Nanticoke City
News - 2017
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As we receive information from the Times Leader or Citizens' Voice we will post it here.
Nanticoke City webdesign note: The articles and information you see on this site are from articles that are taken from the Times Leader or Citizen Voice newspapers. If some articles are not added we accept no responsibility for not seeing them on the day they were published. Thank You.
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 the post.

“This is a major part of the South Valley Parkway Project which will eventually connect the college to state Route 29,” the post states.

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 in November.

• 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 full article.

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 Tuesday’s huge storm, Wiaterowski said.
Wiaterowski commended the city’s 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 teen’s suicide

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 relative’s house Wednesday, her mother Patti said Friday.
The 14-year-old Glen Lyon girl’s 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 concerning.
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 said.
Zendarski said she and her husband decided to make their daughter’s suicide public to encourage parents to better monitor their children’s social media habits.
“If this could save one person, I did my job. I feel like I failed as a mother because I didn’t 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.
Zendarski’s 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.

Nanticoke couple married nearly 60 years pass away a day apart
Citizens Voice

They were born less than a year apart and shared nearly 60 years of marriage.
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 said Thursday.
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 said.
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 there."
The next morning, the family got another call: Joseph Brodowicz Sr. had passed.
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 High School

Officials at the Nanticoke School District say that, despite rumors circulating among parents, there is no bedbug infestation at the high school.
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 the building.
Building and Grounds Director Frank Grevera said an insect was found in a classroom on Tuesday. It was taken away, and determined to be a bedbug.
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 not."
"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 came from."
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 Wednesday.

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, Rafalko noted.
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.
'Could've been … anything'
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 spray.
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.
The creed
"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 rounds.
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,” he said.
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 blaze.

Downtown Jolt
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 Kim Coffee.
It is located across from Luzerne County Community College's Health Sciences Building and Geisinger's family practice facility and near Weis Market.
"There are a lot of students here," Rodriguez said. "There's the doctor's office and there are patients here and people from the supermarket."
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 filled.
"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."
Cool Beanz
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 city’s 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 Berkheimer’s $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 wouldn’t 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 county’s tax will be issued in February.
The city didn’t raise taxes in 2017. Mayor Richard Wiaterowski’s 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 Memorial Library.
Hazleton is the only other county municipality which issues a separate city tax bill.

Nanticoke native bestowed Congressional award posthumously

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.”
Testaguzza’s sister, Julie Golanoski, of Nanticoke, said she was very happy that her brother received such a prestigious honor.
“It’s belated, but he finally was recognized for his service,” Golanoski said. “I’m 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 now.”
According to the Civil Air Patrol’s 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 pilot’s 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 Testaguzza’s 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.
Testaguzza’s obituary noted that he “lived his life to the fullest,” and he always said “Life is not a rehearsal, live it up!”
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 CAP’s 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 it’s still up in February, like this year. That means their favorite team made the Super Bowl again.
Over the years, the family’s Christmas tree shed traditional ornaments to become what it is today — a shrine to the Patriots. This year’s 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 we’ve had. We’ve had ones where all the needles fell off and it was like a stick,” Kelly Felici, 39, said.
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 Tom Brady.
Some accuse her of “jumping on the bandwagon” of a winner.
“I get called it. He’s not. He’s an original,” she said.
But Pete Felici said he’s 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.
“He’s like, ‘Did you just jump on the bandwagon?’ I said, ‘I’ve 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 said.
“They always bring up ‘Deflategate,’” Lexy said, referring to accusations New England deliberately underinflated footballs used for their offense to suit Brady’s 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 he’s tried not to brag about how good his team has been, but his buddies love to tease him when they falter.
“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 “isn’t going to be great forever.”
“It’s 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 someone.
Almost immediately, she heard a scuffle erupt. A flurry of gunshots followed.
"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 life."
Smith, 20, died a short time later at the hospital from multiple gunshot wounds.
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," she said.
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 said.
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," Letavish said.
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
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 said.
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.
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

Suspect named in Nanticoke murder
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

Police have named a suspect in the murder of a Nanticoke man early Wednesday morning.
Antoine McNeal, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, shot and killed 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside Smith’s 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 Coroner’s 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 fatal shooting

Gunshots rang out on the west side early Wednesday, leaving one man dead and some neighbors questioning their safety in an era of absentee landlords.
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 police.
“We do believe that it’s possible that it can be (drug) related, but right now all of the evidence isn’t in,” said Nanticoke police Chief Thomas Wall, whose department is jointly investigating the slaying with state police. “We have some leads but we don’t 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 Coroner’s Office.
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.
“They’re 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 neighborhood’s problems on absentee landlords who only care about collecting the rent.
“That’s the problem in this town. The absentee landlords, they don’t care. They rent to whoever and then we are affected,” Deitz said. “It’s sad because I’m trying to raise a family. They’re trying to raise a family. Our neighbors have been here for years. Our friend across the street, she lives there alone. She’s lived there her whole life. It’s terrifying. It really is terrifying. I don’t 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, we’re 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.
Smith’s 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 Township’s 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.
“We’ve established there is going to be overcrowding,” he said. “It’s 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 officers.
“Altering the staff ratio by 1 percent will increase assaults by 30 percent,” said Shane Fausey, vice president of Voices of Joe.
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.
“That’s 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 said.
Prison consolidation and overcrowding would impact the many inmates who require mental health treatment, according to Tuesday’s 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 Yudichak’s 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,” Yudichak said.

Officials: SCI-Retreat closure would devastate Nanticoke area

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, D-Plymouth Township.
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 eliminate.
• About 350 SCI-Retreat employees live in Luzerne County, so most school districts in the county would be impacted if the prison closes.

“I am not sure how we would overcome the loss of revenue,” Grevera said.
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 Association.
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 to Truszkowski.
“We are hurting the developmental stages of these children,” he said.
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 said.
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 governor’s 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 governor’s plan to close two state prisons — this time, the two legislators were at their alma mater, the district’s 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. “Pennsylvania’s 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 undermined.”
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 justice system.
“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, I’m 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 region’s 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 Pennsylvania’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate, stating that closing SCI Retreat would see that number rise significantly.
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 of department

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 about them.
"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. … We're going to hopefully try to increase revenue in the police department," Polito said.
The next council meeting will be held 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in council chambers, 15 E. Ridge St.

Happy New Year - 2017 !!
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