Decision means no federal aid for storm cleanup
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Luzerne County municipalities won't be getting any federal money
to help offset the cleanup costs from March's record-breaking snowstorm.
The March 14-15 storm dropped more than two feet of snow throughout
Luzerne County in a 24-hour span.
Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that President Donald Trump has denied
his request for a federal disaster declaration that would have meant
federal money to help cover the costs of the storm.
"This disaster declaration would have provided much-needed financial
assistance to hard-hit communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania,"
Wolf received a letter from Robert J. Fenton, acting administrator
for FEMA, which said "the damage from this event was not of such
severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the commonwealth
and affected local governments."
Ted Wampole, city administrator for Wilkes-Barre, took issue with
"How they could say that," he said, "defies any kind
of logic from anywhere even from Washington."
Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat agrees.
"It's a tremendous burden to the city," Cusat said, noting
the city submitted close to $200,000 in receipts. "It's disappointing."
Nanticoke submitted just over $50,000 for their most expensive
two days, interim city Manager Donna Wall said. But still, it will
be a hit for the community.
"We're all suffering," she said. The city will have to cut
planned projects, Wall noted.
In his request letter sent to the Trump administration on May 2, Wolf
cited costs to local municipalities that significantly exceeded their
snow removal budgets, transportation issues such as preemptive road
closures including major interstates, record-breaking snowfall in
nine counties and storm conditions that generated significant life-safety
issues requiring a variety of critical resource and support needs,
such as rescue and evacuation of stranded motorists, wrecker service
with recovery staff, generators and transportation of emergency workers.
The denial may be appealed within 30 days.
"We'll most likely appeal," said Ted Wampole, city administrator
for Wilkes-Barre. The city spent approximately $1 million for the
Wall, who said she had a "bad feeling" about getting
funds refunded, but said she's going to look into getting a group
effort together for an appeal.
"Numbers speak volumes," she said.
Cusat said he'll be using his weekend to reach out to other municipalities
to see if he can get a "strength in numbers" response.
"If more than one appeals, they will see it's a disaster,"
he said. "Not just one (municipality) crying wolf."
Wolf made the request earlier this month in order to provide federal
funding to local, county and state governments, as well as certain
eligible nonprofits in Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna,
Wyoming, Northumberland, Pike, Wayne and Montour counties through
the Public Assistance program.
The program provides reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the costs
incurred on eligible expenses for the eligible 48-hour time period.
Nanticoke officials: Woman broke her leg
jumping out of burning residence
Officials say a woman broke her leg when she jumped out of a window
of her residence that was on fire early Thursday morning.
Officials were dispatched at 5:20 a.m. to the residence at 18 Ross
St. in the Honey Pot section of the city for a report of a residential
Capt. Mark Boncal of the Nanticoke Fire Department said crews arrived
to find smoke visible from the front of the structure.
And there was a good amount of fire, he said.
Boncal said a woman jumped from a rear window to escape the residence,
resulting in a broken leg. The woman was transported to a local hospital
for treatment of her injuries.
A man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries, and a dog
was also rescued from the residence, according to Boncal.
Boncal said the fire was under control and fully extinguished within
20 minutes. He said the structure sustained moderate fire damage,
but believed that the structure was salvageable.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Pennsylvania State
Police fire marshal.
Nanticoke Area breaks ground for school project
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
The Greater Nanticoke Area School Board had a groundbreaking ceremony
to officially kick off the Kennedy Early Childhood Center addition
and renovation project.
The project is expected to finished by May 2018, Superintendent Ronald
On March 28, the school board voted to accept project bids with a
total cost of $8.8 million about $1.3 million less than bids
opened last May.
In December, the board voted to re-bid the project without a project
labor agreement, which provided collective bargaining terms for building
project workers hired by district contractors and subcontractors and
included a preference for Nanticoke Area residents.
Greater Nanticoke Area youngsters breaks
ground for early childhood center
Aimee Dilger - Times Leader
There was a table full of real adult hard hats and big black shovels,
and one with toy plastic hard hats and little red shovels. When it
came time for some ceremonial groundbreaking outside Kennedy Elementary
School in Nanticoke, the little shovels got used first, though Benjamin
Wisnosky balked at participating.
As Kennedy Elementary Principal John Gorham called the names of several
pre-school and kindergarten students to join in the digging, Benjamin
pouted, buried his head in his mothers dress, and slapped the
little yellow hard hat away. Fear not, though. As more children stepped
to the table to get their gear, Benjamin took to the notion and started
lining up with the rest.
Greater Nanticoke Area officially broke ground for the expansion and
renovation of the school to create the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.
The project is expected to cost about $8 million, with $3 million
reimbursed by the state. After its done, K.M. Smith School will
be closed and all district students will be taking classes at a single
campus along Kosciuszko Street.
During the brief ceremony, Superintendent Ron Grevera said the Kennedy
school was among the first elementary schools in the nation named
for President John F. Kennedy following his assassination. He also
said Kennedy had been a staunch supporter of education as a means
to move people from poverty to prosperity.
By the time the adults were done talking and the kids got to dig into
a pile of fresh brown dirt on the lawn outside the front of the school,
Benjamin was practically beaming, and like most of the youngsters,
didnt stop with a single shovel of dirt.
By comparison, the adults were, well, boring in their posed smiles
and scant real shovel action.
The youngsters, who either already attend kindergarten in the district
or like Benjamin are expected to attend in the expanded
school, also got to release red and white balloons into the air.
But the real highlight?
They got to keep the hats and shovels.
UGI planning gas line projects
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
UGI will spend more than $170 million to replace natural gas mains
and complete a variety of system enhancement projects, according to
company press release.
In Northeast Pennsylvania, infrastructure projects will be completed
on North Wyoming, North Vine and East Chestnut streets in Hazleton;
Railroad Street in Nanticoke; Taylor, North Cameron, Webster
and Crown avenues in Scranton; Inman Street in Hanover Township; Walnut
Street in Luzerne; and Fourth Street in Nescopeck.
In all, about 64 miles of cast iron and bare steel mains are targeted
for replacement. Communities where the projects will occur will receive
advanced notification of UGIs construction schedules. For more
information, go to www.ugi.com/construction.
Nanticoke Historical Society gives citizens
With the power of a projector and over 10,000 photos, a few people
were able to be transported back into Nanticokes past, when
gas was 30 cents a gallon and Woolworths was the biggest name
in department stores.
On Sunday, interested residents were able to visit the St. Faustina
Cultural Center at 38 W. Church St., Nanticoke, to check out a presentation
put on by the Nanticoke Historical Society. This was the second such
display put on by the society, with the first occurring about a year
ago at Nanticoke City Hall.
Dubbing the event a virtual tour, the society claimed
to have somewhere around 10,700 photos of the city of Nanticoke available
for viewing. Chester Zaremba, 71, of Nanticoke, the societys
vice president and secretary/treasurer, was manning the projector,
pulling up various photos.
We have a few photos that we want to start with, Zaremba
said. From there, we just let the audience dictate what they
want to see as the photos start to bring back their memories.
And come back their memories did. Zaremba started with a handful of
photos of newspaper ads from Nanticoke businesses some closed
and some still open. But soon, the discussion turned to particular
businesses and city buildings from various parts of town, with the
crowd calling out what they wanted to see next.
In that way, the display slowly grew to just short of two hours in
total run time.
Zaremba also had a special segment organized of before-and-after photos,
showing a few buildings around Nanticoke as they look now and how
they appeared previously, with years of renovations and changes stripped
away. Zaremba told the crowd that these photos would eventually become
part of a then-and-now style book to be published by the
John Dubik, 65, of Hanover Township, said he came to the event after
seeing an ad for it at Gerritys supermarket. What he likes about
events like this is getting the opportunity to see things again that
have been long changed or demolished.
Theres all this stuff that you took for granted, and then
it suddenly disappeared, Dubik said. I was young when
a lot of it went, so I didnt get to walk around and see it myself,
so its good to see it now.
One of the things that most impressed Dubik about the display was
the quick growth in Nanticokes past.
They built a high school, and then 20 years later they outgrew
it and had to build another one, Dubik marveled.
Donna Henderson, 70, of Nanticoke, was raised in the city but spent
about 25 years away. Now, having moved back after retirement, she
enjoyed the opportunity to be reminded of her past.
There are lots of things I forgot, and the visuals serve as
a good reminder, Henderson said.
Zambera said that the goal of events like this one is twofold: besides
helping people remember the past, they also want to get people involved
with the Historical Society.
Wed like to see some younger people get involved,
he said. Theres still so much work left to be done in
preserving Nanticokes history, and we hope someone continues
to do it.
Hanover Area, Nanticoke Area teaming up on
field for a good cause
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
When Nanticoke Area and Hanover Area had their exhibition baseball
game postponed prior to the start of the season, it figured to be
just another game lost to poor weather conditions.
But Hanover Area junior Matt Clarke had an idea, and it showed that
when times are tough, positive things can come out of the most heated
Not long after Nanticoke Area senior Aaron Kreitzer was diagnosed
with leukemia in March, Clarke approached Hanover Area coach Mike
Zapotoski about playing a game to benefit Kreitzer and his family.
Zapotoski called Nanticoke Area coach Joe Yudichak, and Yudichak didnt
From there, Nanticoke Area athletic director Ken Bartuska thought
it would be a good idea if the softball teams from both schools became
And next Sunday, a doubleheader will be held at Hanover Area with
all proceeds from the event going to the Kreitzer family. The Nanticoke
Area and Hanover Area softball teams will play at 1, with the baseball
teams scheduled to play at 2. Both games are exhibitions.
He was going to be one of my senior leaders and a starting outfielder,
Yudichak said of Kreitzer, who is receiving treatment at Geisinger
in Danville. It is tough to put into words. This never happened
to me with a player in 30 years of coaching. It shook up the whole
team. The whole team is battling through it with him.
The connection between the two schools goes well beyond the rivalry.
There are friendships that have been forged, and Aarons father,
Brian, is a health and physical education teacher at Hanover Area.
He teaches alongside Hanover Area softball coach Kathy Healey. And,
to take it a step further, Aarons cousin, Kyle, is an assistant
baseball coach at Hanover Area.
Once Clarke came up with the idea of the game, Kyle Kreitzer took
the ball and ran with it, mainly to keep the pressure of putting together
something like this off the kids.
When Kyle asked if the softball team wanted to play, we said
we absolutely would, Healey said. The Hanover kids love
Mr. Kreitzer, and they said they would do anything for him. A lot
of our players know Aaron; they definitely want to help.
The teams sold shirts for the game at a cost of $15, and the shirts
the players will wear are donated by Senator John Yudichak and Joe
Yudichak Sr. A limited number will be sold at the games on a first
come, first served basis.
The team brought it up, and I took it upon myself to take charge
of it, Kyle Kreitzer said. Aaron is my cousin. We are
pretty close. I grew up with him; we spend all the holidays together.
We would hang out, go over his house swimming and all that.
Kyle Kreitzer came up with the design for the shirts.
I wanted to do something simple, he said. His jersey
number (17) will be on the jersey and the word Fight is
across the back. Just a way of everyone coming together to fight for
him and with him. Everybody will be wearing the number 17.
Reality kind of sets in and you put all the rivalry stuff behind
you. Especially with (Aaron) being a family member. It is nice for
both communities to come together. Both communities are connected
to him. It is nice we can all come together and have a game for him.
Pat Revello from Old Forge, another relation to the Kreitzer family,
is donating pizza for the event. There is also a contingent from Old
Forge that will be traveling by bus to the games. They will be wearing
similar shirts to the players only theirs will be gold. Also,
baked goods will be available, and there will be raffles and a 50-50
drawing. There is no admission fee to attend the games, but fans will
be asked to donate money for parking.
Its a great thing, it shows that two rivals can come together
and do something for a kid that is in need right now, Yudichak
said. It is amazing that (Clarke) could come up with an idea
like that. When (Zapotoski) called me to see if I wanted to set something
up, I was thrilled. I am happy that the kids care. You see the heart
in a lot of people when something like this happens.
Yudichak said players from Nanticoke Area are constantly in touch
with Aaron Kreitzer via text message. The Trojans wear a ribbon on
their hat and a patch on their jerseys as a way to honor him.
I cant stress enough what a good kid he is, Yudichak
Taxpayers face expense to reduce Susquehanna
Municipalities serviced by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority:
Ashley, Courtdale, Dallas, Dallas Township, Duryea, Edwardsville,
Exeter, Forty Fort, Hanover Township, Harveys Lake, Hughestown, Jackson
Township, Jenkins Township, Kingston, Kingston Township, Laflin, Larksville,
Lehman Township, Luzerne, Nanticoke, Newport Township, Pittston, Pittston
Township, Plains Township, Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Pringle, Sugar
Notch, Swoyersville, Warrior Run, West Pittston, West Wyoming, Wilkes-Barre,
Wilkes-Barre Township, Wyoming and Yatesville.
Property owners in Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Nanticoke and 33 other
Luzerne County municipalities must shoulder the massive expense of
an unfunded federal mandate to reduce the amount of sediment, nitrogen
and phosphorus deposited into the Susquehanna River from stormwater.
The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is pitching a regional approach,
saying the 36 municipalities it services for wastewater treatment
would spend far more developing and implementing required stormwater
plans on their own.
This group approach will save even more money if the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers approves the authority's proposal to make the giant Toby
Creek impounding basin off Division Street in Pringle the main component
of its pollution reduction plan.
This basin holds water that drains from 30 square miles in the Back
Mountain to prevent flooding in Pringle, Kingston and other municipalities
on lower ground.
The authority wants to make the path of water more meandering inside
the basin to slow it down and reduce the amount of sediment that ends
up leaving the basin and ending up in the Susquehanna. Deep-rooted
shrubs also would be planted on the basin floor to soak up nitrogen
These and other details about the proposal were presented to the county
Flood Protection Authority this week because the basin is part of
the Wyoming Valley Levee system.
According to a two-hour presentation by sanitary authority consultant
Herbert, Rowland and Grubic Inc.:
The mandate stems from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
Chesapeake Bay plan requiring states to reduce the amount of nutrients
and sediment in waterways that feed into the bay.
In response, the state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring
all municipalities that drain water into the Susquehanna to submit
stormwater permit plans by September, citing how they will reduce
sediment 10 percent, phosphorus by 5 percent and nitrogen by 3 percent
over the next five years.
Municipalities face fines if they don't comply with the requirements,
which include detailed maps of all stormwater systems and annual progress
If a regional plan is submitted, all participating municipalities
will receive credit for meeting sediment and pollutant reduction targets
through larger projects outside their municipal borders.
The Toby basin work would satisfy 70 percent of the 10-percent sediment
Other proposed work in the sanitary authority proposal includes:
o Pollution reduction alterations in a detention basin near Washington
Street in Plymouth along with a "stormwater park" explaining
the project, which would satisfy another stormwater public education
o Sediment reduction and other enhancements at Abrahams Creek near
the county recreational complex in Forty Fort and another water collection
area in Hanover Township.
o Stream restoration along Solomon Creek on the east side of the river.
The total cost of the project would be about $33 million.
The project expense would be covered by a fee estimated to range from
$3 to $4.50 per property per month. Nonprofits and other entities
that are exempt from real estate taxes would have to pay the fee.
Another monthly fee of up to $1 per month may be proposed to fund
half of the cost pollution reduction projects municipalities want
to complete within their borders.
The fee for each property would be based on the estimated percentage
of stormwater runoff it generates. For example, the fee would be higher
for a lot that is mostly paved, which is considered an "impervious
area," because it holds less water when it rains and snows.
Municipalities that want to go solo would have to spend an estimated
$20,000 to $30,000 to complete the plans and additional costs to implement
corrective measures, the consultant said.
The sanitary authority would handle the billing, maintenance of most
of the pollution reduction solutions and stormwater system mapping.
The authority estimated its regional approach would save the 36 municipalities
a combined 60 percent over the next five years and another 30 percent
if Army Corps clearance is granted for the Toby basin work.
Bill Finnegan, the sanitary authority's solicitor, said Wednesday
a meeting will be held next week with representatives of the 36 municipalities
to present documents they must submit if they want to participate
in the regional plan. Public information sessions also are planned,
"The public has to understand this is another unfunded mandate,
and either their municipality is going to do it or the Wyoming Valley
Sanitary Authority," Finnegan said. "If the sanitary authority
does it, it will be a fraction of the cost."
The regional project would mirror the decision of municipalities to
band together under the authority umbrella in 1962 for sanitary services,
"We're basically looking to do something similar, but dealing
with stormwater mandates," he said. "It would really be
a historic project."
After sitting through the flood authority presentation, Kingston resident
Brian Shiner said he's frustrated the federal government "pushes
it on the back of property owners."
"I understand and accept we have to take care of our natural
resources. The problem is it's so easy for these federal agencies
to make mandates and not provide the cash to back it up," he
Shiner said many property owners will struggle to pay the fee amid
other rising expenses. He supports a regional approach but reserved
opinion on the proposed plan until he receives more detailed breakdowns
on the project costs and administrative expenses.
"It bothers me how rushed this is," he said.
Officials in municipalities outside the sanitary authority coverage
area also must develop compliance plans. Most Luzerne County municipalities
are in watersheds that drain into the Susquehanna, which flows over
400 miles from its origin near Cooperstown, New York, and empties
into the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
GNA travel programs broaden horizons
By Madelyn Bugdonovitch, Newspaper In Education student columnist
Traveling can open minds, giving a new sense of responsibility and
a new sense of self to the traveler. The Greater Nanticoke Area High
School gives its students the chance to step outside the mere walls
of the classroom and take advantage of opportunities to get out of
town, out of state, and even out of the country.
International travel is so personally enriching; you get to
see how other people live and think. As a teacher, it is amazing for
me to see students so engaged in such a different environment,
said Linda Kelchner, Spanish teacher at GNA and chaperone for many
of the international excursions.
Through many of its programs, Greater Nanticoke Area affords students
the opportunity to experience new places and cultures, to talk with
people of other nationalities, to try foods different from that which
they are used to, and to really step outside of their comfort zone
and explore the world around them. They also get the chance to meet
students who are traveling from other areas, and in some cases, to
form lifelong friendships. By choosing to travel, students are allowing
themselves a chance to grow and change in many positive ways.
For many students at GNA, this is their first time traveling alone
without their families. This environment provides a chance to develop
essential life skills such as decision-making, self-sufficiency, and
money and time management.
Studying abroad and traveling internationally can help bring about
a sense of independence that is essential for life after high school.
These unique opportunities have been offered thanks to teachers who
know and understand both the personal and educational value of international
GNA has teamed up with WorldStrides to educate and make dreams of
travel come true.
WorldStrides has more than 50 years of travel experience, taking more
than seven million students all over the globe.
WorldStrides is not just a travel company but an actual accredited
school. Its just like other schools, but without the walls.
They have a curriculum and an academics department that offers official
academic credits to student travelers. Student travelers have the
chance to complete online courses regarding the location they have
travelled to and the things they experienced while there. By completing
these courses, students can earn free high school credits and/or three
college credits, truly making the most of their international travel.
Costa Rica trip
Last year, students from GNA traveled to Costa Rica. It was a nature-based
trip that included time spent in the rainforest where students observed
and studied the bats that inhabit the area. The travelers tested the
waters of the Sarapiqui River, ran various experiments, and participated
in many exciting activities, such as ziplining through the jungle.
I watched students grow and begin to take risks. I watched them
learn and become willing to try new things. Seeing these children
develop, I find, is more rewarding than the trip itself. It was amazing
to watch them discover a whole new side to themselves, said
Everyone who attended this trip experienced something profound and
returned with a new perspective and an improved self-confidence. We
had a student who absolutely did not want to zipline and, on the way
up inside of the tramcar, he was second guessing his decision. Later
on, that particular student was ahead of me. I called out, Hey,
are you liking it? and his response was, No, Im
loving it! This brought tears to my eyes because here was a
student who was dead-set on not participating. He took a risk and
then had an amazing life-changing experience, stated Kelchner.
This year, Peru
For the 2016-17 school year, students from GNA will travel to South
America and spend 10 days exploring the country of Peru. This is a
cultural and historical based trip where students will visit several
sights and museums in Lima including the Lima Cathedral, the Plaza
de Armas, the Presidential Palace, and the famous Larco Museum, where
more than 4,000 years of Peruvian history is showcased.
After sightseeing around the City of Kings, students will
fly to the Sacred Valley of Cusco, the heart of the ancient Inca Empire.
There, they will follow the Inca Trail and visit several historic
sites, such as the ancient ruins and temples, and the Inca baths of
Tampu Machay. Travelers will participate in a full day excursion
to explore Perus most famous destination, the Lost City of Machu
Picchu, which sits high up in the Andes Mountains. They will also
be spending a few days exploring the Amazon Rainforest. Additionally,
unique educational experiences will await them in Peru, where students
will be visiting an Incan Tribe to learn about, watch, and participate
in one of their ancient rituals to honor and give thanks to Mother
Earth. Students will be spending time at a Peruvian School where they
will have the opportunity to interact with Peruvian students. These
are just a few of the incredible places and exciting things the students
at Greater Nanticoke Area will be fortunate enough to experience.
Next year, Iceland
Next year, students will be given the rare opportunity to visit Iceland
for an entire week of nature and science based experiences and experiments.
Students will find themselves face to face with opportunities to view
some of the most amazing sights in the world and can explore Icelandic
life and visit numerous museums and villages in and around Reykjavík.
Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice due to the
many volcanoes and glaciers that cover the country.
GNA students will study volcanoes, climb massive glaciers, explore
ice caves, observe geysers in action, and hike to breathtaking waterfalls.
The trip will conclude with a swim in the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal
spring. It is sure to be an adventure that students will not soon
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District also offers a variety of
travel opportunities within our country as well. Members of the chorus
enjoy a trip to New York City every spring where they sightsee and
attend a Broadway show. The Marching Band embarks on an annual trip
to various locations where the days are filled with fun and interesting
events, sights, and activities. In past years the GNA Marching Band
has visited Boston, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Cleveland, Pittsburgh,
New York City, and even ventured across the border to Canada to visit
Toronto and Niagara Falls. Seniors at GNA have the chance to visit
Washington D.C. with their American Civics classes and also travel
to Florida every spring to spend a week in Disney World and at Universal
Studios. All of these opportunities provide the students at Greater
Nanticoke Area with affordable, once in a lifetime experiences and
unforgettable memories they can carry with them throughout their entire
These experiences can undoubtedly help shape the students at Greater
Nanticoke Area, giving them a sense of purpose and place in the world,
as well as helping them establish lifelong values, priorities, independence,
and confidence. Lessons learned while traveling definitely transfers
into students lives when they return home as well. I think they
gain a lot of patience but, most of all, an opening of their world
view, said Kelchner. The benefits of travel are endless and
students can gain invaluable perspective of the enormous and diverse
world around them. Former First Lady Michelle Obama summed it up best
when she said: ...studying abroad isnt just an important
part of a well-rounded educational experience. Its also becoming
increasingly important for success in the modern global economy. Getting
ahead in todays workplaces isnt just about the skills
you bring from the classroom. Its also about the experiences
you have with the world beyond our borders with people, and
languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.
Madelyn Bugdonovitch is a sophomore at Greater Nanticoke Area High
School. Student columns are published Wednesdays during the school
Procrastinating taxpayers have a little more
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
When accountant Karen Hazleton is going full bore at work during
her busiest time of year, she hangs a sign on her office door that
reads, Tax season in progress. Do not disturb.
That sign comes down in a few days.
Todays date usually is tax day, but this years deadline
for Americans to file their income taxes has been extended to Tuesday,
April 18, because federal offices are closed on weekends and Monday
is recognized as the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C.
With the end so near, Hazleton and her staff of nearly a dozen have
been hard at work completing tax returns for clients and trying to
accommodate those who waited until the last minute, like several who
showed up unannounced on Friday.
Its all hands on deck today, Hazleton said from
her Nanticoke office.
The certified public accountant, who also has offices in Sugarloaf
Twp. and Clarks Summit, said she hoped to be done by 8 p.m. Friday
so she could enjoy the Easter holiday weekend with family. She said
a little break in the action is needed.
Its funny. Ive been working 14-hour days consistently
for 115 days, Hazleton said. It takes a couple days to
Those who have yet to file their taxes still have time.
H&R Block, which bills itself as the largest tax preparer in the
world, is open every day through Tuesday, including Easter Sunday,
the company announced.
H&R Block offices will be open on Easter, giving taxpayers
who havent filed their returns an extra day of assistance,
the company said.
The regional office for the U.S. Postal Service advised residents
to check Tuesdays final pick-up time for the post office they
plan to use to send their taxes.
Please remember that mail must be deposited before the last
collection time at the post office or collection box on April 18 to
receive an April 18th postmark, the postal service said.
Federal prosecutors and the IRS also had warnings for people to make
sure they were honest in filling out their taxes.
During this time of the year, IRS will receive millions of tax
returns from honest taxpayers who file their returns on time and pay
all the taxes they owe, said Bruce D. Brandler, U.S. Attorney
for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Todays warning
is not for them; it is for tax cheats who break tax laws and abuse
our tax system. If you belong in this category, pay close attention.
My office will hold accountable anyone who participates in a tax fraud
scheme that puts an added tax burden on honest taxpayers and drains
our public finances.
IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory
Floyd had a similar message.
With the 2017 tax deadline looming, it is important for people
to have confidence that when they pay their taxes, their neighbors
and co-workers are doing the same, Floyd said. IRS Criminal
Investigation will vigorously investigate those individuals who knowingly
and willfully evade their tax obligation.
Families left to wonder when homicide cases
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Website designers note: This section is an excerpt from the article
in the Citizens Voice on Sunday, 4/9/2017
Reached recently, Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said she could not
offer any updates on the progress of that investigation and several
other unsolved cases.
They include the unsolved homicide of 97-year-old Gertrude Price.
On Thanksgiving in 2013, Price was home in Nanticoke after spending
the day in Dallas with family. In what police have called a random
attack, the woman was beaten to death during a home-invasion robbery
Prices family searched tirelessly for answers after her son-in-law
found her dead in her bed the morning after that Thanksgiving.
Local residents pledged more than $10,000 as a reward for information
through a fund at PNC Bank in Nanticoke.
Charges have yet to be filed in the case.
Price would have celebrated her 100th birthday in June of last year.
Her daughter, Carol Belmont, said she had no doubt Price would have
lived to be 100. She said her mother had looked forward to the milestone.
She was vibrant and full of life, Belmont said.
As far as Belmont knows, the reward the family offered in 2013 still
I dont think its enticing anyone, she worried.
Belmont said she remains in contact with Pennsylvania State Police
investigators working on her mothers case. They call her every
three to four months, but rarely have any new information to share.
I know theyre still active on it, she said. Thats
what keeps my hope up.
Belmont and her family remember Price at every holiday Price
would never miss one, Belmont said. She said theyll think of
Price at Easter, remembering how shed always sit at the head
of the table.
Nanticoke Police Chief Thomas Wall said Pennsylvania State Police
Trooper Ed Urban has taken over the investigation into Prices
death. Urban did not return a request for comment on the case.
Nanticoke Area junior aims for archery title
Andrew Watkins - Citizens Voic
Kassie Rinker's decision to take up archery came, more or less, on
The Nanticoke Area junior asked her father, Jason Rinker, for a bow
of her own in September 2014. Kassie said her interest in the sport
was born largely from her father's influence. He's an avid archer
But archery has grown to become more than just a hobby for Kassie.
In fact, it's a sport that, in less than three years time, she's proven
to be remarkably good at.
The list of championships that Kassie's won during her short time
competing is considerable.
After earning a couple of top-three finishes in various tournaments,
Kassie took home gold for the first time in the 2015 Pennsylvania
State Archery Association's (PSAA) northeast regional outdoor target
It would be the first of several. In 2016, Rinker claimed the PSAA's
northeast regional indoor championship, as well as a Pennsylvania
Field Archery Association state championship.
Most impressive, though, was her triumph in the PSAA's 2016 indoor
state championships. That's a feat Rinker will attempt to repeat this
weekend at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in
Much of Rinker's preparation comes at Lonesome Road Archery in Taylor,
but she's also a familiar face at Archery Zone in Larksville and the
Berwick Archery Club.
Rinker did shed some light on how she's preparing for her repeat bid.
"I'm practicing a bit more than usual and making sure my bow
is working properly," Rinker said. "I'm making sure my technique
is good and my routine is the same for each shot, especially since
a few fractions of an inch can mean the difference between another
state title or going home empty-handed."
While Rinker's accomplished a great deal in her young archery career,
she admits that her successes still surprise her at times.
"You never expect to win so much so soon. I never would have
dreamed of being this successful at any point, let alone in my first
few years," Rinker said. "It feels incredible. It feels
like the practice and hard work has really paid off."
Jason, expressed a similar feeling of surprise at his daughter's early
successes. Of course, her accomplishments bring him a feeling of pride
as well. Even if they do come with a bit of competitive despair.
"I figured it would be years before she got to the level I am
at and I figured there would be years of her trying to beat me when
we shoot together," Jason said. "Now, it's the opposite.
When we go shooting, I'm the one hoping to have a chance at the better
Rinker's also involved in the marching band at Nanticoke Area.
She doesn't hunt, instead saying that the time she gets to spend outdoors
with her father is part of what keeps her invested in the sport.
She plans to attend college after high school and said that she'd
like to wind up at an institution with an archery team.
It seems safe to say that, if she can find that school and that team,
it'd be happy to have her.
Commonwealth Financing Authority approves
dozens of grants for county
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved nearly five dozen grants
for Luzerne County at its meeting Wednesday.
The authority approved 58 grants ranging from $20,000 for the rehabilitation
of a Veterans of Foreign War building in Wyoming to $1 million for
acquiring and renovating a new corporate headquarters for Berkshire
Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies in Wilkes-Barre.
"The LSA grants remain an integral part of northeastern Pennsylvania's
revitalization," said Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township,
in a press release. "In every corner of Luzerne County, we are
investing in infrastructure, public safety and most importantly, in
creating good jobs."
Other major projects include $400,000 for construction on a public
works building in Butler Township, $500,000 for reconstruction of
a retaining wall along Solomons Creek in Wilkes-Barre, more than $478,000
for a Main Street revitalization project in Nanticoke.
You can view the complete listing in the 3/30/2017 of the Citizens
o Nanticoke: Nanticoke Main Street Revitalization Project, $478,198
The Commonwealth Financing Authority also approved projects through
its Small Water and Sewer Program. In Luzerne County, those projects
o Nanticoke: City of Nanticoke West Main Street sewer replacement,
Construction work will close Middle Road
in Nanticoke, starting in April
Construction will cause detours and slow-moving traffic in Nanticoke
for the foreseeable future.
Utility work on Kosciuszko Street will slow traffic this week, and
Luzerne County Community College posted on Facebook that Middle Road
will be closed to traffic due to construction of a roundabout.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notified the college
that Middle Road will be closed from Kosciuszko Street to the Lower
Askam section of Hanover Township as early as April 3, according to
This is a major part of the South Valley Parkway Project which
will eventually connect the college to state Route 29, the post
According to PennDOT, the schedule for road closures is:
Middle Road will be closed and a detour will be in place
beginning April 3. The road will reopen in November.
Kosciuszko Street will be closed July 6 and be reopened
Prospect Street will be closed in the summer of 2018 and
reopen in November 2018.
PennDOT opened the first of six roundabouts at the intersection of
Espy Street and Middle Road on Dec. 2, 2016.
When the project is completed, Nanticoke will have three single-lane
roundabouts, at Middle Road and Prospect Street, Middle Road and Espy
Street, and Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street.
Hanover Township will have two single-lane roundabouts and one two-lane
roundabout. The two single-lane roundabouts will be at the South Valley
Parkway and the northbound on- and off-ramps at the new state Route
29. The parkway and the new state Route 29 south bound on/off ramp
will be the two-lane roundabout.
In addition to the the delays, PennDOT said routine blasting will
occur throughout the area. There is also a single lane closure of
state Route 29 for the project.
PennDOT advises drivers to use alternate routes.
Local municipalities hope to recoup some
costs from historic snowstorm
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Note: Taken from article in paper concerning Nanticoke, and not the
Nanticoke is in relatively good shape after getting walloped by
the storm, according to Mayor Rich Wiaterowski. Crews from the city
department of public works as well as private contractors worked around-the-clock
for more than 48 hours after the storm, then resumed cleaning city
streets at 7 a.m. Friday, Wiaterowski said.
Hiring private contractors to help remove snow was essential, but
will cost Nanticoke a significant amount of money, Wiaterowski said.
On Friday he gave a rough estimate of $30,000 to $40,000, but cautioned
he did not have figures in front of him to refer to and that the total
cost could increase by the time the work is finished.
Nanticoke will seek reimbursement for those costs from state and federal
emergency management agencies, based on an emergency declaration Wiaterowski
issued Tuesday, the mayor said. The city still has a large supply
of salt on hand, thanks to relatively mild weather this winter prior
to Tuesdays huge storm, Wiaterowski said.
Wiaterowski commended the citys police officers, firefighters
and public works employees, as well as the private contractors the
city hired, for their efforts under extreme circumstances this week.
Parents blame social media bullying for teens
The parents of a local teenager who killed herself this week in
Nanticoke say they believe the girl took her life after being bullied
on social media.
Nina E. Zendarski, a popular freshman at Greater Nanticoke Area High
School, committed suicide at a relatives house Wednesday, her
mother Patti said Friday.
The 14-year-old Glen Lyon girls parents addressed the bullying
in her obituary, ending the death notice by saying Social media
can be dangerous. Please be kind to one another.
Patti Zendarski, 51, said her daughter was a happy kid who gave no
warning signs anything was seriously wrong. She said Nina sometimes
mentioned receiving insults online, but nothing that seemed deeply
Zendarski said she has learned much of the social media taunting was
done on platforms where the messages erase after being sent.
Everybody is shocked. My heart is broken and I will never be
able to fill that void. This kid was the light of my life, Zendarski
Zendarski said she and her husband decided to make their daughters
suicide public to encourage parents to better monitor their childrens
social media habits.
If this could save one person, I did my job. I feel like I failed
as a mother because I didnt know, Zendarski said.
Zendarski said her daughter was a sweet, kind person who used to like
to play sports but has been battling seizures the past few years which
caused her to faint frequently. Nina really loved Disney World and
the family last went there on a trip in October 2015, she said.
Zendarski provided various photos of Nina, including one from Disney
with her wearing Minnie Mouse ears.
When you see these pictures you will not believe she was this
down on herself, Zendarski said.
Zendarskis funeral is slated for Monday at noon at the main
site of St. Faustina Parish in Nanticoke. A viewing will be held Sunday
from 4 to 7 p.m. at Davis Dinelli Funeral Home, 170 E. Broad St.,
Nanticoke couple married nearly 60 years
pass away a day apart
They were born less than a year apart and shared nearly 60 years of
This week, Joseph and Bertha Brodowicz left this world a day apart.
The 81-year-old residents of Birchwood Nursing and Rehabilitation
Center had been in declining health for some time before Bertha Brodowicz
passed early Sunday, followed by her husband a day later, family members
Bertha Brodowicz suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and her husband
- who had health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease - was heartbroken to see her failing health, said their son,
Joseph Brodowicz Jr.
"I think just seeing her fade away, slowly but surely, it gave
him no more will to want to move forward," he said.
"He was doing OK, but as she got worse, he got worse," said
his wife, Sylvia. "It wasn't very healthy for him to see her
the way she was because it did bother him. He was heartbroken."
Born in Nanticoke in April 1935, Joseph Brodowicz Sr. was a factory
worker at Penn Footwear and CertainTeed, retiring after a 64-year
career. Bertha Brodowicz was born in Scranton in January 1936 and
was a factory worker for Penn Footwear as well as American Cigar.
Joseph Brodowicz Jr. described his father as a good man who would
go out of his way to help others. He loved fishing and the outdoors
- a passion not shared by his wife, who preferred spending time with
family and playing bingo, family members said.
"He was by himself a lot. They lived, not separate lives, but
she wouldn't go with him - and he was going. He'd go for two weeks,
come home for two weeks and take her shopping all over the place,"
Joseph Brodowicz Jr. said. "She was happy for him to go, and
she was happy for him to come home."
But Bertha Brodowicz's deteriorating condition caused her to be placed
in the nursing home about a year and a half ago, the family said.
"It just broke his heart that she was there," Sylvia Brodowicz
Joseph Brodowicz Sr. had been in and out of the facility a few times,
and was back as a resident for his wife's birthday in January, she
said. He decided to throw her a birthday party, she said.
"Did she know what was going on? We don't think so, but he still
wanted to give her a birthday party," she said.
Then about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Joseph Brodowicz Jr. got the call that
his mother had passed. He went to see her and contacted family members,
agreeing to get together Monday morning to break the news to his father.
"We told him and everything, and he just basically closed his
eyes," Sylvia Brodowicz said. "A few minutes later he asked,
'What time?' We told him the time and then that was it. He just laid
The next morning, the family got another call: Joseph Brodowicz Sr.
In addition to Joseph Brodowicz Jr. and Sylvia, the couple is survived
by son Michael and wife, Marie, of Elmhurst; daughter, Cynthia Dickshinski
and husband, Richard, of Nanticoke; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Friends and family are invited to join the immediate family at 10
a.m. Monday, March 20 for a Memorial Mass in St. Faustina Parish Church,
520 Hanover St., Nanticoke.
Officials: No bedbug infestation at Nanticoke
Officials at the Nanticoke School District say that, despite rumors
circulating among parents, there is no bedbug infestation at the high
The Times Leader received several tips about a potential infestation
at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School.
Officials, however, maintain that only a single bedbug was found inside
Building and Grounds Director Frank Grevera said an insect was found
in a classroom on Tuesday. It was taken away, and determined to be
An exterminator came to the school at 5 p.m. Tuesday and sprayed the
room. Grevera added that as a precaution, desks and all areas within
the room were also sprayed.
When asked if there was an infestation, Grevera replied "absolutely
"We didn't even see one of them from that point," he said.
It was not known how the bedbug made it into the school. "It
could have come from absolutely anybody. We have no idea where it
Grevera stressed that bedbugs have not been reported in any other
classrooms in the high school.
Rich Colwell, owner of Colwell Termite & Pest Control in Wilkes-Barre,
said the sighting of one bedbug is not reason for concern.
"Finding one sporadically and not finding anything else is no
reason for concern whatsoever," he said. "It could be a
reason to start monitoring, but that would be about it."
In a voice note sent to parents Wednesday, superintendent Ronald Grevera
cited posts on social media that have caused "a lot of havoc
and problems" at the high school as a result of the incident.
"There is no need for concern, and there is no reason for parents
to pull kids out of school this afternoon (Wednesday) contrary to
many of the text messages and phone calls they may be getting from
students," Grevera said in the note.
Parents called after bed bug found at Nanticoke school
Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Ronald Grevera said he issued
an automated call to parents Wednesday afternoon explaining there
was no reason to be concerned about bed bugs and no reason to pick
up students early. One bed bug was found at the high school, and the
district closed down the room and sprayed it as a precaution, Grevera
said. Rumors of a bed bug infestation were spread on social media
Portrait of a postman: Nanticoke's Joe Lloyd
touched lives for 40-plus years
Daniel Flatley - Times Leader
They hand-deliver information in the internet age and are the only
contact some people have with the outside world. They can seem faceless
and nameless - blue-suited representatives of an unknowable system.
Or one of them can be your friend.
That often was the case with postal worker Joe Lloyd, 69, of Nanticoke,
who was buried in his uniform earlier this winter, a bottle of whiskey
at his feet - a gift from a friend on his route.
In November, Lloyd was honored for 45 years of service to the post
office. He was known as "the mayor of West Nanticoke" because
he saw more of the area each day than most people see in their lifetimes,
and he always knew what was happening.
Appropriately, this story started with a letter.
'One of its best'
Fran Spencer was a mail carrier in the Nanticoke Post Office from
1990 until 1996, when she broke her ankle and became a clerk. She
retired in 2010. Shortly after learning of Lloyd's death, she emailed
a letter to the editor to the Times Leader.
"The United States Postal Service has lost one of its best,"
the letter began. "I worked with Joe Lloyd for 20 years and never
knew a more dedicated, devoted individual."
Lloyd died Jan. 25 at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. According to
his obituary, he was preceded in death by his wife, Irene (Judge)
Lloyd, and his infant twin brother, John, and is survived by three
siblings: Maryalice James of Edwardsville, John Leo Lloyd of Pittston,
and Barbara Walton of Larksville.
"His whole life was the post office," James said. "And
it showed. He didn't take care of himself, obviously. He took care
of everybody else."
A consistent refrain about her brother from all who knew him was that
"he had one foot in the bed, one foot on the floor and his hand
on the telephone, ready to answer the call."
"He was definitely dedicated," said Frank Rafalko, the Nanticoke
postmaster. "He would be here in like 15 minutes ready to go.
He really loved his job."
Rafalko said Lloyd's co-workers began noticing he was losing weight
at the start of last summer. In November, around the time he received
his award for 45 years of service, he began leaving his route early
and missing work, the latter of which had happened only once before,
In early January, Lloyd complained of a "bad chest cold"
and asked for an ambulance one day while he was home, James said.
He was taken to the hospital, where doctors confirmed he had colon
cancer. On Jan. 23, he suffered a series of three heart attacks, was
resuscitated and put on life support.
Two days later, he was gone.
Lloyd did his job and did it well, but more than that, he impacted
the people around him, according to those who knew him best.
We make so much of accomplishment and success in life that those who
don't aspire to fame and wealth are said to live "ordinary lives."
We forget that to be human is to be given opportunities to be kind,
to nourish life, to make another's burden easier to bear.
If you peel back the layers, you discover some interesting things
about Joe Lloyd.
He was born in Kingston and went to Larksville High School, where
he excelled in football and basketball and made the honor roll. One
story recounts that, after games, his liked his shower water so cold
that others didn't go near him for fear of being hit by the chilly
When Joe was 14, his mother died, leaving him and his sister Maryalice
in charge of their younger siblings. Their alcoholic father was physically
present but functionally unavailable, according to Walton, his sister.
"The old man wasn't around too much," John Lloyd said. "(Joe)
was an all-scholastic basketball player his junior year and couldn't
even go out for the team his senior year because he had to go out
and get a job because he had to support us."
John said his brother "could've been a doctor, a lawyer, or anything."
Joe could have gone to college but instead stayed behind to help take
care of the family before enlisting in the Army. After he left the
military he joined the post office.
During his first two years on the job, in Hazleton, Lloyd delivered
mail to the home of Jack Palance, the actor known for his portrayals
of cowboys, gangsters, vampires and Curly Washburn from the "City
Slickers" movie series. Famously, Palance dropped down and did
a set of one-handed push-ups on stage when he won the 1992 Oscar for
best supporting actor.
He was 73 at the time.
"He did say he was a nice guy, down to earth," James said
of her brother's interactions with Palance.
Lloyd cared for his wife, Irene, during a protracted illness and for
his mother-in-law in recent years, something his sister said was further
evidence of his patience and selflessness.
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night," goes
the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service, taken from the James
A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, a nod to the
mail carrier's unwavering consistency.
The quote, which was translated for the building, comes from an account
of the Persian Wars by the Greek historian Herodotus. The Persians
operated a system of mounted couriers on horseback, a basic concept
that continues today. Despite the advent of modern vehicles and high-tech
sorting machines, people still carry the mail, often on foot.
Karen Mazurkiewicz has worked for the Postal Service for 30 years,
most recently as the public relations officer for Central Pennsylvania.
She said the mail carrier's job has changed in subtle ways over the
past 10 or 15 years.
Today, sorting mail takes much less time with the help of machines.
As a result, carriers spend more time on their routes, especially
delivering packages - a part of the job that has increased exponentially
with the growth of online retailers.
"The boom in packages means that carriers have taken on a lot
more physically than even 10 years ago," Mazurkiewicz said.
Postal workers can "bid" on routes based on their seniority.
The longer a carrier has been in the service, the more options he
or she has. Some routes are easier than others. But some postal carriers
elect to stay on the same routes for virtually their entire careers.
When that happens, those carriers become a part of their communities.
"Wedding, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, they get invited
to these events," Mazurkiewicz said. "They become not just
a public servant but a part of your life."
After his two years in Hazleton, Lloyd delivered mail in Nanticoke
for 40 years, including the final 30 years of his life in West Nanticoke.
His military service counted for three years of postal work.
The comments section of Lloyd's obituary is filled with stories about
his interaction with customers, including memories of him sitting
on the steps and talking with them, as well as his requests for pumpkin
cookies at the holidays.
Many of Lloyd's friends and acquaintances described him as a George
Bailey-type figure from the film "It's a Wonderful Life."
The only difference is that Lloyd never complained about staying in
his hometown, according to Walton.
"I didn't realize it was to that extent until the funeral,"
she said. "These people were crying their eyes out like he was
family. I didn't even know who my mailman was."
Spencer, the woman who wrote the letter to the Times Leader about
Lloyd, said their relationship began rather inauspiciously. Lloyd
was known as a jokester and often would tease Spencer, especially
in his early days on the job. But after she saw how dedicated he was
to his profession, she grew to appreciate his consistency and to understand
his sense of humor.
"He knew how to get under people's skin, but you could set your
clock by him," she said. "I really came to admire that."
His consistency was outdone only by his humanity.
According to his sister Maryalice, Joe would ring a customer's doorbell
if he was delivering medicine; he wanted his folks to know immediately
that the potentially life-saving package was there.
The great beyond
Judith Nowak is a former nurse and grief counselor. She and her husband,
Edward, reside in the same development where Joe Lloyd lived. She
is responsible for the bottle of whiskey in his casket.
There's a story behind that, too.
Lloyd began delivering mail to Nowak's family on East Grove Street
while she was in nursing school. On the morning of her wedding, Lloyd
brought the results from her state board examination. He continued
to deliver mail to the Nowaks through all 44 years of their marriage,
until this past Christmas, when he didn't show up for his appointed
Several years ago, Nowak began a tradition of giving Lloyd a present
for Christmas, often a bottle of wine or liquor. She already had purchased
his latest gift when she found out he had passed away. She asked Lloyd's
sisters if she could leave the bottle with him.
Nowak said it brings her comfort to know that Lloyd is holding it
in the great beyond, a party favor for whomever he meets there.
"They'll say, 'Hey, Joe brought the good stuff,'" she said.
Two displaced after fire ravaged apartment
building in Nanticoke
Two people were displaced as a result of a fire that ravaged an apartment
building Monday night.
Crews were dispatched to the building on East Broad Street at 9:25
p.m. for a report of a commercial structure fire. Fire Chief Kevin
Hazleton said the building is part of Birchwood Rehabilitation and
Nursing Center and housed up to 4 apartments.
Hazleton said crews arrived to find fire blowing out of the rear and
side of the structure.
It was blowing, but the (fire) members made a good hit on it,
The apartment where the fire originated sustained heavy fire damage,
and the rest of the building sustained smoke damage, according to
Hazleton. Only two people were living in the building.
No injuries or pet deaths were reported. Hazleton said a Pennsylvania
State Police Fire Marshal is expected to look into what caused the
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
He's taking a shot on downtown Nanticoke.
Edward Rodriguez, 32, the former general manager at Johnny Rockets
at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township, has opened Cool Beanz, his
first business, at 71 E. Main St.
The bistro features specialty brewed coffee and tea, smoothies, breakfast
and lunch fare, including panini sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, soups
and sweets like pies, muffins, cookies and cupcakes.
Rodriguez, who has worked in the food industry since he was 15, said
starting his own business was something he always wanted to do.
"It is a risk, but I needed to take it to see if I can succeed,"
he said. "If I didn't take the risk, I would never know and I
would regret it. I took a big risk, something that I never did before,
and I'm putting all my chips in it and hopefully it pays off in the
long run for me and my family."
When he was looking for a place to open his new business, he stumbled
on the location in Nanticoke, the former Coffee's Coffee owned by
It is located across from Luzerne County Community College's Health
Sciences Building and Geisinger's family practice facility and near
"There are a lot of students here," Rodriguez said. "There's
the doctor's office and there are patients here and people from the
Several vacant storefronts are located next to Cool Beanz, but there
are plans to revitalize downtown buildings in the future as part of
a streetscape project, said Interim City Manager Donna Wall.
A sewer project was recently completed and a new water main will be
put in the downtown area, Wall said. New street lights are planned
in the future and Nanticoke received a $5.6 million federal grant
for the project, she said.
"Overall, I think there's a lot of progress that will be made
downtown," Wall said. "Anybody who wants to get on board
and bring businesses here, the city welcomes them here."
Rodriguez said he hopes to see other vacant buildings in Nanticoke
"I'm hoping to see other stores and different things to bring
more of the community out," he said. "I hope they revitalize
downtown and a lot more foot traffic comes by. Without customers,
I won't be open."
The eatery is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday
and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Delivery is offered 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For information, call 570-258-2315.
Nanticoke saves $2,000 by tax bill switch
The city is saving over $2,000 by switching to a private sector company
to print and mail tax bills, officials say.
The decisions to switch to Berkheimer Tax Office was brought before
and agreed on by council in May 2016. The official start date was
Jan. 15, 2017.
Jennifer Polito, the citys finance director, said the city is
saving $2,104 by having Berkheimer mail real estate tax bills.
Berkheimer is doing it for less, said Donna Wall, the
interim city manager. Previous Times Leader reports show Berkheimers
$2.25 rate per bill and $1.25 reminder mailings saves the city 25
cents per bill.
We are getting same services that the county was giving for
less, Polito said.
Wall also said the county wouldnt separate out municipal tax
from the county tax when they billed residents.
We separated it to make it easier for the taxpayers to pay since
they are now separated and due at different times, Wall noted.
School taxes, also handled by Berkhimer, are mailed in August while
the city taxes are mailed in March. The countys tax will be
issued in February.
The city didnt raise taxes in 2017. Mayor Richard Wiaterowskis
budget kept 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 Mill
Hazleton is the only other county municipality which issues a separate
city tax bill.
Nanticoke native bestowed Congressional award
A Nanticoke native has been posthumously honored for his service
with the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
Louis Testaguzza, who died on Sept. 18, 2015, was presented a certificate
of Special Congressional Recognition on Nov . 15, 2016. He was 87.
The certificate reads:
In recognition of the Congressional Gold Medal Award for invaluable
contributions in the United States Civil Air Patrol during World War
II, when they forged the path the organization and its volunteers
still follow today.
Testaguzzas sister, Julie Golanoski, of Nanticoke, said she
was very happy that her brother received such a prestigious honor.
Its belated, but he finally was recognized for his service,
Golanoski said. Im very proud of my brother. He started
his aeronautical career as a teenager even before he drove
a car, he was flying an airplane.
Golanoski said Testaguzza and his two friends joined the Civil Air
Patrol, calling themselves The Three Musketeers.
His loyalty was always strong to his home town of Nanticoke,
Golanoski said. We grew up on West Church Street, where I live
According to the Civil Air Patrols California Wing, after two
attempts to get the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Civil
Air Patrol World War II era veterans, the medal was finally authorized
by Congress and President Barack Obama in May 2014 and the medal awarded
on Dec. 10, 2014.
The CAP said while over a replica hundred medals have been awarded
to date, the organization continues to search for living members and
the families of deceased members who are eligible for the award to
ensure they are recognized for their service.
One such recipient was the family of Testaguzza, who served as a cadet
in the Pennsylvania Wing during World War II, attached to the Wilkes-Barre
Squadron, near Scranton.
Testaguzza soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub at 17 years of age and then enlisted
in the U.S. Marine Corps seven days after graduating from Nanticoke
High School, and he served as an aircraft mechanic.
In 1949, he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, but later
joined the California Air National Guard and was commissioned a second
lieutenant after completing flight training and earning his pilots
wings from the U.S. Air Force in 1953, where he flew P-51 Mustangs
and F-86 Sabre jets.
Testaguzza graduated from Northrop University in 1955 with a degree
in aeronautical engineering and began his civilian career in the burgeoning
California aerospace industry, eventually landing at Lockheed. In
1962, 2d Lt. Testaguzza was recalled to active duty during the Cuban
Missile Crisis and was later promoted to the grade of major and placed
in command of the 938th Communication Squadron.
He was again recalled to active duty in 1968 during the USS Pueblo
crisis. In 1969, Maj. Testaguzza retired from the Air Force after
more than 22 years of active and reserve service.
Testaguzza continued to work at Lockheed while attending law school
at night and after graduation, was admitted to the California State
Bar, Federal District Court and U.S. Supreme Court. He retired from
Lockheed in 1989 with over 30 years of service, but remained active
as an aviation consultant for McDonnell Douglas.
Testaguzza remained active in aviation and became a certified flight
examiner in 1988 at the age of 60 and continued to give check flights
until the age of 85. Testaguzza passed away at the age of 87 on Sept.
18, 2015 in Palo Alto, California.
The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to Testaguzzas widow,
Marlene, and his son, Brett, at John J. Montgomery Memorial Squadron
36 in San Jose by California Wing Commander Col. Alan Ferguson and
assisted by Squadron 36 Commander, Capt. Steven Angus. More than 60
CAP members were in attendance.
Testaguzza was born in Nanticoke to Italian immigrants Dominic and
Mary Testaguzza. His father worked in the coal mines and his mother
ran a boarding house.
Testaguzzas obituary noted that he lived his life to the
fullest, and he always said Life is not a rehearsal, live
Civil Air Patrol California Wing Commander Col. Alan Ferguson presented
the Congressional Gold Medal of Maj. Louis Testaguzza, a native of
Nanticoke, to his widow, Marlene, and his son, Brett, during a ceremony
on Nov. 15, 2016, in California.
About the Civil Air Patrol
The numbers alone tell a story of heroic sacrifice: At least 59 CAP
members were killed in the performance of their missions, with nearly
half 26 dying during the coastal patrols. Those patrols
alone accounted for 86,685 missions involving 244,600 flight hours
and more than 24 million aerial miles.
CAP was founded Dec. 1, 1941, a week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The coastal patrols began within three months, after the Petroleum
Industry War Council requested protection for oil tankers falling
prey to German torpedoes. Over the next 15 months, members used their
own planes to watch for U-boats, sometimes dropping bombs when they
spotted one of the submarines.
The Congressional Gold Medal marks the first major recognition CAPs
members have received for their World War II service. Fewer than 100
are believed to be alive today.
Nanticoke family crazy about Patriots
The Felici family of Nanticoke keeps their Christmas tree up every
year until the New England Patriots football season is over.
They like when its still up in February, like this year. That
means their favorite team made the Super Bowl again.
Over the years, the familys Christmas tree shed traditional
ornaments to become what it is today a shrine to the Patriots.
This years tree a white pine with lots of red, white
and blue flair has held up remarkably well as the Patriots
prepare today to play in their seventh Super Bowl in 16 years.
This is the best one weve had. Weve had ones where
all the needles fell off and it was like a stick, Kelly Felici,
Her husband, Pete, 39, convinced her to become a Patriots fan when
they started dating in the 1990s. She was a Raiders fan who converted
at the right time. Soon after she made the switch, the Patriots developed
into a dynasty under head Coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback
Some accuse her of jumping on the bandwagon of a winner.
I get called it. Hes not. Hes an original,
But Pete Felici said hes not immune to the taunts when people
see him decked out in Patriots attire. He recalls a particular time
about a decade ago when an elderly man was giving him a hard time
at a gas station after seeing him in his Patriots jacket.
Hes like, Did you just jump on the bandwagon?
I said, Ive been a fan for as long as I could remember,
Pete Felici recalled.
Pete Felici said he became a fan as a kid while visiting relatives
in Connecticut. It was cold out and they got him a New England Patriots
sweatshirt. Ever since then, he has been rooting for the Patriots.
After converting his wife, they have been to about 15 Patriots games
over the years in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Their daughters, Lexy,
13, and Brook, 10, are backers of the Patriots too.
Even they get teased by classmates about supporting the mighty Patriots,
They always bring up Deflategate, Lexy said,
referring to accusations New England deliberately underinflated footballs
used for their offense to suit Bradys preference.
All this ribbing most of it good-hearted comes with
the territory for backing a team that has been on top of the game
so long, the family says.
Over the years, Pete Felici said hes tried not to brag about
how good his team has been, but his buddies love to tease him when
Especially with all the Steelers and Eagles fans, he said.
Pete Felici said it has been a great time to be a Patriots fan because
he realizes the team isnt going to be great forever.
Its been a great run. The Belichick-Brady combination,
they have it figured out, Peter Felici said.
Family fearful with man's alleged killer
still at large
As Tina Letavish laid on her living room couch in the early morning
hours of Jan. 18, she watched her son walk out the front door to meet
Almost immediately, she heard a scuffle erupt. A flurry of gunshots
"I got up from the couch. By the time I got to the door Brandon
was coming back to the door saying someone shot him. It was like two
seconds," Letavish recalled Thursday. "He was running back
and forth in the house screaming that he didn't want to die. I replay
it every day all day in my head. All I see is my son begging for his
Smith, 20, died a short time later at the hospital from multiple gunshot
More than two weeks later, the man police identified as the killer,
convicted drug dealer Antoine McNeal, remains at large.
Letavish said her family - which includes her husband and Smith's
three younger siblings - is fearful with the killer still on the loose.
It adds to the unease of having to live in their apartment at 185
W. Church St. where Smith took some of his last breaths, she said.
"I really wish they would catch the guy," Letavish said.
Nanticoke police Chief Tom Wall said the U.S. Marshals Service is
hunting for McNeal, who was last known to live in Wilkes-Barre.
Wall wouldn't reveal how McNeal, 32, was identified as the suspect,
but confirmed drugs had something to do with the crime.
"There was drug activity involved, but the motive is unclear
at this time," Wall said.
Smith's sister, Destiny Crooks, said her brother used marijuana for
anxiety, but never dabbled with other drugs.
Letavish, 47, said Smith, one of her nine children, didn't tell her
a lot about his personal business and she didn't ask a lot of questions.
She said he was a kind, good kid who never got in trouble.
Unlike the suspect, Smith had no criminal history, according to a
search of court records.
Smith and McNeal knew each other from working at Kappa Graphics in
Hughestown, though Smith hadn't worked there for months, his mother
said. A company official declined comment.
"We have family friends that worked there. They had told us this
guy was watching Brandon and was envious of Brandon. They would tell
Brandon, 'Don't trust him.' Brandon didn't trust this kid. He was
warned about him," Letavish said.
What baffles Letavish is how the suspect ended up outside their house.
She said Smith was very private and didn't let a lot of people know
where they lived.
"I can't believe Brandon would let him near our house,"
In the aftermath of Smith's death, Letavish said the family was disheartened
to hear people online assume he was adopted because he was the only
black person in the family.
"It really hurt me to read that he was a foster child. He was
my son - my biological son and I never raised my children to think
they were 'step' anything. We are a very close family," Letavish
Another misconception, she said, were erroneous reports that her family
was a longtime neighborhood nuisance. She said they had just moved
there in November and had caused no trouble.
Letavish moved her family to Pennsylvania from Binghamton, New York,
about 10 years ago.
They lived in the Tunkhannock area for a while before moving to Nanticoke.
They moved to Ohio for a short time, then returned to Nanticoke.
"We have a lot of friends here," Letavish said.
Smith initially went to Tunkhannock Area schools, but later was moved
to the Alternative Learning Center in Plains Township for some disciplinary
reasons, his mother said.
After dropping out of school, Smith worked as a garbage picker for
J.P. Mascaro & Sons, which was also the first job for several
of her older sons who now live on their own.
"I gave him a lot of credit for that. He stuck it out,"
Smith was injured on the job and had to quit after he hit his head
off a utility pole one day during trash pickups, Letavish said.
Most recently, Smith was looking to return to school, his mother said.
Instead of planning to help him in his next chapter in life, they
had to plan for a funeral they couldn't afford, she said.
Smith's family has sent up a fund online to pay for the $2,000 they
still owe in funeral costs. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/3boa8v4.
On Sunday, they will be thinking of Smith a lot as his beloved New
England Patriots play in the Super Bowl.
"We are all rooting for the Patriots for Brandon," Letavish
HUNT FOR SUSPECT
Authorities continue to search for Nanticoke homicide suspect Antoine
McNeal, 32, last known to live in Wilkes-Barre.
Anyone with information about McNeal's whereabouts is asked to call
state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.
DONATE TO FUNERAL COSTS
The family of Nanticoke homicide victim Brandon Smith, 20, is trying
to raise money to pay for $2,000 they still owe in funeral costs.
To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/3boa8v4.
Suspect named in Nanticoke murder
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
Police have named a suspect in the murder of a Nanticoke man early
Antoine McNeal, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, shot and killed 20-year-old Brandon
Smith outside Smiths home on West Church Street in Nanticoke
at 2 a.m. Wednesday, police allege.
Police obtained an arrest warrant against McNeal on Thursday. He had
not been located as of Thursday night and is considered armed and
dangerous, police said.
According to police, Smith and McNeal got into an altercation that
resulted in McNeal shooting Smith several times.
An autopsy conducted Thursday morning determined that Smith died of
multiple gunshot wounds inflicted during a homicide, according to
the Luzerne County Coroners Office.
McNeal faces charges of homicide, illegal weapons possession, criminal
use of a communication facility and evidence tampering, according
to court records.
Anyone with information about McNeal or his whereabouts is asked to
call state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.
Neighbors question safety after Nanticoke
Gunshots rang out on the west side early Wednesday, leaving one man
dead and some neighbors questioning their safety in an era of absentee
The victim, Brandon Smith, 20, was shot repeatedly outside a home
at 185 W. Church St. about 2 a.m. following an altercation with a
person with whom he appeared to be acquainted, according to state
We do believe that its possible that it can be (drug)
related, but right now all of the evidence isnt in, said
Nanticoke police Chief Thomas Wall, whose department is jointly investigating
the slaying with state police. We have some leads but we dont
have anybody in custody at this time.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots break the early morning quiet
in an area that has had recent problems.
I heard two, possibly three, gunshots, said a witness
who did not want to be identified for her safety. And then about
two seconds later I heard the guy scream.
Police rushed to the scene and arrived to find Smith outside the home,
suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Geisinger
Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, where he was pronounced
dead about 3 a.m., according to the Luzerne County Coroners
An autopsy is planned for Thursday morning.
Smith did not appear to have a criminal history in Pennsylvania based
on the birth date state police provided.
But neighbors of the home where he died say the location was known
as a troubled property.
Desiree Deitz, 35, said the tenants Smith, a woman and a young
girl have only lived at the property a few months but have
already earned a reputation for disrupting the peace.
Theyre constantly fighting, they got their window smashed
out a couple weeks ago, Deitz said.
The house has seen high turnover in recent years, as has another nearby
property she said has been causing problems with drugs.
Deitz blamed the neighborhoods problems on absentee landlords
who only care about collecting the rent.
Thats the problem in this town. The absentee landlords,
they dont care. They rent to whoever and then we are affected,
Deitz said. Its sad because Im trying to raise a
family. Theyre trying to raise a family. Our neighbors have
been here for years. Our friend across the street, she lives there
alone. Shes lived there her whole life. Its terrifying.
It really is terrifying. I dont like to come home and see police
crime-scene tape down the street from my house.
The shooting caused police to close West Church Street down for hours
as they processed the crime scene. By Wednesday afternoon, the street
had been re-opened to traffic.
While a reporter was on the scene, state police investigators returned
to look for evidence that was mentioned in an interview, Wall said.
Right now, were just doing some interviews and following
up on some leads that we have, he said.
The shooting is the second Nanticoke has experienced in recent weeks.
Kenneth Powell, 30, was shot in the back after allegedly confronting
an unidentified man who broke into his East Spring Street home the
morning of Dec. 8.
Powell and his girlfriend, Courtney Padden, 26, were presented with
felony drug-trafficking charges after police say they found a large
bag of marijuana, drug packaging materials and nearly $13,000 in cash
inside the home.
Smiths death is the second homicide of the year for Luzerne
County following the Jan. 11 slaying of Brock Earnest, 40, of Montandon.
Keith Williams, 40, is charged with criminal homicide after prosecutors
say he shot Earnest, who was sitting on a couch, following a fight
between the men at Williams home in Fairmount Township.
SCI-Retreat forum focuses on safety
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
A public forum Tuesday on the potential closure of State Correctional
Institution at Retreat focused on the potential danger to corrections
officers and inmates.
Don Williams takes that issue personally. His son, Eric Williams,
was killed in the line of duty as a corrections officer at U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan
in Wayne County in 2013.
On Tuesday, Don Williams led the forum at Luzerne County Community
College devoted to keeping SCI-Retreat open. He implored Gov. Tom
Wolf not to close SCI-Retreat Newport Townships largest
employer or other state prisons as a cost-cutting measure.
The state Department of Corrections on Jan. 6 issued a list of five
state prisons, including SCI-Retreat, two of which could be closed
to cut expenses from the state budget.
Closing prisons and moving inmates to other correctional institutions
with empty beds would put more corrections officers and inmates at
closer quarters where bad things can happen, Williams said.
Weve established there is going to be overcrowding,
he said. Its a formula for disaster.
Williams noted that when his son was killed by an inmate wielding
a home-made weapon, three things stood out: He was alone, he was unarmed
and the prison was overcrowded.
The greater the number of inmates a corrections officer must supervise,
the greater the chance of an inmate attack on an officer, according
to Williams, who is president of Voices of Joe, an advocacy group
that lobbies for improved working conditions and safety for corrections
Altering the staff ratio by 1 percent will increase assaults
by 30 percent, said Shane Fausey, vice president of Voices of
Fausey asked the many corrections officers in attendance if they had
ever been attacked by an inmate. More than a dozen hands instantly
shot up into the air.
What do you think the end result will be? if state prisons
fill to capacity or beyond, Fausey asked.
Fausey and Williams questioned whether closing state prisons would
save as much money as Wolf projected or even save anything
at all, after the final accounting is done.
All it would take is one riot for the prison consolidation plan to
wind up costing more than it saves, Fausey said.
He cited the days-long riot at Camp Hill state prison in 1989 as a
bad precedent. It cost $14 million to repair the damage and clean
up after the disturbance, he said.
Thats a far cry from the pennies they are going to save
by closing prisons, Fausey said.
There could be a societal cost as well, Williams said. If prison populations
reach or exceed maximum, parole boards might release some inmates
early to ease overcrowding, he said.
One of my biggest fears is they are going to release people
into society with no plan for how to deal with them, Williams
Prison consolidation and overcrowding would impact the many inmates
who require mental health treatment, according to Tuesdays panel
which included state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township,
state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, Luzerne County District
Attorney Stefanie Salavantis and county Manager David Pedri.
How many of these inmates are going to get this treatment, which
we are required to give them? Salavantis asked.
Williams suggested that denying inmates mental health treatment could
be cause for federal authorities to intervene.
The panel unanimously supported Yudichaks call for Wolf to delay
making a decision on closing prisons. As of now that decision is scheduled
for Jan. 26, with the affected prisons to close by June 30.
This has been driven by the budget, not driven by safety,
Officials: SCI-Retreat closure would devastate
It will be bad news for Greater
Nanticoke Area School District if State Correctional Institution
at Retreat closes as part of a state prison consolidation.
That was the message hammered home at a Friday press conference by
state lawmakers, district officials and corrections officers who work
at SCI-Retreat, which houses 1,100 inmates and employs more than 400
workers on the prison grounds off U.S. Route 11 in Newport Township.
The closure of SCI-Retreat, and possibly SCI-Waymart in Wayne County
or SCI-Frackville in Schuylkill County, would have a devastating
impact on the economy of Northeastern Pennsylvania and especially
communities in the Greater Nanticoke Area, said state Sen. John Yudichak,
The three prisons are on a list of five state correctional institutions
targeted for possible closure as a cost-cutting measure, the state
Department of Corrections announced last week.
Gov. Tom Wolf has said he wants to focus on education rather than
prisons, Yudichak said.
The senator, speaking in a conference room at his alma mater, Nanticoke
High School, described that concept as a false choice.
Life is not that simple, Yudichak said. Crime still
exists. Drugs remain a problem.
Taxpayers should not be forced to choose between safe streets and
quality schools, Yudichak said.
Yudichak and state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, on Friday
continued their week-long rally in support of SCI-Retreat, noting
that Wolf and state Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel overestimate
the cost savings that closing prisons would realize.
According to Yudichak and Mullery:
SCI-Retreat is the second-largest employer in Greater Nanticoke
Area, behind only Luzerne County Community College.
If the prison closes, the school district would lose about
90 families and 200 students, resulting in a loss of about $100,000
in tax revenue.
The losses could force district officials to cut programs and
services, such as a pre-kindergarten program that district Superintendent
Ronald Grevera said the district would like to expand rather than
About 350 SCI-Retreat employees live in Luzerne County, so
most school districts in the county would be impacted if the prison
I am not sure how we would overcome the loss of revenue,
Four corrections officers at SCI-Retreat, all fathers of children
who attend district schools, sat next to the officials gathered at
the conference table.
The men and their families face harrowing uncertainty about their
future, said Mark Truszkowski of the PA State Corrections Officers
The Department of Corrections has guaranteed jobs somewhere in the
state to corrections officers who currently work at prisons that will
close, but that will require officers to either relocate or commute
long distances, Truszkowski said.
That will affect the officers children and families, according
We are hurting the developmental stages of these children,
Mullery questioned the timetable established by Wolf to decide which
prisons will close.
That decision will be made on Jan. 26, Wetzel said last week.
There is no magic to (that) date, Mullery said.
He and Yudichak urged the governor to extend the deadline and make
decisions on potentially closing prisons as part of the state budgeting
process, which will last throughout the first half of 2017.
All we are asking is to extend the deadline, Yudichak
The fight to keep SCI-Retreat open will continue for the 12 days until
that deadline arrives.
The state House of Representatives Northeast Delegation will send
a letter to Wolf expressing dismay at the governors
plan to close prisons, Mullery said.
The letter will urge Wolf to delay the decision until public hearings
are held, at which those affected by potential prison closings may
testify, according to Mullery.
Also, busloads of corrections officers plan to attend a hearing in
Harrisburg on Jan. 23, at which three Senate committees will review
the plan to potentially close state prisons, according to Truszkowski.
We are going to pack the place, he said.
Yudichak, Mullery say closing SCI Retreat
would hurt education at GNA
State Sen. John Yudichak said Friday if Gov. Tom Wolf cares more
about schools than prisons, he should consider the adverse impact
closing the State Correctional Institute at Retreat would have on
the quality of education in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.
Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport
Township, held another news conference on the governors plan
to close two state prisons this time, the two legislators were
at their alma mater, the districts high school. SCI Retreat
is on a list of five state prisons from which two are scheduled to
be chosen for closure on Jan. 26.|
Yudichak and Mullery and other state legislators have been asking
the governor and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel to
extend the deadline to allow for more time to gather information,
such as the economic impact any closing would have on the host communities.
Gov. Wolf wants to invest in schools, not prisons, but that
is a false choice, Yudichak said. Pennsylvanias
taxpayers want to invest in both. Closing SCI-Retreat will jeopardize
$1.6 million in funding for the Nanticoke School District and threatens
important educational programs like Pre-K instruction.
Joining Yudichak and Mullery were Dr. Ronald Grevera, superintendent
of the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, district school board
members, and five members of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers
Association who work at SCI Retreat and whose children attend school
in the district.
A closure of SCI-Retreat means we could lose 90 families and
more than 200 students, Grevera said. We cannot absorb
such a staggering exodus of families and students, as well as the
second largest employer within the district. It is simple math
if the prison closes, secure funding for our schools will be
Yudichak and Mullery stressed that the prison is integral to the entire
community, both as an employer and as an important part of the criminal
The 139 heroin overdoses in Luzerne County demonstrates that
drug abuse remains a problem in the county and crime remains an issue
in our community, Yudichak said.
Mullery said no one knows when the dominoes will stop falling
if the governor closes prisons prematurely.
I have yet to hear a compelling reason why this decision needs
to be made on Jan. 26, let alone a compelling reason to target three
prisons in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Mullery said.
Yudichak said closing SCI Retreat would result in a loss of $100,000
in tax revenue to the school district. He said the pre-K program at
Nanticoke costs approximately $190,000 per year. He said the loss
of revenue would not only have an immediate effect on the program,
it could be lost.
Grevera said any cuts to the pre-K program would have a significant,
measurable negative effect on the quality of education in the district.
He said elementary students have been found to be better at reading
and math because of the pre-K program.|
We should be expanding our pre-K program, not cutting it,
Grevera said. With a potential loss of $1.6 million in funding,
Im not sure how we would ever recover from that.
The DOC and Wolf Administration has been holding meetings to determine
the economic impact closing a prison would mean to each of the five
possible areas. Yudichak and Mullery have estimated closing SCI Retreat
would see a $57.3 million hit to the regions economy.
The legislators have asked that Wolf delay a decision on prison closings
and resume budget talks, with the hope that enough cuts can be found
to avoid significant measures, such as closing two prisons. Some 2,500
inmates would have to be relocated and about 800 employees reassigned
if two prisons are shut down.
Yudichak cited Northeastern Pennsylvanias 6.3 percent unemployment
rate, stating that closing SCI Retreat would see that number rise
Yudichak and Mullery said they feel state legislators have been shut
out of the decision-making process.
These are tax dollars, Yudichak said. We should
be a part of this process.
Mullery said there are some 2,000 to 2,500 state inmates currently
housed in county correctional facilities. He said those inmates, if
returned to state facilities, would eliminate the need to close prisons.
If this is a numbers issue, as Secretary Wetzel has stated,
then that would resolve that, Yudichak said. There has
also been talk of the state accepting federal inmates. We will have
a new president on Jan. 20. We should allow for more time to see if
that agreement can be reached.
Nanticoke police chief responds to criticism
A discussion about illegally parked commercial vehicles during Wednesday's
city council meeting caused police Chief Tom Wall to question if some
city residents have negative attitudes.
"It's been brought to my attention that nothing happens in Nanticoke."
Wall said during the meeting. "Have you read the papers lately?"
Wall said some of the complaints aired at council meetings are "very
minuscule" on the police scale and pointed to the number of heroin
deaths in the county - 140 in 2016 - as an example of one of the problems
his department is forced to face.
Wall did reassure citizens that anything called in to him or the police
department will be addressed, but, in some instances, it may be low
on the police's radar.
He was answering complaints from John Telencho and Lou Gianuzzi about
illegally parked commercial vehicles.
"I know this isn't the most important thing in the world,"
Gianuzzi said. "But there has to be something flowing."
Gianuzzi is upset that tractor-trailers park on conservation land
near the bridge connecting Nanticoke with Plymouth Township. It wasn't
the first time Gianuzzi has complained about the trucks. Minutes from
as early as June show him questioning interim City Manager Donna Wall
"You don't know what they're hauling," Gianuzzi said, claiming
they could be hauling explosives or dirty soil.
Solicitor William Finnegan said he had tried to make contact with
the owners of the land to buy the parcel because it sits next to a
larger property the city owns. Finnegan said he's reached out "twice
in writing and once by phone" to the owner, who has yet to respond.
"It's a grey area," the police chief said about citing the
owner of the property.
"It's private property. We don't own it," Donna said.
Gianuzzi was also concerned with the loss of a $40,000 contract between
the police department and Warrior Run to patrol the borough. Finance
Director Jennifer Polito said the appropriate revisions to the department's
budget have been made.
"We did pull the $40,000 from the budget.
to hopefully try to increase revenue in the police department,"
The next council meeting will be held 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in council chambers,
15 E. Ridge St.