Nanticoke mans diagnosis leads to new
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
The last time Robert McCracken went fishing was about four years
Kidney failure has kept the 64-year-old off the lake and away from
his rod and rifle since around 2012, two years before he was diagnosed
with the condition, which he is now treating.
The last three months, however, have brought a new hobby into his
life, one that brings a miniature representation of the outdoors into
his living room.
McCracken wanted to buy his fiance, Janetlee Holderman, a model train
set, but only found gifts out of his budget.
Then I told her, I have an idea, he said,
pointing to a table in the living room. This was the idea.
At Holdermans apartment on East Noble Street in Nanticoke are
dozens of small plastic farm animals and two replica barns arranged
on a table, complete with hay McCracken purchased at Tractor Supply
Co. in Hanover Township and real grass.
The replica ranch is his new hobby. It started as a few animals on
an end table and now takes up a folding table along one living room
wall. A cowboy hat hangs above the menagerie.
McCracken said he spends hours on the project each day, adding details
to make it his own, such as small yellow ropes tied around the figurines
necks, paper bearing his imaginary Circle Farms logo on
the roof of each miniature barn and cereal arranged in a container
as a substitute for feed. He has named his cattle and horses and even
branded his livestock with a red marker. The digit 1
inside a circle lets visitors know the animals belong to McCrackens
Holderman has contributed some touches, such as three small statues
that McCracken calls our watchmen and a miniature wishing
What ranch doesnt need a wishing well? she said.
McCracken is now addicted to the display he has created.
He sprays a fine mist of water on the grass and hay to keep it moist,
spends hours each day researching ranching and watches videos on YouTube
of rodeos and ranchers bringing in a herd of cattle. He is filling
a notebook with his agricultural education.
He recently called The Lands at Hillside Farms so he could talk to
a staff member there to learn more about the cows on that farm. McCracken
and Lindsey Sutton, the organizations director of education,
chatted for about a half hour about topics such as the breeds at the
farm, their diet and how much milk they produce.
He really had an appreciation for what our farmers and our cows
do. It was definitely unique, but very welcome, Sutton said.
Last Tuesday, the staff from Hillside Farms even surprised McCracken
with a visit from a live calf.
I walked out there and there she was, McCracken said.
She was adorable.
While growing up in New Jersey, McCracken bagged feed at an agriculture
store and bought a horse when he was 15. He eventually came to own
five horses, rented space at a barn to house the animals and rode
them in parades. He later sold the horses and moved to Pennsylvania
after his parents died.
Besides providing a welcome pastime, the display is a source of comfort.
You might laugh at this, but even though theyre fake,
its like theyre our kids, McCracken said of his
dozens of plastic cows and horses. In the morning, I cant
wait to come out here.
I never thought to do something like this. I like coming out
at night when were relaxing and looking at it, Holderman
Cassandra Smith lives in the same building as McCracken and Holderman
and has seen the display grow.
Every couple days, hell have me come over. Theres
always something new to see, she said.
Her daughter, four-year-old Hannah Whitmire, has seen living horses
and cows near her fathers home in Berwick. She gave McCrackens
likenesses a thumbs-up, and explained her two-year-old sisters
thoughts on the ranch.
Shes likes it, Whitmire said.
McCracken and Holderman plan to continue the display. The ranchs
future includes a possible expansion to other parts of the living
room, perhaps requiring a dip into the capital expenditures budget
for another table.
At least one lifestyle change has taken hold of this replica urban
rancher that is probably rare in the real profession.
Now, I feel funny eating steak, McCracken said.
Nanticoke dancer brings smile to hospice
It wasnt Santa or Christmas carols that brightened the holiday
of one area nursing home resident Friday.
It was a Nanticoke dancer.
When 14-year-old Mackenzie Casey found out about Louise Jacksons
holiday wish, she didnt hesitate to say yes.
The Joan Harris Center dancer performed a private ballet routine to
I Believe for Jackson.
I had no thought about it, Casey said. It was automatic.
Jackson, 90, is frail and a patient at Hampton House on the Sans Souci
According to Heather Cicini, Jacksons social worker, her wish
was to see a professional dance somewhere, possibly Broadway. However,
due to Jacksons deteriorating condition, that wasnt possible.
So Cicini asked Casey to perform, and she said yes.
It took two days for Cicini to put everything together. The performance
was a surprise for Jackson, who was a dancer in her younger days.
Jackson always talks about dancing in New York City, Cicini
I love it so much. I would do it for free, Jackson said,
recalling her memories of doing the jitterbug at clubs. They
named me LouLou the go-go dancer!
Jackson said her passion for dancing, though she never studied professionally,
was inspired by watching ice skaters on television.
Casey performed the dance during a recent production, but she had
to modify her routine for Jackson due to the limited space at the
Still, the dance and the dancer impressed Jackson.
Shes beautiful, Jackson said of the teenager in
a pink dress. Very mature.
Casey has been dancing since she was 4 years old. And she also has
a penchant for giving back to her community.
I love it, Casey said. Look how happy she is.
And Casey was right the smile on Jacksons face couldnt
have been brighter.
After the performance, Cicini presented Jackson with a baby doll because
she had heard of Jackson playing with another residents doll.
I love her, said Jackson.
Its never too late to make a memory, Cicini noted.
Penguins spread some holiday cheer
Seth Lakso - Citizens Voice
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins spent the little off time they
had this week theyre in the midst of a stretch where
they play six games in nine days wandering through local toy
stores in search of gifts.
For the second year in a row, the Penguins have a commnunity partnership
with the Commission on Economic Opportunity to help make sure local
children have a happy holiday season.
After donating gifts in Pittston last year, the Penguins headed to
Nanticoke to spread some cheer this time around.
Its a great charity and its awesome for our guys
to be involved in stuff like that, Penguins coach Clark Donatelli
said. Its great to see. All the guys care and its
that time of year, to give back. Its awesome.
Last week, each Penguins player was assigned a child and given a wish
list with three options.
Shavertown native Patrick McGrath picked up some Pokémon Cards
and a toy pony set, while Dominik Simon went hunting for Barbie Dolls
with the help of his girlfriend.
Before the players handed out their gifts, team captain Tom Kostopoulos
gave a speech introducing the players and explaining why theyd
Just as Kostopoulos finished, a little girl brought a smile to the
room, loudly proclaiming: Merry Christmas!
The players then presented their gifts to the children with the help
of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton mascot, Tux.
Its amazing, said Tiffany Tryba, who runs the Nanticoke
site for the CEO. Its that time of year and sometimes
people do struggle and we do have a lot of kids that come here and
Im glad these kids were chosen. I think (some new Penguins fans
were created today). I heard one of the little ones yell, Go
State awards recreation grants to projects
Nearly $2.3 million in recreation grants will fund projects in Luzerne
County, state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said in a press
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Community Conservation Partnership Program awarded $2,263,000 in funds
to Luzerne County projects.
The grants include:
Hazleton: $115,000 for the rehabilitation and further development
of Altmiller Park.
Jenkins Township: $100,000 for the development of Riverfront
Larksville Borough: $40,000 for the rehabilitation and further
development of Washington Street Park.
Nanticoke: $250,000 for the further development of Lower
Broadway Recreation Complex.
North Branch Land Trust: $498,000 for the development of
the D&L Trail in Plains, Wilkes-Barre Townships and Laurel Run
North Branch Land Trust: $1,000,000 toward the acquisition
of approximately 822 acres on Penobscot Mountain in Slocum and Newport
Pittston City: $260,000 for the rehabilitation and further
development of Sullivan Park.
Work continues on South Valley Parkway
Work on the South Valley Parkway is continuing.
On Dec. 2, officials opened the roundabout at Espy Street and Middle
Road in Nanticoke.
Work crews will be excavating and doing other work this winter in
preparation for spring construction, said Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation spokesman Michael Taluto.
The $83.4 million project will create a two-lane road running from
Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke to South Main Road,
east of state Route 29, in Hanover Township. The new road will bypass
the Askam section of Hanover Township, where drivers use South Main
Street and Middle Road to travel now. It also adds six roundabouts,
three replacing intersections on Middle Road and three new roundabouts
on or next to the planned parkway.
The project started in January 2016. PennDOT expects the work to be
finished in 2020.
District 2 rules Nanticoke Area softball
A surefire contender in the softball season still months away
Nanticoke Area appears back on track following an eligibility
The District 2 athletic committee voted 7-0, reinstating Morgan Briggs
eligibility to play her senior season, which was nearly derailed because
she played one inning of a senior all-star game.
There was no intent on the girls part to violate any rule
or get around any rule, said District 2 athletic committee chairman
Frank Majikes. She was totally unaware of it and, obviously,
it wasnt done intentionally.
The event in question was the 37th Annual Robert L. Dolbear Senior
All-Star Softball Game, played June 26 at W.W. Kubis Memorial Field
Briggs attended the game to support her friends, having no intention
of playing in the all-star game intended only for seniors.
But the teams were shorthanded, leaving the West without a catcher.
All-star coaches Heather Dale (Hazleton Area head coach), Bob Hegedty
(Tunkhannock head coach) and Ron Hampsey (Tunkhannock assistant coach)
approached then-junior Briggs, who volunteered to play upon request.
At least one other underclassmen was asked to play, but Briggs was
the only one who could, because she had catching equipment in her
Shes always willing to participate, and I think she was
just trying to do what was in the best interest of everybody,
said Nanticoke Area head coach Ryan Stetz.
Briggs played one inning behind the plate and had an at-bat before
it was brought to the coaches attention that Briggs was violating
PIAA bylaws, punishable by a loss of eligibility for one year in that
According to Stetz, Briggs was immediately pulled from the game, where
coaches sought clarification from Majikes via telephone.
Majikes did not pick up, though, and the possible violation was eventually
reported by Nanticoke Area athletic director Ken Bartuska to the PIAA.
Stetz said the 30-minute testimony at Tuesdays hearing revolved
around Briggs having no intention of playing in the all-star game,
while having only good intentions so it would not be forfeited
when she did enter the game.
One photograph showed Briggs at the game in street clothes, alongside
Nanticoke Area senior Rachel Roccograndi, who was in uniform.
Stetz said the Hazleton Area and Tunkhannock coaches took responsibility
for playing Briggs, saying they did not know they were breaking the
Its a credit to all involved, as far as the Hazleton coaches
and Tunkhannock coaches and even the committee, Stetz said.
It was great that everybody came forward with an honest description
of what took place in the act of fairness. In this case, the PIAA
committee really got it right.
The East won the all-star game, 15-2, in a contest that featured individuals
playing defense for both teams, as well as pitchers and catchers that
hadnt played those positions in years.
Briggs hit about .400 last season and was selected by Wyoming Valley
Conference coaches as a second-team all-star in Division 2. She figures
to be a key player this year for the Trojanettes, who went 13-5 in
Luzerne County projects receive nearly $2
million in state funds
Business, News, Top Stories - Times Leader
Several projects in Luzerne County will receive nearly $2 million
in funding through the states Multimodal Transportation Fund
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, announced the news
via a press release Tuesday
Market Square Redevelopment: $430,000 for Market Square Properties
Development LLC for roadway and sidewalk work in the city of Wilkes-Barre
as part of the Market Street Redevelopment project.
George Avenue Streetscape: $600,000 to complete a pedestrian safety
streetscape on George Avenue in the city of Wilkes-Barre. The project
will help the city transform the smaller business districts that are
not located in the immediate downtown business district.
The projects will improve both downtown Wilkes-Barre and George
Avenue, which is the main thoroughfare of the Parsons neighborhood.
It is vital that we invest in both our downtown commercial district
as well as our neighborhood business districts to create prosperity
in the entire city, said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George via
the press release.
The City of Nanticoke also received $463,742 for intersection improvements
at Broadway and East Main streets. The project will create a safer
intersection for both motorists and pedestrians and will provide multimodal
access to the city through multiple parking facilities and spacious
Other local projects that received funding include:
Ashley Borough Infrastructure Improvements: $100,000 to assist with
infrastructure repairs throughout Ashley Borough.
Old East End Boulevard Road Reconstruction: $100,000 for the reconstruction
of Old East End and Pittston Boulevards located in Bear Creek Township.
River Road and Market Street Intersection Improvements: $82,000 to
widen the roadway at the intersection of River Road and Market Street
in Jenkins Township.
Miracle of Bethlehem performances
draw hundreds to Nanticoke
Admittedly, Jim Botsko once had second thoughts of portraying Jesus
in the annual showing of Miracle of Bethlehem at the Cultural
Centre of St. Faustina.
But that was six years ago, Botsko said with a chuckle
Friday, before the first of three scheduled weekend performances.
Botsko believed back then he was too old to portray Jesus. But
Father Nash told me Jesus was ageless, Botsko recalled. It
was meant to be.
So Botsko, of Hanover Township, offered to stand in until they found
a younger man. That never happened.
I still get goosebumps, even at practice, Botsko said,
adding it was an honor and privilege to portray the man
whom Christians consider the son of God.
Program director Judy Minsavage said the cast, with 62 people this
year, started practicing in July. Participants range from children
as young as 7 to adults of 70. The Miracle of Bethlehem
spotlights the birth of Jesus, but also touches upon the story of
his life, death and resurrection.
They spend hundreds of countless hours practicing, said
Minsavage, an employee of Times Leader Media Group.
The show held at the centre, 38 W. Church St. runs for
45 minutes. It features well-known holiday tunes, such as Mary,
Did You Know? and O Come, All Ye Faithful, but also
Fridays showing attracted a standing-room-only audience, and
Minsavage said the performance will bring in an estimated 800 people
during the weekend as area residents kick off their holiday season.
It helps you get into the spirit of Christmas, cast member
Charlie Marcella said.
Marcella, of Sheatown, has returned each year, portraying one of the
three kings. Its also a family affair for Marcella, as his wife
Mary Ann is part of the sewing committee. We enjoy it,
Charlie Marcella said.
After the show, 11-year-old Brooke Bau and her brother, Garrett, both
of Shickshinny, said they enjoyed the show. Before coming to see the
play, they were decorating their tree.
Garrett, 8, said the performance was really good, and
he enjoyed the lights illuminating Jesus at the shows conclusion.
The show also features live animals from Endless Dreams Animals, in
Benton. The menagerie includes two goats, sheep, a duck, two chickens
and an alpaca, as well as Mistletoe, a donkey. Mistletoe is a third-generation
donkey for the show, said Jess Exley, of Endless Dreams.
Anything we do, we put our heart and soul into, Exley
said of the animals. But this (Miracle of Bethlehem
program) is our favorite one.
Going round and round in Nanticoke
Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Krieger Construction, of Dickson City, puts the final touches on
the first of six roundabouts in the Nanticoke/Hanover Township area.
At 5 p.m. Friday, PennDOT opened the roundabout, which is at the intersection
of Espy Street and Middle Road, to local traffic. The roundabout will
be opened to thru-traffic by next weekend, Nanticokes interim
city Manager Donna a Wall confirmed. Construction on the roundabouts
is part of the South Valley Parkway project. The final parkway project
will be completed in 2020. According to Michael Taluto, a Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation spokesman, said work on the next roundabout
at the intersection of Prospect Street and Middle Road, will continue
throughout the winter. The second roundabout is scheduled to be open
in late 2017. Residents in the Hanover section of Nanticoke used a
two-mile detour to Clarks Cross Road.
Family of man who died after dog attack sues
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
The family of a Nanticoke man who died shortly after having a finger
amputated because his hands were mangled in a dog attack sued the
owners on Wednesday, alleging they knew the pit bull was dangerous
and failed to protect the public.
Donald E. Cox, 79, died Feb. 26, 2015, less than two weeks after an
unmuzzled pit bull bit his hands as he sat on his front porch, according
to the complaint filed by attorney Katie Nealon of Munley Law.
According to the complaint, Cox was sitting on the porch of his home
at 1224 S. Hanover St. on Feb. 15, 2015, as Jeffrey Seiwell, 33, of
1218 New Grant St., walked by with George, a white and brown pit bull.
The dog had a history of vicious propensities, having
previously attacked people or animals, and Seiwell initially had a
muzzle on it, the complaint says. But Seiwell later admitted removing
the muzzle, thinking no one was in the area, according to the complaint.
The dog suddenly and without warning came onto Coxs
property and bit his hand, causing severe bite wounds and fracturing
bones in his hand and fingers, the complaint says.
When the attack was over, Seiwell told Cox he would come back with
the dogs paperwork, but never followed through, showing his
consciousness of guilt, the complaint says.
Only later, when city police publicized the case, did officials learn
who owned the dog, the complaint says.
The lawsuit says that Seiwells mother told police the dog had
been seen at two veterinary clinics, but when police checked it out
there was no record of vet visits or rabies shots.
Cox, who was in great pain, agony and suffering, underwent
surgery the day of the attack to be treated for severe dog bites to
the right hand and forearm, as well as to the left hand, the complaint
says. His left hand sustained massive loss of soft tissue
and had broken bones, according to the complaint.
The left hand was so badly damaged Cox required a skin graft and needed
to have his index finger amputated, resulting in a shock to
his nerves and nervous system that led to his death eight hours
after returning from the hospital from the amputation procedure, according
to the complaint.
His obituary identifies him as a U.S. Air Force veteran who served
in the Vietnam War, Korea and elsewhere around the world before retiring
Court records show that Seiwell was found guilty at trial in August
2015 of a summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog. Magisterial
District Judge Donald L. Whittaker fined him $272, according to court
In addition to Seiwell, the lawsuit names as co-defendants his mother,
Suzanne Savitski, of 1218 New Grant St., and dog co-owner Lezah Lynn
Davis, 28, of Hanover Township, who was also found guilty of a summary
offense and fined $194 in the case.
The complaint also targets the owners of the New Grant Street home,
Brian S. and Kimberly Kaminski, of 46 Dale Drive, Fairview Township.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.
Postal carrier honored for service
Joseph Lloyds one missed
day of work came in 1983, when he injured his leg in a bicycle mishap.
Longtime mail carrier Joseph Lloyd is to the U.S. Postal Service
what Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. was to professional baseball:
an ironman who could be counted on to show up for work day in and
Lloyd called off only one time in his career after a bicycle mishap
when the chain snapped and lacerated his leg.
That was in 1983.
The 68-year-old was recently honored for 45 years of dedicated service
delivering mail, most of that time in Nanticoke and the West Nanticoke
section of Plymouth Township.
Thats a lot of mileage on the body.
A lot of the guys burn themselves out bad knees, bad
hips. Not Joe, said Frank Rafalko, postmaster for the Nanticoke
Post Office. He learned how to pace himself.
Lloyd recently joked his streak might be more impressive than Ripkens.
| A first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive
games over 16 seasons before finally missing a game in September 1998.
Lloyds current streak is at 33 years. And he had 12 years of
perfect attendance before that.
Im better than Cal, Lloyd said with a laugh. Put
that as the headline: Mailman beats Cal Ripken.
Lloyd, a widower who lives on Tilbury Terrace in West Nanticoke, could
have retired years ago. But he continues to work because he likes
it and because hes still able.
Once the legs go, its over, Lloyd said. Most
carriers retire after 30, 35 years, but I still feel good.
Plus, the job comes with certain healthy benefits, Lloyd said.
This is the only job where you get paid to exercise you
know, walking all day.
Nanticoke Area's Casey set for final game
The excitement of winning the final game of the regular season, along
with the fact it was against rival Hanover Area, continued well after
the Nanticoke Area football players exited the stadium.
Finishing the regular season 5-5, just the third time since the 2002
season when a Nanticoke Area team won five or more games in a season,
had the Trojans thinking playoffs.
But first, players and coaches alike needed to see results from other
games. As the final scores game came pouring in things seemed to be
falling in Nanticoke Areas favor.
Most of the Trojans faithful were thinking Eastern Conference.
Turns out they were wrong. Nanticoke Area did just enough to qualify
for the District 2 playoffs for the first time since 1999, and were
in the postseason for the second time since the 2013 season.
Before we left the locker room coach Bruza told us we might
be in the district playoffs, said Nanticoke Area defensive end/tight
end Justin Casey, who will suit up for the Pioneers in the 66th annual
UNICO Game on Saturday.
When we actually found out we were in the district playoffs
I was so excited I almost cried, Casey said. I was celebrating
with some of my friends, we were all together when we found out. We
were more excited than you can possibly imagine. Even though we were
playing the No. 1 seed, I was never more excited to play in a game
in my entire life.
Though the Trojans lost to the Cavaliers, who are still alive in the
PIAA Class 3A playoffs, Casey believes that just being able to get
that far could be viewed as a stepping stone for future Nanticoke
Area teams to shoot for.
I think we started something, I can feel confident that the
junior class will do a great job carrying the tradition my class set,
Casey said. We are all such a tight-knit group, something Nanticoke
Area hasnt seen for a long time. We didnt want to leave
a mark, we wanted to leave a message. No matter what you do you have
to be a team and good things will happen.
Casey is one of four players from Nanticoke Area selected to play
in the UNICO game which features the top senior players from the WVC.
Players from GAR, Berwick, Coughlin, Meyers, Lake-Lehman, Northwest
and Holy Redeemer are also on the team which will be coached by GARs
Paul Wiedlich Jr., who led the Grenadiers to the District 2 Class
3A championship game.
This is really just an honor and great experience to meet all
the players you have been playing against all year, Casey said.
Everyone got along really well. To be honest, when I got here
I figured half the team was going to hate me. But they welcomed everyone
with open arms, so I was like lets get it.
While the game is expected to be a fun experience, and the practices
are far from the ones Casey experienced during the regular season,
there has been one particular part of the week that he has enjoyed
the most. That is the annual exchanging of helmet stickers between
the players on the team.
Exchanging stickers is the greatest experience, Casey
said. I love the Lake-Lehman sticker. That is the first one
I got. I have been hearing about this since I was a sophomore. I never
expected to love it so much. This is all kind of like new eyes for
me. Dont get me wrong, I want to win. Most importantly it is
an all-star game. I want to have fun and make some memories with the
new friends I am making now and the old friends I have been playing
with since I was small.
Family of Nanticoke man who died in W-B General
Hospital files lawsuit
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
The family of a Nanticoke man who died in the care of Wilkes-Barre
General Hospital filed suit this week alleging a doctor broke his
neck, causing partial paralysis, during an unnecessary intubation.
The lawsuit alleges Bernard Joseph Ford III, 62, asked to be removed
from life support after learning he would be permanently paralyzed
as the result of the neck fracture Dr. Noel Estioko caused while inserting
a breathing tube without consulting Ford or his wife.
The complaint, filed by Wilkes-Barre attorneys Patrick J. Doyle Jr.
and Kelly M. Ciravolo, accuses the hospital as well as Estioko of
negligence in causing Fords death on April 6.
A spokeswoman said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.
According to the complaint, Ford arrived at the hospital in March
to be treated for shortness of breath. Hospital records show Ford
was confused and in moderate distress with shallow breathing.
Ford, who had a history of rheumatoid arthritis and musculoskeletal
disorder, received a drug to help increase air flow to his lungs,
resulting in his condition improving, according to the complaint.
And although there was no indication Ford was crashing, Estioko decided
to perform an emergency intubation because of increased levels of
carbon dioxide in his blood, the suit says.
Estioko never talked to Fords wife about his pre-existing conditions
and performed the procedure with what he deemed the implied
consent of Ford even though Ford was coherent and stable
and his wife Joan was at his bedside, the complaint says.
During the procedure, Estioko broke Fords spine, the complaint
alleges. On April 4, Ford learned that the best-case scenario involved
him being a paraplegic requiring total care, including a feeding tube,
the attorneys wrote.
The same day, Ford told doctors he wanted to be removed from life
support. Doctors gave him drugs to keep him comfortable until he died
two days later, the complaint says.
Fords cause of death was listed as cervical spine fracture,
traumatic, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges Estioko was negligent in performing the intubation
despite knowing about Fords medical history, causing the father
of three to endure severe pain and suffering prior to his death.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial.
Nanticoke policeunion files complaint over
The Nanticoke City Police Association has filed a complaint alleging
that an internal candidate was improperly passed over when retired
state Trooper Thomas Wall was hired as city police chief in September.
The police union, in a complaint filed Tuesday in Luzerne County court,
claims the state Third Class City Code requires that a city mayor
appoint a member of the city police force, if that force includes
qualified candidates, to fill an opening for the chiefs position.
The complaint alleges that Wall had two conflicts of interest at the
time he was appointed: He was a member of the citys police civil
service commission and he is married to Nanticoke interim city Manager
Nanticokes police chief slot fell vacant after former Chief
William Shultz died in August.
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski appointed Wall, a Nanticoke resident,
as city police chief on Sept. 21. Wiaterowski cited Walls 25
years of experience with the state police, his proven leadership ability
and record of community service.
Wall, 57, retired from the state police as a corporal in 2012. He
never served as a Nanticoke police officer prior to his appointment
The complaint, filed by police union President Brian Kivler through
Harrisburg attorney James McAneny, states that Nanticoke police Lt.
Michael Roke was qualified to be chief and was interested in applying
for the position.
The complaint asks the court to direct Wiaterowski to appoint
a chief, if at all, from the ranks of the duly appointed members of
the Nanticoke police department, and direct that Thomas and
Donna Wall recuse themselves from any participation in that process.
The complaint names Thomas Wall and Wiaterowski as defendants.
Both men said Wednesday they were not aware the complaint had been
filed prior to being asked about it by a reporter.
Wiaterowski, at a city council meeting Wednesday night, said he would
comment after he sees a copy of the complaint.
Wall, reached by phone, said he could not comment about the specifics
of the complaint before he saw it.
He said things have gone well overall since he took command of the
department, which employs 14 full-time officers, including the chief,
and two part-time officers.
Ive been following the contract, trying to make things
better for the officers, Wall said.
He said there have been a few complaints, but that is
to be expected whenever a new chief takes the reins of a police department.
He said the police union is within its rights to file a complaint
if its members feel it is necessary.
Thats part of the system, Wall said.
However he also noted that if they want to live by the letter
of the law, they live by the letter of the law. It works both ways.
Nanticoke city solicitor William Finnegan, speaking prior to Wednesdays
city council meeting, said he also has not seen the complaint. He
said he is confident that Walls hiring was legal, based on prior
Nanticoke operates under a home rule charter, unlike most third-class
cities in the state, and the provisions of the city charter support
Walls appointment as chief, Finnegan said.
Wiaterowski, in an interview on Sept. 21 hours before he appointed
Wall as chief, said he had interviewed four external candidates, including
Wall, and one member of the city police department for the vacant
Owning their own cafe is a dream come true
for Nanticoke couple
When the Grateful Roast Cafe and Coffee Roaster first opened in June,
the owners didnt even turn on their Open sign.
Its really easy to get a bad rep, its hard to keep
a good rep and even harder to make a good rep out of a bad rep,
owner Brian Williams said. Neither of us had ever run a restaurant
or cafe before so we didnt want to be overwhelmed by it at first.
We let it grow organically. Let it do what its going to do.
And nearly five months later, business is seemingly booming.
Williams and his wife, Sarah Kratz, held a grand opening for the Nanticoke
cafe in September after years of planning and wanting to own their
own coffee joint and cafe. It was in 2006 that the idea for Grateful
Roast was really born, according to Williams, when he began roasting
coffee on his sun porch in Nanticoke for his friends and a handful
of clients. His small business was quickly shut down by the city for
not having the proper permits, but the dream didnt die.
I was doing it to learn how to roast and it grew into more,
Williams said. Were not rich people, so we couldnt
make it happen right away. But I knew I wanted a roastery. This has
been a long time in the making. Weve been saving, wishing and
dreaming for this.
In March, the couple signed a lease on the space at the corner of
Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road that previously housed Grave 74
Tattoo Studio. They immediately began renovations on the building,
which used to have a large garage door where the coffee station now
The name, Grateful Roast stems from the couples
love for the Grateful Dead, combined with the reminder to have gratitude
for the little things like coffee.
Both owners have their specialties in the cafe Williams roasts
the coffee, makes drinks and bakes bagels, while Kratz is the master
in the kitchen, cooking daily soup specials, sandwiches, salads and
even baked goods.
The interior of the cafe is cozy and inviting with teal-painted walls,
neon-colored artwork on the walls and a bar counter full of delectable
baked goods. Artist Stephanie Boback, known for her chalk drawings
at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, designed the chalkboard
menu on the wall by the front door.
Next to the menu sits a large coffee bean roaster and dozens of bags
of roasted and unroasted coffee beans. Williams roasts all of the
beans in-house and said it takes an average of 15 minutes to roast
a batch of beans. The coffee beans hail from countries around the
world, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Ethiopia and
T-shirts hang near the saloon doors to the kitchen reading, Because
lifes too short to drink bad coffee. And each coffee cup
and take-out bag is hand-stamped with intricately designed lettering,
We wanted to do something great for the community because its
a great community, Williams said. So we wanted to give
them something to get out of the house for. We wanted to give back
and add something positive to the area.
In the future, Williams said he would like to see the coffee side
of the business expand so that they could sell bags of their beans
to other cafes and retail stores. At some point, the couple said they
would also like to open for a Sunday brunch.
I love coffee, love the industry, Williams said. Specialty
coffee is such a niche market. I love being able to become an intimate
contact between where the coffee is coming from and where its
going. Its an industry with a positive impact on the farmers
and the world around us.
Grateful Roast Cafe
Location: 400 Middle Road, Bdg. C, Nanticoke
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Online: gratefulroast.com, Grateful Roast Cafe and Coffee Roaster
Don Williams advocates for prison guard safety
after sons death
While returning soldiers from other wars were treated like heroes,
Army veteran Don Williams said this was not the case when he and others
returned home from the Vietnam War.
Williams, 71, a Nanticoke resident, served in the Vietnam War from
1966 to 1967.
He remembers a very unwelcome reception when he came back to America.
Im so happy for the guys coming back today from Iraq and
Afghanistan because people welcome them back, Williams said.
We came back to a country that kind of abandoned us emotionally
over there and took a very negative perception of us, so when we returned,
we were not welcomed back. Often times, we found ourselves getting
into arguments with people. We were just soldiers returning from a
war. Its not like we caused it.
Williams served as a helicopter gunner in Vietnam and received an
award for his combat missions.
He is the father of the late Eric Williams, a 34-year-old correctional
officer who was killed by an inmate on Feb. 25, 2013, while working
in a housing unit at U.S. Penitentiary Canaan in Wayne County.
His son was beaten and repeatedly stabbed. He was only equipped with
handcuffs, keys and a radio.
Since his sons death, Williams started and is now president
of the political advocacy group Voices of JOE, whose mission is to
address safety concerns of corrections officers, to promote and support
legislation pertaining to safety of corrections workers, and to raise
awareness of the dangers encountered in working within prison systems.
Voices of JOE is named for three fallen correctional officers, including
his son and two others killed by inmates Jose Rivera and Osvaldo
He got involved with the advocacy group when he learned there were
a number of things lacking that could have saved his sons life.
I did it because you cant kill my son and Im just
going to sit back. I cant let that go, Williams said.
Were still fighting almost four years to get a trial.
It keeps getting put off and put off. I just think theres a
lot of problems in the system. I cant get my son back but I
will not be a person who will sit in the house and do nothing about
His efforts helped to get legislation passed to protect federal correctional
The Eric Williams Correctional Officers Protection Act, introduced
by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, provides that the federal
Bureau of Prisons must give non-lethal pepper spray to guards in medium
and high-security prisons so they have some means of self-defense.
He also started the Eric Williams Race for Justice and a scholarship
fund created in his memory for criminal justice and law enforcement
For 33 years, Williams worked at Clearbrook Lodge in Shickshinny,
helping adolescents with drug and alcohol addictions. He was a counselor
and when he left, he was vice president of adolescent treatment. He
still serves as a consultant.
He said its difficult to track success rates but he said he
is satisfied with what he has accomplished.
I think the seed that we planted in them there would start to
blossom after a while, he said. They would realize what
we told them was true.
Current town: Nanticoke
Branch of service: Army
Where he served: Vietnam
Community service: Founder and president of the advocacy group Voices
of JOE, to address safety concerns of corrections officers.
Four school districts get a total of $82,129
in state safety grants
Four Luzerne County School Districts got Pennsylvania School Safety
grants for a combined total of $82,128, according to information released
by the state Department of Education Friday afternoon.
It was a small slice of $6.5 million in competitive Safe Schools
Initiative Targeted Grants awarded for training and pay of school
resource officers and school police officers, and to purchase equipment
or fund programs intended to help prevent and reduce violent incidents.
The four local grants were not for officers. Three were for equipment:
Luzerne Intermediate Unit got $25,000, Dallas School District got $24,899,
and Wilkes-Barre Area got $18,230.
The fourth local grant was $14,000 to Greater
Nanticoke Area School District to fund a program.
The grants for training and compensation of officers run for two
years. First-year applicants can get up to $60,000 for a school resource
officer and $40,000 for a school police officer, while second-year officers
can get $30,000 and $20,000, respectively.
The difference is subtle. Generally, an school resource officer is an
officer in a municipal police force with extra training in school policing
and working with students who is contracted to work in district schools
part of the year. A school police officer is usually employed directly
by the district.
Proposed Nanticoke budget holds line on taxes
The council of Nanticoke will have a budget hearing 6:30 p.m. Nov.
16 in the council chambers, 15 E. Ridge St.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski released a $5.5 million general fund budget
proposal on Wednesday that has no tax hikes and a 1 percent increase
The mayors proposed budget for 2017 is $5,576,602 compared to
$5,537,427 in 2016.
Wiaterowskis proposal would keep the millage rate at 5.93. A
mill is a $1 tax for every $1,000 of assessed value. The breakdown
of millage includes general purpose millage at 4.75, debt services
at 1.15 and .0194 for the library.
The council and department heads had input on the budget, according
Wiaterowski noted that the city, which has a population of 10,465,
is seeing a decline in assessed property values because of tax appeals,
with a $2.333 million decline in this years assessed value.
Earned income taxes contribute to 43 percent of the budgets
revenue or $2,397,938.86 of the budget.
Higher wages and a lower unemployment rate are resulting in
a slight increase in tax income on earnings, Wiaterowskis
The general fund contributes to 32 percent or $1,784,512.64 to the
budget and the final 25 percent or $1,394,150.50 comes from code department
revenue and miscellaneous reimbursements.
Expenses for the city continue to rise, the mayor noted. Per contractual
agreements, salaries are increasing $54,017, which is down from previous
years because the reduction of the police chief and code officers
salaries as well as promoting from within to the city managers
The salary of the police chief, upon the death of William Schultz
and the hiring of Tom Wall, went from $81,867 to $65,000, a savings
of $16,867. The proposed budget reflects interim city Manager Donna
Walls $4,000 health insurance buyout because she will be on
her husbands health insurance. She is married to Wall. Her buyout
will save the city over $22,000 for the course of the year.
Wiaterowski expects the code enforcement office to have a difference
in the favor of the city close $27,000 from 2016. The biggest chunk
of savings is the salary for Code Enforcement department. There will
be two people in the department forming the $36,000 salary which will
save the city $10,600.
The council will have a first vote on the budget after a budget hearing
6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 is held in the council chambers. The second and
final vote will come during the Dec. 7 council meeting.
Grohowski to participate in Liberty Bowl
halftime show and parade
Amber Rose Grohowski, a student at Wilkes University and former Miss
GNA at Greater Nanticoke Area, was recently selected to take part
in the Autozone Liberty Bowl Halftime Show and Parade in Memphis,
Tennessee on Dec. 30 as part of being a state finalist in the Americas
Homecoming Pageant which was held in October. She will spend three
days touring the city and volunteering at the St. Jude Research Hospital
before taking part in the Autozone Liberty Bowl Parade on Beale Street
and participating in the half time show during the bowl game. Amber
Rose is the daughter of Eric and Diane Grohowski of Nanticoke. She
has two brothers, Trevor Grohowski, and Dr. Deric Grohowski.
Tux and Champ show students how to get along
with each other, despite differences
Kilee Favors thinks bullying is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The seventh-grader who attended an anti-bullying event at the Greater
Nanticoke Area Elementary School sponsored by the United Way of Wyoming
Valley, said bullying makes life worse not just for the victim, but
for other people, as well.
Bullying can lead to things like suicide, she said. It
has an effect on the person bullied, on their parents and on their
Casandra Cerulli, Miss Luzerne County, addressed those gathered at
the event, reminding them that almost everyone has been bullied.
Believe it or not, she said, I have been bullied.
Cerulli invited Champ, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees mascot, and
Tux, the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins mascot, to join her in the
front of the auditorium to make a point.
Although Champ is blue, with a striped shirt and large eyes, and Tux
is black, with a team jersey, and a yellow beak, she said, there is
no reason for them to not get along.
Illustrating the importance of respecting other people, the two mascots
playfully shared the stage, highlighting their ability to be friends
in spite of their differences.
Rocky from WKRZ told young people gathered that, although
bullying might have been accepted in previous generations, it is not
okay to put other people down and make them feel bad about themselves.
Participants watched a video in which a young person collected negative
comments about herself on sticky notes as she made her way through
the day. At the end of the video, classmates threw the comments in
the garbage and invited her to sit at their table.
Rocky told students they could do just that help
classmates to set aside the negative things said about them and help
them work to be their best selves.
Alan Stout from Catholic Social Services Big Brothers/Big Sisters
program, said he will visit the school on a weekly basis to reinforce
anti-bullying topics, including diversity, empathy and reporting.
Stout said there are five types of bullying: physical, verbal, cyber,
property and exclusion.
All, he said, have a marked impact on their targets.
For example, in exclusion, when a person is not invited to have
lunch with his classmates, that really hurts people, he said.
Stout will work with grade school students in the district through
the end of the year.
Friday also happened to be the schools annual Pink Out
Day where students wore pink to show support for those with
Favors thought both the event and the willingness for her classmates
to support a worthy cause underscored the positive attitude of the
staff and her classmates.
She looks forward, she said, to learning how to prevent bullying and
to help those around her from understanding that bullying is not alright.
Victims mother meets leader of rescue
Mandy Powell waited outside in a chill breeze for a man she had never
met but considers an angel.
As children living in Apollo Circle drew on the sidewalk and rode
their bikes around the development, she watched as a car turned the
corner and parked in front of the picnic table where she sat.
John Cramsey, the Emmaus man who was arrested near the Holland Tunnel
while trying to rescue a 17-year-old Wilkes-Barre girl and Powells
daughter from an alleged drug den in New York City, emerged from the
car. He carried an assortment of yellow flowers in a glass vase. Cramsey
and Powell embraced immediately.
Cramsey was only sorry he could not have brought Powells daughter,
Sierra Schmitt, with him.
Cramsey, recently released from prison, wanted a chance to meet Powell
as a parent who also lost a daughter to a drug overdose.
Ive been successful every time Ive been called to
go and help somebody, he said. This is the one time I
didnt get where I was going.
Cramsey and two others were arrested on June 21 while en route to
Brooklyn, New York, where he says Jenea Patterson, the Wilkes-Barre
teen, called for help in the middle of the night after she awoke to
find her friend, Schmitt, dead from a suspected heroin overdose.
The 20-year-old Schmitts death remains under investigation,
a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said.
Powell said she has been taking it day by day since her
daughters death. She wanted to meet Cramsey because even though
her daughter did not make it back from New York City, she thinks of
him as a superhero doing a job no one else would do.
I just think its awesome that a man can go out there and
save children he doesnt even know, she said. I just
think that hes an angel.
Powell and Cramsey sat together at a picnic table and discussed his
background. He talked about losing his own daughter to an overdose
in February and since then working to help total strangers
get treatment for addiction.
Im a man against the world with what Im doing,
Powell showed him voicemail messages she said Patterson left on her
cellphone that day. The messages would not play on Sunday afternoon,
but Cramsey noticed a timestamp of 7:23 a.m. just before he,
29-year old Kimberly Arendt of Lehighton and 53-year-old Dean Smith
of Zionsville were arrested.
I gave up my life at that time exactly, Cramsey said,
his voice thick.
Police said officers pulled Cramseys truck over for a broken
windshield and ordered the suspects out of the car when an officer
spotted a loaded magazine of bullets. Officers found a loaded .45
caliber semiautomatic handgun in the front seat, police said.
Police then raided the vehicle to find five pistols, an AR-15 rifle,
a 12-gauge shotgun, 2,000 rounds of ammunition and body armor as well
as marijuana, a marijuana pipe and several prescription pills.
Cramsey spent three months in prison and still faces weapons charges.
Smith and Arendt remained jailed in Hudson County, New Jersey, as
of Friday afternoon. Cramsey was bailed out Sept. 8 with the financial
help of supporters.
Powell counts herself among Cramseys supporters and said on
Sunday she would do what she could to help him as his case proceeds.
Personally I dont think you should be under investigation,
she told Cramsey. Youre losing everything over this, God
Nanticoke duo pens a book about a curious
boy and a magical leprechaun
Nanticoke residents Fran and Sean Patrick Spencer wrote a book about
a mischievous leprechaun.
firstname.lastname@example.org - @@TL_MMizenko - 570-991-6116
A Nanticoke grandmother and her grandson spent the better part of
the past year seeing a dream come to life in the form of a
book. Fran and Sean Patrick Spencers book Ian-John and
the Leprechaun came to life recently when the Spencers
had the first shipment of their hard cover childrens mystery
books came in.
Fran said she had gotten the idea to write a book at a childs
birthday party almost two years ago, where she told a haunted ghost
story. A year later, she had enlisted some help of her grandson, Sean
Patrick, 14, a freshman at Greater Nanticoke Area, and the book came
I was like oh my god, Sean Patrick said of the moment
his grandmother came to him with the idea.
He couldnt believe it, Fran countered with a laugh.
Reading in an Irish accent Thursday, the duo gave the Times Leader
a sneak peek of their book.
The premise of the book takes place in an imagined forest in Ballyshannon,
I just closed my eyes and pointed to a map, Fran admits
of how she picked the name.
Ian-John, a curious young boy goes off in the forest, defying his
mothers wishes, to find a lost sheep.
He comes upon a leprechaun and gets into some hijinx, which include
going into a mysterious portal.
Theres nothing more magical than a leprechaun, Fran
The illustrations in the book are soft yet bright.
And even though Sean Patrick didnt color the drawings himself,
he was able to help out in the design. His influence is seen throughout
the pages including what kind of house the leprechaun lived
He has a vivid imagination, Fran said, noting the book
was a way to have Sean Patrick channel his artistic side.
The book is filled with names close to the family and coincidentally,
the leprechaun is named Sean Patrick.
Because the book ends with a bit of friendship between the leprechaun
and the boy, the pair hopes to continue writing about the adventures
of Ian-John for some time to come. It definitely doesnt hurt
that Sean Patrick wants to be a writer, and as they admitted, has
wanted to be a writer since pre-school.
Sean Patrick also likes to be creative and do graphics; Fran hopes
one day their books will become animated shorts or audiobooks.
The duo is having a book reading 2 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes &
Noble in the Wilkes-Barre Township Marketplace.
Retired state trooper sworn in as Nanticokes
new police chief
A lifelong city resident and retired state trooper will start work
as Nanticokes new police chief next week.
Thomas Wall, who retired in 2012 after 25 years as a state police
officer, was sworn in at Wednesdays city council meeting by
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski.
Wall will succeed the late William Shultz, the longtime Nanticoke
police chief who died last month. His first day on the job will be
Wiaterowski said he chose Wall based on his qualifications,
experience and leadership abilities.
Wall, 57, demonstrated those qualities through his police work, his
service with the city fire company as a young man, a long stint on
the city zoning board more recently and other civic and volunteer
work, Wiaterowski said.
Wall credited his family with helping to convince him to return to
When I retired from the state police I thought it was over,
But once the police chiefs spot in his home city fell vacant,
Wall said he felt the call to apply for the position. In a phone interview
Wednesday afternoon he said he views police work as more of
a vocation than an occupation.
In remarks soon after being sworn in, Wall said his children told
him he always seemed happiest when he was on his way to work as a
police officer. They urged him to go for it, he said.
Wall is married to Nanticoke interim city Manager Donna Wall. He will
report to Wiaterowski and will not interact on-the-job with his wife,
Wiaterowski said Wednesday.
Wiaterowski, who supervises the city police department according to
Nanticokes city charter, said he interviewed four external candidates,
including Wall, and one member of the city police department for the
vacant chiefs position.
Hiring a new chief from outside the city police force did not sit
well with some officers though they declined to expand on their
objections on Wednesday.
The Nanticoke City Police Association is considering filing a grievance,
according to Detective Sgt. Joseph Guydish. He declined to discuss
the basis of the grievance and deferred further comment to Officer
Brian Kivler, the union president.
Kivler declined to comment, saying the unions attorney had advised
him to keep quiet for now.
Wiaterowski said police union representatives told him last week they
planned to file a grievance if he named Wall as chief instead of an
internal candidate. The officers cited provisions of the city code
which they said mandated the police chief be hired from within if
possible, the mayor said.
Wiaterowski said he consulted with city solicitor William Finnegan
and stands by his choice of Wall to be the citys top cop.
We looked into all that, he said. I am confident
in my decision and we are going to move forward.
Wall said he holds no animosity toward officers who feel the need
to file a grievance over his hiring.
If they are unhappy, thats their prerogative, he
said. I dont hold anything against anybody.
Walls hiring will save taxpayer money, according to Wiaterowski.
He will earn $65,000 per year, with no benefits or pension plan. That
is much less than the city would have paid any other candidate as
chief and represents a savings of about $60,000 per year over the
total compensation Shultz earned, including the cost of benefits,
Wall said several times that change is inevitable and that he will
institute changes in the police department once he gets a chance to
speak with all officers on the force and get their input.
The new chief said he looks forward to improving communication between
the police force and the community.
I will make it known to officers they are there to be of service
to the citizens of Nanticoke, he said.
Wall said he plans to meet with city residents, business owners and
officials from the city fire department and Greater Nanticoke Area
School District to discuss ways to keep Nanticoke a safe place.
He encouraged residents to take an active role in their community,
noting that Nanticoke needs more people getting involved.
Wall graduated from Nanticoke High School in 1977, earned an associates
degree from Luzerne County Community College, then graduated from
Kings College in 1981 with a bachelors degree in criminal
justice. He retired as a corporal stationed at the Wyoming state police
station. For the past four years, he worked as transportation director
for Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
Nanticoke employs 14 full-time police officers, including the chief,
and two part-time officers, Wiaterowski said.
Retired state policeman Tom Wall is Nanticokes
new top cop
Tom Wall, husband of interim city manager,
takes over post
Meet Tom Wall
Children: Jamie Krestes and Tyler Wall
Son-in-law: Tim Krestes
Grandchildren: Charleigh, 6 months
A retired Pennsylvania State Trooper has been hired as the citys
Tom Wall, a lifelong Nanticoke resident, was sworn in as police chief
by Mayor Richard Wiaterowski Wednesday at the council work session.
His appointment comes after the death of William Shultz, who battled
cancer for almost two years, earlier this year.
The salary of the chief, who starts Monday, will be $65,000 a year.
Walls wife, Donna, is the interim city manager, following the
January resignation of Andy Gegaris.
The new chief wants to wait until the dust settles and
then sit down with force and go over plans. He said he recognizes
that change is hard and notes there will be no time period
for change to happen.
Give me a month or two (to make changes), Wall asked the
roughly two dozen in attendance.
Wall retired in 2012 after 25 years as a state police officer. He
has been in public service for 40 years, boasting credentials which
include being corporal at the state police Tunkhannock barracks and
an instructor for the state police.
When I retired from the state police, I thought it was over,
he said, then joking about his family warning him he already had a
retirement party and he wont get another.
One person critical of the mayors decisions over the past few
years has been Hank Marks. He wanted Wiaterowski to hire the
best. And Marks, who is president of the Nanticoke Area Taxpayers
Association, said Wall was the best.
Anyone with better credentials, Marks said, Id
like to see them.
Wall wont be taking the citys benefits, thus saving the
city close to $60,000 a year, something Marks lauded.
I keep telling the mayor to save money, Marks said.
The mayor has heard rumors of the police force filing a grievance.
Wiaterowski said the city crossed their Ts and dotted their
Is when it came to hiring Wall.
Its never easy (to make a decision), Wiaterowski
said, when you know the family.
Donna Wall said her husband will report to the mayor.
He will be an asset to the city, she said.
Chief Wall said he knew he was human and Im going to make
mistakes, but he promised to be the hardest-working chief
aside from former chief Chet Zaremba, who was in the audience to support
Also on hand to see Wall sworn in was Walls daughter and son-in-law,
Jamie and Tim Krestes, and son, Tyler.
The next city council meeting will be 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the municipal
building, 15 E. Ridge St.
Nanticoke native wins Emmy award
Under normal circumstances, people dont want to miss a chance
to see Morgan Freeman speak in person. Natalie Thimm, however, had
something better to do.
The Nanticoke native was picking up her first Emmy when she missed
Freeman speaking on Sunday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Thimm
was part of the five-person team that won for Outstanding Makeup for
its work on Comedy Centrals Key and Peele.
Its exciting, Thimm said. After all those
years of working so hard, it paid off.
Shes come a long way from working at the cosmetic counter at
J.C. Pennys in the Wyoming Valley Mall in the 1980s.
Thimm laid the groundwork for her career locally, taking classes at
Wilkes-Barre Vocational Technical School and Empire Beauty School.
After graduating, she moved to Philadelphia and worked in a costume
store. But her heart was out west.
I knew I was going to come out to L.A., she said.
By 1993, she was there. After spending seven years in Hollywood, she
returned back east for a bit, but made her way back.
Since her return, Thimm has worked on shows like CSI: NY,
Ugly Betty, Dollhouse, Americas
Next Top Model, Parks and Recreation and more. Shes
also worked on movies such as Furious 7 and Neighbors
2: Sorority Rising.
Thimm said she still makes her way back home for the holidays and
the occasional summer visit.
She was part of the makeup team for the Key and Peele
episode, Yall Ready for This.
The sketch comedy series, which finished its fifth and final season
this year, has been nominated for the makeup award before, but never
It was one of the best moments of my life, Thimm said.
Shes keeping busy, with a schedule that includes work on TV
shows Jane the Virgin, Pitch, and Flaked.
Since winning the Emmy, she might be getting more work.
Over the last couple days my phone has been ringing, she
Nanticoke school board again rejects construction
For the second time this year, the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board
rejected construction bids for the expansion of Kennedy Elementary
The low base bids opened last month for the project totaled more than
$8.8 million. They were about $1.4 million less than bids rejected
in May, but were still too costly.
The district now plans to open bids in December or January and then
start the project in the spring, Superintendent Ronald Grevera said.
Officials will look at possibly adjusting the project and changing
bid specifications to reduce the cost, Grevera added.
In May, the school district was considering a motion to seek new bids
without the districts project labor agreement, but the school
board rejected that option. The districts project labor agreement
provides collective bargaining terms for building project workers
hired by district contractors and subcontractors and includes a preference
for Nanticoke Area residents to work on the project.
In August, Boyle Construction of Allentown submitted the low base
bid for general contract work at $5.9 million. Scranton Electric Heating
& Cooling submitted the low base bid for heat, ventilation and
air conditioning at $1.3 million. Bognet of Hazleton submitted the
low base bid for plumbing at $548,776. Apollo Group of Kingston submitted
the low base bid for electrical work at almost $1.1 million.
Gameface cover story: Nanticoke Area's Walters
tackles the odds
Trying to talk to Sharon Walters during a Nanticoke Area football
game is pointless.
Shes not trying to ignore anyone. Its just that her attention
is focused solely on her son Mark Walters, who is a junior defensive
back, returns kicks and gets some reps at running back for the Trojans
The fact that she is sitting in the stands watching her son play is
a blessing and a miracle.
Mark wasnt supposed to play football. In fact, he wasnt
even supposed to walk.
I was born a couple months premature, he said. I
had a lot of problems. One of the first things the doctors and nurses
said was that I would never walk.
Despite what they were told, Marks parents were determined to
make sure he walked.
Walters was born nine weeks early on July 24, 1999 at CMC in Scranton.
He was supposed to be born in October. He weighed 3 pounds, 9.5 ounces
and his weight dropped to two pounds, eight ounces while in the hospital.
Walters spent about two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
He was hooked up to a ventilator for the first few days of his life
because he wasnt able to breath on his own. He was on feeding
tubes and had an IV hooked up to his head.
Needless to say it was a terrifying experience for all involved.
They told us he was going to have setbacks, Sharon said.
They said there will be delays but they would be minor. When
he got out of the hospital he had to see a cardiologist, neurologist,
audiologist and opthamologist.
It was when the family visited the neurologist that they received
the devastating news. The muscle tone in Marks legs was weak,
if there was any at all.
The doctor was very blunt, Sharon said. The first
thing that came to my mind was that Im not going to let this
happen and I will do anything I can to help him along.
The first thing Sharon did when she returned home from the appointment
was call the family pediatrician. From there, she received tips and
resources on how to attack the situation.
We had a physical therapist come to the house, Sharon
said. He (John McGurk) came in and examined him and told us
he would try his hardest to get Mark walking. He said it will be hardcore,
and that if Mark is a fighter he would get him walking.
There was no timetable, just a lot of hard work ahead. When the physical
therapist wasnt at the house, Marks mother and father
would work with him.
It was the most terrifying time in my life, Sharon said.
My pregnancy was going normal. There was nothing wrong. I can
remember one day going into the hospital and walking into the NIC
Unit and seeing tubes and needles that were not previously there.
I just lost it.
While in the hospital, Mark developed an infection in his intestines
because of the feeding tubes. He developed jaundice from being under
the lights, and when he was home from the hospital for just two days,
he had to return because he turned blue.
He underwent tests and it was discovered he would stop breathing in
his sleep. He was placed on a heart monitor until he was one and saw
a physical therapist until he was in eighth grade.
Through all the hard work and dedication, Mark made improvements.
Everyone could see it. Mark was getting stronger and was showing hints
that he was going to start walking.
At first, he would pull himself up with the help of a couch and walk
I cried, Sharon said seeing it. It was like he never
gave up. Nobody ever gave up on him. Hes not big, but he is
a fighter. Hes determined to do what he wants to do and hes
going to do it.
After those first steps, the magical day arrived in the kitchen.
He got himself up by a chair and turned, Sharon recalled
as if it happened yesterday. He turned and when he turned he
fell down. He pulled himself back up on the chair and took two steps.
He fell down again, but that was when he actually walked without holding
Now, Mark, who is 5-foot-6, 155 pounds, is moving all over the place.
Hes just a great kid with a great work ethic, Nanticoke
Area coach Ron Bruza said of Walters. Hes the spark on
the team. When we are down in the trenches and things arent
going our way, he gives us a spark. All the kids take to him.
Mark said he plans on going out for the track and field team in the
Its purely a miracle for me, Mark said. I
dont know where I would be if I couldnt walk. I wouldnt
be playing football or hanging out with my friends.
Winning an Emmy: Nanticoke native proves
dreams do come true
To see Natalie Thimm receive her Emmy award, watch the 2016 Creative
Arts Emmy Awards at 8 p.m. Saturday on FXX Channel.
From catering the Emmys to winning an Emmy, Nanticoke native Natalie
Thimm is living her dream. Thimm won a 2016 Creative Arts Emmy for
her work on an episode of Comedy Central hit show Key &
Peele at an awards show Sept. 18 at the Microsoft Theater in
The winning episode Yall Ready for This? was up
against ABCs Dancing with the Stars episode Halloween
Night, Foxs Grease: Live, the Ryan Gosling-hosted
episode of NBCs Saturday Night Live and NBCs
live production of The Wiz.
When the show was announced as winner, Thimm said it took her longer
to get to the stage because she was wearing a long gown and spiked
heels. Right before her category was announced, she had thought about
taking the heels off.
Everyone jumped up faster (than me), she joked about the
moment she and her co-workers were announced as winners. I still
made it up in time.
According to the Emmy website, Creative Arts Emmys honor artistic
and technical achievement in a variety of television program genres,
guest performances in weekly series, as well as exceptional work in
the animation, reality and documentary categories.
A daughter of Frank and Diane Thimm, who still live in the area, Thimms
journey began in the 1980s as a graphic design student at Wilkes-Barre
Vo-Tech. After graduation, she took her talents to Empire Beauty School.
She moved to Los Angeles for a time after her beauty school graduation,
then moved to Philadelphia. After realizing the East Coast is not
where she belongs, Thimm moved back west and has been in the Los Angeles
area for the past 20 years.
I had to get out (of Philadelphia), she said about why
she chose to go back. It was then she started working a second job
as a caterer to pay rent.
Currently, she works on the CWs Jane the Virgin
and is gearing up to work on a Netflix original series.
Thimm has only been starstruck once, she said, when she was working
with Eddie Cibrian.
During one of her catering stints, she met him as he walked up to
her bar, she recalled. A few years later, he was working on Ugly
Betty as Coach Diaz, and Thimm was part of the shows makeup
crew. Upon seeing him come into the trailer, she asked her boss if
she could work on him. The boss agreed and each time Cibrian needed
makeup, Thimm went to his rescue.
I love his dimples. She said. He was all mine.
During the interview with the Times Leader, Thimm became emotional.
She said she studied the laws of attraction and believes if you want
something to happen, it will. She prayed to her late grandmother and
best friend as her category was announced at the show. Ironically,
Thimm said she had a picture of an Emmy on her dream board
a collage of images, pictures of dreams, which serves as motivation
which she made several years ago.
Its nice to be in this category (of winners), she
said. I have a feeling of accomplishment.
UGI to restore manufactured gas plant in
The area around a former manufactured gas plant will have new life
by the beginning of next year, officials say.
UGI Utilities is restoring a site at the intersection of North Walnut
and Arch streets. It should take about four months to fully complete,
according to UGI officials.
The project is not the first of its kind for UGI, Joseph Swope, UGIs
communications manager, said in an email. There are multi-site agreements
between the state Department of Environmental Protection and UGI which
address environmental conditions at 20 manufactured gas plant sites
as well as completing gas well plugging.
UGI works closely with the PA Department of Environmental Protection
and attempts to restore properties for a beneficial reuse under Pennsylvanias
Act 2 Program, Swope wrote.
According to the DEPs website, Act 2 is a land recycling program
enacted in 1995. The land recycling program offers companies and individuals
set standards for cleanup, set timelines for restoration, liability
aid in the event of issues and financial help for those who wish to
clean up marred land.
According to Swope, the downtown will have more parking and a greenway,
including planting new trees and grass.
It will take a site that is currently not available for use
and turn it into a benefit for the entire community, he said.
Manufactured gas plants transformed coal or oil to gas, according
to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The gas manufacturing
and purification processes produced products and residues that include
tars and light oils.
Swope said because of the processes formerly conducted on the plant
grounds, UGI conducted soil and water testing to determine the scope
of restoration work to be performed. He is confident there will be
no impact to water or residents health based on the testing.
Brewing company eyes October opening in Hanover
Ben Schonfeld started making beer at home 14 years ago and has since
become a brewmaster who is close to opening his own company and restaurant.
Schonfeld, 36, of Nanticoke, expects to open Benny Brewing Company
in late October at 1429 Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Township.
Seman Tire was demolished to make way for the 6,000-square-foot Benny
Brewing Company, which will include a 10-barrel brewing system that
can be viewed from a restaurant and brew pub. It will also include
an outdoor patio with tables from Munich, Germany, and a beer garden
with hops and vines.
I went from brewing beer commercially on a half-barrel brewing
system to moving up to a 10-barrel brewing system, Schonfeld
said, while showing four 20-barrel conical fermenters and two 10-barrel
fermenters that he purchased from Alpha Brewing in Nebraska.
Schonfeld declined to say how much money was invested in the new business.
He is currently distributing beer to 45 restaurants and bars throughout
Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
Within the next two months, his beer also will be available in Northampton,
Lehigh, Berks and Lancaster counties.
People could come into the brewery and buy beer by sixtel kegs
which hold just over five gallons, or half barrel kegs. They also
could buy cases of beer, he said.
Were going to be canning beer, Schonfeld said. Cans
probably will be available by the end of this month.
Schonfeld said he is waiting for a company to come in from Canada
to set up the canning line and get it ready.
Hopefully, the beer will be in production and out to the local
places by the end of September in cans, he said.
Four core brands and four rotating seasonal brands of beer will be
available in cans, he said.
His four core brands are 570 Amber Lager, Wit Belgian Style Wheat
Beer, American Pale Ale and Hopenstein India Pale Ale. His four seasonal
brands are Sippin Time, BennyFest, Dunkel and Oatmeal Chocolate Stout.
He also has a One & Done series that he said are ever
revolving recipes that are just made once and never made again.
It kind of keeps it fun instead of making the same beer over
and over again, he said. It keeps the creativity in the
When the new business opens, people can watch beer being brewed from
the restaurant or they can watch sports on eight big-screen televisions
under unique bucket light fixtures.
The menu will focus on barbecue recipes and will include sandwiches
and burgers with a little bit of a twist, he said. Other
beer will be available in addition to his brands as well as liquor
and wine, he said.
Outside, Schonfeld said people could pull hops off of vines to give
their beer a different flavor. Catering events could be held outside,
He expects to employ about 25 full- and part-time workers.
Opening Benny Brewing Company is a dream come true for Schonfeld.
Its awesome, he said. I dont go to work.
I go to do what I want to do. This isnt work.
Valley with a Heart benefit brings out motorcyclists,
Another large turnout for Valley with a Heart event
Anthony Conklin smiled as he sat near the concession stand at the
Valley with a Heart benefit at St. Faustina Grove on Sunday.
It was hard to believe that Conklin, 4 months old, was not expected
to live through the first hours of his life.
Now, the little guy with the big grin and two other sick children
are being assisted by the nonprofit that seeks to better the lives
of children and their families challenged by illness.
The benefit, which included a motorcycle run and a festival, is in
its 16th year, and many members of Valley with a Heart have been there
from the beginning.
“In 2001, a group of concerned friends got together with an idea to
raise funds for a young cancer patient,” said Rick Temarantz, president
of Valley with a Heart. “We were motorcyclists, so we decided to hold
a benefit ride.”
Anthony’s mother, Samantha Suchoski, said he will be having the first
of three surgeries in the near future. Funds are needed for necessary
services and equipment to keep her son healthy.
The family travels to Danville regularly to get treatment for Anthony.
Temarantz said the organization does not give out cash, but does such
things as providing gift cards for travel and paying bills.
“We do everything the right way,” he said. “The bulk of the proceeds
go to our poster children, but we also use some money to assist sick
kids throughout the year.”
The organization, he said, works with the Luzerne Foundation in regard
to distribution of funds.
The event provides the opportunity not to just raise money for a good
cause, but to have a lot of fun celebrating the Labor Day weekend
and the end of summer.
The event averages about 450 motorcycles and between 2,000 and 3,000
“It’s a one-day event,” said Temarantz. “But we’re here for three
Chris Concert, Valley with a Heart board member, said the event has
the feel of a family reunion with many attendees coming back year
This year, Concert was providing a photo booth, complete with flowers,
feathers and hats.
“We collected them from yards sales and stuff,” Concert said. “People
are having a lot of fun with it.”
Other vendors’ offered food, face painting, balloon animals, home
goods and even a bounce house.
“This isn’t just a motorcycle ride,” said Temarantz. “It’s an event.”
Linda Armstrong, executive director of Dress for Success Luzerne County,
participated in the motorcycle ride as a show of support for the organization
and an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful weather.
“Community organizations need to work together in spirit of service,”
said Armstrong. “That’s what makes it all work.”
For out more about Valley with a Heart, including upcoming events
and opportunities to donate, access their website at http://www.valleywithaheart.com
Long awaited Nanticoke sewer project begins
A suspended sewer project in the city has new life, according to city
The project, aimed at replacing old city sewer lines, suspended in
May, resumed earlier this week, according to Donna Wall, interim city
manager. Verizon cable lines lying close to the existing sewer lines
caused the delay.
Times Leader records from 2014 show when the Geisinger building on
Main Street joined the downtown landscape, its new sewer lines created
an issue when they were connected to the citys old, decrepit
The project will replace sewer lines within three blocks on Main Street,
between Walnut Street and the Burger King on Market Street. It also
will close a section of Main Street during the day.
Funding for the sewer project has been in the citys hands since
2014, Wall confirmed.
Wall said Locust and Main streets were closed Tuesday and Wednesday,
and the timeline for specific streets is day-by-day. The
crew arrives sometime in the 7 a.m. hour and works all day. The street
is opened when the crew leaves.
It was one of the conditions, Wall said of the timeframe
of the work. We want to have operations for businesses.
The detour, which Wall said she has traveled, is minor.
Those travelling into Nanticoke will now take North Market to behind
the Weis market, to the light at Burger King. Wall noted it is highly
unlikely traffic coming from the Middle Road detour will affect the
Main Street detour.
As long as the weather cooperates, traffic should return to normal
by the end of October, Wall said.
Im optimistic, she said.
The paving of the road will not be completed until the city begins
its streetscape project, which will assist the city in becoming Americans
with Disability Act compliant.
Work begins at former manufactured gas plant
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
UGI Utilities Inc. has begun work to restore the site of a former
manufactured gas plant and create a parking lot and greenway area
Over the last two weeks, UGI has prepared the site and is set to begin
the restoration phase of the project.
The site, located at North Walnut and Arch streets, is being tested,
cleaned and restored over the next four months.
UGI has been working with representatives from Nanticoke and the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection to improve the site conditions
and develop a beneficial use for the property.
Manufactured gas plants were common through urban areas of the United
States from the late 19th Century through the middle of the 20th Century.
UGI has successfully restored several of these sites in the state.
There is no known impact to public water or health at this location,
according to UGI.
In previous work at the site, UGI conducted soil and water testing
and determined the scope of restoration work to be performed.
Residents and drivers traveling in area should note that lane restrictions
may be in effect during the project as equipment moves in and out
of the work area. Motorists driving through the construction zone
are urged to watch for roadwork signs and to follow the directions
of flag personnel.
Changes await students upon start of new
Amy Scibek is leaving Wyoming Valley West as State Street Elementary
School principal to become principal at Greater Nanticoke Area High
School. Also at Greater Nanticoke Area, the district is temporarily
closing Kennedy Elementary School this year because of an upcoming
construction and renovation project there.
Because Kennedy Elementary will be closed, second-grade students will
attend the Elementary Center and fifth-grade students will attend
the Educational Center. Both schools are at the Kosciuszko Street
campus in Nanticoke.
Elementary school students will be getting new Google Chromebook computers
to use in their classrooms, and teachers in grades K-7 will use a
new mathematics program called Go Math, Superintendent
Ronald Grevera said. The new series provides teachers with a variety
of Common Core-aligned materials, and officials hope it increases
math achievement in the district.
As the new high school principal, Scibek will be examining the STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum, Grevera said.
The district is adding a new high school course Scientific
Research and Design. Its intended to introduce students to the
skills needed for technical careers such as engineering and scientific
research, Grevera said.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS
Wednesday, Aug. 31 Greater Nanticoke Area
Nanticoke chief remembered as a humble cops cop
William Shultz was a cops cop.
Speaker after speaker made that point on Friday at a memorial service
for Shultz, the Nanticoke police chief who died on Aug. 17 at 61 after
a battle with cancer.
I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of his career,
said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, the first
of seven speakers to share memories of Shultz with his family, friends
and law enforcement colleagues in the auditorium of Nanticoke High
Shultz made it his personal mission to protect and serve
the residents of Nanticoke, Salavantis said.
Shultz found that mission early. He became a police officer in Plymouth
Township at 18, the youngest age possible, and when he took the reins
of that department Shultz was one of the youngest police chiefs in
Pennsylvania at 25. He served as Plymouth Townships chief for
more than 10 years, then left to join the Nanticoke police force in
It seemed strange to some that Shultz gave up a chiefs position
to become a patrolman with a new department, said Tony George, former
Wilkes-Barre police chief and the citys current mayor.
He said I need to do more, George said.
Shultz gave young cops one piece of priceless advice, according to
George. While it is important for police officers to study and train
hard, situations will arise on the streets where you will have
to play it by ear and officers need to be ready for that,
George described Shultz as one of the rare people he considers to
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, grew up in Plymouth
Township. He recalled Shultz as a local legend during his boyhood
in the 70s and 80s.
Shultz was ahead of the curve when it came to the concept of community
policing, according to Mullery.
We played in the street, Mullery said. He would
stop and talk to us. He knew our names, our parents, what sports we
He knew us, he cared about us, we knew him.
Others spoke of Shultzs humility and reluctance to take credit
for his many achievements.
He was all about the work, said Chester Zaremba, a former Nanticoke
police chief and state trooper.
Shultz immersed himself in the job as no one else could,
said Zaremba, who was Shultzs boss as Shultz worked his way
up the ranks in the Nanticoke police force to detective sergeant and
Shultz worked so hard, in fact, that Zaremba began to worry he might
Then, Zaremba said, he talked to another veteran officer who knew
He told me to imagine someone who has a hobby he enjoys to the
maximum, Zaremba said.
Shultz could be tough when needed but he had a passion for helping
those in need, said Michael McGuire of the state Attorney Generals
We always said Bill is the guy you want to show up if one of
your family members needed help, McGuire said.
For Shultz, family his wife Anne Marie, his son William Jr.
and his grandchildren was the only thing even more important
than his passion for police work, McGuire said.
Fellow officers would ask Shultz to go out for food and beer after
a long day, McGuire recalled.
According to McGuire, Shultz would decline politely and reply:
Im going home to see the most beautiful girl in the world.
Former Nanticoke police
chief William Shultz remembered at memorial service
Police officers and officials from across the county came to honor
William Shultz, the Nanticoke police chief from 2012 until his death
on Aug. 17, Friday at a memorial service at the Greater Nanticoke
High School auditorium.
Officers from neighboring Newport Township to Dallas Township turned
out to honor a man many knew as an advocate and friend.
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiatrowski said Shultz, who died at the age
of 61, was private man who devoted his life to being a police
A slideshow of memories was shown as Shultzs wife, Anne Marie,
and family stood by a photo of the late chief.
During the service, several speakers commemorated the life of a man
many called dedicated. At the end of the service, members of nearly
15 agencies processed through the streets of Nanticoke to the Nanticoke
fire station, where Nanticoke and Hanover Township ladder trucks held
a flag for the last call.
I consider him a dear friend, a visibly upset Luzerne
County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said, remembering her
time working on cases with Shultz. He was one of the first law
enforcement (officers) who came to me.
Salavantis said Shultz went through deceit, lies, harm and death
daily. She also mentioned that Shultz, though private, would want
the couple dozen civilians and multiple law enforcement officers on
hand to celebrate and carry on the fight.
A fight that began in the 1980s when Shultz was called to be on the
state attorney generals Mid Valley Task Force. He was police
chief of Plymouth Township at the time.
He was then hired by the Nanticoke Police Department in 1990 and appointed
chief in August 2012.
According to Nanticokes Municipal Police Cooperative Agreement,
the Mid Valley Task Force enhances the coordination of drug investigations
in the Luzerne County area and provides mutual police aid to more
effectively enforce the provisions of narcotics and drug laws, preserving
the safety and welfare of the entire area.
Hanover Township Police Chief Albert Walker said Shultz was a giant
in local law enforcement because of his longevity in the profession
over 40 years and his dedication.
I had the pleasure to work side by side with him on cases that
overlapped our jurisdictions, and he was a wealth of information,
Not only did law enforcement officers attend the service but area
lawmakers were also on hand.
State Sen. John T. Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and State Rep. Gerald
J. Mullery, D-Newport Township, spoke during the service. They both
hold a connection with Shultz as they grew up in Plymouth Township,
while the late leader was the top cop there.
Yudichak told a story of Shultz pulling him over on Route 11, and
Mullery talked of life lessons.
The chief taught me there are consequences for my actions,
Mullery said, recalling a time when he was growing up and broke some
glass. The chief spoke to Mullerys mother and then made the
now-state representative and friends shovel out a snow filled gravel
Former Wilkes-Barre police chief and current Mayor Tony George spoke
of a time in the police academy, which is when he met a then-Sargent
Everyone is replaceable, George said, except William
Update: Nanticoke police say departments
K-9 died unexpectedly
The Nanticoke Police Department is mourning the loss of its K-9,
The department announced Tuesday on its Facebook page that Vice had
He will be truely (sic) missed by all, the post read.
According to Nanticoke Police Capt. Robert Lehman, Vice died Monday
night of complications from an unspecified cancer.
He was very close with us, Lehman said. Absolutely.
The department was already mourning the death of Police Chief William
Shultz, who passed away last week at the age of 61. Shultz was hired
by Nanticoke in 1990 and was appointed chief in August of 2012.
Vice was born Feb. 14, 2008, and had been with the department and
K-9 handler Brian Kivler since October 2009. Times Leader records
show Vice was considered a full-time officer, with his own badge
Along with sniffing out marijuana and cocaine, Vice was able to track
Lehman said criminals shouldnt expect the Nanticoke departments
war on drugs to cease just because Vice is gone.
The efforts will continue, he said.
State law specifies that if someone had attempted to harm or kill
Vice, they could have been prosecuted on a felony charge.
The career life of a drug dog runs on the average of 10 years, according
He almost met his career expectancy, he said.
Vice was purchased by the Greater Nanticoke Area School District,
and Lehman said the city was very fortunate to have had
the help in obtaining him.
According to a November 2009 Times Leader article, the school district
paid $5,500 to purchase the dog for the department, with the understanding
that Vice would be brought onto school campuses to do occasional locker
searches. Also contributing to the cost was the Nanticoke Housing
Authority, which gave the district a $500 check.
Lehman said drug dogs can cost municipalities upwards of $10,000,
but that the department was hopeful about getting another
dog, if the budget dictates.
Thats something for the city to consider, he said.
Lehman said Vice was the second K-9 in the history of the department,
which previously had a dog the late 1980s.
August 23, 2016
Nanticoke City Police Department
It is with deep regret that the members of the
Nanticoke City Police Department announce the unexpected passing of
our K-9 partner Vice. He will be truely missed by all.
Nanticoke native, PA Gov. John S. Fine honored
by Nanticoke Historical Society
It was a speechless day Friday for the family of former
Pennsylvania governor John Sydney Fine, as he was honored with a Pennsylvania
The Nanticoke Historical Society and the Pennsylvania Historical &
Museum Commission honored the 35th governor of Pennsylvania with the
iconic blue and yellow marker outside the Greater Nanticoke Area education
Helene Fine Rubin, Fines granddaughter, said she was speechless
after she helped Chet Zaremba, president of the historical society,
unveil the marker in front of two dozen people.
Rubin, who grew up in Dallas, and currently lives near Philadelphia,
was joined by other family members for the day.
Im just sad my mom and dad arent able to be here
to see this, she said.
Fine was born on April 10, 1893, in the Alden section of Newport Township
to Jacob and Margaret Fine. The family then moved to Nanticoke, where
Fine completed high school.
Fine was secretary of the Luzerne County Republic Committee from 1920
to 1922 when he was promoted to chairman of the committee.
Fine was elected to a permanent term on Pennsylvanias Superior
Court in 1947 but resigned during his campaign for governor.
As State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, who represented
state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Rep. Gerald
Mullery D-Nanticoke, said during his remarks Friday, Fines inauguration
was the first in the state to be televised. He also created the first
state sales tax, but it was only 1 percent, Pashinski
Jacob Rubin, 15, a great-grandson of Fine, said he was really
touched that the people of Nanticoke would want to honor his
great-grandfather in a special way.
I hope this marker inspires the students of Nanticoke,
Pashinski agreed with Jacob, calling Fine an inspiration
for the students who walk to school via Kosciuszko Street.
Dr. William Lewis, of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,
said the unveiling was a personally exciting day for him.
The educational value (of the markers) is enormous, Lewis
Markers cost thousands of dollars and there arent any state
grants to help defray the cost.
Lewis mentioned that the commission gets several calls
a day from people who are looking to visit each of the 2,600 markers
throughout the state.
The marker is the second for the society as it placed a historical
marker for the former Concrete City an abandoned Lackawanna,
Delaware and Western Railroad housing complex several years
ago on Front Street in the Hanover Section of Nanticoke.
These (markers) commemorate people, places, events that make
Pennsylvania so unique, Lewis said.
Nanticoke City Police Department & City
It is with deep regret that Mayor Richard Wiaterowski and the members
of the Nanticoke City Police Department announce the untimely passing
Chief of Police William A. Shultz.
Chief Shultz has been a police officer since 1974 where he began his
life long career in Plymouth Township. He was appointed to Police
Chief in1981,and was one if the youngest Chief's of Police in Luzerne
County, where he served in that position until his hire in Nanticoke
City in 1990. He was one of the first members of the Attorney General's
Mid Valley Task Force and a past president of the Luzerne County Chief's
of Police Association. He quickly moved up in rank to Detective Sergeant
and then to Detective Captain. He was appointed to the Chief's position
in August 2012 after the untimely passing of then Chief James Cheshinski.
Chief Shultz' dedication to his job, family and friends was beyond
reproach. He will be deeply missed by all who had the honor to know
GNA opens new construction bids for elementary
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District opened new construction
bids Friday for the expansion of Kennedy Elementary School, and the
low base bids for the project total more than $8.8 million.
The new bids came in about $1.4 million less than bids rejected in
May for being too costly. District officials will review the new bids
and decide whether to accept any alternatives to the base bids and
whether the low bids meet the specifications for the project.
In May, the school district was considering a motion to seek new bids
without the districts project labor agreement, but the school
board rejected that option. The districts project labor agreement
provides collective bargaining terms for building project workers
hired by district contractors and subcontractors and includes a preference
for Nanticoke Area residents to work on the project.z
Officials hoped changing bid specifications and projects plans
such as redesigning the courtyard, changing window sizes and reducing
the height of the building would reduce the cost of the project.z
Boyle Construction of Allentown submitted the low base bid for general
contract work at $5.9 million. Scranton Electric Heating & Cooling
Inc. submitted the low base bid for heat, ventilation and air conditioning
at $1.3 million. Bognet Inc. of Hazleton submitted the low base bid
for plumbing at $548,776. Apollo Group Inc. of Kingston submitted
the low base bid for electrical work at almost $1.1 million.
Nanticoke superintendent signs five-year
contract; board approves new hires
Greater Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Ronald Grevera
resigned at Thursdays school board meeting so he could accept
a new five-year appointment with the district.
School districts in Pennsylvania can appoint superintendents for three
to five years. Grevera is in his third year at Greater Nanticoke Area.
His annual salary is $126,690, and his new contract expires June 30,
2021. He said his contract provides him annual pay increases of 2
Also at Thursdays meeting, the school board appointed Amy Scibek
as high school principal with a salary of $88,500 this year.
She had worked for the Wyoming Valley West School District as principal
of State Street Elementary School since 2008 and also as an assistant
high school principal for two years, Grevera said.
She replaces Matthew Schwenk as the Greater Nanticoke Area High School
principal. He started in January and resigned to take another job,
The board also appointed Jenette Stapert as special education teacher
and Tammy Boyd as a long-term substitute teacher for speech and language.
More liquor stores to be open Sundays, expanded
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Need to buy a bottle of booze on a Sunday?
Thats soon going to become easier.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is poised to announce new and
expanded Sunday hours for liquor stores around the state.
Currently, the law permits only 25 percent of the states 600-plus
liquor stores to open on Sunday between noon and 5 p.m. A new law
passed in June, aimed at chipping away at the states Prohibition-era
alcohol regulations, allows for more stores to be open on Sunday and
for expanded hours.
In Luzerne County, only five of the 19 state-run Fine Wine and
Good Spirits stores now open on Sundays the locations
in Dallas, Pittston, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre and Wright Township.
One new location that will now be open on Sundays is the Nanticoke
store at 13 Weis Plaza, in the Weis supermarket complex.
A sign on the front door advertises New Sunday store hours
coming in mid-August. The store will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on
Sundays, the sign says.
It was not immediately clear what other stores would be open on
Sundays as a result of the law, known as Act 39, which is ushering
in various other liquor law changes, such as wine sales in supermarkets.
Shawn Kelly, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board, declined
to reveal other changes to the liquor store system.
We will announce the locations and hours next week after Act
39 takes effect, Kelly said.
Dozens gather to support law enforcement at
As the sun began to set, it came time to light the candles on Patriot
Dozens of people attending a vigil for fallen police officers Sunday
night set to work as a slow song played. Some produced lighters from
their pockets and helped those around them light thin white candles
protected by cups encircled with a blue and black ribbon.
The pinpricks of flame spread around the square as those gathered
shared a moment of silence at a vigil organized to honor fallen officers
in the local area and around the country in recent months.
Im so glad theyre having this, said 92-year-old
Nanticoke resident Doris Merrill. Its really needed.
Nanticoke resident Meagan Walters organized the vigil because she
wanted to give the community a chance to show their support of their
police departments and officers.
Right now our police officers are very down on themselves,
she said. They needed positive reinforcement.
Walters said interest in the vigil grew as soon as the community got
wind of what she was planning.
When the community found out, everybody got behind it,
Nearly 100 people made their way to Patriot Square to stand with their
neighbors and hold a candle while local church leaders led prayers
for law enforcement.
Denise Sopko of Nanticoke came to the vigil to support the officers
she said she sees in the Nanticoke community every day.
Its about community, she said. Without a police
department, we dont have a community ... we have a great team
Rebecca Seman of Nanticoke hoped Sundays vigil, with city residents
rallying around law enforcement, would set an example for other communities.
Just look at this place, she said, gesturing toward the
Vigil will honor law enforcement
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
After seeing cops shot dead amid anti-police protests around the country,
local nurse Meagan Walters became disgusted.
She and some family members decided to do something to show their
support for the men and women in blue.
Theyve planned a candlelight vigil for 8 p.m. Sunday on Patriot
Square in Nanticoke to honor law enforcement officers.
We all feel this world is upside down right now. People think
the good guys are bad and the bad guys are good, Walters said.
We want the good guys to know that they have the support of
the people they are trying to protect that not everyone is
From cops to prison workers, law enforcement officers risk their lives
daily to protect every citizen and rarely get any credit, Walters
If you have people willing to lay their lives down for somebody
they dont know, they deserve the utmost respect, Walters
The 28-year-old from Newport Township is hoping the event will help
unify people during a divisive time in the country
Im hoping people will come and show their support and
show their love. We really need positivity. We, as a nation, lost
respect for each other. We need to end this division. And we all need
to love each other for being Americans, Walters said.
Walters reached out to the Rev. James Nash of St. Faustina Parish,
who will offer some prayers during the vigil. Others will be invited
to speak. Organizers are still looking for a microphone and speaker
system to use, but will use a bullhorn if necessary, depending on
the size of the crowd.
The group will provide the first 100 candles to be used at the vigil,
but attendees should attempt to bring their own.
Walters and family members reached out to Nanticoke and Newport police
on Thursday to tell them about their plans.
Kingston police Sgt. Sam Blaski, president of the Fraternal Order
of Police, Wyoming Valley Lodge, said it was great to hear private
citizens doing something to honor law enforcement.
It made me feel good and put me in a good mood. It brightened
my day, Blaski said, describing his reaction to the planned
event to honor police. For these people in Nanticoke coming
together to show their support, thats just great.
Blaski said he was good friends with Correctional Officer Kristopher
Moules, who was killed last week on duty, and the outpouring of support
from the community helped deal with the tragedy.
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis also saluted
the vigil idea.
Im thrilled people want to come out and say they are supportive
of law enforcement, Salavantis said. Every day, law enforcement
puts their lives on the line. Typically they do it without a pat on
the back. Its important to respect and appreciate what law enforcement
does to keep us safe.
For information about the event, contact Meagan Walters at email@example.com
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Vigil in support of law enforcement
WHEN: Sunday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Patriot Square, Broad and Market streets, Nanticoke
Organizers will provide the first 100 candles, but attendees should
attempt to bring their own.
For information, contact Meagan Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org
L.S. Bowl-a-Rama still standing after demolition
email@example.com - @@TL_MMizenko - 570-991-6116
A Nanticoke landmark scheduled to be razed is still standing.
The former L.S. Bowl-A-Rama was purchased by Pasquale Scalleat under
the name PS Capital Ventures. Scalleat has told Nanticoke officials
several times this year he would have the building razed by the end
Nanticoke solicitor William Finnegan told the Times Leader several
weeks ago a time frame was negotiated between all parties that concluded
with demolition of the building commencing July 5.
As of Monday, the building still stands, run-down and rotted out,
on the corner of Washington and Prospect streets.
According to draft minutes from the July 6 meeting of the Nanticoke
City Council, Finnegan said the grass and weeds were cut and open
areas on the building secured but demolition had not been done.
The cost of the demolition, according to Finnegan, could cost taxpayers
upwards of $250,000.
Finnegan asked that residents realize the council and officials are
doing all they can to resolve the issue but because its a big
problem, not easily resolved, it may take time.
In order to have the building demolished, a 10-day notice of demolition
and an asbestos abatement form with the Air Quality department at
the local Department of Environmental Protection offices must be filed.
Colleen Connolly, community relations coordinator for DEP, confirmed
neither have been filed.
If work is done without filing, DEP could take several courses of
action, according to Connolly.
If they do begin work with no notice or forms sent in, DEP could
issue a Notice of Violation, we could issue a stop work order
and we could, at some point after the matter is settled, issue a civil
penalty, which could include a fine, Connolly wrote in an email.
Finnegan said the warrants previously issued were held off but will
be reinstated soon if they havent been already. Scalleat can
be incarcerated if he continually ignores the fines and warrants.
As of Monday, county records show PS Capital Ventures owes $9,361.21
in back taxes for the year 2015 on L.S. Bowl-a-Rama.
Efforts to reach Scalleat or his local attorney, Jonathon Comitz,
Historical marker to Gov. John S. Fine to
The Nanticoke Historical Society met recently to finalize plans for
the upcoming dedication of the Governor John S. Fine Historical Marker
to be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at the site of the former junior
high school, 400 block of Kosciuszko Street, Nanticoke. The marker
obtained through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
will be installed on the Greater Nanticoke Area High School campus
and was made possible through the cooperative efforts of Dr. Ronald
Grevera, superintendent of schools and school board members Ryan Verazin,
president; Ken James, vice president; Gary Smith, Tony Prushinski,
Megan Tennesen, Wendy Kotsko Wiaterowski, Matthew Landmesser, Frank
Shepanski Jr. and Len Olzinski. For information and to donate to the
marker fund call 570-258-1367.
Hockey Tournament Aids Cancer Fight
Nanticoke community rallies around cancer
firstname.lastname@example.org - @@TL_MMizenko - 570-991-6116
A community in lower Luzerne County is banding together to lift the
spirits of a 27-year-old cancer patient.
In early June, Richard Laury, of Nanticoke, found out he had advanced
glioblastoma brain cancer.
It was like an out of body experience, Laury said about
the day he found out.
He also said he went totally pale and thought it was a dream.
Unfortunately, it wasnt.
He is currently two weeks into six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.
He has 42 chemo tablets left to take one daily before bed
and 30 radiation treatments left to undergo.
His friend Bill Borysewicz created a Strength4Richard GoFundMe page
to help Laury with treatment costs. Within 36 hours, Borysewicz said,
the page had reached its goal of $10,000. The total as of Friday afternoon
Its overwhelming, Laury admitted.
The community didnt stop there. There are two upcoming events
to help Laury and his family during this time.
A benefit concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Faustina
Cultural Center, 38 W. Church St. Borysewicz wanted to do a small
concert, but it blossomed into an hour-and-a-half benefit. There will
also be a raffle with nearly 70 prizes ranging from gift cards to
A spaghetti dinner will be hosted by the Knights of Columbus Council
10676, Glen Lyon, from noon to 3 p.m. July 17 at St. Marys School
Hall, 1010 S. Hanover St., Nanticoke.
A hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Richard,
Knights of Columbus member V.J. George said.
Laury is a member of the Knights. George said the group will do
as much as we can.
George notes that Laury is liked and loved within his church.
The Rev. James Nash, pastor of St. Faustina Parish, has known Richard
for years and said it was surprising to hear about the
Its the last thing we expected to hear, Nash said.
I asked him to repeat it.
Laury said the support has been great. Hes received cards from
people he doesnt even know.
They put them in the collection basket at church marked For
Richard, Laury said.
The one thing he misses most, and hopes he can do soon, is drive.
He had surgery in mid-May, to remove a tumor that was pressing on
his brain. Because hes on medication for seizures, he isnt
allowed to get behind the wheel of a car.
Its for the birds, Laury joked. I feel like
Mike Frantz, a friend of Laurys, said Laury was always
there when we needed him and these fundraisers are their way
of saying thank you.
Grateful Roast Cafe brings a unique
coffee shop to Nanticoke
email@example.com - @@TL_MMizenko - 570-991-6116
The Grateful Roast Cafe and Coffee Roaster opened naturally
last week, bringing with it a twist of the Pacific Northwest to Northeastern
We didnt even put the open sign on, owner Brian
Williams admitted about the first day of the shop, located on Middle
Road. Since then business has been slowly picking up, especially through
word of mouth and social media.
Williams, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, came to Nanticoke
for his wife, Sarah Kratz . They have been roasting coffee beans since
(Started roasting) because I enjoy the craft, Brian admits,
noting he is still learning the process.
In March, the couple signed a lease on the building at the corner
of Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road that formerly housed Grave 74
Sarah designed the interior of the building, including the teal walls
and red and blue chairs.
She would have a vision and her dad (Dennis Nealon) would build
it, Brian said. He considers the shop cozy and inviting.
The name, Grateful Roast, spreads from the couples love for
the Grateful Dead as well as the reminder to appreciate farmers and
see a bigger picture, Brian said.
Christy Emelett has gone to the cafe several times since the opening
and calls the place super fresh.
I have found when you get a latte, cappuccino or anything thats
not just coffee, with the chains it all tends to taste the same,
Emelett said. Here, you can taste the difference.
Emelett, who usually gets lattes, is currently on a coconut iced coffee
kick and likes the choices Grateful Roast provides.
The shop has everything you would expect and want from a coffee
shop, Emelett said.
Along with pastries from local vendors, the business offers a small
menu after 10 a.m., which includes paninis and melts.
Brian said, though the couple wants their business to grow organically,
hes having a hard time keeping the shop stocked with roasted
The shop is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Saturday but Brian said the customer base and their needs
will dictate the hours as the shop grows.
Grateful Roast Cafe and Coffee Roaster
Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Address: 400 Middle Road, Nanticoke
Online: Grateful Roast Cafe and Coffee Roaster on Facebook.
Nanticoke sewer, street projects set to move
Two sections of Nanticoke will see improvements made to streets,
according to city officials.
After being stalled in May, the Main Street sewer project will begin
as soon as the contractor, Anrich Inc., of Wayne, can move a team
back to Nanticoke.
Donna Wall, the interim city manager, said because the project was
stalled, Anrich Inc.s workers were moved to another construction
site outside of Nanticoke. Though she confirmed Anrich Inc. was up
last week to dig up soft test pits.
The project was suspended because of nearby fiber optic cables. When
Verizon laid cables for their service in the city, they were run near
the outdated sewer lines. Verizon quickly remedied the situation.
Main Street is a state road, and the city needed the Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation to approve the project again.
(Because of the cables) we had to come up with a whole new plan,
The project will replace sewer lines on Main Street, between Walnut
and Market streets. When the Geisinger building came into the downtown
in 2014, it was hooked up to the older sewer line, creating an issue
when its new lines connected to the citys old lines.
Times Leader records show the project is a federal earmark. Last year,
Wall said, the city also received a Local Share Sccount grant of $500,000
for the project.
The Main Street sewer project should be done within two months.
In another part of the city, several streets will begin to be improved
thanks to Nanticoke taking out a $3 million Pennsylvania Infrastructure
Bank loan in April. The loan will help the city become compliant with
the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The city will make four payments a year over a 10-year period on the
loan, which carries 1.75 percent interest rate.
Wall said several streets in the Honey Pot section of the city, including
Access Road and Hanover Street, are marked for that project.
The contractor for the project will be Stell Enterprises.
Nanticoke seeks delinquent garbage fees
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Over the past 10 years, the city of Nanticoke has lost about $83,000
due to delinquent garbage fees, City Administrator Donna Wall said.
On Tuesday, the city cited more than 190 property owners in district
court who did not pay their 2016 garbage collection fees and warned
of its intentions to vigorously pursue collection of these accounts.
Its the same people ... who just year after year, theyve
failed to pay, Wall said.
Wall said the city typically collects refuse fees at a good rate:
96 percent of property owners paid their fees in 2015, according to
the citys release.
The city charges $220 per year for all garbage and single stream recycling
collection. The city allows residents to have up to four, 30 gallon
bags of trash picked up per week.
One homeowner, Wall said, neglected to pay any garbage fees between
2006 and 2009 and still owes the city $3,900.
We dont even think he owns the property anymore,
On top of the 195 citations filed Tuesday, Magisterial District Judge
Donald Whittaker said his office has more than 300 unpaid or unsettled
cases of delinquent fees on file from past years.
Every year they just file against the same individuals,
Whittaker said. Its a large volume of work.
Whittaker estimated about $79,000 in fees remain uncollected by the
city and the court. He said a portion of the delinquent accounts come
from out-of-state or absentee landlords, and law enforcement
often cannot justify the cost of travel to serve warrants or collect
the unpaid fees.
Theyre not going to send two policemen out to, say, Syracuse,
to get $300, Whittaker said. Its just not financially
feasible for us to go out and collect it.
Tuesdays release from the city came as a notice to homeowners
with delinquent fees.
Owners will be given 15 days from today to satisfy their financial
obligations to the city, the notice states. For those
who fail to do so, the city, through its police department, will proceed
to serve these warrants on offending property owners and they will
be brought before the court where the city will seek financial penalties
and/or incarceration for failure to pay for this important service.
Wall noted that even when property owners dont pay the yearly
fee, the city still has to collect garbage from the delinquent properties,
which shifts the cost of the service onto residents who pay their
Whittaker said each citation filed will have a time and date for a
hearing. If the defendant appears at the hearing, they can plead guilty
or not guilty; but if they do not show up they are automatically found
guilty by the court. The court then sends a notice to the homeowner
of the result and the homeowner has 30 days to appeal the verdict.
If they do not appeal, Whittaker said the homeowner receives a notice
indicating what they owe in fines. If the homeowner still does not
take action, the court will generate a warrant to be given to a constable
or police officers.
Wall hoped to see repeat offenders among the 2016 delinquent accounts
start to pay back the fees they owe.
Every year its always the same people, she said.
Greater Nanticoke Area budget calls for 5.5
percent tax hike
Taxpayers in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District will see their
taxes go up 5.5 percent next year.
The school board passed an approximately $28 million budget for the
2016-2017 school year unanimously Monday night during a special meeting.
The tax rate will jump from 10.4932 mills to 11.0765 mills. A mill
is $1 in tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner
with a home assessed at $100,000 will pay $1,107.65 in school taxes.
At the May board meeting, the needed tax increase was estimated to
be 8 percent. However, board Business Manager Al Melone said that
was because the district still didnt have financial numbers
from the state.
The budget has $28,221,743 in expenditures and shows revenue of $28,132,570.
Melone said the district virtually (had) no choice but
to increase the millage.
Were caught in a box, Melone said.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the increase is needed because
the pension payment increase for the school year is $326,000. Also,
a 2.1 percent increase in health care costs for employees and worries
that state revenue may be late caused the district to
raise the taxes.
Melone also said Luzerne Countys assessment values contributed
to the tax increase.
Enrollment is up, but the assessment went down, Melone
Melone, whose company also does the Pittston Area and Dallas school
districts budgets, said Nanticoke would be in the 4 percent
tax hike range, if the assessed values didnt go down.
Melone apologized for the need for increased funding falling on the
Hank Marks, a city tax watchdog, begrudgingly agreed with Melone.
If he said we need it, we need it, Marks said.
The increase is the highest since the district increased taxes 6 mills
In other business, the board also:
Unanimously rejected the revised Wilkes-Barre Area Career and
Technical Center Budget for the 2016-2017 school year.
Board President Ryan Verazin said the district would owe a 2 percent
increase to the center under the budget and the board didnt
feel comfortable paying.
Were already raising taxes, Verazin said.
Approved teachers Dawn Marshall and Linda Kelchner to form
GO, GNA. GO stands for Global Opportunities. It will be no extra cost
to the district. The mission of the new club is to expose students
to a wider world.
Nanticoke school board increases property
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School budget for the next school year
$28.2 million in expenses and a 5-percent increase in the property
tax rate, Board President Ryan Verazin said.
The vote at Mondays meeting was unanimous. The tax increase
boosts the tax rate from 10.4932 mills to 11.0765 mills. A mill is
$1 on every $1,000 in property assessment. Revenue for the next school
year is projected at $28.1 million.
Nanticoke cracking down on residents not
paying refuse fees
The annual fee is $220. Residents who pay on a payment plan, pay $120
twice a year.
The city is ramping up efforts to force delinquent refuse fee homeowners
to pay their bills.
According to the mayors office, starting Tuesday delinquent
accounts will be given 15 days July 6 to pay their city
refuse bills. City Manager Donna Wall said the city is missing $86,000
in fees unpaid since 2005. There are some homeowners who owe up to
Its the same people (who dont pay), Wall said.
Previous media reports had said only 40 percent of residents are paying
their annual trash fees. Mayor Richard Wiatrowski said that is wrong,
and the city has a high collection rate. Wall said the
correct collection rate is 96 percent.
Wall said health concerns and legal mandates require the city to still
pick up delinquent homeowners garbage.
After the citys refuse office sends letters to delinquent accounts
holders, complaints are forwarded to District Judge Donald Whittakers
office. For this year alone, Whittakers office has 195 complaints
to be filed by his office for no payment of fees.
Whittaker noted the repeat offenders have had written correspondence
from his office a minimum 12 times.
For years they havent been acted upon, Whittaker
said defending his office from criticism that its his office
that lets residents fall through the cracks.
Some residents will come to court and pay their fees after receiving
their letters, but most dont. After being found guilty in absentia,
the constable or Nanticoke police will be tasked with serving an arrest
warrant to the homeowner.
Homeowners arent jailed for not paying their refuse fee, but
if the case makes it to a payment determination hearing, residents
can be jailed for failing to pay court costs and fees.
Unfortunately, because its a city issue, it doesnt get
forwarded to Luzerne County Court, like criminal cases. To have the
case seen by Luzerne County court, residents have to file an appeal
on Whittakers judgment.
When residents fail to pay, garbage collection is on homeowners who
pay their bills, Wall said.
Enough is enough, Wall said.
Those with active arrest warrants, Wiatrowski noted, can be taken
in on a simple speeding ticket.
When they run the name, they can be jailed for not paying refuse
fees, the Mayor said.
Nanticoke amends Radiological Emergency Response
The next council meeting will be held 7 p.m. July 6 in the council
chambers, 15 E. Ridge St., Nanticoke.
The city council unanimously approved a new Radiological Emergency
Response Plan at Wednesday nights meeting.
Every city within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear power plant is required
by federal law to update its plan every two years. The Honey Pot section
of Nanticoke falls within that radius for Talen Energys Susquehanna
nuclear power plant in Salem Township.
The citys deputy director for emergency management, Chet Prymowicz,
said the only change typically made to the plan is to update it with
the names of newly elected officials. However, this year, changes
were made in the wording of the document due to the citys home
We now have a strong mayor who makes the call to evacuate,
Prymowicz said he doesnt believe the city will ever need to
use the plan.
If it does, however, there will be route management teams assembled
to help evacuees on their way to a reception center, which would be
located at the Big Lots Shopping Center in Dunmore.
Since the last update, Nanticoke lost four medical centers, which
means the city needs fewer ambulances to transport patients, Prymowicz
said. The closing of the centers also benefits the city given that
the city has fewer volunteer first responders, who would be needed
to assist patient evacuations.|
The city also removed two traffic control points from the plan. The
ongoing construction of new roundabouts on Middle Road, Prymowicz
said, will drastically change the routes out of the city
in case of radioactive emergencies. The roundabout changes wont
be added to the plan until 2018.
It will change for the better, Prymowicz noted.
Newport Township approved its plan last week, and Prymowicz said every
plan is different based on where they are in the radius. The Luzerne
County Emergency Management Agency also has a plan in case of emergency.
In other business, the council read an executive order from Mayor
Richard Wiaterowski hiring Dane Aukstankalnis as a full-time firefighter.
Resident Hank Marks asked why the hiring wasnt on the agenda
and why Wiaterowski hired him.
The city is budgeted for 10 (firefighters) and the chief,
Council President William Brown said in response. We dont
decide (who) to hire.
Marks asked what the salary was and if Aukstankalnis had benefits.
Donna Wall, interim city manager, didnt quote a figure because
she didnt have the contract in hand.
They taxpayers deserve to know, Marks said.
Nanticoke receives state DEP grant for new
A recently awarded grant will allow the city to buy and distribute
recycling containers to residents.
Nanticoke was one of six Luzerne County municipalities awarded a Department
of Environmental Protection grant for its recycling collection and
The DEP awarded $16.7 million in grants to 120 municipalities in the
Commonwealth. The grant allots up to 90 percent of recycling program
costs to municipalities and counties, whereas distressed municipalities
are eligible for up to 100-percent program coverage.
Its actually for containers, Donna Wall, interim
city manager for Nanticoke, said noting the city will be able to buy
5,000 high containers with the money.
Wall explained that a few years ago the city went single-stream
recycling all recyclables can be mixed in one container
and since some residents moved out or died, the city doesnt
have containers in stock for new residents. The decision to go single-stream
was a way to get people to recycle.
One rule of single-stream recycling, Wall said, is to rinse out jars
before recycling them.
When you eat spaghetti, youre suppose to wash out the
heavy stuff, she said.
The city council will have to decide whether to bid the containers
out or go through the state funded COSTARS program.
Theyre (the containers) very expensive, she said.
Wall expects the city to have the containers by the fall.
The second part of the grant allots money to educate the public on
how to recycle, the details of which Wall said she has to get
creative with. She wasnt the city manager at the time
the grant application was submitted, so she isnt sure of the
wording of the grants educational requirements, she said.
We could put it on our yearly newsletter, Wall said with
Nanticoke Area graduates urged to live life
Dr. Ronald Grevera, the superintendent of Greater Nanticoke Area,
invoked the words of President John F. Kennedy on Wednesday in challenging
the Class of 2016 graduates to live a life of service.
He told them to look no further than the 65-year-old man on stage,
dressed in a blue cap and gown.
Dennis Horwath quit school early at age 17 to fight in the Vietnam
war and never returned to school. He later served 20 years in the
Pennsylvania Army National Guard. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he tried
to reenlist, but was told he was too old.
That's the epitome of service, Grevera said.
The superintendent read excerpts of JFK's 1961 inaugural address,
including the "ask not" portion where he challenged Americans
to serve the country.
"It's my hope you live your life in such a manner you practice
servant leadership," Grevera said.
Jennifer Lopez, salutatorian and class secretary, reminded the class
of all the memorable things they did together. That bond will always
be even as they grow apart and embark on different careers, she said.
"We are a close-knit family who will always be together in spirit,"
And, of course, graduates of the technology era have an easier time
keeping in touch than graduates in the past, Lopez said.
"Thank goodness for social media," she said.
Vietnam veteran will receive diploma today
at GNA commencement
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Dennis Horwath was dropped off at a Newport Township orphanage in
1950 when he was two months old. He was raised by strict Catholic
nuns he doesn't have the kindest words for. At age 17, the rebellious
orphan quit school to fight on the front lines of the Vietnam war.
Today, Horwath finally returns to school to get his diploma.
The 65-year-old has been invited to take part in Greater Nanticoke
Area High School's graduation ceremony. He's expected to sit center
stage next to the superintendent.
"It's a long time coming. I'm kind of getting a kick out of it.
I'm glad they're going to honor me," Horwath said Tuesday. "I
just keep thinking of the other guys that never had a chance to come
back and graduate. I thank God every day that I'm still here."
After the war, Horwarth served 20 years in the Pennsylvania Army National
Guard and worked for two decades in the kitchen of the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Plains Township.
During that time, Horwath never saw the need to get his high school
degree, figuring he learned enough from his life lessons.
"I'm no dummy," he said.
These days, in retirement, Horwath once again lives in the building
where he spent his youth.
The orphanage, known as St. Stanislaus Institute, closed in 1972,
but the building - on the National Register of Historic Places - was
renovated into apartments in recent years.
He ended up back at the old orphanage "by chance," he said.
A fire tore through his family's Wilkes-Barre apartment last June,
forcing them to find a new place to live. Horwath figured they'd start
over in the place where his difficult life began.
In October 1950, Horwath was placed in the orphanage after his mother,
suffering from postpartum depression, tried to harm him. He only met
his biological parents a handful of times.
Despite the strict upbringing by the nuns, Horwath said he always
found trouble and did poorly in school. At age 17, he was still a
When he had the chance to quit school for good, he took the opportunity.
He soon visited an Army recruiting office in Wilkes-Barre. Within
days, he left for boot camp.
Despite the ongoing war, his first deployment was supposed to be in
"I really didn't want to go there," he recalled. "They
asked for volunteers for service in Vietnam and I volunteered."
Horwath served in a front-lines infantry unit that saw constant combat.
He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I have nightmares about different things I'd rather not discuss.
I saw a lot of stuff and did a lot of stuff," Horwath said.
After returning home from Vietnam, Horwath performed various jobs,
including a stint as a nurse's aide at Wesley Village in Jenkins Township.
That's where he met his wife.
They've been married 34 years, and have one daughter and two grandchildren
who live with them.
Horwath served as a National Guardsman with the 109th Field Artillery
in Wilkes-Barre from 1976 to 1996. He worked at the VA hospital for
20 years before retiring in 2010.
Just recently, he heard about a program for veterans who never graduated
and got in touch with Greater Nanticoke Area's Superintendent Ronald
Grevera, who helped Horwath with the process.
"This is a big deal," Grevera said. "He has an amazing
Horwath said his graduation is a classic case of "better late
"It's going to be quite different, so I'm kind of looking forward
to it. I'm kind of nervous," Horwath said. "It's going to
be something to remember."
Greater Nanticoke Area conducts graduation
walk as a new tradition
One area school started a new tradition that the administration hopes
will inspire younger students to stay in school a graduation
Students, who were already in caps and gowns at the Greater Nanticoke
Area High School for graduation practice, took 20 minutes from their
day on Wednesday to walk the halls of three of the districts buildings.
They walked through the educational center (grades six and seven),
elementary center (grades three, four and five) and Kennedy Elementary
GNA Superintendent Dr. Ronald Grevera said the students didnt
walk in the K.M. Smith building because the building isnt part
of education center.
Grevera said board member Wendy Wiaterowski brought the idea to Greveras
attention after seeing the tradition on social media about a high
school in Texas.
Its a nice little tradition; great idea, Grevera
said. Its surprising that nobody really thought of it
Grevera hopes the walk will show the importance of education
to the younger kids.
Alexis Selli, 18, president of the senior class, agreed with Grevera.
Theyll see us and want to work to be like us, Selli
Matthew Schwenk, principal of Greater Nanticoke Area High School,
said he was at the end of the (senior) line and saw that
the younger kids were just as inspired as the older kids were.
It was a win-win Schwenk said noting that the younger
kids were motivated to stay in school and the older kids were recognized
by adults and former teachers. Schwenk called the atmosphere similar
to a pep rally.
I saw young kids clapping, hands outstretched for high-fives,
The kids faces light up, Selli remembered.
Selli was the first person in line while walking though the halls.
She said the seniors were so happy they received the approval
from the administration to do it.
Its not an option (to not continue), Selli said.
Selli called the graduation walk one of her fondest
memories of high school that shell take with her to the
University of Florida.
Nanticoke will graduate 141 graduates Wednesday with 58 students reporting
that they will be attending two-year schools and technical institutes
and 61 students reporting they will be attending four-year colleges
Nanticoke Farmers Market opens Saturday
Theres only one farmer at the Greater Nanticoke Area Community
Garden Farmers Market but several direct sales vendors, crafts and
community groups come out once a month to bring together the community
and small businesses around Patriot Square.
Rebecca Seman, organizer of the market now in its third year, said
J&A Farms brings produce and flowers each month.
He does well for our small market, Seman said.
It (the market) brings things to them that we dont have
here in town like a sense of community and getting together to communicate
outside of Internet and phones, Seman noted.
When the market idea started in 2014, it was held for just one day,
with around 20 vendors and 150 people throughout the day. Last year,
it was expanded to one day each month from June through September
with a fall festival in October. Seman noticed attendance grew throughout
the summer as the idea caught on.
(More people came) with each day we had it, she said.
The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day June 4, July
9, Aug. 6, Sept. 10 and Oct. 15.
Seman said the farmers market will feature theme days this year.
The August market will be childrens day. According to Seman,
Endless Mountain animals, entertainment by Mary, Kate and Christine
Nash, a magician and a childrens art exhibit and contest will
A decades day will be held in September with entertainment by Dave
and Elaine, a Scranton-based duo.
(Dave and Elaine) will be bringing us grooves from the 60s on
up, Seman said.
The market will turn into a fall festival in October when its hours
change from 1 to 5 p.m. and a pie and chili contest will be held.
Seman, who is also coordinator for the GNA Community Garden, says
the farmers market is overwhelming but positive
for the community.
For information on the market or to be a vendor, call Seman at 570-793-7910.
Work continues on South Valley Parkway
Construction is underway on a project state and local official say
will have a big impact on the southern end of the Wyoming Valley.
Crews from Kriger Construction of Dickson City are working on what
will become the South Valley Parkway, a two-lane road through Hanover
Township into Nanticoke.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation held a press conference
at a work site on Thursday to talk about the work.
Standing on land that will one day be part of the road, officials
from PennDOT, the state legislature and Luzerne County Community College
praised the $83.4 million project, saying it will bring benefits for
travel, safety and economic development.
The construction will create a two-lane road running from Middle Road
and Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke to South Main Road, east of state
route 29, in Hanover Township.
The new road will bypass the Askam section of Hanover Township, where
drivers use South Main Street and Middle Road to travel now.
It also adds six roundabouts, three replacing intersections on Middle
Road and three new roundabouts on or next to the planned parkway.
PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said roundabouts are safer than
traditional intersections with crossing roads because they reduce
fatal car crashes and speeding.
The project started in January of this year. PennDOT expects it will
finish by August 2020, said spokesman Mike Taluto.
The road and its roundabouts in Hanover Township will connect the
highway to about 2,000 acres of land for potential industrial development,
said state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township. Another 5,000
acres of land in Newport Township that is open for development and
connected by railroads could also benefit from the roadway, he said.
I think youre going to see an uptick in the entire footprint,
In a speech, he predicted the area could become a center for shipping
and commerce in the eastern United States with links to interstates
80 and 81, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and proximity to major urban
areas like Newark, New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia
all contributing to development.
You cant develop the land without infrastructure,
Mike Dziak, the president of Earth Conservancy, made his sales pitch,
mentioning the land for sale behind him. The organization donated
70 acres of land for the road, said Kriger Construction project manager
Luzerne County Community College President Thomas Leary said the new
road would make travel to the colleges campus easier. All of
the schools students commute, and many use South Main Street
and Middle Road. Residents there have complained about the amount
of traffic and speed of vehicles on the narrow street.
Complaints about speeding and safety put the project on the states
transportation improvement plan, an outline of planned upgrades to
transportation infrastructure, back in the 1990s. The plan stalled
until state government passed the transportation funding bill called
Act 89 of 2013, Yudichak said.
USDA will buy police vehicle for Nanticoke
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
The United States Department of Agriculture is buying a police vehicle
USDA Rural Development, which works to improve the economy and quality
of life in rural America, is providing a Rural Development Community
Facility Grant for $35,200.
Nanticoke is contributing $28,877 toward the vehicle.
The grant will purchase a new utility police interceptor vehicle,
equipped with an automatic license plate scanning system and two automatic
USDA Rural Development is proud to fund law enforcement vehicles
such as the one being purchased for the city of Nanticoke, said
Rural Development State Director Tom Williams in a press release.
Funding projects like this ensures that the law enforcement
of Nanticoke will continue to respond to emergency calls quickly and
Nanticoke City Council announces change in
real estate tax collectors
The city council unanimously agreed to release Luzerne County as
the citys tax collector during its meeting Wednesday.
Berkheimer will take over as the citys real estate tax collector,
effective Jan. 15, 2017. The $2.25 rate per bill and $1.25 reminder
mailings saves the city 25 cents per bill.
Nanticoke Finance Director Jennifer Polito said having Berkheimer
take over the real estate portion of the tax is good for residents
because the real estate tax and school tax will be on separate bills.
We asked them (Luzerne County) to split the bill, Polito
said. But county Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz said, All
School taxes, which will continue to be handled by the county, are
mailed in February while real estate taxes are mailed in March.
Polito said since Nanticokes real estate tax is higher than
the school tax and the splitting of the taxes is better for
us (the city) because of the savings to the residents and the
chance the pay both bills at rebate value.
City tax watchdog Hank Marks praised the citys decision to change
I think if we save money, its good, he said.
According to Polito, the city has a positive fund balance so waiting
a month to begin collecting taxes wont hurt.
In other business, the council:
approved a bid to Stell Enterprise Inc. as part of Phase
I of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank road improvement loan
the city took out in April.
Interim city manager Donna Wall said Stell will start paving roads
within the next few weeks.
read a proclamation from Mayor Richard Wiaterowski proclaiming
Saturday as the sixth Kids to Park Day where children
are encouraged to get out to a neighborhood, state or national
The next council meeting will be held 7 p.m. June 1 in council chambers,
15 E. Ridge St.
GNA board rejects Kennedy expansion bids
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board
voted Thursday to reject construction bids for the expansion of Kennedy
Elementary School because the cost of the bids exceeded the districts
$7.5 million budget for the project by $2.7 million.
School district officials hope new bids will not exceed the projects
The board on Thursday also rejected a motion to seek new bids without
the districts project labor agreement after hearing from two
About 30 trade union members attended the meeting to oppose the motion
rescinding the project labor agreement for the project. The districts
project labor agreement provides collective bargaining terms for building
project workers hired by district contractors and subcontractors and
includes a preference for Nanticoke Area residents to work on the
Tony Seiwell, a Nanticoke resident and official with Laborers
International Union of North America, said the cost of the bids should
go down when the district obtains new bids.
Warren Faust, president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Building and
Construction Trades Council, said the project engineer can help reduce
costs by adjusting bid specs on architectural-design and material
requirements. Faust also said the cost of labor was not the reason
the bids went over budget, noting labor typically is responsible for
about 20 percent of a building project.
Also at Thursdays meeting, the board approved a proposed budget
that would spend
$28 million and increase the property tax rate by 5.56 percent. The
board must adopt a final budget for 2016-17 before the next fiscal
year starts July 1.
Race in honor of fallen correctional officer
set for Saturday
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
The race for justice has changed, but the mission remains the same:
honor slain Correctional Officer Eric Williams and raise scholarship
money in his name.
This year's run will be a 5K, a change from last year's relay format.
The Eric J. Williams Memorial 5K Race kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m.
at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke.
Williams, 34, a Nanticoke native, was murdered by an inmate Feb. 25,
2013, while working at U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan in Wayne County.
The race's goal is to raise money in Williams' name, but also to raise
awareness of working conditions in prisons, Jeremy Dominick, the union
vice president at Canaan, wrote in a letter promoting the race.
"People frequently picture a prison as a place where, once arrested
and convicted, a criminal is tucked away in a cell for most of the
day, and is guarded by multiple, highly armed officers. Nothing could
be further from the truth," Dominick wrote. "Our prison
systems are highly overcrowded, usually alarmingly understaffed, (places)
where officers working alone and unarmed have to manage as many as
120 dangerous inmates in an open housing unit by themselves. With
the increased numbers of violent inmates, there has been an increase
in the number of officers injured, with some killed. This needs to
change, and soon."
May 11, 2016
LS Bowl-a-Rama in Nanticoke building to come
A former Nanticoke landmark is scheduled to be coming down within
The former L.S. Bowl-A-Rama on the corner of Washington and Prospect
streets, was bought in 2014 by Pasquale Scalleat at a free-and-clear
Luzerne County back-tax auction. The deed on the property shows Scalleat
bought the property under PS Capital Ventures Inc., of Hazleton.
Interim city manager Donna Wall said she met with Scalleat, Mayor
Richard Wiaterowski and zoning officer Joe Kordek. At the meeting
Scalleat promised to have the building down sometime this month.
To demolish the building, Department of Environmental Protection Community
Relations Coordinator Colleen Connolly said Scalleat or the demolition
contractor would have to file a 10-day notice of demolition in Harrisburg
and an asbestos abatement form with the Air Quality department at
the local DEP offices.
"To my knowledge, they haven't," Connolly said.
Recently, Scalleat finished demolition on Flemington, New Jersey,
Cut Glass building. Flemington Mayor Phil Greiner said the demolition
"From a town perspective, they (the owner and Scalleat) had no
issues," Greiner said.
Scalleat's Philadelphia-based business Paselo Logistics LLC, owns
the Huber Breaker property in Ashley. According to Wall, Scalleat
said during the meeting that he would demolish the building because
he needed fill for the clean up of his Huber Breaker property.
The Department of Environmental Protection recently found that property
to be out of compliance.
County records show that PS Capital Ventures owes $9,243.30 in back
taxes for the year 2015 on L.S. Bowl-a-Rama. The same records show
Paselo Logistics LLC is delinquent $47,140.30 in back taxes for 2014
and 2015 on the Huber Breaker property.
When called for comment Wednesday afternoon, neither Scalleat nor
his lawyer, Johnathon Comitz of Comitz Law Firm were available.
Nanticoke sewer project on hold
A sewer project a year-and-a-half in the making has been stalled because
of nearby fiber optic cables. The city's sewer plan was supposed to
begin in late April and has now been suspended.
The project was supposed to replace sewer lines in three blocks on
Main Street, between Walnut Street and the Burger King on Market Street,
as part of the city's streetscape plan.
The streetscape project is a federal earmark, which the city has had
for "years" but the sewer line update has pushed the project
back to phase I.
When the Geisinger building on Main Street came into the downtown
in 2014, it was hooked up to the sewer line, creating an issue with
the lines when its new lines connected to the old lines of the city.
According to Donna Wall, interm city manager for Nanticoke, when Verizon
came into the city to lay cables, it ran them on top of or in the
immediate proximity of existing sewer lines.
"We want to rebuild the downtown and we have old lines,"
Wall said. "We had to do something."
Last year, the city received a local share account grant of $500,000
to update its "over 100-year-old" sewer lines.
If the city has to move sewer lines and subsequently, storm drains,
Wall said, the "cost will go up." Wall hopes Verizon could
do a "soft dig" to find out exactly where the cables are
but cautioned a permit from the state may be needed for the construction.
Verizon spokesman John O'Malley said he would look into the issue.
Wall said Verizon was on Main Street May 6 redoing its street markings.
Earth Conservancy receives land reclamation
Earth Conservancy has received a $734,600 Growing Greener grant for
a project called Bliss Bank in Nanticoke.
The grant will allow the Earth Conservancy to continue a second phase
of restoring mine-scarred land on Prospect Street across from Luzerne
County Community College, said Michael Dziak, president and CEO of
the Earth Conservancy.
This will provide land for future development and save our green
area for conservation and open space, Dziak said.
The money will be used for Bliss Bank Phase II, a 54-acre reclamation
project that is part of a larger 200-acre tract known as Bliss Bank
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Rep. Gerald
Mullery, D-Newport Township, announced the grant Friday.
Creating economic opportunities while cleaning up the environment
is a great use of state resources, Yudichak said. The
Earth Conservancy has proven it has the ability to effectively manage
grant dollars to reclaim mine scarred land and make it available for
Mullery said the environmental benefits of the cleanup are important,
but it will also have an economic benefit.
The project will allow the property to be used for mixed use
development that could someday support economic initiatives,
Growing Greener grants are used for a variety of projects that include
helping communities address land use and provide new and upgraded
water and sewer systems.
Nanticoke agrees to take out $3M loan
The council unanimously voted to take out a $3 million loan through
the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank Wednesday night during a city
The loan will be used for street reconstruction and to help the city
become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according
to the meeting agenda. The city will make four payments a year over
a 10-year period on the loan, which carries .75 percent interest rate.
Also during the meeting, Hank Marks asked when the Nanticoke streetscape
project is expected to begin.
Interim City Manager Donna Wall said she has a meeting Thursday to
get a concrete date.
I expect the middle of next week, Wall said.
The project will begin with the sewers on Main Street.
Both Wall and Mayor Richard Wiaterowski stressed the detours for the
project wont be as intense as the detours for the Nanticoke
One we can control, one we cant, Wiaterowski said.
According to Wall, a portion Main Street will be closed 8 a.m. to
4 p.m. Monday through Friday but will remain open at night and during
In other business:
Council approved an application to be put in for a Department
of Community Natural Resources grant for approximately $500,000.
Council addressed the safety of the Ellis Building on Washington
Street, owned by Pasquale Scalleat, who also owns the Huber Breaker.
Scalleat told council that it should be torn down by the middle of
Dennis steps down as Nanticoke Area field
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice
The head coach of Nanticoke Area field hockey since 2008, Lori Dennis
recently submitted her letter of resignation to the schools
I just wanted to move on to do something different, Dennis,
who does not plan on coaching field hockey anywhere else, said Friday.
Having been a field hockey official for 10 years prior to coaching
Nanticoke Area, Dennis said she plans on going back to the refereeing
side of the game. She is also the junior high coach for Crestwood
Lori did a great job for us, said Nanticoke Area athletic
director Ken Bartuska. Were sorry to lose her, and we
certainly wish her well.
Several players have gone on to play collegiately in the Dennis era,
including Kati Nearhouse (Old Dominion/Syracuse) and Kayla Gronkowski
(Lock Haven). The Nanticoke Area Class of 2016 also boasts a few players
verbally committed to play, Krystal Daniele (Kings) and Amber
Grohowski (Wilkes), Dennis said.
Its not about my accomplishments, its about the
girls accomplishments, Dennis said. Its about
them learning the game and having fun. Im proud of the fact
that, despite wins and losses, we had a lot of girls that went on
to play in college. Im very proud of that.
Among the highlights this past season was an early-season win at Holy
Redeemer. Nanticoke Area finished the year 6-9, good for fourth place
of six teams in WVC Division 3.
Nanticoke baseball coach Dean Myers steps down
Nanticokes Dean Myers resigned as the Trojans baseball coach
on Friday morning, choosing to step down rather than extend a dispute.
Nobody forced me out, Myers said. I went out on
my terms and the kids can get the support they need from the administration
and the staff.
Myers said he had been upset over an issue at the teams new
field at the high school. There was confusion over whether it would
be playable for a game that was ultimately postponed at the end of
last weeks rainy spell.
With he and his staff leaving their day jobs early to get to the game
on time, Myers said he texted (his) displeasure that he
had been told the field was ready before the game was called off instead.
Myers said he spoke with district superintendent Ronald Grevera on
Friday and was asked to write a letter of apology for his reaction.
Myers said there was no assurance that he would be the coach for the
program in the long term and that he did not want to be a distraction
for the players.
If Im in the way of getting what they need, then its
best for me to go, Myers said. I love those kids. When
adults cant see eye-to-eye, it shouldnt affect the kids.
They shouldnt wonder who their coach is going to be.
Once it starts to affect the players, I just said, Forget
The rest of Myers staff, including long-time area coaches Joe
Yudichak and Kevin Ward, remained with the team, which played later
in the day at Northwest. Myers said he encouraged all of his assistants
to stay on.
The staff does a great job, Myers said. Really,
they did all of the work.
Yudichak has been with the program for several years and has also
been the head coach of the successful Nanticoke legion squad, which
won the Wyoming Valley title last summer and reached the state tournament.
Nanticoke improved in the five-plus years Myers and his coaches were
together, particularly after the program was reclassified as 2A and
began play in Division 3 of the Wyoming Valley Conference. The Trojans
went 25-13 in the last three seasons, finishing second in the division
the last two years.
Last spring, Nanticoke knocked off defending champion Lakeland in
the District 2 Class 2A tournament before bowing out in the semifinals
to eventual winner Montrose.
But the Trojans had opened the 2016 season 1-3 in league play, losing
three straight before Friday.
Nanticoke scored twice in the top of the first on Friday against Northwest
but gave up seven in the second and lost 7-2. The Trojans will get
another crack at the Rangers on Monday at home.
Myers resigns as Nanticoke baseball coach
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
Citing philosophical differences between himself and administration
within the Nanticoke Area School District, Trojans baseball coach
Dean Myers resigned Friday morning.
Joe Yudichak, an assistant coach with the team, was immiediately named
interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The teams
other assistants, Kevin Ward and John Ivan, also remained with the
Myers was in the middle of his sixth season with the Trojans, and
the team was off to a 1-3 start at the time Myers resigned.
Yudichak is also the manager for the Nanticoke American Legion baseball
team and has been with the program for 10 years, spending the last
five as an assistant coach under Myers.
Anybody that knows me understands that I am not about the wins
and losses, Myers said. It is about how the players conduct
themselves. I love to watch baseball. I love to see good plays, whether
they are from my team or the other one.
Yudichak led the Nanticoke legion team to a league and Region 5 championship
last summer. That earned the team a trip to the state tournament,
where it finished third.
I am familiar with the guys. The reason I stayed on through
this is because of the kids, Yudichak said. Just going
to try and keep the program going.
Nanticoke Area School District superintendent Dr. Ronald Grevera did
not return a message left Friday afternoon seeking comment.
Shredding event a hit with area residents
Carl Coates only expected the line to take 15 minutes to get through.
He was wrong. It took 45 minutes.
Coates, of Plymouth, was one of an expected 300 to 400 people
who lined up at Greater Nanticoke Area High School for a free shredding
event State Rep. Jerry Mullery, D-Nanticoke, and his office held Saturday
Its pretty popular, Mullery said of the event. People
lined up about 9:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. start.
He was at the front of the line helping dump papers into large bins.
Those bins were then shredded in a truck outside the high school.
Mullery has been sponsoring the shredding event for the past four
I hold two events each year, one in the spring and one in the
fall, Mullery said in an email to the Times Leader late last
Constituents of Mullerys braved the snow and mid-20 degree temperatures
for a chance to have their personal documents shredded.
To be here (under cover) is pretty good, Mullery joked.
Were usually in a parking lot.
Coates called the line a wind tunnel.
Mullerys staff gave individuals in line an option for those
who didnt want to wait to drop off the papers and go.
You cant cut the grass today, Coates said about
why he stayed in line.
When Coates joined the line there were roughly 50 people in front
of him. To get from one end of the line to Mullery, people were kicking
boxes full of papers or carrying garbage bags full. Some even had
large Tupperware containers. When Coates was finished, there were
roughly 50 people waiting for their turn.
The quickest part of the event for Coates was dumping his papers into
No problem, Coates said.
We, as a state, should be providing (this event) for residents,
People, though cold, wore smiles, which Mullery appreciated.
They dont mind waiting in line, Mullery said. They
all have good attitudes when they come to me.
Theres no use getting aggravated, Coates shrugged.
Some Luzerne County school districts hit
crisis mode with lack of funding due to state budget battle
Officials, parents from throughout area send message to legislators
HANOVER TWP. Luzerne County schools arent standing alone
against Gov. Tom Wolf in a budget battle that threatens their closure
because of a funding crunch.
Hanover Area Junior/Senior High Schools auditorium was standing
room only on Monday as representatives from several school districts
as well as government officials came together to address rumors of
school closings circulating throughout the schools as well as in social
Randy Tomasacci, representing the Northwest Area School District,
called the impasse trying times, but said the school will
make it to the end of June.
Tomasacci said Northwest took out a $2.8 million tax anticipation
note to get through the crisis but he noted the district
is not purchasing anything and delaying payments to vendors as a way
to crunch numbers to keep students in school.
We can tell Harrisburg we arent going to fight alone,
Tomasacci said to the crowd. We stand together with Hanover.
Those at the meeting blamed officials in the state capitol, namely
Wolf, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai and Majority Leader Dave L.
State Rep. Gerald J. Mullery, D-Newport Township, told those in attendance
that Turzai and Reed are the only two who can call a bill to a vote.
We need you to make your position known, State Rep. Eddie
Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said during the meeting.
If Wolf takes no action on the budget bill by March 27, it becomes
law, Mullery said.
After the meeting, senior Heather Evan asked Hanover Area Superintendent
Andrew Kuhl if seniors will be able to graduate on time because the
rumor around the halls of the San Souci Parkway building is that the
school can only sustain one more pay period or April 15.
The school is not closing, Kuhl responded to the senior.
We intend on the original graduation date.
Aside from Northwest and Hanover Area, Greater Nanticoke Area also
will be able to stay open through the end of the school year
GNA Superintendent Ronald Grevera told the plight of his district
55.5 percent of state revenue (about $6 million) has not come
in from the state.
We rely very heavily upon the commonwealth to give us our revenue,
Wilkes-Barre Area Superintendent Bernard S. Prevuznak said his schools
may close sometime in May because of the impasse.
Its not fair to the children we love so much, Preveuznak
Prevuznak said the impasse has made him direct the financial advisor
to prioritize bill paying.
Hanover Area Business Manager Thomas Cipriano Jr. said final payment
date of the six-month TAN the district took out has been pushed back
from late January to June 30.
The interest and fees on this borrowing translates to $167 a
school day, Cipriano said.
Another option school districts have had during the impasse was to
take deferments on payments. Hanover Area took a two-month deferment
on paying health care premiums totalling $580,000, thanks to the Northeast
Pennsylvania Health Trust. Greater Nanticoke Area also has taken advantage
of delaying payments to the trust.
It was a relatively quiet meeting until Pashinski told the audience
that Harrisburg saw the battle up to four and a half years ago.
Over that timeframe, if various changes changes had been made state
laws such as school subsidy distribution formulas and taxation of
Marcellus shale gas, it could have meant an additional $2 billion
to $3 billion dollars in the state treasury, Pashinski said.
Visibly upset, Wilkes-Barre Area parent Jeri Sue Pierce, a military
veteran who just moved to the area, called Pashinski, who was speaking
at the time, and others at the table disgraces.
I moved my entire family here not knowing what I was moving
my family into, Pierce said. A senior (her son)
may not graduate for something you guys have known for four years?
Hanover Area taxpayer Cindy Dinoski had a simple idea based on other
Make marijuana legal and tax it, Dinoski said.
Lauren Austra, of the Wyoming Valley West School District, pointed
out her Facebook group Luzerne County Unified Parents for Education
has over 1,000 signatures on an online petition imploring Wolf
to sign a budget.
We need a budget, and we need a budget now, Grevera implored.
Districts consider closing schools as money
Michael Buffer - Citizens Voice
Area school districts are preparing plans to address running out
of money and could close schools in May, weeks before most are scheduled
to close for the summer.
State funds due to school districts have not been released because
of the ongoing state budget impasse.
Last Thursday, the Greater Nanticoke and Hanover area school boards
voted to give administrators the authority to take action in response
to the states failure to adopt a budget for the fiscal year
that began last July.
The Wyoming Valley West School Board could vote today to give employees
60 days notice that schools will close. The Pittston Area School Board
is expected to address the budget crisis at tonights meeting.
Informational meetings for taxpayers and parents are scheduled to
take place in the Wyoming Valley West School District at 7 p.m. tonight
and in the Wyoming Area School District at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Tonights Wyoming Valley West meeting is at the middle school
in Kingston. The Hanover Area School District is hosting a meeting
for all stakeholders of district in Luzerne County in
its high school auditorium at 6:30 p.m. this Monday, Hanover Area
Superintendent Andrew Kuhl said in a letter posted on the districts
There is fear that school districts will not be able to continue
operations, the Wyoming Area School District said in a release
about Wednesdays meeting at the secondary center cafeteria.
The consequences grow serious as many are depleting savings,
making cuts and holding off on purchases and payments, or borrowing
to meet expenses.
In January, school districts received about six months worth of 2015-16
funding from the state after Gov. Tom Wolf unlocked emergency funding
to school districts with partial vetoes of a $30.3 billion budget
from the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Our goal is to provide uninterrupted, full service to the students
of Hanover Area School District. Unfortunately this may not be possible,
At the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board meeting on Monday, board member
Christine Katsock urged district residents to contact state legislators.
Apply the heat, ladies and gentlemen, because we are in dire
straits, Katsock said.
Wilkes-Barre Area Superintendent Bernard Prevuznak said he is meeting
with district teachers and employees on Wednesday to discuss the budget
Teachers may not get a paycheck, he said.
The district will run out of money in mid-May without state funding
and then will have to decide whether to close schools or borrow money,
This is an apocalyptic crisis, he said. We need
your help. We need to come together as a district.
Dallas Business Manager Grant Palfey said he has been getting a lot
of questions about whether the district will end the school year early,
like other local districts are considering.
Were not in that boat, thank goodness, he said.
Although Dallas can make it through the rest of the school year, Palfey
said the district has a $1.1 million budget deficit to deal with,
and committees are looking at ways to cut costs or otherwise get hold
of the money.
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District
will start paying bills from its reserve fund in the next few weeks,
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said.
With that stated, with no end to the impasse in sight, we will
need to cease operations at the end of May, Grevera said, adding
the district will need to give employees 60 days notice that the district
In a how-to memo on closing a school district for lack of funds, the
state Department of Education mentioned providing 60 days notice to
employees, Kuhl said.
The notice is a requirement in the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining
Notification Act (WARN Act), but it may not apply to a school district
that has run out of money, he said. The act is often associated with
mass layoffs from plant closings.
From Facebook to storefront: New Nanticoke
The song goes "it's a small world after all," and for businesswomen
Tammy Rynkiewicz and Tracy Fritz, Facebook was that small world.
Both Rynkiewicz and Fritz, Facebook businesswomen have joined together
to open TnT Subs and More, 235 W. Main St., Nanticoke. Rynkiewicz,
owner of Facebook-based Rynkiewicz Dips and Mixes, teamed up with
Fritz, owner of Facebook's Mrs. Fritz's Homemade, "just over
a year ago."
Both admit it was a chance meeting as they used Facebook to connect
for something other than food and they "connected."
According to the women, the "opportunity (to own a storefront)
just came up really fast."
"We already had our ServSafe certifications," Rynkiewicz
said. "We just had to clean up and have the code (officer) approve."
If the address sounds familiar, it's the old Geroch's Hoagies storefront.
They're keeping the original design and fixtures from Geroch's.
"(It's) got a corner-store charm," Fritz said.
They also recently completed a commercial kitchen spot, in Ashley,
and during the renovations on that building, the Nanticoke storefront
"We had expressed interest (on the storefront)," Rynkiewicz
Rynkiewicz and Fritz won't stop their separate businesses, but having
a storefront will allow them to "not to have to meet at a parking
lot" to service their customers. They will serve, in addition
to Rynkiewicz's dry mixes and Fritz's homemade goods, take out hoagies,
box lunches and other foods. Fritz said they went to a bakery in Old
Forge for the breads and have "several different suppliers"
when it comes to their deli meats.
Both women also want to get involved with their communities, translating
Facebook fundraising efforts - Rynkiewicz sells dip mixes for $5 and
the selling organization profit is $2.50 - to the new store in the
It will be a family affair for the duo, their husbands "don't
want to get involved (washing dishes)" but their children are
more than willing to help.
"She (Rynkiewicz's daughter) has a job for everyone," Rynkiewicz
said. "My brother is our delivery man."
During the lunch rush, they will deliver to businesses around the
The name TnT comes from a combination of their first names.
"I can call it Tammy and Tracey," Rynkiewicz said. "Tracy
can call it Tracy and Tammy."
Fritz said both women will still continue to be "out there"
at fairs, farmers markets and other community events.
"But one of us will be here (during store hours)," Fritz
They will be open six days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through
Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Nanticoke, Pittston to receive development
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Nearly $550,000 in state development funds is coming to two Luzerne
The state Department of Community and Economic Development is distributing
funding through its Community Development Block Grant program. The
cities of Nanticoke and Pittston are recipients.
DCED Secretary Dennis Davin announced the grants Monday.
Nanticoke will receive $274,500 for ramp installation and accessibility
modifications to increase accessibility citywide.
Pittston will receive $274,500 for several projects including building
an elevator at the firehouse on Kennedy Street, rehabilitation of
Jefferson Park, rehabilitation of homes and supporting the St. Marys
Housing project to convert a former school to senior housing.
Nanticoke native named among top influential
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Dr. Stanley Dudrick, the Nanticoke native known as the father
of intravenous feeding, was recently named one of the 50 most
influential physicians in world history by a respected online resource
dedicated to the medical field.
Dudrick, a pioneer of medicine who invented intravenous feeding of
patients, ranks 42nd of all time, according to the website Medscape.com,
which is owned by the better-known WebMD.com.
After a successful career changing the world of medicine, Dudrick
returned to the area in 2012 to take over Misericordias start-up
physicians assistant program. He also became professor of surgery
at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.
Dudrick was out of town last week and wasnt immediately available
for an interview to talk about the honor, a school spokesman said.
The doctor has spoken about his illustrious career in previous interviews
with The Citizens Voice.
After his 1953 graduation from Nanticoke High School, Dudrick planned
to become a doctor and come home to practice. He received his bachelors
degree in biology from Franklin & Marshall College and obtained
his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
After his residency training, he joined the faculty at Penn and ascended
from instructor to professor of surgery in five years.
Dudrick wanted to return to the area, but he was doing stuff
that hadnt advanced out of the universities yet, he said
in a previous interview. Dudrick noted his speciality heart
surgery wasnt even practiced in the Wyoming Valley at
In 1972, Dudrick was recruited to be the first professor and founding
chair of the Department of Surgery at the then new University of Texas
Medical School. He later served as chairman of the Department of Surgery
at Pennsylvania Hospital, the nations oldest hospital, founded
in Philadelphia in 1751 by Ben Franklin.
Dudrick then went to work at Yale University in 1994. Dudrick was
professor of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine and chairman
emeritus of its Department of Surgery immediately prior to returning
to the Wyoming Valley.
Nanticoke adopts Luzerne County 2014s
Hazard Mitigation Plan Update
The city council voted to adopt the Luzerne Countys 2014 Hazard
Mitigation Plan update at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
The plan allows municipalities to receive federal funds in the event
of a natural disaster. The plan is mandated and required by the county
and interim City Manager Donna Wall said she and another employee
found the letter advising of the county update dated from last year
while transitioning to a new office.
According to Wall, letting the protocol lapse a year wont affect
current or future coverage for the city.
During the work session, held before the council meeting, the council
agreed to having bike racks put in Patriot Square. The racks will
be built as an Eagle Scout project by Justin Skoniecki from Troop
Skoniecki projects to have the racks built and installed by late spring.
The next meeting will be 7 p.m. March 16 in council chambers at City
Hall, 15 E. Ridge St., Nanticoke.
Yudichak: South Valley Parkway project is
part of larger development picture
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
Work on the South Valley Parkway and beyond is expected to drive
bigger development plans in the region.
Current work on the South Valley Parkway from Hanover Township into
Nanticoke, and plans for the expressway to someday reach into land-rich
Newport Township, are just part of a larger development picture according
to state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township.
This project is going to be critical to economic development
in the South Valley, said Yudichak.
Yudichak said approximately 5,000 acres exist in the South Valley.
Earth Conservancy and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce
own more than 1,000 acres. Additional land is privately owned. Many
areas are now state forest or Game Commission lands set aside as green
Yudichak said Earth Conservancy and the chamber have long-term development
plans. Some of this development will hinge on extension of the South
Valley Parkway from Prospect Street in Nanticoke south into Newport
The tie-in of this land to the interstate highway system via
the parkway is crucial, Yudichak said.
He said he foresees extensive residential, recreational, commercial
and industrial development in the next decade. More green spaces also
will be created to enhance the quality of life in the region, he said.
Expanded railroad service also is likely, Yudichak said.
The Canadian Pacific Railway runs north-south along the Susquehanna
River in Nanticoke, and Hanover and Newport townships. It has a siding
in the old Honey Pot rail yards as a tie-in to Whitney Pointe Industrial
Park. Yudichak said extension of a rail line into the area would allow
service to industries locating there.
Yudichak said his vision is a completed parkway opening up the South
Valley and utilizing the existing highway-bridge infrastructure created
in the last half of the 20th century.
The two-lane parkway will cost $84 million. Work began in January
and its various stages could extend construction until 2020.
Bill named after Nanticoke prison officer
sent to Obama for approval
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
A bill named after slain correctional officer Eric Williams to arm
federal prison workers with pepper spray has been sent to President
Barack Obama for approval.
The U.S. House on Wednesday approved the Eric Williams Correctional
Officers Protection Act by a voice vote. The U.S. Senate had
passed the measure by unanimous consent in December.
The bill 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, 34, of Nanticoke, was working alone in a unit housing with
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.
Pennsylvanias senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat
Toomey, worked with Williams family to introduce the legislation.
Every day, Americas law enforcement officers place their
own lives at risk to defend the rest of us. For this, they deserve
our gratitude and our support. Today, Congress acted to ensure that
our correctional officers have a basic tool to defend themselvesnon-lethal
pepper spray, Toomey said. This bipartisan effort was
made possible by the tireless efforts of Eric Williams parents,
Don and Jean Williams, who turned their family tragedy into a national
effort to protect other officers.
We have an obligation to keep safe the men and women who serve
in our correctional facilities, Casey said. The tragic
murder of Eric Williams illustrates the risks they take every day
just by going to work. Its a service to the memory of C.O. Williams
and a tribute to the dedicated advocacy of his family that the House
acted today to ensure that staff in the most dangerous prisons will
now have access to a non-lethal means of self-protection.
Three days after the Williams slaying, the federal Bureau of Prisons
expanded a pilot program to include all 17 of the nations penitentiaries,
which are the highest security level prisons in the federal system,
like USP Canaan.
After Williams murder, the bureau continually expanded the program
to include all staff exposed to inmates in all high and medium security
prisons, or 65 total facilities.
The bill passed Wednesday will become law if signed by Obama.
Hobby shop fire ruled accidental
Jacob Seibel - Citizens Voice
A fire that caused significant damage to a hobby shop that caters
to model train and slot car enthusiasts was ruled accidental, according
to fire officials.
The fire started around 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 32 S. Market St., a
three-story building with the hobby shop on the first floor.
A state police fire marshal determined the fire was likely electrical,
but could not pinpoint the exact location where it started, according
to Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton. Nothing about the cause seems
suspicious, he said.
Firefighters encountered heavy flames when they arrived, and it took
about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control, Hazleton said. He
credited firefighters from Nanticoke, Hanover Township and Kingston
with doing a great job to contain the fire. No one was hurt.
There was no one in the building when the fire started and no one
lives there, according to Clem Ojevich, owner of the hobby store.
The shop contained model trains, slot cars, train and car tracks and
a workshop, according to Ojevich.
Ojevich, 74, said his family has run businesses in Nanticoke since
Road closures for the South Valley Parkway
in Nanticoke and Hanover Township to begin in April
With the new construction for the South Valley Parkway and the six
roundabouts in the Nanticoke/Hanover Township area, road closures
and detours are to be expected.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)s traffic
impact summary from Jan. 29 shows Dundee Road, which links South Main
Street to the Sans Souci Parkway, will be closed from May 2016 to
May 2019, accounting for the longest of the closures anticipated by
According to Chris Tomaszewski, assistant liaison engineer for PennDOT
and the South Valley Parkway project manager, the road will be
used as a haul road a road used to carry trucks to build
the new roadway.
This is in the heart of the project, said Sam Guesto,
Hanover Township manager. The effect to our citizens that use
the road for travel may be moderate.
Guesto said the notice was anticipated and the township was notified
of the closing early last week.
Tomaszewski said drivers could use state Route 29 during the closure
of the road. A detour using the Sans Souci Parkway where drivers can
take Ashley Street to Main Street/Middle Road is in place. Using the
Sans Souci Parkway, drivers can take Ashley Street to Main Street/Middle
The detour will be about five miles (if you drive the detour
from start to finish). Tomazewski noted.
Guesto was assured PennDOT will reconstruct the closed portion of
the road when the project is complete.
The summary states of other closures is:
Espy Street, closed from April to August 2016
Prospect Street, closed from March to October 2017
Middle Road, west of Koscuizsko Street, closed September 2017
to August 2019
Koscuizsko Street, closed from March to June 2019
Middle Road, at exit 2 over state Route 29, closed August
to October 2019
Each of the aforementioned closures has its own separate detour.
Nanticokes Interim City Manager Donna Wall said, It will
definitely be a big inconvenience for the people living in the Hanover
section of Nanticoke and for people traveling to that section of town.
The dates are not set in stone and weather can be a factor in delays.
The contractor will do their best to meet those start dates,
Tomazewski explained, There are items in the contract that once
an intersection is closed, the contractor only has a certain amount
of days to reopen or be assessed liquidated damages, which is
payment for breech of contract.
The Benco Dental Clinic in Nanticoke helps
those insured or uninsured obtain dental exams from Luzerne County
Community College students
No insurance? No problem.
February is Childrens Dental Health Month and, regardless of
insurance status, young and old can benefit from a dental clinic in
the city. The Benco Dental Health Clinic makes it easier and cheaper
to obtain services, including x-rays, sealant, oral cancer exams and
other preventive procedures. Services are performed by dental students
from Luzerne County Community College.
The clinic charges $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens 62 and
over and $5 for children under 18 but it does take up
to three hours for an appointment.
The drawback is the time, said Julie Cleary, professor
of dental health programs at LCCC. First-year students, Cleary admitted,
could take longer than normal but, for second-year students, the time
for an appointment is just about two hours.
It depends on the amount of work being done, Cleary said.
The 24-chair clinic, first opened in 2011, is located on the first
floor of the Francis S. and Mary Gill Carrozza Health Science Center,
42 E. Main St. Cleary said the new clinic is more up-to-date
than the former clinic which only housed 16 chairs.
We can accept (a combined first and second year total of) 36
students, Cleary said.
The clinic requires the dental hygiene students to pass their boards
and boasts a 99 percent passing rate in the first exam.
First-year student Caitlin McDermott knew I wanted to do it
(become a dental hygienist) and is grateful to have the opportunity
close to home.
Im from here, McDermott said. I want to stay
Those who attend the clinic are asked to realize its a
learning environment and that includes stacks of paperwork and
an evaluation of procedures done by a licensed dentist and dental
Though the students perform digital x-rays and can email files to
the patients dentist, by doing a panoramic full mouth x-ray,
students learn old and new techniques. The clinic has
a darkroom to teach students about traditional x-rays.
Unlike dentists, Cleary said the clinic doesnt do restorative
work like fixing cavities or root canals; it only offers preventive
As a requirement to pass their clinics, students need patients to
sign up and go through the full exam.
Take advantage (of the clinic), McDermott said.
Patients of all ages, as well as patients with or without teeth, can
have a complete exam with students and instructors.
Second-year students are in clinic 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, 8:30 a.m. to
12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Fridays; first-year
students are in clinic starting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
and starting at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays. Make an appointment by calling
Greater Nanticoke Area approves moving fifth-grade
Fifth-grade students in the Greater Nanticoke School District will
go to the education center with the sixth- and seventh-graders in
the next school year, but they will remain on an elementary-school
schedule and take buses with other elementary-school students, Superintendent
Ronald Grevera said at Thursdays school board meeting.
The change is the result of the plan to close Kennedy Elementary School
next year and begin a $9 million expansion. Second-grade students
will join the third- and fourth-graders at the elementary center next
After the expansion at Kennedy is done, the district plans to close
K.M. Smith Elementary School, which currently is for kindergarten,
pre-K and the first grade.
Also at Thursdays meeting, the school board approved a new four-year
agreement with the union for support staff. Those employees will get
a pay increase of 60 cents an hour in July and then get 50-cent pay
increases for the subsequent three years.
The union represents roughly 115 school district employees who work
as secretaries, cafeteria workers, cleaners, aides, crossing guards,
maintenance workers and custodians. The agreement will increase costs
by a total of $300,000 over four years, Grevera said.
The board also approved a resolution to increase interest fees and
penalties for property owners with delinquent taxes. Delinquent taxpayers
owes $1.5 million to the district, solicitor Vito DeLuca said.
Work begins on South Valley Parkway
From his home on South Main Street, Daniel Dennis can hear the scrapes.
A few times a week, cars driving down the road nip the curb a few
feet from his home.
Last year, one hit the wall outside his house.
Its too narrow for the amount of traffic going down this
road. Plus the speed they fly, he said.
Dennis neighbors Gary and Janelle Sirak remember another incident
years ago when a car went off the road, clipped their porch and hit
the home Dennis now inhabits.
They are all looking forward to completion of a Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation project that will create a new road bypassing the
street where they live.
Work has begun on that project, the South Valley Parkway, and PennDOT
expects it to finish by August 2020. Kriger Construction of Dickson
City is completing the work.
If the Siraks need to stop in front of their home, people in other
cars honk their horns. To continue forward, they need to swerve to
the other lane. When Luzerne County Community College lets out, crossing
the street is very difficult, Gary Sirak said.
The new road, is a good idea, he said.
The parkway will create a two-lane road between Hanover Township and
Nanticoke, bypassing the residential Askam section of Hanover Township.
The roadway will run from Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke
to South Main Road, just east of State Route 29, in Hanover Township.
It will include six roundabouts.
Complaints about speeding and safety put the project on the states
transportation improvement plan, an outline of planned upgrades to
transportation infrastructure, said Chris Tomaszewski, the project
manager. That was back in the 1990s, the beginning of a process with
studies, changes to the project and public meetings, he said.
The changes will put three roundabouts on Middle Road and three on
the new parkway. The new kind of intersections should improve safety,
allow more vehicles to travel through the intersection at a time,
slow down speeds and reduce crashes, Tomaszewski said.
When PennDOTs looking at intersections, thats one
of the first things we look at, he said. All around, its
a safer intersection type.
Three of those roundabouts will be at already existing intersections
at Espy Street and Middle Road, Prospect Street and Middle Road, and
Kosciuszko Street and Middle Road. PennDOT will complete one of those
each year to mitigate detours and traffic disruptions. The roundabouts
will have crosswalks and islands for pedestrians crossing the street.
The new road will also open more land for development, said Hanover
Township Manager Sam Guesto, possibly bringing in more businesses
and more residents to the township.
Although there are always some bumps in any type of project,
so we want to be mindful, he said, mentioning concerns about
the roundabouts and wanting to make sure all the stormwater and sewer
infrastructure would be replaced if moved.|
Lane closures have begun for the project. Last week, PennDOT closed
a single lane in both directions on state route 29 between exits 2
and 3. Those lane closures are scheduled to last for the next year.
The Greater Nanticoke Area Family Center enrolling
The Greater Nanticoke Area Family Center is enrolling pre-kindergarten
children and their parents for My School, My Community 2016, a family-community
engagement and school readiness program. The first in a series of
MSMC nights will be Monday at the K. M. Smith Elementary School. Parents
are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible. Each child receives
a personalized passport for fun and important activities and places
for pre-kindergartners and parents to enjoy. Visit the website at
gnasd.com, email the center at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call
570-735-0935. Information needed is childs name and date of
birth, parent name(s), home address and a cell phone number.
Greater Nanticoke Area School District Now Has A Mobile App
Anyone with a web-enabled smartphone or mobile device can access the
HTML5 version of the mobile app by entering
on your smartphone, adroid pad, iphone pad or computer.
When you see the link, save it to the homepage on any of your devices.
Please be advised that the adobe pdf reader is needs to be
installed on your devices in order to read some of the pdf documents.
Light agenda, heavy public comment at Nanticoke
City Council meeting
An otherwise light agenda, issues of the roundabouts on Middle Road
and taxes were at the center of the city council meeting Wednesday
After John Telencho asked about how the roundabouts project on Middle
Road will impact traffic, Mayor Richard Wiaterowski stood at the podium
to relay information he had found.
Wiaterowski said Kriger Construction Inc., of Dickson City, was awarded
the construction bid in October and hes sure that they
will have people monitoring the traffic situation.
Wiaterowski noted Earth Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation started planning the project in 1996 20 years
ago. The project was designed for development of mine land that Earth
Conservancy had reclaimed.
As for the three roundabouts Nanticoke is getting Middle Road
and Prospect Street, Middle Road and Espy Street, Middle Road and
Kosciuszko Street the mayor said, Dont believe
in all three.
Its really out of our hands, Wiaterowski said.
Property tax increases were once again a topic brought up by Hank
Marks, president of the Nanticoke Area Taxpayers Association. Marks
asked the council why Plymouth Township was able to apply for leaving
Act 47 financial distressed status without having to
raise taxes while Nanticoke has raised taxes twice in three years.
People cant afford it, Marks said about the 21.
5 percent tax increase in the 2016 budget. Isnt there
enough empty houses?
Council President William Brown reminded Marks that .53 mills of the
1.3 mill a mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed
value increase is going toward a loan to help with street work.
In other news, the council:
tabled the passage of minutes from the Jan. 20 meeting due
to an error by the city clerk.
passed bills for $482,875.72.
The next meeting will be Feb. 17 in the council chambers at Nanticoke
City Hall, 15 E. Ridge St.
Crews in Nanticoke are clearing trees, preparing
to construct six new roundabouts in and around Nanticoke. That number
may seem daunting to drivers who have never driven through any roundabouts.
The Cocoa Hut, a gas station at Middle Road and Espy Street in Nanticoke,
sits just next to where one of the roundabouts will be built. Gas
station workers fear construction could impact business.
The business is definitely going to be impacted for a while
with the construction, said Bob Wren, a manager there.
Not too far away, at Middle Road and Kosciusko Street, where another
roundabout will be built, the owner of a building there is having
problems finding a tenant. He blames the upcoming construction.
But not all businesses will be impacted.
Many students get to Luzerne County Community College by driving on
Middle Road -- and it can get backed up quickly. But with the new
roundabouts that are supposed to be installed, they hope that it improves
traffic and cuts down on their commute times.
I think it's a good idea! It'll really help speed up the traffic
and I think people will adjust to it after time, said Curtis
Bates, a student at LCCC.
Eventually there will be an exit that will connect the highway
right to the campus. It's going to help thousands of students. It's
going to get them in and get them out faster, added Thomas Leary,
Work is expected to be completed for the first roundabout by the end
of the year and work on all six roundabouts should completed by 2020.
Details of Nanticoke managers agreement
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
Details of the separation agreement between Nanticoke and City Manager
Andy Gegaris were released this week.
Gegaris was placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 4. It was
announced at the Jan. 20 city council meeting that Gegaris and the
city had reached an agreement for his voluntary departure from the
job he had held since May 2014.
The agreement specifies that Gegaris will be paid through Feb. 5,
which will be his official last day. The city will not contest his
claim for unemployment benefits, should he choose to apply for them.
It also specifies that Gegaris waives any and all claims or
causes of action related to his employment or separation. Further,
it states Gegaris, waives any right to any monetary or economic
recovery or equitable relief against the city in any administrative
proceeding or in any action, lawsuit or other proceeding.
Also, city officials will provide Gegaris with a positive recommendation
letter and a positive employment recommendation to prospective
employers, the agreement states.
|Nanticoke city council named Donna Wall, the citys human resources
director, as acting city manager until a full-time manager is hired.
Nanticoke settlement agreement with manager
Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski planned to try to have Andy Gegaris
fired if he didnt agree to leave the city manager position on
his own, according to a newly released settlement agreement recently
approved by the city council.
Gegaris decided to resign, but he and the city entered into the settlement
agreement to amicably resolve any and all existing and/or potential
disputes associated with his employment and separation, it said.
Under the agreement, Gegaris, who was hired as city manager in May
2014, will remain on paid administrative leave until Feb. 4. He has
been on leave since Jan. 6.
City officials have publicly indicated the position paid $65,000,
but it was budgeted at $62,000 in 2016, city records show.
The agreement also says:
Gegaris must be reimbursed for all accrued but unused vacation
and personal time.
The city wont contest unemployment compensation benefits
sought by Gegaris.
Gegaris waives any right to sue over his city employment and
The city will provide Gegaris with a positive recommendation
letter and provide a positive employment recommendation to any prospective
employers inquiring about his city employment.
Under the citys home rule charter, the mayor cant simply
fire the manager.
The charter says the mayor must recommend termination to the council
and submit the reasons for the proposed dismissal.
The manager has the opportunity to publicly address the council about
the proposed termination and respond to issues raised by the mayor,
the charter says.
A supermajority council vote four out of five
is required to terminate the manager under the charter.
The mayor selects the manager, but his appointee is subject to council
confirmation, the charter says. If the council fails to act on a nominee
within 30 days, the mayors nominee is automatically hired, the
The manager must be a full-time employee and report directly to the
City officials said human resources director Donna Wall has been appointed
as acting city manager for six months.
Former Luzerne County controller Walter Griffith, who owns an auto
repair business in the city, requested and released a copy of the
settlement agreement Friday and said hes frustrated officials
have not provided specifics on the reason for the personnel change.
There are still unanswered questions, but they wont answer
them, saying it is a confidential personnel matter, Griffith
said. None of this is transparent to the people of Nanticoke,
and I just dont think thats fair.
Griffith said he will continue monitoring city matters, largely because
the city had the highest overall real estate tax millage increase
among the countys 76 municipalities this year.
The citys millage went from 4.8885 to 5.9258. A mill is $1 tax
for every $1,000 in assessed property. That means the municipal tax
bill on a $100,000 property in Nanticoke will rise from $488.85 to
$592.58 this year a $104 increase, or 21 percent.
That was a heck of a high tax increase in a community thats
mostly senior citizens on fixed incomes, Griffith said.
Letter to the Editor
I am asking for help in locating a young girl, maybe 7 to 10, who
was with her family on Dec. 19 around 8 p.m. at the Redbox by CVS
in Nanticoke. She was with two young boys, a woman, and two men.
About nine hours prior to me going to Redbox to return a movie, I
helped my beloved best friend of 17 years and eight months, my loving
cat, Isabelle, cross over the Rainbow Bridge. I will spare you the
details of my overwhelming grief which is so profound I fear that
I may never find acceptance.
At 8 p.m., I was at Redbox with my hood up to hide a swollen face
and never-ending tears. The family I am looking for was looking at
the movies on the wall and the young girl came over to the Redbox
and it appeared as if she was looking to see what movie I was going
to take, with a look that said, Oh, I hope she is not taking
the one I want.
Odd you might think, but I have been a mom for nearly 40 years, so
I have seen my share of communication without words.
Having no desire to even make eye contact with a person, I simply
could not bear to have this child wonder if she was about
to miss picking a movie that they walked all the way to the Redbox
So, I looked her in the eyes, and with the weakest of smiles, I told
her I was returning, not picking a movie.
She saw my tears at that moment, and I saw sympathy from this little
I rushed to my car, but remembered being told by a sweet person years
ago that when you are beyond sad, do what you can to put a smile on
the face of another.
I returned to where this family was standing and handed the children
a few dollars. And finally, this is where I get to the point of my
story. The children said thank you and I returned to my car, putting
my head on the steering wheel and the tears began again.
I looked up while starting my car and there was this young girl, standing
away from her family; looking straight at me. Our eyes locked. She
was dressed in a skirt with tights, glasses and gloves on her little
hands. She picked up her hand, which was next to her head and she
began to wave slowly. Ever so slowly.
|I was able to see the gentle kindness and the concern she has for
others in we wave. In that moment, her gentleness surrounded my grief
and for a split second, I felt peace.
And I thought, truly, that of all of the gifts I could have received
on this night, the sweetness of this child was the perfect gift. As
I drove away, I felt that there is hope for the future of our young
people; a concern that is with me every day.
As long as I live, this memory will have a life in my heart. That
night a young girl gave me a gift of peace.
So, please ask anyone you know; be it your family, your neighbors,
anyone, please. I am desperate to find this young girl and pay it
forward in some way. She must know how she made a difference by her
gesture on that night without hope. Please help.
If this family reads this, please contact me at 570-735-2774. Again,
anyone with a young child, niece, or friend, I would appreciate any
Greater Nanticoke Area officials look to
switch vo-tech membership
By Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
Still reeling from the loss of a seat on the Wilkes-Barre Area Career
and Technical Centers Joint Operating Committee, the Greater
Nanticoke Area School District is looking at possibly sending students
to another vo-tech school.
The district is looking at the feasibility of sending students to
the West Side Career and Technology Center in Pringle, instead of
the Wilkes-Barre Area career center in Plains Township.
School board member Tony Prushinski suggested making the change at
last weeks school board meeting.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the district is only in the
preliminary stages of looking at the feasibility of withdrawing
from the Wilkes-Barre Area career center.
The career center provides education that focuses on technology and
skilled trades and is governed by a joint-operating committee with
11 representatives from five area school boards.
Last month, Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough ruled the Crestwood
School District is entitled to an additional seat on Wilkes-Barres
governing board. As a result, Greater Nanticoke Area lost a seat and
now only has one seat on the board.
Crestwood officials argued they should have two representatives due
to population changes recorded in the 2010 U.S. Census.
Five of 11 seats on the board are held by the Wilkes-Barre Area School
District, two are held by the Pittston Area, and Hanover Area has
The Northwest Area, Lake-Lehman, Dallas, Wyoming Valley West and Wyoming
Area school districts are member districts of the West Side career
center. Three representatives from the five school boards serve on
that schools joint-operating committee.
Greater Nanticoke Area sends 80 students to the Wilkes-Barre Area
career center, which has a half day program for students, Grevera
said. A benefit to sending students to the West Side school is they
would remain at West Side for the entire day avoiding the extra
travel, Grevera said.
Greater Nanticoke can withdraw from Wilkes-Barre Area career center
at the end of a school year if financial obligations are paid in full
and if written notice of an intention to withdraw is provided a year
in advance, Grevera said.
Nanticoke area twin sisters Brianne and Brittany
Dougherty make childhood care center prosper
Twins Brianne and Brittany Dougherty did almost everything together
while growing up. That hasnt changed in 27 years.
The Nanticoke natives recently took over ownership of Magic World
Child Care Center, 14 W. Kirmar Parkway, a business they had managed
for the past five years.
Ironically, the twins changed their college majors to elementary and
special education around the same time, within their second semester
of college. Brianne went to Bloomsburg University and Brittany went
to Wilkes University.
I cant recall who was first (changing their major),
After graduation, the girls took jobs substituting within the Greater
Nanticoke Area School District. Brittany was looking for a summer
job and heard about the day care opening through a fellow teacher.
She started working there as a director in 2011. Within a few weeks,
she was looking for a partner enter Brianne.
If youve ever done a good job at something and said I
wish I could clone myself, Brianne said, talking about
what its like to work with her sister.
Over the years, the two have grown the business from two to four rooms
and have gradually accumulated 4,000 square feet of property
inside and out. Theyve been lucky with their landlord, who didnt
hesitate to turn one apartment into a room, as their business
When Brittany first started, the center had a total of eight children.
Now, their clientele totals 48 children from 6 months old up to the
first day of sixth grade, during school months. During the summer
months, they are filled to capacity at 57.
The twins held the titles of director/teacher until June
2015 when they were financially stable enough to purchase the business,
adding owner to their resumes.
Families from Newport Township and Nanticoke as well as from as far
away as Benton 24 miles have their children enrolled
with Magic World.
Its amazing the progress you see in children, Brianne
said of a child who has been with them since day one and is now going
to graduate from the program.
They attribute their success to being family-run and family-oriented.
Love is in the walls, Brianne said.
Inside the business
Magic World has a staff of nine people, including the twins, all of
whom are credentialed to work in a daycare. Two staff members have
bachelors degrees in education and three more are going to school
for elementary education. The state does regular yearly checkups at
Brittany recalled the state coming in the day before the opening.
We had to pass, she said. We told people wed
have care for the kids.
During state inspections, credentials and paperwork are checked.
When you run the businesses the right way, its like second
nature, Brianne said.
The twins are currently redoing their preschool curriculum to fall
in line with the Keystone Stars a Pennsylvania Office of Child
Development and Early Learning program that improves, supports and
recognizes improvement efforts of early learning programs. They are
also looking into a new state toddlers curriculum that starts at age
Students in their preschool programs range from 3 to 5 years of age,
split into two groups: 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool with 4- and
5-year-olds in pre-kindergarten.
Shying away from challenges doesnt scare the duo as they take
the children, age 3 and up, on field trips, the most recent to see
Disney on Ice at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
In the wintertime, they have Scranton-based TUMBLEBUS a full-sized
school bus transformed into a gymnasium visit the center.
Nanticoke Special Care Hospital is back on
the commerical real estate market
The former Nanticoke State Hospital is still off the tax rolls and
is back up for sale.
In November 2015, the former Nanticoke Special Care Hospital at 128
W. Washington St. was sold at auction for $100,000. The anonymous
bidder agreed to 10 percent down and the closing of the sale recorded
within 45 days in this case, Dec. 24, 2015.
Now, an online listing for the property lists a sale price more than
four times its November price tag. A for sale sign on the property
lists the broker as Mericle Commercial Real Estate Vice President
of Brokerage Albert Guari.
The Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds office confirmed Wednesday that
the county still had the property deed and assessment in the name
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under care of the Department of General
Services. Having the deed still in the name of the Commonwealth as
a hospital keeps the property from being on Nanticokes tax rolls.
We are not the owner, said Troy Thompson, press secretary
for the Department of General Services.
The building was taken over by the state in 1911 after operating on
donated land by Susquehanna Coal Co. for two years. In 1990, the building
was divested by the state to Mercy Health Partners, who paid $1 for
a 20-year lease. Community Health Systems subsequently bought the
building in 2011, when a new two-year lease was drawn up for $2,000
per month, with a $500,000 option to buy.
Post Acute Medical, of Camp Hill, bought the facility before moving
within the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. A clause in the property
deed required that ownership be given back to Susquehanna Coal Co.s
successor, Newport Aggregates, once hospital functions on the property
Thompson said the state has no claim to the property, as of June 30,
2015 because effective July 1, 2015, the deed was transferred
back to Newport Aggregates.
Attempts to reach Guari and Newport Aggregates by phone Wednesday
evening were unsuccessful.
Nanticoke council approves release agreement
with city manager
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
City council has approved a release agreement with embattled city
Manager Andy Gegaris, which will soon end his employment with Nanticoke.
Gegaris, who was hired as Nanticokes city manager in May 2014,
has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 4. It would have
taken a supermajority of four out of five council members to terminate
his employment at Wednesdays council meeting, as stipulated
in the citys home rule charter.
But hours before the council meeting, Gegaris reached an agreement
to leave voluntarily, city solicitor William T. Finnegan Jr. said.
His remarks came shortly before council voted unanimously, 5-0, to
approve the agreement.
Council also voted unanimously to name Nanticokes human resources
director Donna Wall as interim city manager until a full-time manager
is appointed. Wall will receive an extra $1,500 per month for her
Council members did not comment on the agreement, but Finnegan emphasized
that Gegaris is leaving voluntarily. His official last
day will be Feb. 5 and he will be available to consult with city officials
as needed until then, Finnegan said.
The agreement between Gegaris and the city, including financial details,
will be available to the public once it is signed and recorded
which should be no later than Monday, according to Finnegan.
Gegaris declined an opportunity to address the council and the public
at Wednesdays meeting, Finnegan said.
Mayor Richard Wiaterowski to whom the city manager reports,
as stipulated in the city charter read aloud a statement about
Gegaris and his impending departure.
As mayor I am responsible for evaluating my staff, Wiaterowski
said, adding that his goal as mayor is to make the city a place
where people are proud to work and live.
The mayor said that when he chose Gegaris as city manager, almost
two years ago, he felt Gegaris was the best person to meet our
But Wiaterowski made clear he thinks it is time for both Gegaris and
the city to move on.
I feel there is a need to make a change in this position ...
to meet the citys goals, he said.
Gegariss 20-month tenure saw controversy mix with celebration.
Last year, Nanticoke became the first city in Pennsylvania to emerge
from Act 47, the states program for financially distressed municipalities.
Just months after that, Gegaris drew criticism from some city residents
during the planning process for this years city budget, which
includes a property tax increase of about 21.5 percent.
He also was criticized for not moving from his home near White Haven
to within Nanticoke city limits, as stipulated by the city charter.
Last August, a Luzerne County judge ruled that provision of the charter
which applied only to the city manager and city clerk
to be unconstitutional, allowing Gegaris to keep his job in Nanticoke
and his home in Dennison Township.
That means Nanticokes next city manager will not need to live
in the city.
Our next manager could come from anywhere around, said
council President William Brown.
Specifics of the process for choosing a new city manager will be at
the discretion of Wiaterowski, Brown said, in remarks after the meeting
Nanticokes home rule charter, approved by the citys voters
in 2011, created a strong mayor/city manager/city council government
model, in which the mayor has control over city employees in most
Gegaris was the third city manager since home rule took effect in
Just like old times
Nanticoke downs GAR on night 1961 state champs honored
Nanticoke delved into its past Friday night, honoring the 1961 Nanticoke
High boys basketball team that won the PIAA Class A state championship.
It gave a glimpse of its future by introducing youth players at halftime.
As for the present, well that appears to be in good hands after a
51-40 victory over GAR vaulted Nanticoke into sole possession of first
place in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference.
It was a great environment for Nanticoke basketball, Nanticoke
coach John Beggs said. We had our youth basketball night, so
thats the future. We honored the past with the 1961 team. So
our guys were really excited to play in this environment. We were
looking forward to it all week.
Nanticoke (4-0 Div. 2) also improved to 11-2 overall, the best mark
in the WVC. GAR fell to 3-1 in the division and 5-7 overall.
The packed gymnasium didnt faze the Trojans too much. But a
delay in the start because of a long junior varsity game and the ceremonies
for the 1961 team did.
It definitely brought some nervousness when we came out after
the jayvee game and saw everybody here packed in on every side,
Nanticoke guard Scott Stout said. But we got a little edgy when
we had to wait longer to play.
The Trojans took a 15-13 lead at 5:26 of the second quarter on an
inside basketball by Brent Piontkowski to take the lead for good.
But it wasnt until late in the third that Nanticoke began to
A 29-20 lead entering the fourth quarter came via consecutive 3-pointers
by Piontkowski and Stout.
When it was 26-20, Stout hit a huge one on the wing, GAR
senior Justin Crosby-Smith said. That gave them momentum and
riled them up. It was hard stopping them.
Luke Butczynski started the fourth with another 3-pointer for Nanticoke,
starting a 9-2 run to open the quarter. The Grenadiers didnt
get their first field goal until Marquan Kemp scored inside at 5:45.
Kemps basket was GARs first since the 6:28 mark of the
GAR made a mild run at the deficit, managing to get within 44-35 with
about two minutes left. Nanticoke, though, shook off the threat with
four consecutive points.
While the 3-pointers were the catalyst in the victory, defense also
played a huge part. Nanticoke held GAR 3-point ace Tino Altavilla
to one basket from behind the arc.
And I was upset with that shot, Beggs said. I think
he is the best shooter in our conference. I saw him make 23 straight
threes once in warmups. So our goal was to give him no shots because
we knew any shot he took was going in. Him making one was enough for
us and we focused on not giving him any more shots.
Altavilla injured a finger on his left hand midway through the third.
He returned in the fourth, but by that time Nanticoke had the game
going its way because of the five second-half 3-pointers.
We got out of what we were trying to do there, GAR coach
Jerry Altavilla said. We had to switch up the lineup and had
to go defensively. We had to take out some of our offensive players
off. I dont think we did a good job with the tempo, either.
Dajon Rush paced GAR with 12 points. Piontkowski had 23 and Stout
added 17 for Nanticoke. The teams play again Feb. 2 at GAR.
Nanticoke Area limits tax increase to 8 percent
Michael P. Buffer - -
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board voted Thursday for a preliminary
budget that would spend $28 million during the next school year and
limits a property tax increase to 8 percent.
The preliminary budget is non-binding but prevents the board from
approving a tax increase that exceeds 8 percent, Business Manager
Al Melone said. Approving a final budget is required by June 30, the
last day of the current school year.
The tax-increase limit exceeds the index amount established by the
state on tax increases that dont need voter approval or state
approval of referendum exception amounts. The index amount for Greater
Nanticoke Area is 3.6 percent. The state will have to approve the
districts request for exceptions on certain expenditures that
will allow a tax increase of up to 8 percent without a referendum.
District officials still hope to avoid a tax increase but want some
flexibility because the state still has not approved education funding
amounts in a budget for the current fiscal year, Melone said.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Tom Wolf unlocked emergency funding to school
districts with partial vetoes of a $30.3 billion budget from the Legislature.
Last week, the state released about six months worth of 2015-16 funding
to school districts.
The current property tax rate in Greater Nanticoke Area is 10.4932
mills. The preliminary budget prevents the rate from exceeding 11.3327
mills. A mill is $1 on every $1,000 in property assessment.
In other business from Thursdays meeting, the Greater Nanticoke
Area School Board extended the contract for Superintendent Ronald
Grevera through 2021. His contract was due to expire in 2019 when
the board hired Grevera two years ago. His annual salary on July 1
will increase to $126,690.
The board also voted to hire Matthew Schwenk as high school principal.
He plans to start Jan. 25, and his annual salary will be $90,000.
Schwenk has been the principal of a Central Susquehanna Intermediate
Unit program that provides educational services to adjudicated juveniles
in a facility in Danville.
One memorable ride: Nanticoke High 1961 state
champs to be honored
Nearly 55 years have past since that magical night at the Harrisburg
Farm Show Arena, but the memories remain strong and now theyll
The Nanticoke High School basketball team which won the 1961 PIAA
Class A state title will be honored Friday prior to the game between
Nanticoke and GAR. The ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. and a banner
honoring the team will be revealed.
Two of the five starters who defeated Hickory Township 56-46 will
be present, Bill James and Rich Kiewlak. James lives in Jim Thorpe
while Kiewlak resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Joe Shepela, who lives in California, and George Yanchik, who lives
in South Carolina, wont be attending. Ken Legins, the fifth
starter, died in 2013. Coach Syl Stretch Bozinski, who
finished with 616 career victories, died in 2001. Other players and
some cheerleaders are also expected to be there.
Never, never did we doubt our ability, Shepela said. We
worked as a team and were very well coached. At practice, we went
through the drills over and over and over. We were like a well-oiled
machine. When any team threw something at us different, we were able
to change our tactics. Maybe instead of hitting Kenny all the time,
hit Billy. And then Richie would hit some really long ones.
Thats why I feel we were adaptable to changing situations.
And every player had their role and accepted it. Yanchik didnt
have any classes with the others and described himself as a
social outsider to that degree yet played a huge part in the
teams 26-1 record that season.
I wasnt a big part offensively, Yanchik said. My
area was playing defense and rebounding. We had plenty of scoring.
All four of the surviving starters agreed Legins was the star of the
bunch. He scored 16 points in the championship game and went on to
play at George Washington University where he led the team in scoring
for three years and was All-Southern Conference as a senior.
Kenny, everything he that got he earned it, said James,
who was a co-captain with Legins. I never had any jealousy toward
He was the kingpin, Shepela said of Legins. He had
the ability to overcome taller guys in the post. He was only 6-4,
6-5 and he overcame great odds against taller guys in the post.
Nanticoke also overcame being a small school winning at the states
highest level. The PIAA had three classes in 1961, with Class A having
the schools with the largest enrollment. Nanticoke was grouped with
the smallest teams in Class C, but elected to play at Class A.
I dont think a lot of people know that we are the only
Class C team that took a Class A title in Pennsylvania, Kwielak
said. I dont think that will ever be done again with all
A year before winning the 1961 championship, Nanticoke rode a 26-0
record into the Eastern State Finals only to lose to York. The championship
season didnt start out well for the Rams, who were also called
the Nans, as they dropped an early season game to Sharon in a tournament
Nanticoke never lost again that season.
James recalled a memorable game against rival Newport Township during
the championship run. The two high schools would eventually merge
with Harter High School, located across the Susquehanna River, to
form what is now Greater Nanticoke Area.
Newport was coached by Jim Davis, who would later coach and become
the athletic director at the new school. Word got out that the Newport
players were saying they were going to come to Nanticoke and leave
with a victory.
They were getting cocky and saying they were going to come our
place and they were going to beat us, James said. You
know what we beat them by? Fifty-five points. Thats how good
this team was.
Every home game was packed. The gym at the high school which
stood where a CVS Pharmacy is now when entering the town via the Sans
Souci Highway held about 700-800 people. Sometimes twice as
many would squeeze in to see the Rams.
As good as the Rams were, they once again ran into trouble in the
Eastern State Finals against Reading. Trailing by seven with barely
two minutes left, many fans began to leave. Nanticoke, though, went
to a full-court press and pulled out a 51-47 victory by scoring the
games final 11 points.
There werent as many dramatics in the championship game against
Hickory Township. Legins scored 10 first-quarter points. James had
19 points and 12 rebounds. Except for a lull in the third quarter,
the Rams kept Hickory Township at arms length on the way to
a 56-46 victory. Nanticoke fans made up a large part of the 9,000
Id hate to think what would have happened if we lost,
Yanchik said. We certainly would have been disappointed. We
had a good team and in the game we were never really threatened I
guess. We had the lead throughout the game. I dont remember
any specific times where the game was getting away from us.
The game was played on a Saturday night, so the team stayed over in
Harrisburg. The next morning on the trip back, the Rams were met in
Bloomsburg by a fire truck on Route 11 and escorted to just outside
of Nanticoke. There, the team switched to convertibles and was escorted
through town until reaching Central Park where a ceremony was held.
Various reports had the crowd at the park estimated between 20,000-30,000.
There were 20,000-30,000 fans and there are only 11,000 people
in Nanticoke, James said. So we had a lot of people rooting
for us. And another thing, for months we ate for nothing. We were
in every restaurant from Nanticoke to Wilkes-Barre to Scranton. These
are things you never forget.
Shepela didnt want to forget the Nanticoke reserves, who he
called the best practice team the starting five could have. He was
the only starter to return for 1962 where the Rams season ended
in the Eastern State Semifinals.
Everybody on the team worked well, Shepela said. Looking
back at it, there wasnt any person who thought they were well
above anybody else on the team. We were five guys who worked hard.
Nanticoke city manager placed on administrative
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
City Manager Andy Gegaris has been placed on administrative leave,
according to Nanticoke city officials.
As of Wednesday, it was not clear why Gegaris had been placed on leave
or how that would affect his long-term job status.
Gegaris, who was hired as Nanticokes city manager in May 2014,
was not in the office Wednesday, according to Nanticoke business manager
Jennifer Polito and city human resources director Donna Wall.
We have been told he is on administrative leave, Wall
She declined to comment further since it is a personnel issue.
Polito confirmed that Gegaris was on leave and not in his office.
She also had no further comment on the matter, she said.
Polito and Wall did not provide details of how Gegaris was placed
on leave, but the Nanticoke home rule charter, adopted in 2011, gives
authority over the city manager to the citys mayor, an office
currently held by Richard Wiaterowski.
The charter created a strong mayor/city manager/city council government
model, in which the mayor has control over city employees in many
However, it would require approval from at least four members of city
council, as well as the mayor, to terminate Gegariss employment
and Gegaris would have a chance to defend himself at a public
The city charter stipulates that a supermajority of city council
four of the five council members must approve the mayors
request to terminate the city manager. The charter states that the
city manager shall have the opportunity to address city council at
a public meeting and respond to the issues set forth for his/her dismissal.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 20.
No interim city manager has been appointed, said Wall, who noted she,
Polito and other city officials would handle whatever duties need
to be attended to on a temporary basis as long as Gegaris is on leave.
Gegaris and the elected leaders who might soon decide the fate of
his employment shed no light on the situation Wednesday.
Wiaterowski did not return multiple messages left on his office phone
number and with city staffers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A listed home phone number for Gegaris was out of service on Wednesday.
Attempts to reach him by cellphone and through social media proved
Repeated attempts to reach city council President William Brown and
other council members also proved unsuccessful.
Nanticoke no longer accepting cash in new
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Nanticoke is no longer accepting cash payments.
On Jan. 1, the city began its new payment policy. Residents can no
longer pay cash for various city bills and fees, including refuse
bills, police citations and fines, right-to-know fees, permits and
The city will accept payment with checks, money orders, debit and
credit cards. Payment with credit and debit cards include a processing
The change will save city government up to $7,000 per year, said Jennifer
Polito, the citys accounting and finance director.
Having city employees who handle cash requires insurance costing between
$5,000 and $6,000 per year, Polito said. Additionally, the city paid
about $1,000 in mileage costs each year for an employee to drive to
the bank to deposit cash, she said. Now, employees can scan in checks
and money orders.
The change prompted some complaints from residents concerned about
the processing fee.
Some people said they dont want to pay the fee, thats
their choice. They paid by checks, she said. For the most
part, its gone well. There hasnt been a lot of resistance.
The city is also looking into online payments for some fees, Polito
The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority already processes sewer fees
Nanticoke is trying to update the city website to allow residents
to pay their refuse fee online by June, Polito said.
Murts Desserts brings cupcake camper
A bright pink and blue trailer in the driveway is a sure sign youre
at the right place for cupcakes and other desserts.
The visually pleasing camper belongs to 16-year-old Brandon Murtha,
a 10th grader at Greater Nanticoke Area High School. Brandon runs
Murts Desserts and takes the camper on the road to area craft
fairs and vendor shows, selling cupcakes and other sweet treats. He
has been asked to do a few Sweet 16 parties, birthdays and other personal
I always wanted to have some kind of business, Brandon
said. He admits he wanted an ice cream truck but, after deliberation
with his family, decided the cupcake camper was a better idea. Having
never taken a baking class, he watches Youtube tutorials and takes
inspiration from The Cake Boss, Buddy Valestro.
In 2014, Brandons parents bought the camper from a family in
the Poconos. The camper had to be completely remodeled from removing
the bunk beds to adding a large window to sell from, as well as replacing
the tires. In July 2015, Brandon completed and passed his opening
Since baking in the camper is not a possibility, the Murtha house
at 1664 S. Hanover St. has become a home bakery. In doing so, Brandons
parents had to have the home rezoned by the city of Nanticoke. To
pass inspection, it is required that dessert ingredients are separated
from regular, everyday baking items. There is a separate cabinet inside
the Murtha home and the refrigerator has a separate shelf specifically
for cakes, cookies and desserts.
Its a lot, Debbie Murtha, Brandons mother,
There are times Brandon bakes for hours, wakes up early and goes to
bed long after the family has turned in for the night. He takes roughly
10 dozen cupcakes to events, and even then, there are times when he
sells out of cupcakes before the end of the event.
The times required from order to table is about a week.
Brandon takes requests for different flavors and cake ideas and tries
to accommodate. The most unique flavor request has been watermelon
and the most requested is the chocolate peanut butter.
I have a basic vanilla recipe and add to it, Brandon said.
He has an upcoming order of chocolate cake, strawberry filling and
cream cheese icing. He recently had a challenge when someone requested
a Minion cake which he made as six small cakes layered and iced with
That cake was hard, Brandon confessed.
He also accommodates when an allergy is made known.
Hard work and dedication pay off as Murts Desserts has
a five star rating on its Facebook page. Brandon hopes to one day
stay in Nanticoke by opening a store in the downtown area.
The camper, he said, will stay.
To order, contact Brandon through Murts Desserts Facebook page
or by calling 570-735-3406.
Nanticokes cashless policy now in effect
With innovations like Google Pay, Apple Wallet and Uber,
cash-in-hand transactions for everyday life are fading away.
In November, the Nanticoke City Council voted on a cashless policy.
The policy, voted on by city council, went into effect on Jan. 1. According
to the policy, the city no longer accepts cash as payment for refuse
bills, citations and fees, right-to-know fees and code violations and
For Nanticoke, going cashless means no bonding of employees handling
the bills, the ability to lower liability insurance and easier auditing
of the books.
Its better for us all, Jennifer Polito, Nanticokes
accounting director, said.
It also eliminates an outside threat of people who think
about robbing the cash from the municipal building.
City Manager Andy Gegaris said it took six months for them to research
the process and bring it in front of council.
It was a well-thought out process, Gegaris said. It
wasnt done haphazardly.
Both Polito and Gegaris admit there was some hesitancy in the office
for the new year, new policy, but they both expect things
to work out smoothly as time goes on.
The training (for employees) took 45 minutes, Polito said,
noting it took a day for her to do paperwork.
The city will now accept checks, money orders and credit/debit card
payments. If payment is made by credit or debit card, a processing fee
is added to the transaction. For every $100, a $3 fee is added on
for instance, if the bill is $260, the total bill, with the fee, is
$269 or if a bill is $500 or greater, three percent of the total
is added on.
The percentage fee wouldnt necessarily be for refuse bills, citations
and fees, or right-to-know fees. Polito thinks the percentage would
apply more toward the zoning part of the city policy.
According to Polito and Gegaris, the fee is not ideal and they hope
it doesnt make people think less of the new system, but they stress
the city isnt making money on the fee.
Its the banks convenience fee, Polito said.
Due to the safety concerns of residents, no over-the-phone payments
We ask for identification on all credit card transactions,
Though its not up and running yet, Polito said the city wants
to have online payments by a secure link by the beginning
of June for the second half of the sewer payments.
The city had a payment drawer full of receipts by early afternoon.
Tom and Mary Grobinski were just one of many paying their sewer bill
by check Monday at the municipal building at 15 E. Ridge St. Though
the couple have no desire for the city to rely solely on
credit or debit cards, they agree paying by check or money order is
We have records of payment (by paying with check or money order),
Cashless payments are nothing new for Nanticoke residents. Wyoming Valley
Sanitary Authority has required a cashless transaction for residents
sewer bills since September.