was born to Giovanni Bau and Felicia
Testaguzza Bau in Nanticoke. That same year, Benito Mussolini came to power in
Italy. Soon after Guerrino was born, Felicia took him back to Italy, leaving Giovanni
in Nanticoke to work in the coal mines. She returned to America two more times,
staying just long enough to have her other two sons, Dominic and Luigi.
February of 1929, Italian school teachers took a loyalty oath to Mussolini, which
included recruiting and brainwashing Italian youth with Fascist doctrine. My grandfather
remembers propaganda posters glorifying Il Duce. In 1932, Guerrino
was indoctrinated into the National Ballila, a Fascist youth organization.
One of the first days of his training, 10-year-old Guerrino walked up to his command
sergeant and told him he did not want anything to do with the Black Shirts because
he was an American citizen. The sergeant was offended and badly beat Guerrino.
My grandfather vividly remembers the day when the Black Shirts came to his village
of Pergula. The Black Shirts came looking for items of value and demanded his
mothers wedding ring. She told them the ring was in America with her husband.
The soldiers did not believe this and ransacked the house. My grandfather prayed
that his mother hid the ring well because if it were found, the whole family faced
imprisonment and possibly death. After a thorough search, the unconvinced soldiers
left and my grandfather never found out where his mother hid that ring.
cleverness and foresight came in to play again in 1939. She took measures to protect
her children. In contrast to Hitler, Mussolini still held respect for the Roman
Catholic church so she decided to put Dominic and Luigi into the seminary.
Guerrino was 16 so his mother gave him a choice the seminary or America.
Guerrino decided on America. Guerrino escaped Italy in September of 1939, and
traveled alone to America to live with his father.
On October 28, 1942, Guerrino
entered the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne All-American Division
because he realized that his family in Italy would never truly be free until the
Fascists and Nazis were defeated.
In December 1943, while traveling overseas,
Guerrino worried about having to fight in Italy. On June 6, 1944, Guerrino and
the 82nd Airborne jumped behind enemy lines in Ste-Mere Eglise, France, to secure
roads and bridges for the D-Day invasion.
The units next combat jump
was on Sept. 16, 1944, into Holland. Guerrino was injured and was in a hospital
tent on the front lines for three weeks, during which time his Missing in Action
status worried his young wife at home.
After the war my grandfather journeyed
to Pergula to see his mother. Since all American communication to Italy was stopped
when Germany and Italy declared war on Russia and the U.S., Felicia had not known
the whereabouts of her oldest son for four years.
When Guerrino walked into
his hometown wearing his American uniform, people who knew him as a teenager looked
at him in disbelief.
He was reunited with his mother and stayed in Italy for
one month, then took a boat to New York City, a train to Harrisburg, and hitchhiked
to Nanticoke to reunite with his wife and son.
Having only an eighth grade
education, Guerrino used wits and hard work to support his family. His first business
attempt, a pool hall, flopped. He went from being a door-to-door salesman to owning
his own door-to-door sales business. He also started a successful pizza shop in
Bloomsburg and then in Hanover Township. He later became the supervisor of buildings
and grounds for the Greater Nanticoke Area school district, a position from which
he retired at 75. He died Jan. 26, 2005.
Bear rescued from tree in Nanticoke
Seiebl - Citizens Voice
and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rescued a black bear Thursday morning after
the bear wandered into the middle of the city and crawled up a tree.
firefighter Robert Roberts Jr. said a crowd of onlookers gathered before noon
near a tree next to Sanitary Bakery in the 100 block of East Ridge Street where
the bear perched itself on limbs around 20 feet high.
Bear sightings are not
unusual in the area, he said, but this one drew a lot of public attention because
of where the bear was on the loose.
You couldnt get any more in
the middle of town than where that bear was, he said.
Roberts said the
bear, which was estimated to be more than 300 pounds, had to be shot with a tranquilizer
gun to knock it unconscious. Firefighters sawed off some tree limbs and extended
the ladder up the tree in order for the rescue team to harness and slowly lower
The game commission will release the bear back into the wild, Roberts
He will probably be disappointed he wont be next to the
bakery anymore, he joked.
Nanticoke to require residents to register before speaking
at council meetings
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
City Council unanimously passed a motion requiring individuals who wish to address
council during a meeting to register with the city clerk 15 minutes prior to the
start of the meeting.
The rule was required by the citys recently adopted
Several residents inquired as to the reasoning behind
City Manager Andrew Gegaris said that the motion is in place not
to limit the citizens input in any way, but rather to control the meeting
in a more orderly fashion. The new procedure will begin with the Aug. 5 meeting.
Council also unanimously voted to give Gegaris a $3,000 per year pay raise.
The cost of living increase is within the citys budget and still does not
bring Gegaris up to the pay level of the previous administrations city manager,
Councilwoman Nicole Colatosti-Mackiewicz said. Colatosti-Mackewicz also said that
Gegaris has done a great job as city manager.
Gegaris has done much to help
the city, where the previous administrations had failed to so, she added.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski swore in Kara Kroll as full-time police officer. Kroll
becomes the first female officer in Nanticokes history.
chairperson of the Six County Firefighters convention, said that the Honey
Pot Volunteer Fire Department wishes to thank everyone who was involved with or
attended the convention. The event was very successful, she added.
will host the second annual Big Bang Celebration on July 5, beginning at 4 p.m.
behind the high school.
The city is collaborating with Happy Hearts and Tails
and the Eastern PA Animal Alliance to conduct a Trap-Neuter-Return Clinic at the
Nanticoke City Hall on July 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Fire companies gather in Nanticoke for convention
Contingents from up to
241 fire companies descended on Greater Nanticoke this weekend for the 112th Six-County
Firemens Association Convention, which culminates Saturday with a parade
and open house.
We had 52 units pre-register, and a lot of units just
show up on the the day of the parade, said Tony Prushinski, chairman of
this years convention, which began Thursday and is being hosted by the Honey
Pot Volunteer Active Fire Department.
But with the weather being what
its supposed to be, its anybodys guess how many fire engines
will be driving through the city with sirens blaring for the parade, Prushinski
said on Friday night during a two-day Open House at the fire hall, located at
13 Honey Pot St., Nanticoke.
Downpours and potentially flooding rain are in
Danville (fire companies) hosted last years
convention and were supposed to be leading the parade here this year, but theyre
on river watch, so they wont be here, Prushinski said. The weather
will be playing a big factor in who shows up.
Prushinski said Honey
Pot fire officials applied to host this years convention because it coincides
with the companys 50th anniversary. The Six-County Firemens Association
voted to approve the station as host.
Of course, the Honey Pot fire station
is so small, the convention meetings were held at the Tilbury Fire Co. in the
West Nanticoke section of Plymouth Township. Our brother firemen helped
us out, Prushinski said.
The history of Honey Pot fire protection is
actually quite interesting, Prushinski noted.
Many years ago (Prushinski wasnt
sure exactly when), a fire consumed three homes in Honey Pot before fire apparatus
could arrive because a train of coal cars was blocking the road leading to the
area. So a group of residents decided a fire company needed to be established
for the remote section of the city.
The Honey Pot Volunteer Hose Co. was formed
in 1942, but the coal miners who formed it realized they were too old and sick
to be active firefighters. Although the original hose company still exists today
as a social club, the Honey Pot Volunteer Active Fire Department was chartered
in 1965 by a group of Honey Pot residents under Theodore Zdziarski, the first
fire chief, Prushinski said.
Funding to buy a pumper engine was raised by
collecting and selling rags, metal and whatever other items a local scrap dealer
would purchase, Prushinski said.
Today, the department has a 2003 Pierce Mini-Pumper
and still owes about $51,000 for its refurbishment. Vendor fees and sales of shirts,
beer mugs and shooter glasses with Honey Pot and Six-County logos at the open
house today and Saturday are one means of fund raising this year.
and soda were being poured, funnel cakes and shishkabobs were being consumed,
games were being played and childrens faces were being painted outside the
firehouse, Prushinski noted that the parade and open house will go on Saturday,
rain or shine, with the band Tyme performing at the open house.
begins at 2 p.m. at the Greater Nanticoke Area school complex on Kosciuszko Street,
proceeds west on East Church Street, turns onto South Market Street and ends at
South Market and Main streets. A second parade immediately organizes on Access
Road and continues down Garfield Street to the Honey Pot Fire Station.
Nanticoke welcomes Six County Firemens Convention
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
from throughout the region will descend on and parade through Nanticoke
this weekend for the 112th annual Six County Firemens Convention.
Honey Pot Volunteer Fire Company will host the event in the Honey Pot section
of the city with a block party on Friday and Saturday near its fire hall.
A highlight of the weekend will be the fire truck parade through Nanticoke, starting
at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Id like to see as many residents out for the
parade as possible, said Bill Graboske, a volunteer with the Honey Pot Fire
The parade will begin at Greater Nanticoke Area High School, then
travel up Church Street and down Market Street, which eventually leads to River
Street in the Honey Pot section. The parade will continue on Garfield Street for
a lap around the Honey Pot section.
Fire crews from Columbia, Lackawanna,
Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties comprise the Six County
Firemens Association and will participate in the weekend event.
drinks and games will be available at the Honey Pot firehouse, located at 13 Honey
Pot St. Trophies and awards will be presented on Saturday.
Friday will be provided by Honey Pot Productions. The Tyme Band classic rock group
will perform on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m.
The event is
being held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Honey Pot
2 committee rules Berwick transfer students ineligible for football
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
An internal investigation
that forced Berwick school administrators to shut down its football program for
two weeks in May led to a hearing in front of the District 2 athletic committee,
the local extension of the PIAA, Wednesday at Dallas High School.
At the center
of it all was the alleged recruitment and transfer of Jules and Damon Beckhorn,
student-athletes who left Nanticoke Area to attend Berwick in April.
a four-hour hearing that included testimony from representatives from Nanticoke
Area, Berwick and the family involved, District 2 ruled Jules and Damon Beckhorn
transferred to Berwick for athletic purposes.
Effective April 20, 2015 to
April 20, 2016, the two are ineligible to play football at Berwick. They can practice,
but are prohibited from participating in a scrimmages or games.
voted unanimously in favor of the motion made by committee member Chris Thomas,
and seconded by Frank Galicki.
Berwick football coach George Curry defended
himself following the hearing.
There is no recruiting and they found
that out in the deliberation, Curry said after the hearing. That is
baloney. That is a bunch of crap. I never told anybody to recruit, and I dont
recruit. I never recruited. The media, they create that.
post made under the name of one of the student-athletes in question stated Berwick
football coach on my couch talkin (sic) to my parents. The post was made
prior to the transfer.
It seems pretty suspicious. There were conversations
that substantiated that Facebook post, Nanticoke Area solicitor Vito DeLuca
said. There was a combination of the Facebook post and other evidence we
The reality is the only issue that was really being decided
on today was whether or not the transfer was athletically motivated. That is a
simpler burden than having to prove there were recruiting violations.
Berwick solicitor Robert Bull said while Nanticoke Area contended a person from
Berwick, or someone representing the Berwick football program was on the couch,
the family said it was not true.
All testimony during the hearing from the
Berwick side was closed, while only a portion of Nanticoke Areas testimony
Nanticoke Area principal Joe Long, as well as head football coach
Ron Bruza and assistant Neal McMahon offered statements in regards to the Facebook
post and interaction they had with Jules Beckhorn prior to the transfer.
said near the end of February he received a text message from Bruza containing
the Facebook post. Long said he alerted the schools athletic director, superintendent
In addition, Bruza said Jules Beckhorn told him hes leaving
Nanticoke Area because his brother is being recruited by Berwick and promises
were made to the family.
Never happened, Curry said. How
could that happen when I never spoke to the family? Here to this day I never had
anything to do with the young one (Damon), the one they are all excited about.
He has not shown up for one workout. I wouldnt let him until we found out
what was going on.
On the 2014 preseason Nanticoke Area football roster,
Jules Beckhorn was listed as a junior running back/linebacker, and Damon Beckhorn
was listed as a freshman wide receiver/defensive back.
Damon did play some
quarterback last season, attempting 10 passes and throwing for one touchdown.
He also rushed for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Jules had nine carries for
55 yards, and caught one pass for 13 yards.
Rules are there for a purpose
and need to be followed, Berwick superintendent Wayne Brookhart said. There
were some things that probably werent as they were supposed to be. We are
ready to move forward for the kids, program and both districts.
said nothing during testimony came as a surprise since most of the evidence was
uncovered during its internal investigation.
There was really nothing
we didnt know or werent aware of, Brookhart said. Our
facts actually matched Nanticoke. That is rarely how these things go. We said
they were not eligible, (Nanticoke Area) said they were not eligible, and the
committee said they were ineligible.
District 2 chairman Frank Majikes
said the family has a right to appeal the decision to PIAA headquarters in Mechanicsburg,
but it would have to come through the Berwick school district.
its unlikely the district would file an appeal since it believed the transfer
was for athletic purposes.
COUNTY FIREMENS ASSOCIATION CONVENTION
Pot Active Volunteer Fire Company will host the 112th annual Six County Firemens
Association Convention this weekend, Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, in
front of the Honey Pot Fire Company, Nanticoke. Convention hours are 6 to 10 p.m.
Friday, June 26, with entertainment by Honey Pot Productions. On Saturday, June
27, the firemens parade begins at 2 p.m. from the Nanticoke Area school
grounds. Convention will conclude at the company grounds after the parade with
entertainment by Tyme Band. For information, contact Tony or Linda at 570-735-0508.
Nanticoke ready to shed distressed city status
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
expected emergence from Act 47 status is a big deal and something
worth celebrating, according to officials who helped the community during its
State Sen. John Yudichak said tremendous teamwork
has Nanticoke about to make history. It is on the verge of becoming the first
city in Pennsylvania to come out of distressed city status.
kept their eye on the ball
this is a great credit to everyone in the city
of Nanticoke, he said.|
Nanticokes government made tough
decisions and followed the state-approved recovery plan, said Joe Boyle,
the Pennsylvania Economy League staffer who coordinated the nine-year effort to
right the floundering ship.
Boyle said he will recommend removal of Nanticoke
from Act 47 status at a state Department of Community and Economic Development
hearing tonight at 6 p.m. at the Nanticoke Municipal Building. Rick Viello, former
mayor of Lock Haven and director of the governors local service office,
will be hearing officer.
Viello will file a report with the secretary of DCED
who has 90 days to approve or disapprove. Boyle said quick approval is expected,
based on the citys strong recovery.
Nanticoke, a third-class city, would
be the first city of any size to come out of Act 47. West Hazleton Borough emerged
in October 2014. Plymouth Township is the lone Luzerne County town still under
the act and that municipality is expected to emerge by 2016.
been designated as financially distressed under Act 47 since 1992.
was enacted by the state Legislature in 1987 to aid communities with severe financial
problems. The challenges sometimes placed the towns on the verge of bankruptcy.
Grants, loans and technical assistance were provided. A key to Act 47 was development
of a recovery plan and following that plan. PEL worked with the state and Nanticoke
to write its plan.
I will testify that Nanticoke is ready to come out,
Boyle said. The communitys government worked hard. The city adopted
home rule (on Jan. 1, 2012) and the government has a much better setup, with a
good staff, he said.
Nanticokes annual budget is about $5
million and the mayor and council worked through Act 47 with no layoffs and no
cuts in services, Boyle said. The city has full-time police and fire services.
One of the tough decisions was raising the earned income tax from
0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, Boyle said.
Yudichak said that despite a debt
of $2.5 million in 2006, some people in Nanticoke opposed using Act 47, fearing
the stigma of the distressed label. Yudichak said great leadership
of then Mayor John Bushko, council members Jim Litchkofski, Brent Makarczyk and
Bill OMalley, the late Joe Lack, solicitor, and others allowed the state
Everyone rolled up their sleeves and did what was the
best for the city, he said.
Yudichak said the Fraternal Order of Police,
Fire Fighters Union and Teamsters showed great concern and worked
to stabilize the community.
Nanticokes downtown is going through a renaissance.
Luzerne County Community College has placed facilities there; Geisinger Medical
Center, Allied Services, Weis Markets and small businesses have invested in the
city, the senator said, and new projects such as Streetscape are on the way.
Andy Gegaris, Nanticoke city manager, said the city is proud of its accomplishment
and cautiously optimistic about its future.
We are aware
of what needs to be done to stay out of Act 47. We look at this as a beginning.
Gegaris said collaboration with neighboring towns will help all of the communities.
The concept of a South Valley Council of Governments remains viable, he said,
and inter-governmental cooperation can assist the economies of all towns, thereby
benefitting the citizenry.
gardeners rebound from theft
Last updated: June 22. 2015 5:25PM
- 475 Views
Thefts from the Greater Nanticoke
Community Garden in early June have been met with a sense of resiliency which
has many residents now viewing the event as a blessing in disguise.
Andrew Gegaris said the organization has fully rebounded from the theft of tomato,
pepper, cucumber, watermelon and squash plants, as well as a wheelbarrow and metal
I was impressed with the outpouring of support from members of
the community, who not only replaced what was stolen, but went above and beyond
to support the garden, he said.
Gegaris said at one point, the overwhelming
influx of donated plants resulted in a shortage of water, with the garden having
to turn down additional donations for a short period.
The city fire
department jumped right in providing water and manpower, he said.
Rebecca Seman said it was originally with great sadness members realized plants,
so carefully selected and placed in the ground, could be taken without consideration
for the effort and thought it took to put them there.
Most of our members
have families and jobs and their time and effort are really valuable, she
said. To see that wasted was unsettling.
Had someone wanted a
plant or two, Seman said, they would only have had to ask.
however, Seman said the unfortunate event provided opportunity to educate and
inform the public about the value of the garden and to garner support from members
of the community.
William TJ Edwards, for example, immediately
donated a wheelbarrow, rake and dirt to the effort.
He was aware of
all the work that went into both preparation and then planting, said Seman.
He wanted to make sure that we would continue to move forward.
Although the garden certainly provides a geographic area for members of the community
to grow plants, both Seman and Gegaris say it also has a deeper long term purpose,
focusing on on ecological restoration, sustainability and creating public learning,
eating and enjoyment of nature.
Its a great chance for inter-generational
teaching, Gegaris said. It wonderful when youngsters realize tomatoes
dont come from the supermarket, they come from a tree.
the State Correctional Facility at Dallas for donating plants, reinforcing the
vision of community support across a broad scope.
The garden also will benefit the community in several other ways.
Seman said it will make some of its harvest available to those who visit area
They will have opportunity to visit the garden and choose
from available vegetables, she said. In that way we can avoid the
cost of transportation and refrigeration.
With 150 pallets, the newly
established garden has seen much success in its first year in spite of challenges
it has faced.
Seman also said she hopes to align the garden with the current
trend of reversing the decline of monarch butterflies.
We have plenty
of milkweed plants which will attract butterflies and provide a chance for a bit
of color and education, she said.
Educationally, she also hopes to offer
classes on canning and nutrition.
The entity also sponsors a farmers market
four times throughout the summer, which raises money for both the garden and the
citys activity committee.
Residents have said they enjoy a chance to
buy products from local vendors and are especially glad the market makes good
use of the citys centrally located public square.
As for security, Seman said in addition to an increased police presence in
the area, members of the garden who are there throughout the day, are committed
to being aware of the actions of others.
Members of the community interested
in donating to the Nanticoke Community Garden can do so by accessing a GoFundMe
account at http://www.gofundme.com/wmrd7y4.
Local businesses are also being sought to sponsor t-shirts, to be printed by local
business, Emjaze, reminding wearers to keep calm and garden.
next Community Garden Farmers Market will take place at 2 p.m. on July 18.
GNA board approves
budget without raising taxes
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board voted Thursday for a $26.5 million budget
that keeps the property tax rate at 10.4932 mills.
A mill is $1 on every $1,000
in property assessment. The budget is for the school year that starts July 1.
The board also approved a bond issue that will refinance $8.2 million in outstanding
debt and save at least $200,000 in future debt payments. Refinancing that debt
helped the district avoid a tax increase, Superintendent Ronald Grevera said.
The state Legislature has not yet approved an annual budget that will allocate
education funding, but the school district budget projects revenue from state
sources at $16.5 million. Gov. Tom Wolfs proposed budget included a 5 percent
increase in state revenue for the district, which included a 2.5 percent increase
in its budget, business manager Al Melone said.
The budget allows the district
to spend some reserve funds, and the surplus reserve would drop slightly from
$7.4 million to $7.3 million during the school year.
The school board on Thursday
also voted to hire Sharon Kulp Baddick as elementary principal at $85,000. She
is the assistant principal at Crestwood High School and will replace Maryellen
Scott, who is retiring. The board also approved the retirement of District Principal
Mary Ann Jarolen.
could see Act 47 distressed status lifted
Nanticoke City Council has asked
the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to remove the
city from the Pennsylvanias list of Act 47 financially distressed
A hearing on the request is set for 6 p.m. Monday at City
Hall, 15 East Ridge St. The hearing is open to the public, and testimony will
be taken in order to aid the state in making a decision.
Economy League, Nanticokes state-appointed recovery coordinator, supports
A ruling from the state is expected within two to three months.
Anyone needing special accommodations to attend the hearing should contact
Richard P. Vilello Jr. at 888-223-6837.
For details of the states
distressed communities which include such diverse locales as Plymouth Township,
Scranton, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh see http://tlgets.me/i09.
has not always been kind to this city, but history may be about to change.
Following a hearing next week, Nanticoke could become the first city in Pennsylvania
to successfully shed its designation of financially distressed under
the states Act 47 recovery program.
We didnt become distressed
overnight, and we dont get out overnight, City Manager Andrew Gegaris
said during an interview Tuesday afternoon. But the city is in a position
to move forward.
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall,
15 East Ridge St.
by years of declining population, job losses and a stagnant tax base, city finances
reached a low point in 2006. Borrowing heavily just to cover regular annual deficits,
an $800,000 deficit was projected for that year, according to a contemporary Times
Leader report, and estimated deficits had totaled $1.8 million over the previous
Teetering on the brink of fiscal disaster, Nanticoke received
the states financially distressed label in May 2006, becoming the states
22nd municipality and Luzerne Countys third to enter the program
since the act was passed in 1987.
A state spokesman in 2006 said Nanticoke
met several criteria for Act 47 relief, including its deficit spending and failing
to repay short-term loans in 2001 and 2003.
Today, Gegaris said, the citys $5.4
million budget is deficit free.
The goal is to get out, said Joseph
Boyle, senior research associate with the Pennsylvania Economy League, Nanticokes
state-appointed recovery coordinator.
Its really what you shoot
for when you go into Act 47.
But for most Act 47 communities, that is
no easy task. While one township and eight boroughs have left the program, including
West Hazleton, no cities have yet done so.
One of the reasons cited by several
cities for not wanting to leave the program is fear over losing its benefits,
including nonresident wage tax revenue made available to cities under Act 47.
What put Nanticoke on more sound economic footing? Gegaris and Boyle pointed to
The city appointed a government study commission which
recommended adopting a Home Rule Charter, which was approved by the voters and
took effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
Under home rule, the city gained the ability
to levy a 1.5 percent earned income tax.
Luzerne Countys reassessment,
which took effect in 2009, also helped local finances, Boyle noted.
As well, the city has re-negotiated contracts with its four bargaining units.
in 2006 feared that Act 47 would mean a loss of local control and terminations.
There were no mass layoffs, Gegaris said. But, as he and Boyle both
noted, there were concessions.
The city has gone through a series of
recovery plans (under Act 47) and made some difficult decisions, Boyle said.
Nanticoke is a great example of what communities can do to get out,
number of residents approached by the Times Leader around Patriot Square Park
on Tuesday afternoon admitted they didnt understand much about Act 47 status.
One man, who declined to give his name, offered a very simple view on leaving
Act 47: Ill believe it when I see it, he said with a laugh.
At the Bus Stop Cafe on East Broad Street, owner Eli Panagakos also didnt
know much about Act 47 and distressed status. Still, 22 years of running the corner
eatery have given him a front-row seat on local life, and he said he doesnt
like to hear people knocking the community.
To me, any forward progress
is good, he said when asked about the upcoming hearing.
At the same
time, he understands many of the citys challenges.
that live in Nanticoke work outside of Nanticoke, Panagakos said.
a factor which led the city into distress to begin with and one which,
Boyle explained, led to the creation of Act 47 in the first place. While initially
designed for reeling former steel towns in western Pennsylvania, the states
other post-industrial areas, including former anthracite communities, face many
of the same challenges, he added.
Its difficult to get young people
to move into a place like Nanticoke, but theyve made strides, Boyle
Gegaris sounded a similar note.
Obviously, we need jobs,
he said. Wed like to have more employment oppurtunities for our residents.
At the same time, he sees hopeful signs on several fronts.
Community College is looking to a private sector partnership to create a multi-story
dormitory complex on a parcel of land on Kosciuszko Street near the schools
And Gegaris is optimistic about an upcoming downtown streetscape
project, potential plans for an upgrade of Patriot Square and efforts by city
residents to create new events in recent years, including Wingfest and local Independence
Earning the states blessing to leave Act 47 would
only build on that momentum, he said, raising morale and drawing more interest
This continues to build on community pride, Gegaris
seeks ruling on city managers residency requirement
police dont have to. The firefighters dont have to. The clerical workers
dont have to. The public works employees dont have to.
approximately 48 municipal employees, only two people are required under the Home
Rule Charter to live in the community the city manager and the city clerk.
Should they be?
City officials say no, under a petition filed Monday in Luzerne
County Court, in which they are seeking a judges ruling on whether that
provision of the charter is legally enforceable.
The petition, filed on the
citys behalf by solicitor William T. Finnegan, comes as City Manager Andrew
Gegaris, who lives in White Haven, has been under fire from a local resident and
critic, Henry Marks.
There is an actual controversy, and the issue is
ripe for review by this honorable court as Andrew Gegaris faces potential termination,
the petition states.
Current City Clerk Mary Beth Cheshinski is a Nanticoke
Gegaris was hired on May 22, 2014 and informed
that he had to become a city resident by May 22 of this year, according to the
At a recent council meeting, Marks questioned Gegariss professional
qualifications, and inquired about the managers residency status. Council
then authorized Finnegan to seek the judgment.
Gegaris at that time said he
will abide by the courts determination, but also has said that he questions
the constitutionality or legality of the charters residency requirement.
Gegaris explained Monday that his children are still in school, and not having
to move them has been a consideration.
I love my job, Gegaris
said, adding that Im going to do whatever I have to do to move
to Nanticoke if the court rules that the requirement is legitimate.
stressed that he would actually make the move if required, not merely look to
put a name on a mailbox.
I want to do it right, he said.
Still, Gegaris and the city hope the court will acknowledge their arguments
that there is no rational basis for imposing the requirement on those
two employees, and that doing so violates their equal protection and due process
Approximately one-third of Nanticokes employees do not live
in the city, the petition states.
Gegaris is the citys third
manager since the charter took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, the document points out,
and the fifth person to hold the post since 2004.
The charter, which had been
prepared by a study commission, was approved by city voters in November 2011.
The City of Nanticoke is experiencing difficulty in recruiting and maintaining
highly qualified candidates to discharge the significant responsibilities of the
position of city manager in light of the residency requirement which has been
imposed in the charter, the petition states, adding that when Gegaris was
interviewed for the post, there were six people who had applied for the position
and none of them resided in the city.
The City of Nanticoke needs stability
which cannot be effectuated with the high turnover rate in the city manager position,
the city argues.
The petition also points out that Gegaris is required to
be available by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, other than during
vacations, and he has been fulfilling that requirement.
this day and age, technology makes it east to always be able to contact these
employees in cases of emergency due to the use of cell phones and email,
the petition states.
Gegaris said he has always been available when needed.
Finnegan said the next step is for the court to issue an order setting a hearing
date on the petition. That order could come as early as today.
Nanticoke Area graduates 179
- Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area High School Class of 2015
graduated on Thursday in the school auditorium, in a ceremony so upbeat it almost
felt like a pep rally.
The positive vibe permeated the school hallways in
the hour before the ceremony began, as keyed-up soon-to-be graduates gathered
to take photos and record videos with family and friends.
We have a
lot to look forward to, said Macey Pudlosky, one of 179 Trojans in the graduating
Her friend and fellow graduate Katelyn Downs agreed.
said her future plans include college and travel, described her time at Nanticoke
High in three words: It was nice.
The graduation speakers, both
students and adults, continued the cheery theme.
District Superintendent Ronald
Grevera told the class not to fear the unknown as they head off to new places,
filled with new people and experiences.
He urged the graduates to be climbers,
people who are persistent, tenacious and resilient and live
their life to the fullest. He also told them to believe in themselves and
Having self-esteem in our abilities and talents is
very important ... to be successful in this world, he said.
Chrislyn Cabonilas said that each graduate here has the potential to do
Salutatorian Katie Sherman told her classmates to carry
Trojan pride with you wherever you go.
The Class of 2015 includes 33
members of the National Honor Society.
The ceremony was broadcast live to
those who gathered in the school cafeteria after being turned away from the auditorium,
where every seat was filled.
home sought for Nanticoke senior center
(Webmaster's Note: This section taken from a larger article which pertained to
Nanticoke. No copyright infringement intended.)
active adult center in Nanticoke needs a new home by the end of the month because
it is in the Mercy Special Care Hospital on West Washington Street, which has
been sold, officials said.
The Luzerne/Wyoming Area Agency on Aging on Tuesday
asked council to consider leasing property at 173 E. Green St. for $5,052 per
month, or a total $303,120 over four years.
The 6,285-square-foot property
is owned by Swoyersville-based UDU Realty and would be ready for occupancy with
no disruptions, officials said.
The Nanticoke center provides activities and
hot meals to an average 3o to 40 older adults daily, the department said.
At $9.65 per square foot, the new property is more expensive than the current
space, which is leased at $2,000 per month, or $4 per foot.
one other property owner responded to the countys two public advertisements
seeking space, and that one was substantially higher, the department said.
The aging department has state block grant funds available to cover the new Nanticoke
lease without tapping the countys general fund operating budget, officials
Leases for the departments other active adult centers in Luzerne
and Wyoming counties range from $5.38 to $16.90 per square foot.
expects attendance to increase with the new location because it is about two blocks
from an elderly apartment building and will have its own bus stop.
location was named after former county commissioner Rose Tucker in 2009 to honor
her work helping others.
Council is expected to vote on the lease later this
Nanticoke Area falls in softball semifinals
Stephen Pianovich -
In Nanticoke Areas first two games of the state
playoffs, the team jumped out to big leads and kept the opponent off the scoreboard
in the early innings.
The Trojanettes were on the other side of that trend
Tuesday against Bethlehem Catholic.
Thanks to three first inning runs
all of which came without any hits and an 11-strikeout performance from
Elyse Cuttic, Bethlehem Catholic ended Nanticoke Areas season, 5-0, in a
PIAA Class AAA semifinal at Blue Mountain High School. The Trojanettes end their
season at 16-6, with a District 2 title and a top-4 state finish.
Area got off on the wrong foot because of an unusually erratic opening frame from
sophomore pitcher Leandra Ramos.
Bethlehem Catholics first three batters
all reached base on walks, totaling just 14 pitches between them.
A wild pitch
scored the games first run, and the Golden Hawks went up 3-0 as Nanticoke
Aera shortstop Rachel Roccograndi could not handle a sharply hit grounder off
the bat of Courtney Shupp.
Ramos eventually found her groove. She didnt
walk anyone after issuing four free passes in the first inning, retired nine in
a row at one point and pitched into the fifth inning.
Bethlehem Catholic did
not get its first hit until the fourth inning, when the team hit three singles
but left the bases loaded.
The Golden Eagles added five more hits in the fifth
and sixth against Ramos and reliever Miranda Bohn, scoring one run in each inning.
One run, however, would have been enough for Cuttic, who helped Bethlehem Catholic
reach the state title game for the second consecutive season.
southpaw struck out at least one hitter in each frame, including the side in the
second and allowed only five total baserunners.
She was fantastic,
Nanticoke Area coach Ryan Stetz said of Cuttic. She moved the ball in and
out, she got the ball up on our hands a little bit. She shut us down while other
teams could not this year, thats a credit to her.
mixed some offspeed pitches with her overpowering fastball to keep the Trojanettes
off balance. Another reason for her success couldve been because she was
left-handed, and the only lefty Stetz recalled his team facing in 2015.
Area catcher Maddy ODonohue agreed with her coach, saying I think
the fact she was a lefty screwed a lot of people up.
a senior, had the best day at the plate of any Nanticoke Area player, going 2
for 3 with a triple. She singled with two outs in the seventh and Stetz put in
a pinch runner, allowing ODonohue to receive an ovation as she jogged off
the field for the final time in a Nanticoke Area uniform. Stetz said he owed it
to the catcher, whom he said put the program on her back.
team was like my family. Moving away from them is going to be hard, its
going to be really hard, a red-eyed ODonohue said after the game.
It was a lot of fun. It was one of the best seasons I ever had in my life,
I dont know what is going to live up to it.
While it was a bittersweet
ending to ODonohues high school career, she is the lone senior in
Nanticoke Areas starting lineup. In fact, seven of the 10 players Nanticoke
Area used Tuesday were underclassmen.
The Trojanettes six-game playoff
winning streak came to an end Tuesday, but it was an experience that was both
memorable and beneficial for the program.
I think (the playoff run)
has a great impact on them, Stetz said referring to Nanticokes returning
players. But were going to start over next year, were going
to put this year behind us. Were going to enjoy that weve gotten this
far, and I think it gives us a great starting point in the future.
Race for Justice winners donate scholarship
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
The winners of the
Eric Williams Race for Justice got their prize on Saturday then promptly
gave it away.
The four-man team from the U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg recorded
the fastest time in the relay race held at 13 sites across the nation on May 16
to honor corrections officer Eric Williams, a Nanticoke native who was killed
on the job by an inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan, in Wayne County in
The Lewisburg team members, all corrections officers at the prison,
designated Mansfield University to receive a $5,000 criminal justice scholarship,
said Don Williams, father of Eric Williams and a prime mover behind the race and
the Sgt. Eric Williams Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
A large crowd of lawmakers,
law enforcement, corrections officers and supporters attended the ceremony Saturday
morning at Luzerne County Community College, which hosted one of last months
races, Williams said.
A surprise $1,000 scholarship was awarded to LCCC for
its support of the race and the scholarship foundation, he said. Other schools
throughout the country received scholarships from the winners of races at the
other 12 sites, he added.
The organizers of the race decided to hold a ceremony
to give participants and supporters a chance to gather and reflect, Williams said.
We thought it would be good to have a follow-up to the national race,
he said. We accomplished what we wanted.
The ceremony looked to
the future and as well as the past, according to Williams.
brutal death he was stabbed repeatedly with a homemade knife in an unprovoked
attack, while alone and essentially unarmed inspired two proposed bills
in Congress designed to protect corrections officers, who are not permitted to
One of the proposed bills would allow corrections officers
to carry pepper spray, while the other would allow them to store weapons while
at work and take them home after work, for protection, Williams said.
ceremony featured speeches from local legislators in support of the proposed bills,
according to Williams. He and his wife, Jean, plan to travel to Washington, D.C.,
later this month to lobby Congress on the legislation.
The Eric Williams Race
for Justice will be held again next year, probably during National Law Enforcement
Week in May, Williams said. He hopes it becomes an annual tradition.
would be a good thing, he said. You cant go wrong calling attention
to the dangers officers face.
The support from the community at large
and the law enforcement community in particular continues to inspire Williams,
Its a very powerful brotherhood, sisterhood of law enforcement
that really closed ranks to help our family, to be supportive, he said.
Most of the hundreds of people who took part in the race named for his son never
met him, Williams noted.
They dont know Eric, but you would swear
they did, he said.
Greater Nanticoke Area plans $8.9M school expansion
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
Nanticoke Area School District plans to close K.M. Smith Elementary School
and spend almost $8.9 million expanding Kennedy Elementary.
The school board
approved the plan Thursday and expects a state reimbursement of more than $3.1
million. The district needed to make a decision soon because the state is imposing
a July 1 moratorium on the PlanCon state funding process for school construction
K.M. Smith currently hosts kindergarten, pre-K and first grade classes
and is the only district facility not on the district campus off Kosciuszko Street
Its located on Robert Street in the Sheatown section of
Nanticoke and also is the districts oldest facility. It dates back to 1930
and has structural deficiencies, including not being compliant with the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
The district plans to borrow money to fund the
$8 million expansion of Kennedy, which currently is only used for second grade,
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said. After the expansion is done by August 2017,
Kennedy will be used for kindergarten, pre-K and first grade.
center, which is currently for grades 3, 4 and 5, will be realigned for grades
2 through 4. The education center will go from grades 6 and 7 to grades 5 through
7. The high school will remain for grades 8-12.
The district will review its
options in the near future on what to do with the K.M. Smith property, school
board President Ryan Verazin said.
The school board in March voted to pay
EI Associate Architects $10,000 to conduct a building feasibility study. The completed
study included two other options rejected by the board: spending more than $13
million to renovate both K.M. Smith and Kennedy; and closing K.M. Smith and spending
more than $16 million to build a new school on land by the high school.
Greater Nanticoke Area school expansion approved
No new school, but J.F.
Kennedy would be expanded and K.M. Smith closed under a plan approved by the Greater
Nanticoke Area School Board at a special meeting Thursday. If the proposal moves
forward, its estimated to cost the district about $5 million, with ground
broken this time next year.
The total is estimated at about $8 million
but were expecting about $3 million reimbursement from the state,
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said of the choice made after reviewing proposals
in a $10,000 district-wide feasibility study.
The state reimbursement is a
key reason the board held a special meeting to vote on an option. Gov. Tom Wolf
has proposed a moratorium on the reimbursement program, known as PlanCon,
and the state Department of Education has advised that any district hoping for
state money should submit initial paperwork, known as PlanCon Part A, by July
Wilkes-Barre Area School District is facing the same deadline, though with
a much steeper price tag, on its high school project, most recently estimated
to cost as much as $100 million. That board has narrowed choices to building one
or two new schools on the sites where Coughlin and Meyers high schools currently
sit, and expects to make a final choice as early as this Wednesday.
Nanticoke feasibility study by EI Associates offered three options for elementary
schools (there were also options to partially or fully renovate the high school):
Renovate K.M. Smith for pre-kindergarten through first grade and Kennedy
for second grade for a total cost of $13.16 million, about $8.4 million after
Close Smith, renovate Kennedy with additional
classrooms, and build a new pre-k through first grade school on land by the high
school for a cost of about $16.26 million, $11.5 million after reimbursement.
Close Smith and expand Kennedy to hold the students, the option selected.
The expansion would occur primarily at the front of the building along Kosciuszko
Street, eliminating a small parking lot but creating a courtyard surrounded by
Grevera said option three made the most sense not only because
it was the least expensive, but because it would merge all the schools onto a
single campus-like setting, It also provides rooms for pre-kindergarten,
assuming talk in Harrisburg about providing money for such classes becomes a reality.
We know the research shows the earlier you help students the better, and
in our community with 60 percent of our students eligible for free or reduced
lunches, it makes sense to get started on that, Grevera said.
doesnt become available, the school could still be used to house other grades.
Eliminating one building also cuts down on the transitions children must make
as they move up the grades.
Currently Kennedy houses only second grade, meaning
students must transition to the building for a single year before moving to the
elementary center. The plan would allow the school to house pre-k to first grade
or kindergarten to second, with the other elementary grades split between the
elementary and educational centers.
From an educational standpoint thats
a very good thing, Grevera said, noting research suggests more transitions
reduce academic achievement.
The pre-k rooms would each have their own restrooms
so students wouldnt have to leave the rooms.
Along with the threat of
a state moratorium on construction renovation, theres another reason to
do something now: Interest rates on borrowing are low.
And while state predictions
frequently proven unreliable in this area suggest the district may
see an increase in enrollment, Grevera said it looks like a small rise followed
by some reductions, so a change in demand for more space seems unlikely.
everything goes the right way, this time next year we should be breaking ground,
Grevera said. The feasibility study estimates construction could wrap up by August
group sets dates for farmers market
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area Community Garden has
set its farmers market dates for the summer.
Rebecca Seman, garden project
coordinator, said the market will operate from 2 to 6 p.m. June 20, July 18, Aug.
15 and Sept. 19 on Patriot Square in Nanticoke. All dates are Saturdays.
will offer music, food, farmers selling their products, animals and fun for the
kids, Seman said.
To become a vendor, make a donation or obtain more
information, call Seman at 570-793-7910 or email GNA.Community.Garden@gmail.com.
For information on the organizations upcoming events, search for Greater
Nanticoke Area Community Garden on Facebook. The group meets on Saturdays
at 1 p.m. at Mill Memorial Library off Kosciuszko Street.
Broken elevator causes inconvenience for Nanticoke Towers
broken elevator in Nanticoke Towers apartment complex has made getting in and
out of the building a challenge for residents in the last couple of days.
Nanticoke Housing Authority executive director Doug Paper explained that a mechanical
malfunction caused the elevator to go out of commission on Saturday.
that the maintenance department got a new part, and expected the elevator to be
back in service by the end of the day.
Pape said it was the first issue that
the building has had with the elevator since 2013. To help residents, the authority
posted notices in the building with contact information should they need help
getting in or out of the building.
Obviously, its an inconvenience,
Pape explained that Nanticoke Towers is an older building designed
to hold only one elevator. The authority considered adding a second elevator,
but Pape said the costs of the project could have topped $1 million.
Pape said the authority has been in the planning process of installing individual
chair lifts in the buildings stairwells as a backup plan should
the elevator go out of commission again.
Were just about complete
with our due diligence on that, Pape said, adding that the process has involved
getting quotes and becoming educated on the equipment.
of the best option at this point that we can do, he said.
Nanticoke honors longtime nursery school operator
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski
presented Betty Height with a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the city as
she retires from Little Stars Nursery School.
Height began the school in the
basement of her Nanticoke residence in 1984. Height said that she thought of the
idea to start the nursery school because she wanted to combine her previous teaching
experience with being able to remain at home while raising her three young children.
Kathy Snyder, who worked with Height from the schools inception, and Alice
Biscontini, who joined the two in 1991, were also honored in the plaque.
of the Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Company formally thanked Wiaterowski for
his action in replacing the 100-year-old buildings ramp.
were scheduled to last approximately two weeks, but major structure damage was
discovered inside of the building. Ultimately, the project took four months to
Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton said that the companys fire engine
was stored and heated, for the entire four months, at no cost, by Eclipse
Manufacturing. The engine remained in use during the four-month period.
Hazleton added that it was great that after 20 years of trying (to have
the repairs done) that it finally took place.
Council voted to authorize
the city Solicitor William T. Finnegan to ask for a declaratory judgment to determine
residency requirements for city employees. Finnegan pointed out that there are
currently 40 city employment positions, and only two the city manager and
city clerk are required to reside within the city limits. Finnegan said
that he will ask the county court for a determination to the legality of the issue.
The community gardens opening day will be held at 8 a.m. on May 30. For
more information on the garden, contact Rebecca Seman at (570) 793-7910.
will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. on June 3.
Police Chief William Shultz was honored at a surprise gathering by the Nanticoke
Police Department on his 25th anniversary of service.
was hired by Nanticoke on May 7, 1990, after serving as the police chief of Plymouth
Township. With his 25 years of service with Nanticoke and 16 years at Plymouth
Township, Shultz has served as a police officer for 41 years. Luzerne County District
Attorney Stephanie Salavantis and Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts presented
Shultz with a plaque recognizing his long-time service to the citizens of the
county. Nanticoke city officials also in attendance were Mayor Richard Wiaterowski,
Nicole Colatosti-Mackiewicz and Leslie Butczynski, councilwomen; Chris Gegaris,
city manager; Mary Beth Cheshinski, city clerk; Kevin Hazleton, fire chief; and
Deborah Zwoytek, administrative assistant, Police Department. District Magistrate
Donald Whittaker and his entire administrative staff and city administrative staff
were also present. The chiefs wife, AnnMarie, was instrumental in organizing
the affair. Police Department members with Shultz, from left, first row, are Officers
Amos Vanderhoff and Bryon Kata. Second row: Officer Brion Kivler; Sergeant Joseph
Guydosh; Lieutenant Michael Roke; Shultz; Officers Lee Makowski, Justin St. Clair,
Chad Southern, Joseph Buchalski; Captain Robert Lehman; Officer Richard Vietz;
and Chester Zaremba, retired police chief.
Greater Nanticoke Area holds line on taxes
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
There will be no school
property tax increase for residents in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District,
certified public accountant Albert Melone announced at Thursdays school
The 2015-2016 school years preliminary budget includes
$26,355,214 in revenues and $26,679,392 expenditures.
Melone said that the
figures are extremely conservative and that he anticipates an even
better picture if Harrisburgs budget plans for the school district are followed
Melone added that the district is in good shape and that
the state has proposed an additional $800,000 to the school district for the new
school year. The board will vote on the final budget during the June 2015 school
In other matters, the board has accepted a letter of retirement
from Mariellen Scott, effective June 29. Scott is currently serving as the principal
of the GNA Education Center. Scott has also served as acting superintendent of
the district prior to the appointment of Ronald Grevera last year.
will be looking more closely into the problem of truancy during the new school
year. Solicitor Vito DeLuca has been involved with the STARS program, which is
designed to prevent truancy by involving the families of students who are at risk
of failing due to poor attendance.
The high school will offer a credit recovery
program from June 22 through July 16 for those students needing to make up credits
in order to catch up with their grade level for the start of the new school year.
If needed, a second summer session will be held from July 20 through August 12.
Awards day will be held at 8 a.m. on June 9. Graduation is scheduled for 6 p.m.
on June 11.
The next meeting of the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board will
be held at 7 p.m. on June 18.
Fire that damaged Nanticoke duplex under investigation
Skrapits - Citizens Voice
Nanticoke fire officials
consider a fire that damaged a duplex and destroyed a car early Friday morning
Nanticoke Fire Capt. Mark Boncal said the call came in around
2:30 a.m. When firefighters arrived, there was a lot of fire visible in the passenger
side of a red car, he said.
We initially were just asked for a car fire
one house up from that, he said. In the process of extinguishing the
car fire, we noticed flames were visible form the second floor of 148 W. Broad
The fire caused extensive damage to the second floor of 148 W. Broad
St., and moderate smoke and water damage to the first floor and also to the 150
W. Broad St. side of the duplex, Boncal said. Both sides were unoccupied, he said.
The car was destroyed.
The state police fire marshal was notified and came
to investigate on Friday, Boncal said.
Fire officials wanted to find out what
the cause might have been, and also whether the fire in the car and house were
related, he said. The investigation is continuing.
units were also called out shortly before 2:30 a.m. Friday to assist neighboring
Hanover Township with a call at 125 Stewart Road, according to the Hanover Township
Fire Department Facebook Page.
Boncal confirmed Nanticoke was not able to
respond to the Hanover Township call to Ace Moving & Storage/Bekins in the
Hanover Industrial Estates. Information about that fire was not available.
Race will honor
slain correctional officer
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
family of slain Correctional Officer Eric Williams likes to joke they are offering
fellow law enforcement officers around the nation a chance at an all-expense paid
trip to Nanticoke next month.
Thats the top prize for the winner of
Saturdays inaugural Eric Williams Race for Justice.
That, and $5,000
scholarship money to be awarded to the winning team.
I was laughing.
How would you like to be from California and win a free trip to Northeastern Pennsylvania?
Williams father, Don, said recently. Its for a good cause. Im
sure people from out of town will love it here.
Twenty of the nations
federal prisons are hosting races at 13 sites across the United States, each vying
for the $5,000 grand prize to be awarded in memory of Eric Williams, a correctional
officer from Nanticoke murdered by an inmate in February 2013 while working at
United States Penitentiary at Canaan.
The Williams family, through a memorial
scholarship fund set up for the fallen officer, plans to pay for the winning team
to travel to Nanticoke on June 6 to receive the money during a ceremony at the
Walk of Honor at Luzerne County Community College. The memorial grounds at the
college include a plaque in honor of Eric Williams.
to see which team nationally is going to win. We got some people in Texas who
are really excited about this and telling us its going to be them,
Don Williams said. Theyre really gung ho.
Six regional winners
each be awarded $1,000 in scholarship money, which the Williams family hopes will
go toward a school with courses in law enforcement.
Anyone can run in the
race individually or as part of a team but only teams comprised
entirely of law enforcement are eligible to win the scholarship money.
the races purposes, law enforcement is broadly defined from all correctional
officers and cops to probation officials and loss prevention officers.
his life, Eric Williams served in three of those professions as a loss
prevention officer, as a cop and finally as a correctional officer at USP Canaan,
one of the most notoriously dangerous prisons in the federal system.
mob assassin and convicted killer Jesse Con-ui is charged with ambushing Eric
Williams, 34, at nightly lockdown and then stabbing him nearly 200 times. Con-ui
is awaiting trial and prosecutors at the insistence of the Williams family
are seeking the death penalty. At the time, Eric Williams was only armed
with keys, handcuffs and a radio, in charge of monitoring more than 120 inmates
Im doing this for two reasons, Don Williams
said. This gives me a certain way of remembering my son. It gives meaning
and value to his life, besides just being killed. The other thing is, were
using this event to call attention to the problem with prison safety. I want to
raise public awareness that there are severe problems that need to be addressed.
The race hosted by Eric Williams colleagues at USP Canaan begins at 9 a.m.
Saturday at Luzerne County Community College. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
in the colleges gymnasium, where a DJ is scheduled to play and basket raffles
will be available.
Jeremy Dominick, the union vice president at USP Canaan,
is hoping for a huge turnout Saturday of law enforcement and supporters of those
who work to uphold law and order each day despite the dangers of the job.
Dominick knew Eric Williams from high school, having graduated a few years after
him at Greater Nanticoke Area.
Its horrible someone had to pay
the ultimate sacrifice, but it hits closer to home because hes from my same
high school and same town, Dominick said.
Dominick said a large turnout
for the event in Eric Williams hometown will help spread their message about
the dangers of the job.
Its about awareness and knowledge about
what goes on inside a prison, Dominick said. It needs to be heard.
Workers at Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkill are hosting a race in Pottsville,
followed by a community picnic to celebrate law enforcement.
a unit secretary at FCI Schuylkill, said people in that region are really rallying
around the event in Eric Williams name.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Kathleen Kane headlines a large group of elected officials in the region taking
part in the days festivities, she said.
Im looking forward
to some networking with all the law enforcement agencies participating,
Boris said. Thats what the goal is having everyone come together,
know why were there, remember the sacrifices, but also have a good time
and I dont want to say forget what you do at work but relax
for a bit.
Federal prisons from as far away at San Pedro, California,
are participating in the race.
The race committee recently obtained a letter
from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after he heard of the efforts of the prisons
in Texas. He addressed it to race day participants.
I applaud all of
the relays participants for donating their time to this important cause.
I have no doubt that your presence here today will play an important role in emphasizing
safer law enforcement, prison safety, and helping the Eric Williams Scholarship
Fund, Cornyn said.
A federal prison in New York City has several teams
running in the Eric Williams Race for Justice. Members of the Metropolitan Correctional
Center New York plan to run across the Brooklyn Bridge in Eric Williams
Were going to run from Manhattan to Brooklyn and then from
Brooklyn back to Manhattan, said Tyrone Covington, president of the prisons
union, AFGE Local 3148.
Their race is being held May 22 due to prior commitments.
Taking part in the race is a way to lend support to fellow prison workers, Covington
When I look at Eric Williams, I think this could happen to any
of our members, he said.
Covington, 37, is on one of the race teams.
He didnt seem too hopeful hed be on the team coming to Nanticoke next
month to collect $5,000 in scholarship money.
Its not necessarily
a run for winning, he said. Its a run for support.
What: Eric Williams Race for Justice
registration starting at 7:30 a.m., race begins 9 a.m.
Where: Luzerne County
Community College, Nanticoke
Info: The inaugural Eric Williams Race for Justice
a four-mile relay race is being held at 13 sites around the United
States, including in the slain correctional officers hometown of Nanticoke.
The team with the fastest time will be awarded $5,000 in scholarship money, while
six regional winners will win $1,000. Civilians may participate, but only teams
comprised of all law enforcement members are eligible to win the scholarship money.
Cost: $25 per runner
Teams and runners sought: Organizers of the event are
still looking for teams and runners. Following the team relay race, a modified
race will be held in which individuals and teams of people could walk or jog to
participate as a symbolic gesture. Participants can register in advance or register
inside the gymnasium of LCCC on race day.
For info, email: email@example.com
To donate: Eric Williams Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 164, Nanticoke, PA 18634
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
Wayne Brookhart announced Tuesday hes suspending all football operations
for two weeks effective immediately because of an internal investigation.
According to Brookhart, the focus of the investigation is the transfer status
of two student-athletes.
According to multiple sources, two student-athletes
left Nanticoke Area in April and enrolled in Berwick. The Citizens Voice
confirmed the information through two sources, a football source and an administration
source, who both wished not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation.
I suspended the program for two weeks due to a challenge of a transfer
(to Berwick), Brookhart said Tuesday afternoon. We are doing an internal
investigation. I feel there is sufficient evidence that warrants more evaluation
of the situation, and prompted more questioning. We definitely want to do an in
house review of the allegations we received.
Brookhart declined to discuss
any of those allegations.
Berwick head coach George Curry did not return calls
seeking comment regarding the investigation.
Its against PIAA rules
to transfer for athletic purposes.
If one or both principals from the schools
involved in a transfer elect not to sign off on the principal-to-principal waiver,
a hearing in front of the District 2 athletic committee is necessary if the transferring
students intend to participate in athletics at the receiving school.
2 chairman Frank Majikes did not return calls seeking comment regarding the athletic
committees role, if any, in the investigation
By shutting down all football
operations, the Berwick football program will be forced to stop its off-season
conditioning program during the two weeks.
Those workouts consist of weight
lifting, conditioning and agility drills. While conducting these workouts, players
are permitted to wear helmets and shoulder pads.
Teams can do football-related
drills, but no contact of any type is permitted.
Brookhart indicated the two-week
ban does not cover football coach Currys quarterback camp. The camp is scheduled
for May 23 at Crispin Field.
The investigation is ongoing and I feel
we need more time to conclude it, Brookhart said. There are still
some things that are necessary for us to learn. It is important to take care of
our own house. We dont want to rush to judgement, we want to make sure we
have all the facts.
Prior to the shutdown, Curry was preparing for his
46th year coaching high school football and his 39th at Berwick.
He is the
all-time winningest high school football coach in the state with a record of 446-100-5.
His record at Berwick is 395-79-3.
Curry began his coaching career at Lake-Lehman
before going to Berwick. He coached 35 consecutive years at Berwick, leading the
Dawgs to six PIAA Class AAA championships, with the last coming in 1997. Curry
stepped down from Berwick following the 2005 seasons, stating that 35 years
in one place is a long time.
After leaving Berwick he became the head
coach at Valley West for three seasons before stepping away.
Jr. succeeded Curry at Berwick and guided the program for six seasons. Campbell
resigned from Berwick in the spring 2012 to take a job at Wahconah High School
From there, Curry took over in June and guided the program
to three consecutive trips to the district championship game appearance, winning
the title in 2013.
That year the Dawgs advanced to the East Final where they
were eliminated by Archbishop Wood.
Education, heritage celebrated at Nanticokes Mill
Gronkowski, activities director at Nanticokes Mill Memorial Library, said
the library nestled in the heart of the city looks forward to growth and change,
but also looks back to a rich history that helped define it.
the property itself tells an interesting story.
When it was still the
Mill homestead, daughter Samantha often sat and read outside on the lawn,
According to the Nanticoke Historical Society website, Samantha
loved animals, trees, flowers and children. Before she died in 1837, she had donated
to worthy causes and provided opportunity for several young people to attend college.
Mill eventually bequeathed the homestead and surrounding property to build,
furnish and maintain a modern library, the site says.
Ground for the
project was broken and completed in 1957, with several subsequent projects improving
and expanding the library, according to the society.
Mills love for
reading is reflected today in the shelves of books containing titles on everything
from home repair to textbooks available for students of local elementary schools.
But beyond the written word, Gronkowski said the library provides varied resources
for the benefit of young and old.
Board president Susan Maza said the ultimate
goal of library is the presentation and exchange of information.
four computers provide opportunity for everything from research to job searches.
Often our patrons will draft a résumé, communicate with employers
and apply for employment online, she said.
Maza said the library often
provides a tour of the library for elementary school students to familiarize them
The younger someone becomes familiar with library, the
more likely they will utilize its resources for a lifetime, she said.
Innovative programs address the interests and needs of the community in areas
as diverse as learning a specific skill and fellowship with those who share a
Friday mornings often find enthusiast crafters crochet hook
or knitting needle in hand, creating afghans and scarves in the perfect color,
texture and pattern.
The group welcomes beginners with its only prerequisite
being a desire to learn.
In addition to a finished item to provide both warmth
and beauty, the group also brings a sense of history, community and creativity
to its members.
For adults and teens who want to try their hand at sculpting,
a two-part class will be offered early this summer, entitled Baby Dragon
The unique offering will provide an opportunity for participants
to sculpt, bake and glaze their dragons and then decorate them.
A Lego club
for ages five through 10 to provides the opportunity to build, create and spend
time with other budding builders.
Monthly movie nights provide an opportunity
for young patrons to gather to watch a movie selected to also provide opportunity
The librarys Anime Club is among the most popular bringing
together those with a love for Japanese comics.
Maza also lauds the librarys
Friends Group, a group with generally and financially supports the library.
The group recently hosted a Book and Bake Sale, to support upcoming needs of library.
They also host an annual fall festival.
The library is part of the Luzerne
County Library System.
dormitory plan eyed for Nanticoke
Luzerne County Community College is looking to the private sector to meet a demand
for housing among a student body that numbers more than 6,000.4/27/2015
plans currently under review, five acres on a 15-acre parcel, located near the
entrance of the college, would be used to build dormitories slated for a fall
The Kosciuszko Street property chosen for the project is owned
by Earth Conservancy, Nanticoke City Manager Andy Gegaris said. The plan has cleared
the citys zoning and planning offices, Gegaris said, and is scheduled to
come before city council for a vote on May 6.
The proposed 4-story tall dormitories
are described as having 150-250 beds, documents show, with a choice
of single, double and triple apartments available, in a community setting.
Councils April meeting provided an opportunity for developers Gary Grossman
and Douglas ODell to present information and answer questions posed to them
by council members. They said a recent student survey indicated a majority said
they had a need for affordable housing near the college.
Hazleton, for example, would much rather live and work in Nanticoke, Gegaris
told the Times Leader. The proposed near-campus housing would
save them both time and money, enriching their college experience.
housing units would be occupied exclusively by students and would be overseen
by management, he added.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski did say some residents
living near the proposed complex have voiced concerns about the project.
Wiaterowski also noted that the proposal includes a significant undeveloped area
between the dormitories and private housing that would provide a natural buffer
between the complex and private homes.
According to documentation provided
by an engineering firm, the project reflects a nationwide trend toward successful
privatization of community college housing which includes Northampton County Community
College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State Universitys
Mont Alto campus and the University of Pittsburghs Titusville campus.
It also reflects LCCCs expanding role in the region.
The college last
week announced two new agreements that will facilitate student transfers between
LCCC and East Stroudsburg University.
Gegaris believes the dormitory project
would be beneficial to the city.
The college is a primary employer of
city residents, he said, growth of the college is growth for the city.
The decision ultimately rests with council, he noted.
In the meantime both
city council members and administration welcome input from residents and students
in regard to the project.
benefits Nanticoke library
of Caitlin Malishchaks fondest memories of childhood were spending time
at Nanticokes Mill Memorial Library.
Not only did she enjoy spending
time with friends and being introduced to literature, she remembers especially
looking forward to sledding on the hills that surrounded the building on East
To Malishchak, a Love Literacy for Life event Saturday
night at the Susquehanna Brewing Company to raise money for the library
provided an opportunity to look back on the history of the facility and
to look forward to maintenance, upgrades and purchases the organization hopes
Now a mother herself, she hopes to share her love for reading with
As a young reader, her favorite was On Beyond Bugs,
with the Cat in the Hat. It was a book that taught about insects, while
making kids laugh, she said.
Board president Sue Maza hopes Saturdays
nights event which provided participants with a chance to sample locally
brewed beer, sample quality wines, and enjoy finger foods, would provide book
lovers the opportunity to enjoy each others company while raising necessary
funds for the library.
This is the first time that weve done this,
said Maza, adding that about 100 pre-registered to attend. The amount raised is
not yet known.
Volunteer Karen Kanjorski manned the basket raffle table which
were donated by members of the community.
Baskets contained everything from
food items to household good to entertainment opportunities.
have been very generous and it is for a great cause, said Karen Kanjorski.
Board member Vicki Frace, lifetime friend of Kanjorski, said the two share many
memories centered on the library and want to provide opportunity for the next
generation to forge long time friendships over a book, a computer or while participating
in a book club.
Paul Kosiba, Scranton, said he thought the event was a perfect
opportunity for both fundraising and sampling quality beer.
has a unique taste, said Kosiba, and, at the same time, were
supporting a local business.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski said he was encouraged
to see community members gathered to support literacy.
For music lovers, deejay
Linda Simpson was on hand to provide a quiet background to an event which attendees
said was a wonderful to spend a night out for a good cause.
Dead rise after dawn to appear in zombie film
Some Nanticoke citizens
happily turned into zombies on Saturday.
Many locals participated in the filming
of trailers for Same World Productions horror project Nanticoke,
set in the city. The full-length film is set to be shot this summer.
filming started at the Nanticoke Municipal Building, where actual city Mayor Richard
Wiaterowski would be giving a character the key to the city, said Alexa Krupilis,
company executive assistant. All goes well until a council member starts acting
odd, she said.
The story concerns a group of vampires who have a secret arrangement
with the government. It allows them to exist in secret in exchange for the elimination
of high-risk terrorist threats. When a zombie outbreak occurs, the vampires are
the best defense.
Before filming began for the zombie scene Saturday, executive
producer John Smith planned out some of the shots, including having a few child
zombies biting at a police officers knees.
Its going to
be great, said Smith, also president of Same World Productions.
the company with Karen Metta of Nanticoke, who is company vice president and a
producer on the film. Wiaterowski said she brought the project to his and city
councils attention a couple months ago.
We were very supportive
of it, he said. I think its great for the city.
said he arrived at 7 a.m. that morning to sit at the council table and practice
I was just reading my lines, over and over.
locals playing zombies gathered outside the meeting room, putting on makeup for
the scene. Many were veterans of horror movie makeup.
Horror movie fan Theresa
Waltz moved to Nanticoke in the fall, finding it funny that the opportunity to
be in a horror movie came up so soon after. Waltzs zombie daughter, Isis,
sat with Kenna Golebeski and Auria Daniels in full zombie makeup, playing games
on an iPhone.
She and her cousin Renee Daniels always go all out for Halloween
creating haunted houses.
We love scaring people. It brings us joy,
said Waltz, the cuts and bruising painted on her face accentuated by an Iron Maiden
Zombies Cheryl and Joel Kerlavage of Nanticoke also had practice
they had a zombie wedding last October.
It was the coolest wedding
ever, Cheryl Kerlavage said, adding everyone dressed up for a costume party.
Even your 90-year-old grandmother, Joel Kerlavage said.
without makeup got to portray audience members at the meeting.
want to be a normal person? Come with me and be a normal person, one woman
told a young girl as they walked into the meeting room.
Find out more about
Nanticoke at facebook.com/nanticokemovie or nanticokemovie.com.
hopes to film horror movie in Nanticoke
zombies versus vampires in Nanticoke and city residents could be a part
Filming of trailers for Same World Productions horror project
Nanticoke will take place Saturday in the city. If all goes well,
said John Smith, executive producer and Same World Productions president, filming
for the full-length feature will begin in July and he hopes to cast locals in
The story concerns a group of vampires who have a secret arrangement
with the government. It allows them to exist in secret in exchange for the elimination
of high-risk terrorist threats. When a zombie outbreak occurs, the vampires are
the best defense.
The undead have to save us from the undead,
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski, as well as some city council
members, will be featured in the trailer.
Smith, who lives in Lynchburg, Va.,
formed the company with longtime friend, Karen Metta of Nanticoke. Metta, who
retired from teaching at Greater Nanticoke Area, is the vice president of the
production company and a producer of Nanticoke.
Smith said during
a visit to the area, he thought the city would make a good setting for a movie
or television show.
It felt really, really right, he said.
He said theyll be in talks with a few known names for roles, although nothing
is final yet. Theyve already generated interest from locals, said Alexa
Krupilis, company executive assistant who will also play a vampire in the project.
The people of Nanticoke are very receptive of doing this movie here,
he said. Ive never seen that in L.A.
Smith wrote the screenplay
and Ryan Gilmore of Los Angeles wrote the story. Smith has worked as a senior
editor with Showtime Cable networks and Columbia Pictures.
I was ready to retire, Smith laughed.
Theyre hoping for a limited
theatrical release in time for Halloween, or possibly turning it into a television
show, Smith said.
Were going the whole nine yards on this one,
Same World Productions is also working on the movie Native
Nations, a story about the Santee tribe fighting to maintain their lands
in Northern Minnesota. Find out more about Nanticoke at facebook.com/nanticokemovie
offers a hangout in Nanticoke
The owners of Tommyboys Bar and Grill in Nanticoke set
out to create a place that would become regular hangout for their customers.
The restaurant on Market Street draws patrons with several weekly specials, an
extensive drink selection and indoor/outdoor seating, owners Adeline Smith and
Stephani Smith said.
The family-run business will be open six years in June,
and business has been going well, the Smiths said. Jillena Smith, Adelines
daughter and Stephanis sister, also works at the bar.
been good to us, Adeline Smith said.
She said theyre working on
expanding the menu, trying out different pizza combinations to feature. The menu
includes everything from pizza to burgers, subs and fried platters. They feature
many speciality wing sauces, like crabby butter garlic, cajun blue cheese and
honey mustard inferno.
An oval bar dominates the main room, with drink specials
written on chalkboards hanging around it. In the next room, framed vintage band
posters hang on the wall above a shuffleboard table, and patrons can also play
darts or pool. Theres also a beer pong table, although patrons
can only use water in the cups, Adeline Smith said.
Its just for
fun, she said.
Weekly specials include build your own burger night on
Mondays, cheesesteak night on Tuesdays and wing night on Thursdays, among others.
The flat-screen televisions around the bar are great for watching games, Adeline
Even the hightop (tables) have little TVs, she said.
The drink menu includes creative specialty shots like the Starry Night
Goldschlager and Jagermeister Pineapple Upside-Down or Baby Guiness with
Baileys Irish Cream and Kahlua. Stephani Smith comes up with the drink recipes.
She said she likes coming up with new concoctions.
We change them up
all the time, she said.
On Friday and Saturday nights, live entertainment
keeps the place hopping. Open mic nights are held regularly on Tuesdays.
never charge a cover. Never, ever, Adeline Smith said.
As the weather
improves, patrons can enjoy the outdoor patio. Tommyboys Bar and Grill may also
be rented for private parties.
Adeline Smith said that shes fine with
people renting the whole bar for a party when the restaurant is normally closed.
She said they also sponsor local teams, and like to help out with community benefits
and events. During election season, they also host political events, she added.
We always try to help out the community, Adeline Smith said.
12 Market St., Nanticoke
Hours: Kitchen: Mondays-Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 11
p.m.; Thursdays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturdays, noon to midnight; Sundays,
noon to 11 p.m.; Bar until close each night
House passes bill honoring corrections officer
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
The state House on
Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to name a Conyngham Township bridge in honor
of Eric Williams, a corrections officer from Nanticoke who was killed in the line
House Bill 629 will now go to the state Senate for review, according
to the bills sponsor, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township.
The bill, if adopted, would name the bridge on Route 3005 over the outlet of Lily
Lake as the Senior Officer Eric J. Williams Memorial Bridge. Williams was stabbed
and killed by an inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary in Canaan, Wayne County, where
Williams worked as a corrections officer, in February 2013. He was 34.
was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed spending time at a cottage he owned on Lily
Lake, according to Mullery.
Williams, a graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area
High School and Kings College, began serving as a federal corrections officer
on Sept. 11, 2011. Before that, he worked for several years as a police officer.
Area ballplayers help fight hunger
Nanticoke Area High School senior baseball players Joe Jobo Olszyk
and Josh Benscoter wanted to make their senior project count.
The two have
shared a long term friendship based on a mutual love of the game, as well as helping
others. Passing the Nanticoke Community Food Bank at St. Faustinas parish
one Wednesday, an idea took root: combine their two passions to benefit the community.
Seeing people waiting in line to receive food, the boys realized there were
people in the community who had true need, who had to choose between food and
medicine, said Jenifer Olszyk, Joes mother, they wanted to help.
A collection for the food bank during the teams season seemed like a perfect
Jenifer, the baseball teams booster club secretary, provided
vision and support for the boys as they worked to make their vision a reality.
Oncology Clinical Research Coordinator at Wyoming Valleys Henry Geisinger
Center and a clinical nursing instructor at Luzerne County Community College,
her heart for service is reflected in her sons commitment to service.
She credited her co-workers who, upon hearing about the food collection, overwhelmed
her with food donations.
When we help others, it puts our own lives
in a proper perspective, when youre having a bad day and you realize there
are people struggling with poverty and illness, she said, you gain
gratitude for your own blessings.
Both boys said senior adviser David
Prushinski was totally supportive of the project, providing direction
This year, seniors were directed to focus their projects on benefiting
the community, and this effort certainly fulfilled that requirement.
Trojan Classic tournament on Sunday, the spirit of competition on the field yielded
to a spirit of cooperation and goodwill on the sidelines, as a steady stream of
players from other teams quietly brought cans of soup and vegetables, dry goods,
and other items.
And although the Nanticoke Trojans won their game Sunday
against the Dallas Mountaineers in overtime, another quieter victory was won against
hunger in the local area.
The teams coach Dean Myers made success possible,
always willing to take time to share information about the project with others,
communicating with parents, encouraging his players to be their best in every
The project also required the boys do research regarding area
specific poverty, said Jenifer. The numbers made the need a reality.
Mark Benscoter couldnt have been prouder of son Josh, both as a baseball
player and as a person.
Josh has been a baseball player since hes
about 7 years old, and weve always been proud of his hard work, said
Mark Benscoter. And were now very proud that he has a heart to give
back to the community.
The response has been overwhelming and
heartwarming, said Jenifer, I had to set aside an area of my house
for the collection of food items.
Both boys will be heading off to college
in September, with Olszyk majoring in criminal justice in hopes of joining the
State Police or the National Guard. Benscoter is set on earning a degree in engineering.
Those wanting to contribute to this project can drop off any can goods and non-perishable
foods at Nanticoke home games or practices throughout the season. They can also
contact Jenifer Olszyk at 570-332-4391 for more information and to request pick
traditions live on as people prepare for Easter
up with a 25-year Good Friday tradition, Berwick resident Cinda Hartman made the
rounds at mom-and-pop businesses throughout the Nanticoke area for her Easter
Her first stop was Sanitary
Bakery on East Ridge Street, where she bought key lime pie, chocolate cream
pie and cupcakes.
Her mothers family is from Nanticoke and she always
makes the rounds at the places they used to go, she said. After Sanitary Bakery,
she planned to go to Park Market on East Broad Street. She formerly shopped at
Diamond City Candy Shop just off the city square until that closed a few years
ago. Now, she shops at Michael Mootz Candies and Gertrude Hawk in Hanover Township
and planned to eat at Stookeys in Nanticoke for lunch.
their afternoon the food tour. She was joined by her daughter, Deirdre
Lally and Connie Bianco, 69, of Berwick, who bought key lime pie and paska bread.
They were among hordes of people who crowded the Nanticoke area on Friday buying
traditional foods for the Easter holiday. At times during the day, more than 15
people waited outside just to get in the doors to take a number at Sanitary Bakery.
Peg Camburn, 69, traveled 45 minutes from Weatherly to Sanitary Bakery on Friday
to buy cupcakes, a bunny cake and two pies.
Sweet rolls also were popular
sellers at Sanitary Bakery. Nanticoke resident Peter Rynkiewicz, 72, was among
the customers buying sweet rolls as well as poppyseed.
I like coming
here any time, Rynkiewicz said. Its a good bakery. Its
the only one in town.
Glen Lyon resident Edwina Pohlidal, who teaches
at Luzerne County Community College, made a trip to Sanitary Bakery on Friday
just to buy sweet rolls.
Theyre especially delicious with ham,
she said. Everybody says that, even people who come in from out of state
who are originally from here. They have to get the sweet rolls to go with the
ham. Its a tradition.
On West Main Street in Nanticoke, Joanne
Gerrity hustled to keep supplying kielbasa to a rush of customers who jammed into
Jerry and Son Market. The market was celebrating its 26-year anniversary on Friday.
Its been crazy all day. Its been like this all week, Gerrity
said. The extra garlic fresh is very popular right now. The kielbasa with
cheese we make is very popular right now.
Joshua Klitzner, 25, of Shickshinny,
said he comes to Jerry and Son Market every year. He picked up three rings of
extra garlic fresh kielbasa Friday for his grandmother. His family has an Easter
breakfast with kielbasa every year, he said.
My family has been shopping
here all 25 years Ive been alive, he said. My grandmother makes
it a habit. If you try to go somewhere else to get kielbasa, its just not
board members appointed in Nanticoke
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
City Council approved appointments to the Nanticoke City Zoning Board at Marchs
The following were appointed by Mayor Richard Wiaterowski:
Charles Alles, term expires Dec. 31, 2017; Jeff Grzymski, term expires Dec. 31,
2016; Michael Jezewski, term expires Dec. 31, 2018; Ed Janora, term expires Dec.
31, 2017; and Tom Wall, term expires Dec. 31, 2018.
Wiaterowski added that
all of the appointed members have been serving on the board for years,
and the appointments and terms were presented to council in order to formally
update the current administrations records and adhere to formal legal procedures.
All members of council were present during the voting.
The Honey Pot Volunteer
Fire department will host an all you can eat breakfast buffet from 7 a.m. to 11
a.m. April 12. The cost for adults is $8 per person and $4 for children 13 and
under. For more information, contact Linda Prushinski at (570) 735-0508.
Susquehanna Brewing Company will host Love Literacy for Life to benefit
Nanticokes Mill Memorial Library. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to
8 p.m. on April 25. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the library
at (570) 735-3030.
The next meeting of the council of Nanticoke will be held
at 7 p.m. on April 15.
building feasibility study could recommend replacing elementary school
A building feasibility
study could include an option to replace KM Smith Elementary School with an addition
to another school, Greater Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Ronald
KM Smith Elementary School, the oldest building on the district
campus, dates back to 1930 and has structural deficiencies, including not being
compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Grevera said. KM Smith is
currently used for kindergarten, pre-K and first grade.
A new building could
cost $6 million, Grevera said. The school board hopes to make a decision on whether
to proceed with construction by July 1 when a moratorium on state reimbursement
funding goes into effect, Grevera said.
If the board approves a plan for new
construction, district officials also are hoping to take advantage of historically
low interest rates when borrowing money, Grevera said.
The school board last
week voted to pay EI Associate Architects $10,000 to conduct the building feasibility
study. The study is expected to be done by May and involves a review of all school
facilities, Grevera said.
Other district schools are: Kennedy Elementary,
second grade; the elementary center for grades 3-5; the education center from
grades 6 and 7; and the high school for grades 8-12. All schools are located on
the district campus in Nanticoke.
The board chose EI Associates because it
is familiar with district facilities dating back to the last major project in
1999, Grevera said. EI Associates has offices in Harrisburg, Cedar Knolls, New
Jersey, and Newark, Delaware.
Side COG to spend gaming funds on equipment upgrades
- Citizens Voice
Published: March 31, 2015
West Side Council of Governments will upgrade public services using its 2014 state
gaming grant allocation.
The 11 towns in the COG and Nanticoke, which piggybacked
on one purchase, have acquired or will purchase a total of four new police cars,
several dump trucks or pickup trucks, other public works equipment, laptop computers
and computer aided dispatch software for police departments.
just about fulfilled our 2014 LSA (local share account), said Eileen Cipriani,
member of West Wyoming Borough Council and president of the West Side Council
of Governments. The Luzerne County local share account allocates funds generated
by the state gaming industry.
The COG was awarded $800,000 in 2014 state gaming
grant funds, almost double the $470,000 awarded in 2013.
Funds have paid for
a skid steer loader in Plymouth, a leaf loader in Kingston, police cruisers in
Larksville, Edwardsville, Forty Fort and Swoyersville; and dump trucks or pickup
trucks in Luzerne, Wyoming, West Wyoming, Exeter and West Pittston. Cipriani said
the COG also purchased laptops and dispatch software for police departments in
all 11 towns, plus Nanticoke.
This huge upgrade in police communication
equipment is very important in light of the current concerns regarding emergency
response times in Luzerne County, Cipriani said.
software is used by the Luzerne County 911 center. The software typically consists
of packages that initiate public safety calls and maintain the status of responding
resources in the field. It allows 911 operators and police departments to keep
track of police resources and put more information at the police officers
In making its equipment choices, the COG was unable to buy hoped-for
shared equipment. Its 2015 wish list includes a road paver and upgraded communication
equipment for fire departments in the COG municipalities.
The $470,000 received
in 2013 was used to buy shared public works equipment. As the weather improves,
towns will schedule and begin use of the shared street sweeper and leaf vacuum
truck bought with 2013 funds, Cipriani said.
A garden grows in Nanticoke
- Citizens' Voice
Rebecca Seman is holistic
in her outlook on foods and in how the greater Nanticoke communitys residents
can live in harmony.
Beyond the Greater Nanticoke Area Community Garden project
that is front and center this spring, she wants to build relationships that bring
people together, both around organic foods and in creating that sense of community.
It would be great to see Nanticoke sustainable, she says, envisioning
a community where people are healthier because they have access to healthy fruits
and vegetables, and perhaps enjoy everything natural.
and a small group of like-minded people operated their first Community Garden
in the Nanticoke area in 2014 and they are looking for a plot of six acres or
so on which a Greater Nanticoke Area Community Garden can be located. The 2014
garden was run in a few small locations around Nanticoke, said
Erik Thiel, Nanticoke, a member of the project team.
GNACG is looking
for community support to secure a larger and permanent location for the entire
community to start growing their own food, herbs, flowers and more,
Unless another site is found, the 2015 garden may be located on
Nanticoke City-owned land in the Lower Broadway area. There is an acid mine water
runoff issue, the area is subject to flooding and water and soil conditions are
not the best, Seman said. Its the down by the bridge site that
may be the only option this year.
The community garden would allow people
to raise organic produce, Seman said. Fruits and vegetables raised chemical-free
can be part of a diet that includes vitamins and non-genetically modified foods,
The holistic-organic movement is big and growing,
she said. Urban farming is expanding dramatically in the United States and worldwide.
Australia is a model for urban farming, she said. People can visit police
stations and public buildings and find food gardens. Chickens, bees, goats and
cows are raised. Everything. Everything is natural, she said.
Seman, who serves as garden coordinator, credits her mother, Sheila Seman, of
Nanticoke, and her late grandfather, George Seman of Wilkes-Barre, for nurturing
an interest in gardening, and then further research into holistic nutrition and
organic gardening prompted me to start my own gardens, she said.
Now, she is spreading that passion into the community.
The Community Garden
group has an ambitious agenda for 2015. In cooperation with the city, a new entrance
sign to the city and more flowers are planned on East Main Street. A bird-bee-butterfly
garden and sanctuary will be created to the rear of Mill Memorial Library to celebrate
Earth Day and a farmers market will be run June 20, July 18, Aug. 15 and
Sept. 19 on Patriot Square, featuring organic foods, soaps, breads, honey and
Wherever the community garden is located, organic methods will be
encouraged and there will be educational activities for adults and children, Seman
The Nanticoke City event committee has no affiliation with the GNACG
but the city will try and help through support and donations, according to Andy
Gegaris, Nanticoke City manager. Well assist in the development,
said Gegaris. The city loves the initiative.
Seman, who has three
children, said the group is trying to build relationships, and
will work with the city, Boy Scouts, Nanticoke Conservation Club, Mill Memorial
Library, Nanticoke Historical Society and Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned
Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) or any other organization on various projects.
Hughes, executive director of EPCAMR, said the agency will receive 80 water boxes
used for growing trees and some of these will go to GNACG.
GNACG is also looking
for local businesses to sponsor the groups work. In return for a donation,
GNACG will help beautify the business by planting flowers or food, in the ground
or in containers, according to Seman.
Gegaris said a community garden engages
families and teaches children and adults who have a desire to teach themselves.
GNACG is seeking a kitchen area in Nanticoke to hold canning classes.
a sponsor, to make a donation or for information, call Seman at 570-793-7910 or
email her at GNA.Community.Garden@gmail.com. For info on upcoming events, visit
the GNACG Face book page.
The Community Garden group meets on Saturdays at
1 p.m. at Mill Memorial Library off Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke.
Greater Nanticoke Area announces kindergarten registration
Greater Nanticoke Area School District is conducting kindergarten registration
for the 2015-16 school term. Registration will be held Tuesday, April 7, Wednesday,
April 8, and Thursday, April 9.
Times for registration will be from 9 to 11
a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Registration will be held at the K.M. Smith Elementary
The child must accompany the parent to the registration
for screenings that will be done that day.
In order to be eligible for kindergarten
for the 2015-16 school term, a child must be five years old on or before Sept.
Parents must bring the childs birth certificate, two proofs
of residency, and provide current health and immunization records. If there are
legal documents, (custody/foster) a copy is requested.
If an access card applies
to the child, parents are asked to bring it with the other necessary information.
The parent/guardian must also provide a picture ID the day of registration in
addition to the proofs of residency.
Registration for new first grade students
will also be accepted at this time.
In order to be eligible for first grade
in the fall, a child must be six years of age on or before Sept. 1, 2015.
Parents must provide the same necessary information listed for registration.
Registration packets are available in the principals office at K.M. Smith
School between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Parents who plan on picking up the packet
may bring the necessary papers that must be copied.
Municipalities move to form South Valley COG
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
are moving forward on formation of a Lower South Valley Council of Governments.
The success of other government councils in Luzerne County has sparked enthusiastic
support for a South Valley organization, said Andy Gegaris, city manager in Nanticoke.
By the fall, I think we will have this together, Gegaris said.
Communities that have met and remain in contact largely via emails are Nanticoke,
Newport Township, Hanover Township, Plymouth Township, Sugar Notch and Ashley.
The towns hope that Warrior Run also will join, Gegaris said.
force is the dramatically rising cost of local government. Gegaris said the towns
hope to kick start the council with some type of joint public works program, including
street paving, and with parks and recreation projects.
Nanticoke long has
had a need for a new Department of Public Works building. Our current building
is an embarrassment, the manager said, and all of the towns could benefit
from a joint public works building and yard. That is a vision, he
said, acknowledging that it will take much work to make it happen.
the two-year-old West Side Council of Governments is dreaming of buying a small-size
street paver with its 2015 state gaming money allocation. The West Side council
has used funds from previous grants to buy shared public works equipment and police
The town councils in the proposed Lower South Valley Council of
Governments are preparing to enact enabling ordinances. Gegaris said it is hoped
all towns will have passed the ordinances by the end of May.
lists and equipment inventories are being drafted.
Gegaris said Dan Guydish,
executive director of the Mountain Council of Governments in the Hazleton area,
has assisted the Lower South Valley officials. Gegaris said the town councils
want the town managers to carry the ball. He said state Sen. John Yudichak is
squarely in support and has emphasized that the council must be driven by the
towns to be successful, as opposed to feeling that it is a mandate.
also is not limiting its size to the six communities.
anyone who wants to join, he said, but the towns feel it is best to take
small steps at first and win some little victories in cost savings
and equipment sharing.
Gegaris said the countys councils of governments,
which include the Back Mountain Community Partnership, could eventually meet as
a COG of COGs.
We (the communities) have to share information
and work together if we want to survive, he said.
The seed for a possible
South Valley Council of Governments was planted when West Side council towns balked
at including Nanticoke in the fledgling West Side configuration. Nanticoke did
participate in the 2014 gaming funds grant that yielded police equipment for 11
Last year, in the wake of the West Side councils decision,
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski of Nanticoke said, I would love to see us here
(in the South Valley) try to form our own council.
attended some West Side concil organizational meetings but did not become a member.
The township is in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District and is seen as a
better fit in a South Valley Council of Governments. Hanover Township and the
three smaller boroughs are in the Hanover Area School District.
police department provides coverage in Warrior Run Borough under contract and
the fire departments in the proposed council area have a long history of cooperation.
Hanover Township is using the Warrior Run Volunteer Fire Department building to
house equipment due to the poor condition of the old Askam station and Hanover
and the boroughs have response protocols in place where they assist each other.
Students get lesson
rich in art and local history
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
An excited Frank Fernandez applied an iron
oxide glaze to a piece of pottery he shaped in a classroom at Nanticoke Elementary
I never did anything like this before, the 10-year-old
said Tuesday morning, as 29 students of art teacher Michelle Kordek gathered to
continue a multi-faceted project.
They were making pottery, but they also
were gaining knowledge of the areas anthracite mining history and one of
its legacies polluted water runoff from abandoned mines. The iron oxide
used to make the glaze came from a site dubbed Red Lake, a former strip mine pit
and municipal landfill in Newport Township, near the former Glen-Nan Colliery.
The children had previously made pinch pots out of clay. The pots were baked and,
following application of the iron oxide glaze on Tuesday, they were fired again.
Before the classroom project, the fourth grade and fifth grade students took field
tours of abandoned mine sites like Red Lake. The 20-acre site is typical of abandoned
mine drainage problems in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The lake bubbles and gurgles
as water rushes in from seeps and old mine gangways. Acid mine water runs into
the Honey Pot discharge from an abandoned air shaft of Susquehanna No. 7 Colliery.
The merged flow is about 2,000 gallons per minute, according to Bob Hughes, executive
director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
The high-iron load eventually reaches Newport Creek and the Susquehanna River.
The coalition received a $3,000 grant through the state Department of Environmental
Protection to purchase two pottery wheels, clay and other supplies to carry out
the project. Cooperating were Greater Nanticoke Area School District, Wilkes University,
Misericordia University and Earth Conservancy, which works to reclaim mine-ravaged
Joining teacher Kordek were Gabby Zawacki, watershed outreach specialist
at the coalition, and two coalition interns, environmental studies students Amanda
Hamstra and Jessica Johnson of Kings College.
The children used brushes
to paint the iron oxide glaze on the pots, being careful to leave the bottoms
free of glaze. Kordek said this was necessary to prevent the pots from cracking
as they were fired.
Dominic Milazzo of Alden said his great-great grandfather
worked in the Susquehanna Coal Company mines. He said the project was lots
of fun. He joined classmates in watching a pottery wheel demonstration by
a clay-splattered Zawacki.
Kordek, a teacher for seven years and an art instructor
for the last two years, said it is exciting that students can recycle materials
from our back yard to create art. The students visited sites that, while
close to their homes, they had never visited before.
Visiting Red Lake
was a learning adventure in their home town, she said.
Kordek, of Ashley,
also comes from a mining family. Her grandfather worked at the Huber Colliery.
Teaching the areas mining legacy is important, Kordek said.
It is great to see the kids interest.
Hughes said Pennsylvania
has 5,500 miles of streams polluted by acid mine drainage. In visiting mine sites
and in making pottery from iron oxide, the students gain an awareness of a long-standing
pollution problem, he said.
Choice: Nanticoke chicken wings take flight as they are voted best wings
Anyway you sauce it, R Bar and Grills wings are at the top of the coop.
Hot. Sweet. Naked. Get
your mind out of the gutter, we are talking about chicken wings here.
are the go-to bar food, found at probably every bar. They are a constant fixture
at bars because they arent hard to make. Fry em, toss em, serve
em. Easy, right? Sure, but for the best wings, somethings got to be
a little different. It takes a little more than dousing them in your average Buffalo
sauce or making sure they are crispy enough.
The wings at R Bar and Grill
at 119 East Kirmar Ave., are still an easy plate to make, but these wings, according
to uand do everything to stand out. The bars lightly, hand-breaded chicken
wing was voted best wings for the 2015 Times Leaders Readers
Any wing you get is great. Theyre all good,
said customer Ken Matulewski form Nanticoke. It doesnt matter what
flavor you get.
The bar boasts more than 75 wing sauces from the staples
of mild, medium and hot, to the wildly different Broccoli Cheddar, Steak and Potato
and Maple Bacon Brown Sugar.
Customers love our wings because they are
just plain amazing, said server Lindsey Temarantz. They are consistent
and there are so many flavors.
The wing flavors are creative and
there is always something different on the menu, said bartender Lauren Maga.
My favorite is the Cajun Siracha Horseradish.
R Bar and Grill
allows customers to mix and match their sauces and offers dry rubs as well to
those who arent fond of getting their fingers messy.
of flavors and the quality of the wings really set them apart, said customer
Diane Pientka from Nanticoke. They will make the wings any way you want
them too. Whether it is crispy or not, they will make them. They want to make
the customer happy and make them to their standards.
husband, Mark, said the couple frequents the bar more than they would like
to say, and he usually orders the Sweet Chili Blue Cheese wings and the
Cajun Honey Mustard Blue Cheese.
The restaurants wing night is every
Tuesday with 45 cent wings. Customers are also able to buy 8 ounces of their favorite
dry rub or 16 ounces of their favorite wing sauce for $6.
Why Lauren Maga of Nanticoke is the best bartender around
Regions best bartender voted, Lauren Maga takes the title
Good friends are difficult to find, but
coming upon a good bartender can be even more challenging. If youre looking
for a bartender with some rave reviews, look no further than Lauren Maga of R
Bar and Grill in Nanticoke, who was recently voted Best Bartender for the Times
Leaders 2015 Readers Choice Awards.
Maga said she was surprised
to learn she was voted the best bartender in the region because she only bartends
one day a week.
Oh, Ive been bartending for 14 years. Im
usually on the managing side any more, or training bartenders. We have a lot of
great bartenders here. Any one of them could have qualified, Maga said.
The seasoned bartender has earned a reputation with local customers including
Carol Martin of Nanticoke.
She already knows what I want before I even
come in. As soon as she sees me walk through the door, she makes my drink
a Peach Long Island Iced Tea and its ready by the time I sit down.
Shes the best, Martin gloated.
Every Tuesday night R Bar
and Grills infamous wing night Maga can be found behind
the bar; possibly mixing one of her signature cocktails.
I love making
drinks up on the spot. R Bar sells over 20 signature cocktails that were made
up by me, Maga said.
Her personal favorite is the GaRbage
Can, a 32-ounce pitcher filled with vodka, rum, gin, triple-sec, blue curacao,
a splash of cranberry juice and a can of Red Bull.
Her original drinks are
popular enough that a bar in Plymouth was rumored to have offered money to an
R Bar and Grill customer for Magas drink recipes.
The drink menus
used to say what was in each drink, but after it was rumored that a bar offered
$100 to someone to take them, we took the ingredients off the menu, Maga
For now, if you want to experience Magas special drinks and complimented
service, youll have to go to R Bar and Grill.
Readers Choice: Best server hails from Nanticoke
R Bar and Grill feels like home to Lindsey Temarantzs customers.
There is no rest in the
service industry. Long shifts equal aching feet and sore backs. Between the less
than minimum wage salary and constant eye-rolling from the public, it is hard
to see why a waitress would smile.
However, Lindsey Temarantz, waitress at
R Bar and Grill in Nanticoke, is nothing but smiles. Her dimples greet customers
and welcome them to what she said is their second home.
always want to make sure people feel comfortable, she said.
voted Temarantz best waitress for the 2015 Times Leader Readers
Temarantz said she loves her customers and how the job keeps
her busy. She has served at the bar for the past six years and customers cant
get enough of her.
I am only here a few nights a week but regulars are
used to Lauren (her sister who won best bartender) and I, Temarantz
said. They picked the name they knew.
Customers see her effort
and have rewarded her with the honor.
Lindsey really takes the time
out to talk to her customers, said Tom Wrubel from Nanticoke. She
doesnt just serve and walk away. She spends time with her tables.
Wrubel comes to R Bar and Grill about three nights a week because of the atmosphere
and, of course, his server.
Temarantz credits patrons returning because of
the bars burgers and wings, but behind her humbleness, is a hard-working
server whose customers are like family.
GNA students lauded for efforts in science
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
Area High School Principal Joseph Long announced at Thursdays school board
meeting the accomplishments of students who participated in the regional meeting
of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science at Wilkes University.
following awards were given:
First award in engineering as well as
the Junior High Excellence award in engineering to Kristofer Seiwell.
First award in math to Kaitlyn Bigos and Evan Stecco.
in math to Ben Sersen.
First award in microbiology to Megen Banas and
First award in physics to Sarah Adkins, Emily Brzozowski,
Emily Ehrensperger, Andrea Grey, Riley Klepadlo, David Mash, Aaron Miller, Alyssa
Petroski, Kassandra Rinker, Emily Scott, Lexi Seery and Katie Sherman.
Second awards in physics to Matthew Daniels, Ashlee Pryzwara, Andi Roberts and
Second award in zoology to Lauren McHenry.
Sherman also received a Perseverance Award for her four years of participation.
GNA students participated in the Science Olympiad competition. Sherman and Derek
Fisher placed first in Protein Modeling. Sherman and Liz Kanjorski placed first
in Disease Detectives.
The Elementary Schools Jump Rope for Heart Fundraiser
raised over $4,000. Fourth-grade students Kendra Titus and Lauren Rudawski and
second-grade student Joseph Jacobs were the top three students to raise donations
for the event.
The board approved the adoption of the McGraw Hill Wonders
Reading Program for grades K through fifth.
Board President Ryan Verazin said
that the program is the top of the line and the first new reading
program brought into the school in over a decade.
We want to make sure
our students are keeping up with the standards Verazin added.
also approved the operation of a summer school program from grades 9 through 12.
The program will start this summer for those students who do not pass certain
courses during the regular school year, so that they will be given the opportunity
to catch up with their grade level for the new school year.
In another action,
the board approved the establishment of an Athletic Recognition Committee from
various members of the community who have participated in athletics in the past.
Bill would name bridge after fallen correctional officer
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
local legislator wants to establish a memorial to a prison corrections officer
from Nanticoke who was killed on the job two years ago.
State Rep. Gerald
Mullery, D-Newport Township, has introduced House Bill 629 to re-name the bridge
on Route 3005 over the outlet of Lily Lake in Conyngham Township to the Senior
Officer Eric J. Williams Memorial Bridge.
Williams was 34 when he was assaulted,
stabbed and killed by an inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary in Canaan, Wayne County,
in February 2013.
Williams, a former police officer, was a 1996 graduate of
Greater Nanticoke Area High School and graduated from Kings College with
a criminal justice degree. He began working as a federal corrections officer on
Sept. 11, 2011, according to Mullery.
The bill is expected to be referred
to the House Transportation Committee for consideration, Mullery said, in a news
Officer Williams was dedicated to serving his community, his
commonwealth and his country, Mullery said. His courageous service
will never be forgotten and this legislation is just one small way we can remember
him. He owned a cottage at Lily Lake, so it is entirely fitting to name the nearby
bridge in his memory.
Area girls have a winning attitude
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice
did the Nanticoke Area Trojanettes come this far?
Its a fair question
given their average-sized, underclassmen-heavy roster that includes six sophomores
and just one senior.
But here they are, riding a 14-game win streak. Having
already won the WVCs Division 2 title, the Trojanettes are one win away
from advancing to the state playoffs and this success should not come as
The team that is up there right now, they dont take
a backseat, said Nanticoke Area junior high coach Gerard Rentko. No
team likes to be down. But if theyre down, theyre a team that knows
how to come back.
Rentkos word is one that should be taken with
confidence. A 30-year junior high coach, about 18 of which have been at Nanticoke
Area, Rentko over time has learned to tell the great apart from the not-so-great.
This years Trojanettes have been closer to great their whole
When the current junior class was in eighth grade, the junior high
team went 21-2, Rentko said. In the following year, the current batch of sophomores
In both seasons, they won their division competing against the
same schools they face in varsity.
Years ago, varsity head coach Alan Yendrzeiwski
took notice of the success the Trojanettes were having at the junior high and
freshman levels. He said a thought in the back of his mind was, OK, we definitely
have something to work with.
But even before that, the current crop
of talent enjoyed success at an early age, including the sophomores, who have
played together since second grade.
Being able to keep that close of
a bond with the girls throughout high school, middle school and growing up
its something special, sophomore point guard Riley Klepadlo said.
The trophy collection of Klepadlo and her fellow sophomores is an extensive one
that dates back to elementary school, and even includes a championship win in
the 2012 Winter Challenge tournament in Syracuse, New York.
As the head coach,
Yendrzeiwskis responsibilities include helping players reach their full
potential and establishing roles for everyone on the team, which could be a bit
However, given the history this team shares, players generally
know what they need to do.
We understand each other without really having
to say much, junior Gianna Roberts said.
For a historical perspective,
the 1990 Trojanettes, who won the PIAA Class AAA championship with a perfect 30-0
record, were led by five seniors that played together since junior high.
advantage to be gained from having a team that knows one another so well is apparent
for the Trojanettes, as on-court communication is one of Nanticoke Areas
Weve gotten so used to playing with each other that,
communication-wise, its so much easier than when we started, Klepadlo
However, raw talent is perhaps the main reason why the Trojanettes are
An all-around player who often racks up the rebounds, steals and
assists, Klepadlo averages 13.3 points per game and was recently crowned MVP of
Division 2 by the WVC Girls Basketball Coaches Association.
Roberts and senior
Deanna Thomas average 13.5 and 11.7 ppg, respectively.
trio agreed in unison that they saw something special with this team from the
first practice for the 2014-15 season.
We worked harder than weve
ever worked in the past, Thomas said. Over the summer, we were going
hard and just coming up from day one, we knew that it was going to pay off.
Several years removed from coaching these Trojanettes, Rentko still follows the
These kids, if they had me for one year, they have me
for the rest of their life, he said with a laugh.
Among the other Trojanettes
who have translated junior high-to-varsity success are junior Amber Grohowski,
and sophomores Cassie Novakowski, Keira Brown and Kayla Aufiero.
where this team succeeded in carrying over success to the varsity level, whereas
others failed, is the players got stronger, and simply, They have the heart
and desire to get better.
Nanticoke Areas win streak will be put
to the test Wednesday, when it faces North Pocono at 6 p.m. at Wilkes in the District
2 Class AAA semifinals.
fire leaves nine displaced
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
one was hurt, but several pets perished and nine people are temporarily displaced
following a house fire in Nanticoke on Saturday morning.
The fire, in an apartment
building at 176 E. Green St., was reported at 10:02 a.m., according to a Luzerne
County emergency dispatch supervisor.
The fire started near a dryer in one
of the four apartments in the building, according to Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin
Hazleton. The apartment where the fire started was heavily damaged and the other
three apartments in the building also sustained smoke and water damage, Hazleton
All of the residents of the apartment building, as well as the building
next door at 174 E. Green St. got out of their homes unharmed, Hazleton said.
However, it was a mixed story with pets in the building: Some pets were saved,
but several cats and birds died in the fire, he said.
The American Red Cross
is helping the displaced residents and will provide them with temporary shelter
if needed, Hazleton said.
The cause of the fire appears to be accidental,
Multiple fire companies responded, including Nanticoke, Newport Township,
Hanover Township, Plymouth Township, Plymouth Borough and Kingston.
Area School Board remembers Jim Davis
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
of the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board and residents of the district remembered
Jim Davis at Thursday nights meeting.
Jim Davis, who was known as the
Father of Greater Nanticoke Area Athletics, passed away on Feb. 5.
He had served as the districts first athletic director.
had an impact in my life, personally, as my biology teacher, said board
President Ryan Verazin. It was such a profound impact that I ended up studying
and majoring in biology at the collegiate level and still continue to utilize
some of the basics Mr. Davis taught me in my professional career today.
Ken James of the high school athletic department added that Davis was instrumental
in the promotion of girls athletics, in addition to developing the athletic
department as a whole.
In other matters:
During last months
board meeting, the board adopted a resolution indicating that the GNA School District
will not raise property taxes above the index.
Maryann Jarolen changed
positions from district principal to assistant to the superintendent.
Jarolen stated that there will be an increase in rigor in the high
schools educational plan beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. Some
of the proposed changes include increasing the amount of required credits for
graduation from 21-24 beginning with the class of 2017.The core subjects of English,
math, science and social studies will be required courses from grades 9-12. The
health and physical education requirement will increase from one credit to two,
and there will be honors level courses for all grades and all major subjects.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera announced that the district will participate
in the Project Shine program beginning in September 2015. The program is geared
toward at risk students and will assist them with homework assignments and career
The board will meet next at 7 p.m. on March 12.
Valentines Day Sweetheart Dance
Citizens' Voice Staff
The first Valentines
Day Sweetheart Dance for high school students with disabilities was held Wednesday
at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School gymnasium. Approximately 200 students
from schools throughout the Wyoming Valley attended the event, which was organized
by the Greater Nanticoke Area Life Skills class, Lori Dennis, special education
teacher, and two GNA juniors, Sarina Kinlaw and Joanna Tushinski, for their senior
project. The 4 ½ hour event included dancing, a photo booth for the participants
to enjoy, and the selection of a Valentines court and crowning of a king
and queen. Student volunteers and donations of food and money from the community
helped make the event possible.
Organizer Lori Dennis said she was overwhelmed
at the outpouring of support for the inaugural dance from the community, students,
and school districts, including GNA, Hanover Area, Wilkes-Barre Area Career and
Technical Center, West Side Career and Technology Center, Dallas, Wyoming Area,
Wyoming Valley West, and Wilkes-Barre Area schools.
The idea originated with
Dennis friend and fellow teacher in the Berwick Area School District. A
similar dance has been held in Berwick for the past 15 years. Dennis participated
in the Berwick event for several years and decided to try to bring the concept
home to the Greater Nanticoke Area.
It is a huge success. The kids really
love it, Dennis said. It gives them a chance to dress up and dance
and socialize and enjoy themselves. They all have a really good time.
Phylicia Thomas remembered at candlelight vigil
Family and friends of Phylicia
Thomas ask anyone with information to contact Judy Fisher at 570-328-4957.
Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-472-8477.
A no-questions asked cash reward in excess of $2,000 is offered for information
that leads to Thomas recovery.
Nearly 100 candles
pierced the darkness on Wednesday night as family and friends of Phylicia Thomas
gathered at Patriot Square for a vigil commemorating her life.
would have been 33 years old, was last seen in her Lake Township home in 2004.
Since that time the family has sought answers from state police, from the community,
from anyone who might know something, to no avail.
Although there have been
some leads over the years and a person of interest, ultimately the investigation
has been up to this point fruitless.
Thomas mother, Pauline Bailey,
took a moment to reflect on memories made in the last months of Thomas life.
Our last vacation was a trip to North Carolina to visit my son, Wade,
said Bailey. It was a big trip and we were so happy together.
Bailey also looked back on Thomas last Thanksgiving which she said, was
all about family.
Now 11 years later, with so many questions unanswered,
Bailey begs anyone with information about the case to come forward.
know someone, somewhere, knows something, said Bailey.
the night was filled with sadness, it was also filled with hope as attendees took
opportunity to write messages on pink and silver mylar balloons that were released
with messages to a sister, a friend and daughter. Some read, I love you,
I miss you everyday, and You are an angel.
hope wherever she is she knows we love her, said Jocelyn Thomas, 30, Phylicias
sister, clutching a balloon. Since we have lost her, it seems like the world
Phylicia was like my other half, said Jocelyn,
I miss her always.
Curtis Howell, of Plymouth and a family friend,
wrote special music for the event.
Strumming on his guitar, Howell said of
Phylicia, you are in our mind, in our heart, you are in our soul, you are
still with us.
The park, filled with light and song, seemed to reflect
the love and friendship that surrounded Thomas during her life and the determination
for justice that continues on her behalf.
Attendees gathered around a photo
montage and a painting of Phylicia that provided opportunity for them to picture
her in their minds eye.
Beth Ann Freeman, of Mountaintop, said she hopes
the events brings the case to the forefront of police attention and ultimately
results in some closure for the family.
We will come back every year
until we have an answer, Freeman said. Every year.
mourns loss of former Nanticoke Area AD
Matt Bufano - Citizens
The list of what Jim Davis accomplished
tells a story that personifies him as being exactly who Ken Bartuska said he was.
Hes the father of Nanticoke Area athletics, Bartuska said.
A product of Nanticoke High School where he was a decorated basketball
player Davis spent 30 years as an educator, coach and athletic director
at Nanticoke Area. At different points in his career, he coached basketball and
cross country, and was an assistant football coach too.
Davis died Thursday.
He was 80.
Among his important contributions to the community was serving
as Nanticoke Areas first athletic director when the Nanticoke, Newport and
Harter schools combined in the mid-1960s.
At the time, the three high schools
offered just basketball, baseball and football. With Davis overseeing the athletic
program, Nanticoke Area expanded to its current offering of a wide-variety of
sports to play.
He established all the programs. He was the one that
got everything going, said Bartuska, the districts current athletic
director. Every team, every program we have today has his mark on it in
some shape or form. ... He was a tough, old school, demanding guy. But theres
nobody that had your back more than he would have.
is not defined solely by his time at Nanticoke Area. He also was very involved
with District 2, where he succeeded Anthony Marchakitus as chairman in 1988 and
stayed on in that role for 10 years.
His impact and influence on the
student-athletes across District 2 was unbelievable, said current chairman
But it doesnt stop there.
Davis reach extended
past Northeast Pennsylvania, as he was a member of the PIAA State Board of Control
and was awarded state Athletic Director of the Year in 1995. In addition to his
1976 induction into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, he was inducted into
the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Asked how Davis found time to
delve into all these different ventures, in addition to being a church and family
man, Majikes laughed and said, Thats a very good question. But he
always found the time and he was available to everybody. Majikes added that
Davis very seldom, if ever, missed District 2 meetings in his time
After first knowing of Davis in the 1950s when Davis played basketball
at Kings, Majikes said Davis became a mentor to him.
Prior to Nanticoke
Areas boys and girls basketball games late last week, the gym shared in
a moment of silence to honor Davis. Bartuska said he hopes additional things will
happen at Nanticoke Area in Davis honor, though nothing is planned yet.
Current Nanticoke Area girls basketball coach Alan Yendrzeiwski played for the
Trojans in 1995-96 when they made the state playoffs. Davis was the athletic director
and biology teacher when he was a student.
Yendrzeiwski said Davis was frequently
at games with other administrators, supporting the team.
He was just
an icon, not just in Nanticoke, but the entire Wyoming Valley, Davis said.
It was just so sad that he passed away.
Nanticoke vigil set to commemorate Phylicia Thomas, missing
and friends of Phylicia Thomas ask anyone with information about her whereabouts
to call Judy Fisher at 570-328-4957.
Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous
also may give information to Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers by calling 800-472-8477.
A no-questions-asked cash reward in excess of $2,000 is offered for information
that leads to Thomas recovery.
Thomas went missing 11 years ago, family members never thought years would go
by without knowing what happened to their daughter, their sister, their friend.
On Wednesday night, a candlelight vigil will be held at 7 p.m. in the Nanticoke
Square along East Broad Street, not only to remember Phylicia, but also as an
opportunity to seek new information that will hopefully lead to some closure,
some answers as to what happened to the young woman who simply seemed to disappear.
Pauline Bailey, Phylicias mother, will be holding a candle in remembrance
of her daughter, who would have been 33 years old this year. Last seen at her
Lake Township home on Feb. 11, 2004, State Police have said they have pursued
leads which so far have been fruitless.
Initially, State Police named Steven
Martin of Ross Township as a person of interest. Martin was also named as a person
of interest in the case of Jennifer Barziloski, 18, who disappeared in 2001.
Barziloskis skull was found near Martins residence. Martin later died
after a suicide attempt while in jail on an unrelated charge.
Recently a family friend, Judy Fisher, stepped in to insure the case would once
again come to the forefront. Writing letters, contacting police agencies and interacting
with the media motivated Crime Stoppers to revisit the case last fall.
organization is offering a $2,000 cash reward, with no questions asked, as a reward
for tips that lead to Thomas discovery.
We are so grateful for
those in the media who again put Phylicias name and face out there, allowing
us to believe that we can have some hope, said Fisher.
Fisher, as well as the family, presume Thomas is dead, they continue to hope they
will find out what happened.
Pauline says she wants what every other
mother wants, to know where her daughter is, Fisher added.
is invited to Wednesdays candlelight vigil, to remember Thomas and hopefully
draw attention to the need for further information in the case.
Nanticoke Historical Society plans photo tour
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
Published: February 2, 2015
motto is, If its historical information, we want it.
society will offer a photo tour of the city on Feb. 19 in the town council meeting
room at Nanticokes municipal building. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the tour
begins at 7.
Tour attendees can ask to see photos of specific events or geographic
locations: the return of Nanticoke servicemen from World War I, marching into
the city on Main Street; the Nanticoke High School championship basketball team
of 1961; the last coal mine operations in Nanticoke and Newport.
have tens of thousands of images available and well go on (showing photos)
as long as the people want to stay, said Chet Zaremba, society vice president
Zaremba said he hopes that people fill council chambers.
A previous photo tour held at the St. Faustina Cultural Center, in the former
St. Stanislaus Church, drew a large crowd, he said. Photos are projected onto
a 4 feet by 8 feet screen.
Zaremba and John Sherrick, both of Nanticoke, oversee
the societys massive collection of historical records, photos and artifacts.
The society rents the Samantha Mills House, a white frame building to the rear
of the Mill Memorial Library on Kosciuszko Street, Nanticoke.
the society archivist and he has dedicated years to cataloging the citys
history. He has photographed every tombstone in every cemetery, every building
on every street and additional shots and angles of anything that might be of historical
value to anyone.
And he is looking for more.
Its sad to see
a Dumpster in front of a house. Family histories are being lost. Before you throw
things out, contact us, Sherrick said. Even an old photograph of a
family member in the back yard can have value. There may be something in the background.
Sherrick said the only photo of a Jewish synagogue that once existed on State
Street is from such a snapshot. The synagogue is visible over the shoulder of
the photographs subject.
The society was founded in 1995 by a group
led by Zaremba, 69, a retired state police sergeant and former Nanticoke police
chief, and Frank Regulski, also a former chief. Like societies in Pittston, Kingston
and Plymouth, it began with chats on the history of the community. The society
was born when a call was put out and people showed up and it went from there,
The society began collecting material such as Nanticoke High
School yearbooks, furniture donated by citizens, old photos, art work such as
a painting of one-armed baseball player Pete Gray, coal company records and sports
histories. Some oral histories were taken. Then the PastPerfect cataloging software
was obtained with help from The Luzerne Foundation and Tony Brooks, former director
of the Luzerne County Historical Society.
Then Sherrick went to work.
Sherrick, 68, began shooting photos of tombstones. He then turned to photographing
buildings that once were small mine-era grocery stores.
I thought, What
the heck, I might as well shoot everything, he said.
So he photographed
every building in the city. Now, he updates those shots as needed.
is searchable, Zaremba said.
The society also gives away original historical
material. If an ancestors payroll card from Susquehannna Coal Co. is found,
the society will give it to the family and retain a copy. When Roger Gilbert of
Wapwallopen found a 1926 gold medal given to David Price of the state championship
basketball team, Gilbert gave it to the society, which in turn presented it to
Greater Nanticoke Area School District for its sports trophy cases.
where it belongs, Zaremba said.
Zaremba said the societys leadership
team is small but dedicated: Julianna Zarzycki, president; Judith Minsavage, newsletter
editor; Mike Passetti, facilities manager; Nick Pucino, public relations; Eugene
Danowski, technical support; Sally Gorgas, activities director, and Bill and Kathy
Membership stands at about 60, Zaremba said. Dues are
$15 annually and the society relies on dues and book sales to stay solvent. Books
include the societys own works, by Zaremba and the late C. Charles Ciesla,
and by others, such as Gaylon Whites Story of the 1956 Los Angeles
Angels, on which Nanticoke native Steve Bilko played.
Greater Nanticoke Area School District, at the Jan. 15 school board meeting, received
a gold medal from the Nanticoke Historical Society commemorating the 1926 State
Championship Boys Basketball Team and the team's 52 point scorer, David Price.
The medal was in possession of Roger Gilbert, who donated the medal to the historical
society. The board of directors at the Nanticoke Historical Society felt the school
district should receive the medal to be placed in the trophy case at Greater Nanticoke
High School to accompany the 1926 trophy. From left, are Dr. Ronald Grevera, superintendent;
Megan Tennesen, ceremony organizer and school director; Ken James, school director
and chairman of the athletic committee; Chester Zaremba, vice president of the
Nanticoke Historical Society; Roger Gilbert, donor of the medal; Chet Beggs, school
director and athletic committee member; John Beggs, boys head basketball coach
and Ken Bartuska, athletic director.
Proposed merger of Methodist churches shelved
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
A plan to merge
five Methodist Churches in the South Valley region of Luzerne County has been
Members of the congregations of Nanticoke United Methodist Church
and Ashleys Centenary United Methodist Church voted almost unanimously
against the proposed merger, members of the churches said, and that ended the
talks, at least temporarily.
Gerald Wolgemuth, media director for the Susquehanna
Annual Conference of the UMC, confirmed that the merger talks are on hold.
The discussions could resume at the call of the church, he said.
Also involved were the Askam United Methodist Church in Hanover Township, Calvary
United Methodist Church in West Nanticoke and the Alden Station United Methodist
Church, Newport Township. The latter church has a very small congregation and
utilizes a lay leader.
The Rev. Roger C. Noss Jr. is pastor of the Nanticoke
and Ashley churches and the Rev. George Price III is pastor of the Askam and Calvary
Under the merger plan, which was advanced by the conferences
Lewisburg District several months ago, all of the churches would have been closed
and a new church would be created in an existing building in the Hanover Industrial
Church members, asking that they not be identified, said dwindling congregations
and financial support issues prompted the merger talks. The Nanticoke and Ashley
churches are more financially stable than the other congregations and churchgoers
there opposed the merger and voted against it in balloting conducted by the UMC
in November. Wolgemuth said vote totals from any church would not be released.
Wolgemuth affirmed the comments regarding smaller congregations and financial
issues, noting that many churches have become quite a burden
This is not good stewardship, he said.
said four local UMC churches in the Buffalo Valley area west of Lewisburg closed
small houses of worship and purchased an unused rural school. They accomplished
the change in three months, he said.
The only solution at times is to
pool resources, Wolgemuth said. We are stronger together than (small
churches) standing apart.
The Alden Station United Methodist Church
has about 15 members and a lay leader rather than a pastor. This is not
unusual, Wolgemuth said, as there are four levels of pastors and leaders.
Lay leadership is quite common, he said.
During meetings on the
proposed local merger, the possibility that the UMC might withdraw pastors and
use more lay leaders was aired. Wolgemuth said any decisions on closing churches,
merging churches and pastoral levels will come only after lots of meetings
between the local churches and the Conference.
Church closings and mergers
have been commonplace in Northeastern Pennsylvania in recent decades as population
declines and population shifts have changed the religious landscape. One of the
most historic involved First United Methodist Church of Kingston and Kingston
Presbyterian Church which merged following the Agnes Flood of 1972 to create The
Church of Christ Uniting, Sprague Avenue, Kingston. That church is very active
in the community, including use of its kitchen by the Meals on Wheels program.
Wilkes-Barres largest Methodist Church, First UMC on North Franklin Street,
closed in the summer of 2013. Its small congregation could not sustain the 16,000-square-foot
property. There are four remaining Methodist Churches scattered around the city.
Many Catholic churches in the Scranton Diocese have closed. Towns that once had
multiple parishes, most of which were created to serve ethnic groups, now have
one parish. Nanticoke once had five parishes but mergers led to creation of St.
Faustina Kowalska Parish which uses two worship sites. Plymouth parishes merged
to create All Saints Parish. Catholic populations have grown in some areas, such
as Mountain Top, and construction of new churches is necessary to accommodate
larger congregations. Only this week, demolition of the closed Holy Trinity (Lithuanian)
Church in the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre began.
The new Jewish Community
Alliance has purchased a large former supermarket on Third Avenue, Kingston and
it will be converted into a multi-use building and campus. The move will allow
closing or sale of some properties, again a move brought on by declining membership
PSU student travels 2 hours to Nanticoke for haircut by 100-year-old barber
When Zel Vici opened his
barber shop in 1935, Ron Roenigk was still 48 years away from being born.
Roenigk, a 31-year-old graduate student at Penn State University in State College,
traveled two hours to Nanticoke Friday to get a haircut from Vici, the 100-year-old
iconic barber who decided not to retire at the end of 2014.
Roenigk read about
Vici in a Pittsburgh newspaper. Roenigk is from Sarver in Butler County and he
is studying for his MBA at Penn State. Roenigk is engaged and getting married
in June. He said he just might return to Vicis shop for his pre-wedding
And Roenigk, like any good student, did his homework on Nanticoke.
After his visit with Vici, Roenigk was heading to Sanitary Bakery, Tarnowskis
Kielbasa Store and Stookeys BBQ all legendary businesses in the Nanticoke
I really like the family-owned businesses, Roenigk said.
I appreciate the quality and the craftsmanship.
was busy Friday morning. Three customers plus Roenigk were there waiting for their
turn in the chair. Roenigk seized the opportunity to learn more about Vici and
Bernie Cywinski, 87, of Sheatown, has been getting his hair cut
by Vici since 1945 the year he got out of the military and returned to
This guy just does a great job, Cywinski said. If
you come here, your coming to the best.
Cywinski remembers when Nanticoke
had 30-plus barber shops. Now there are just three.
Im glad Zel
didnt retire, he said. I dont know where Id find
another barber as good as Zel.
Roenigk was busy asking questions and
learning more and more about Nanticoke, its legendary businesses and its people.
He said whenever he travels, he likes to discover the hidden treasures in small
towns and get a feel for each community.
Im sure theres
only one Stookeys, he said. And I know theres only one
Roenigk, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he will be moving
to South Carolina after his June 20th wedding to work for Amazon.
Zel, will you still be working in June? Roenigk asked.
him his intention is to still be open for business.
said. I think Ill be back for a haircut before the wedding.
Vici qualified his assurance by stating if my heath is still good,
but he smiled and said he would be happy to cut Roenigks hair for his big
Dave Klaips of Kingston graciously gave Roenigk his place in line and
the Penn State student got in the chair. He and Vici discussed how to cut his
I think Ill leave about a quarter of an inch on the sides
and three-quarters of an inch on the top, Vici offered.
and when the clipping was done, Vici turned Roenigk around to see his new look
in the mirror.
Good job, Zel, he said. I like it. I like
it a lot.
Another satisfied customer.
Zel has a tremendous
work ethic, Klaips said as his turn came. And he does it right here
in front of us and he has been doing it for 80 years.
to get a picture with Vici before he left. Vici was asked what he thought of Roenigk
driving in from State College to have him cut his hair.
a great feeling to have someone do that, Vici said. Now, whos
County Council vote leaves Nanticoke with no city tax collector
Nanticoke has nobody to collect
city taxes on its 4,236 properties because a Luzerne County Council majority did
not approve a contract allowing the county treasurers office to continue
handling that work.
With the absence of county Councilman Rick Williams Tuesday,
council was tied 5-5 on the matter.
The county treasurers office started
handling city collection in 2014 because it responded to Nanticokes public
advertisement seeking a collector in 2013.
Nanticoke doesnt use elected
tax collectors, and city officials wanted to contract out the work instead of
handling it in-house. The county treasurers office responded because it
already was collecting county taxes in the city, and the county would generate
about $10,000 in revenue annually without adding staff, officials said.
problem: a county staff attorney concluded the administration did not need county
council approval. County Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri said he recently reviewed
state law and has a different opinion that council approval is mandated.
was asked to vote Tuesday on retroactively approving the contract.
is an issue because county and municipal tax bills are scheduled to be mailed
by Feb. 2. The contract said the county must inform Nanticoke by Sept. 1 of the
prior year if its not going to handle tax collection.
Andy Gegaris said he learned about the cancellation through a news report and
was reviewing options. He said the partnership was a win-win for both
the city and county and questioned why some council members did not support it.
This will impact our cash flow and ability to get bills out on time. What
I find most troubling is that petty politics are holding the city hostage,
West Wyoming resident Ray Gustave told council he was very
disappointed in the decision because the city entered into the contract
in good faith. Council members could cancel 2016 city tax collection by Sept.
1 if they dont believe the work is in the countys best interest, he
Mistakes happen. I believe that it is unconscionable to leave
the city of Nanticoke in this position with collection of their taxes at this
point in the year, when the tax bills are supposed to be going out, Gustave
The five council members who voted against the contract: Edward Brominski,
Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas, Stephen A. Urban and Stephen J. Urban.
of them said they cant vote in good conscience to legitimize something that
wasnt handled properly.
Stephen A. Urban also said Nanticoke has an
obligation to collect its own taxes. The county is trying to get rid
of roads and bridges to concentrate on essential duties, and he questioned whether
other treasurers office work is shortchanged to take on the additional task.
Brominski said he cant justify retroactively supporting work the countys
been doing illegally.
Stephen J. Urban said councils power
was usurped, and approval would compromise his ethics. He compared it to someone
returning stolen goods to a store and asking for leniency.
Robert Lawton said the solicitor had an incorrect interpretation of the law in
2013, but there was no intentional act to circumvent council.
I really dont appreciate the kind of language thats been used
to describe an inadvertant mistake, but I dont expect an apology,
Councilman Jim Bobeck said the city could sue because the Sept.
1 cancellation date has long passed, and he questioned the fairness of giving
the city a few weeks to find a new collector from scratch. He also stressed the
work generates revenue.
When we talk about the county getting aggressive
about finding new ways to get revenue into the county without putting it on the
backs of property taxes and those taxpayers here, this is exactly what were
talking about, Bobeck said.
Councilman Rick Morelli said the sudden
cancellation is a bad decision.
Were kind of sticking
it to them. Its not fair to them, and I dont think its what
our job should be, Morelli said.
Council members Harry Haas, Tim McGinley
and Linda McClosky Houck also voted for the contract.
Council also failed
to approve a new contract for the county treasurers office to start collecting
county and municipal taxes in Newport Township, which requested the service because
the townships elected tax collector recently resigned. Some council members
said municipalities in this position have traditionally filled such vacancies
with another resident or neighboring elected tax collector.
Nanticoke makes appointment to municipal authority
Susan Bettinger - Times Leader
During Wednesday evenings
meeting, the city council approved the appointment of John Nadolny of East Main
Street to the citys municipal authority.
Council also approved the professional
services rates between Pennoni Associates Inc. and the city for engineering services.
The approval was for any miscellaneous work and plan reviews performed on an hourly
basis. Pennoni normally works with the municipality to develop fixed costs for
The following are the rates from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 should
the city need to utilize Pennonis hourly rate services: borough engineer,
$125; project engineer, $105; staff engineer, $88; associate engineer, $85; graduate
engineer, $75; engineering technician, $75; field inspector, $65; two-man survey
crew, $145; and clerical,$35.|
The Christmas tree decorating contest raised
$185 for Toys for Tots. The trees were decorated by Greater Nanticoke Area Family
Center, Nanticoke Junior Football, Girl Scout Troop 30829, Nebo Baptist Church,
NEPA in Need and Northeast Counseling Act Team. The trees were on display at the
municipal building through Jan. 5 where citizens were able to cast their votes
for the best decorated tree. The $1 fee to vote was donated to the Toy for Tots
The council will meet next at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21.
Nanticoke barber Zel Vici, 100, not ready to retire after
Zelino Zel Vici opened
shop in 1935
Zelino Zel Vici, 100 and still going strong, decided he wouldnt
retire at the end of 2014 after all.
Earlier in the year, as his 100th birthday
approached, Vici told the Times Leader he would retire at the end of the year.
With two days left in 2014, Vici changed his mind.
What would I do if
I retired, Vici said while tending to a customer at his shop at South Prospect
and Church streets.
What would I do, sit on the couch all day?
Vici said he would rather get up early, have a little breakfast and then walk
down the steps to his shop, turn on the lights, open the doors and wait for customers.
Its what I do, Vici said of the job hes been doing since
1935. I cant do anything else. So as long as my health is good, Ill
Vici said his health is good, but he admits that he can no
longer go for long walks because his back tightens up. He said he only drives
during daylight hours.
I only go to the grocery store, the drug store,
the doctors office and to church, Vici said.
Frank Waitkus of
Mountain Top has been a customer of Vicis for five years. He became a customer
when his 86-year-old barber retired.
I like the old masters, Waitkus
said. Theres no one like Zel.
Vici still plays Frank Sinatra while
he works and he enjoys Tony Bennett and Dean Martin. The old masters stick together.
I kind of figured he would stay open, Waitkus said. Zel is a
Vici talked about visiting his grandson in Delaware
over the Christmas holiday. He bragged about his 3-year-old great-grandson who
is learning to play the violin.
Vici has a son and a daughter, two grandchildren
and three great-grandchildren.
Bryan Fullerton of Nanticoke has been getting
his hair cuts at Vicis for nearly 30 years.
Im glad hes
not retiring, Fullerton said. Its hard to find a good barber.
As Vici meticulously cut Fullertons hair, you could see his concentration.
With scissors and a comb in hand, Vici can still transform overgrown mop tops
into well-groomed styles ready for a job interview, a church service or a big
He always does a good job, Fullerton said. If he didnt
do a good job, I wouldnt keep coming back.
So the the light will
stay on at the little barber shop on the corner. Vici will be open at 6 a.m. and
close at noon.
Vici said doctors gave him a pacemaker years ago to keep his
heart beating. He said diabetes causes him to take insulin. But nothing slows
As he swept up after a couple of customers left, you could see the
smile on his face.
Its been a long journey since he started as a lather
boy for Dick Ginger around 1930 at a barber shop at West Green and Maple streets,
where Vici learned his trade.
When Vici opened his shop in 1935, there were
32 barber shops in Nanticoke now there are three.
When he closes the
shop at noon, Vici has some lunch and he reads a lot. He said he sometimes takes
a nap and fools around on the computer before going to bed around
9 p.m. He uses Skype to keep in touch with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I enjoy my job, he said. You have to stay active.
And then Zelino Vici, who turned 100 on May 28th, sat down for a moment and waited
for his next customer.