Mullery fears cuts could put Nanticoke project
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
The proposal to turn land next to a former gas plant into a recreation
complex may be on hold if suggested cuts to the state budget are passed.
The project site, called the Lower Broadway Recreation Complex, would
include a park with athletic fields, a playground, walking trails,
a skateboard park and marsh overlook.
The proposal is part of a state program to transform brownfields,
which are properties whose development is complicated by the presence
or potential presence of a hazardous substance, according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
The state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources created a pilot program to clean
up blighted areas like the Nanticoke site.
Without necessary state funding, it puts our area in a precarious
situation because the site needs to be transformed from an industrial
blight area to a recreational site that we can all benefit from,
Mullery wrote in a press release. Environmental projects in
my area will suffer greatly if the House Republican fiscal plan is
passed. We need to invest in our future landscape development now.
Technology helping police keep up with new
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
FORTY FORT The computer screen lit up in red and a beep sounded
throughout the police interceptor sport utility vehicle.
Officer Anthony Smith of the Forty Fort police department knew he
had just passed a vehicle with an expired registration.
You cant take a ride through town without this thing going
off, Smith said Friday.
Smith pointed to a screen attached to the computer in the police SUV,
on which photographs of vehicles popped up in quick succession. Cameras
attached to the patrol vehicle took photos of license plates of almost
every vehicle Smith drove past.
License plate recognition software, connected to state and national
databases, did the rest.
Since PennDOT stopped issuing month/year stickers to place on license
plates as of this year, local police departments have been forced
to find other ways to determine if a vehicles registration is
Forty Fort is one of three departments in Luzerne County, along with
Nanticoke and West Hazleton, to settle on a camera-and-software
solution, according to borough police Chief Daniel Hunsinger.
Forty Fort has two vehicles equipped with the system, according to
Hunsinger, who said he learned about license plate recognition software
at a police chiefs convention in Erie.
The hardware and software combined cost about $17,000, Hunsinger said.
The first unit was paid for through a Local Share Account state gaming
grant, while the police departments operating budget covered
the cost of the second system, Hunsinger said.
The system provides useful information for officers on patrol, Smith
The old sticker-based system only indicated if a registration was
expired, whereas the computer software lets an officer know if a registration
is suspended or listed as belonging to a stolen vehicle, he said.
It lets officers know what they are dealing with, Smith
During a 15-minute ride on Friday, the camera took 271 photos of vehicles.
The system registered 12 hits, with one suspended registration
and 11 expired registrations.
Borough Mayor Andy Tuzinski credited state Rep. Aaron Kaufer and state
Sen. Lisa Baker for supporting Forty Forts efforts to obtain
the state grant and get the system up and running.
Nanticoke Area fills vacant board seat
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice
Mark Cardone became the ninth member of the Greater Nanticoke Area
School Board at Thursdays meeting.
Cardone had owned the Pizza Mill restaurant in Kingston for 25 years
and is a secondary teacher for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
He lives in Nanticoke.
The school board appointed Cardone to a vacant board seat. He replaces
Ryan Verazin, who resigned from the board last month.
Also at Thursdays meeting, Superintendent Ronald Grevera gave
an update on the Kennedy Early Childhood Center building project.
The new school facility is expected to open for the 2018-19 school
year for Pre-K through second grade.
Exterior work involving structural steel will take place over the
next two months, and interior work will continue during the winter,
On March 28, the school board voted to accept project bids with a
total cost of
$8.8 million. A change order for classroom modifications was expected
to increase the cost by $33,800, but it ended up only costing $4,382,
Students lacking shots may be barred from
Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice (Note: Edited for website by Nanticoke
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District may have to exclude about
40 percent of high school seniors from attending school Friday because
they failed to get meningitis booster shots, Superintendent Ronald
Grevera said Monday.
A new state law requires students in grade 12 to have a second vaccination
against meningitis by the fifth day of school.
I am concerned that many students particularly seniors will
be missing some time due to the change in the immunization rules,
Grevera wrote in a email.
But the new law provides some exemptions. Students can stay in school
by submitting medical notes that vaccinations are scheduled, state
Department of Health spokeswoman April Hutcheson said. Students who
have a religious or medical reason for not getting immunized are also
About 170 students are typically enrolled in 12th grade at Greater
Valley with a Heart raises funds for families
of sick children
17th annual event raises funds for families
of sick childrenZ
By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader
James and Heather Shaw were preparing to start their new lives in
Shanghai, China, this past October when the unthinkable happened.
The Swoyersville family was about to leave the country for Heathers
new job across the world when one morning something was terribly wrong
with their daughter, Joanna.
We sold our house, got rid of everything we had, donated to
the church, moved in with family for a couple weeks, and then with
plane ticket in hand, my daughter essentially woke up one day and
could not walk, James said. No warning, no illness, nothing
She went from walking around and being a normal kid to I had
to pick her up and put her in a wheelchair.
Joanna was one of three children chosen to be this years beneficiaries
of Sundays 17th annual Valley with a Heart benefit.
Held at the St. Faustina Grove, the benefit has become a large draw
to motorcycle enthusiasts and those wishing to better the lives of
sick children through a fun-filled day of live entertainment, raffles,
food and a scenic motorcycle ride throughout the Wyoming Valley.
After emergency room visits and a plethora of testing, the Shaws were
told to immediately travel to Danville to resume testing and treat
Joanna. After two weeks in the hospital, the 13-year-old began to
walk again, although doctors still arent completely sure of
what exactly happened, Heather said. Nevertheless, the plan to relocate
to China was put on hold, as the family is now working on finding
stability locally as they continue to travel for tests.
The organization assisted the Shaws by providing free gas cards to
ease travel expenses, and funds from Saturdays benefit will
assist in paying for medical bills for all three families.
Valley With a Heart started in 2000 after a group of concerned friends
and motorcycle enthusiasts banned together, creating a benefit to
aid the family of Elise Harrison, an 11-year-old cancer patient. The
event was a success, and the Valley with a Heart annual benefit was
Since then, Valley with A Heart has raised over $500,000 dollars for
seriously ill children and their families.
Rick Temarantz, the organizations president, said it was easy
to decide on the benefits name, which is supported through the
We decided to put our name with something thats already
recognized within our area, that tells about our community,
he said. We are not a motorcycle group. We are people that ride
that decided to help needy families.
While Sundays weather dealt a blow to the organizations
fundraising efforts and ultimately caused the cancellation of the
annual motorcycle ride for safety reasons, Valley With a Heart treasurer
Ricky Taddei said he was hopeful that the public would still come
to show their support and enjoy other features the benefit offers.
At least 15 bands were scheduled to play throughout the daylong event,
with dozens of local vendors, food and nearly 70 raffle baskets for
Whatever we raise based on the generosity of the people here,
thats what we care about, he said.
While Joanna was busy volunteering her time in the kitchen, Lisa Mosley
sat in a chair with her two and-a-half year-old daughter, Callie,
in her lap. Surrounded by family members all donning matching pink
tee shirts, the Bear Creek resident shared her daughters story,
and what the organization and local community means to them.
Mosley has taken care of Callie since she was 4 weeks old, formally
adopting her last year. She has undergone multiple surgeries, just
having heart surgery a mere 10 days ago.
We knew something was wrong, but we didnt know what was
wrong, she said of when she first took Callie in.
When Callie turned 7 months old, the family discovered that Callie
has a chromosomal problem, and is missing an X chromosome and 157
genes, she said. Callie also suffers from Cerebral Palsy, sensory
disorder and more. Callie cannot walk or talk. She uses a variety
of machines, including oxygen and a feeding tube. However Mosley says
she is a very strong and happy girl, which was abundantly clear as
she bopped around in her mothers lap, interested in what she
saw around her.
Mosley said she first heard about Valley with a Heart through a friend
in December and decided to put in an application for gas assistance,
as Callie goes to Hershey for treatment up to 4 times per week. The
organization responded to her call for help, later offering to make
Callie one of the events beneficiaries.
It was a huge surprise, a great blessing that were getting help
like this. Its just great to know that were not alone,
and theres other people out there to help us, she said.
Traveling is a big, big part in taking care of her. The benefit
is going to help tremendously with helping out with our travel expenses.
I just want to give a big thank you. These people, the Valley with
a Heart - these people have hearts of gold, she said while tearing
As dozens of members and volunteers started selling tickets and dishing
up everything from hamburgers and hotdogs to haluski and pierogies
to hungry patrons, Amber Morgan and Tara Hewes were taking shelter
from the rain under the kitchens canopy. Morgan said she attended
last years benefit and ride, and was hoping that the rain wouldnt
affect the event negatively.
Hewes said this was her first time attending the event. The Millville
resident said she was excited for the ride, but was happy to still
come and support such a great cause even though it was cancelled.
We were interested in the ride, but of course the weather kept
us from riding, she said. But were still here for
As the afternoon approached with more cars and motorcycles pulling
in, Brett Kennedy and his girlfriend, Bryana Sudul stood under the
pavilion while they watched over Bretts 7 month-old daughter,
Emma. The third beneficiary of the event, Emma was born with a heart
condition, and requires regular trips to the Childrens Hospital
of Philadelphia as well as Geisinger Danville.
Emma was born with a VSD, which was a hole in her heart. We
ended up getting reached out to by (Swoyersville Mayor) Chris Concert
that told us about Valley With a Heart. He told us a little bit about
who they are, we filled out the application and they got in touch
with us immediately, Kennedy said. They were a great help
right from the very beginning, I couldnt thank them enough for
everything theyve done.
Besides providing gas cards, the Hunlock Creek resident said that
Valley With a Heart assisted in paying for hotel rooms when Emma had
to stay in the hospital overnight, and is also helping to lower the
cost of medical bills. Today, Kennedy said that Emma is doing much
better, but will remain on breathing treatments for an unknown amount
Shes doing absolutely amazing now. Were finally
on the right track.
To donate or apply for assistance for a child or family in need, visit
Event raises money for ailing children
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Lori Trapane of Hunlock Creek never expected to wear a pink shirt
to Valley With a Heart benefits annual ride and family picnic.
Pink shirts identified family members of those who would benefit from
funds raised at the event for sick children in the Wyoming Valley,
and this year, Trapane came to support her granddaughter, Emma Kennedy.
Its wonderful, she said. Weve been involved
for years ... they do wonderful things for the valley.
Seven-month-old Emma was born with a ventrical septal defect, or a
hole in her heart, according to her father, Brett Kennedy. Emma was
named one of the poster children for this years
benefit, the 17th Valley with a Heart Benefits has hosted.
Were really grateful, he said. We cant
thank them enough for everything theyve done.
Morning rain canceled the scheduled motorcycle ride, but plenty of
people showed up for the bands, food and vendors at St. Faustinas
Grove throughout Sunday afternoon, Valley With a Heart Benefits president
Rick Temarantz said.
Once the sun came out, people would be here, he said.
Temarantz expected the event to raise $750,000 to help children in
the community, especially the poster-children like Emma, 2-year-old
Callie Moseley of Bear Creek, and 13-year-old Joanna Shaw of Swoyersville.
All of the profits go back into the community, Temarantz
After watching a performance by her husbands band, Big Country,
Trapane got a chance to observe the crowd enjoying the event and helping
Its very warming to know youre part of such a great
community, she said.
Nanticokes Bob Bertoni helping the
Little League World Series get calls right
By Tom Robinson - For Times Leader
Bob Bertoni looks at the monitors and is one of the guys who officially
decides when a fellow umpire has been incorrect.
And when he does, Bertoni said he has a reaction that is opposite
of what might be assumed.
It has just made me realize how much harder it is to umpire
a game, said Bertoni, the Nanticoke resident who, along with
Chris Thomas from Old Forge, will be in the replay room Sunday for
the Little League Baseball World Series championship game. Even
when we overturn an umpires call, nine times out of 10, I say
to myself, I would have made the same call he did, because
its just that bang-bang.
We have the luxury of looking at it a few times at a few different
angles, whereas they are making a split-second call right then and
As a fellow umpire, Bertoni who doubles as a local Little League administrator,
has an understanding of the game from perspectives both on and off
Bertoni and Thomas are among the six veteran umpires, three at a time,
who have worked the replay room in games throughout the series, which
began Aug. 17 and concludes at 3 p.m. Sunday with Lufkin, Texas, taking
on Kitasuna from Tokyo, Japan, on ABC.
Over that time, Bertoni said the on-field umpires and those officiating
the game with the aid of video learn to understand and appreciate
I give them a ton of credit. The umpires take it, said
Bertoni, a former Crestwood High School softball coach. We sit
down and tell them, Hey look it, its nothing personal.
Our job is to make sure we get it right.
And, by the end of the week, the (reviews) are not uncommon
for them. If its a bang-bang play, they know its going
to get challenged. If a manager has two challenges, hes going
to use them because he cant take them home with him.
Little League uses video review at just the regional level
the last stop before Williamsport and the World Series once
ESPN and its partners have crews in place to broadcast games. Managers
can ask the video to be checked on reviewable plays up until the point
they are wrong twice in the same game.
The World Series final represents the end of a long three-week stretch
for Bertoni, who has worked the Mid-Atlantic and New England Regionals
in Bristol, Conn., the last two seasons.
The job is a natural for Bertoni. He has developed a passion for umpiring
and Little League through decades of involvement in both, often at
the same time.
Bertoni has spent 37 years in Little League Baseball, 26 of them on
the staff of Pennsylvania Districts 16 and 31, based in Luzerne County.
For the last three years, Bertoni has been the district administrator,
the top organizational position, for Districts 16 and 31.
As an umpire, Bertoni worked his first district tournament games in
1982 as an 18-year-old. He has been on the field for Eastern Regionals
(combined Mid-Atlantic and New England) in both baseball and softball
and worked the 1999 Junior Little League Baseball World Series for
13- and 14-year-olds in Kirkland, Wash.
That experience helps all the umpires in the review room get to work,
at times, before a video review becomes official.
We have headsets on so theyll say, the manager is
challenging this play, Bertoni said. Well, before
he gets to us, we know pretty much if hes going to challenge
something, so were already looking at the replay before he even
gets to us.
The chairman of the three-man crew asks ESPN for the replay to get
the process started. Although there is a technician on hand to assist
if needed, the umpires are all trained on the equipment, so they can
quickly look at what they want, the way they want to view it.
Instead of groups of three rotating, all six will be in the room for
the finals today.
Bertoni said that will not create any difficulties. He said the three-men
crews are not voting 2-1 on decisions. Theyre generally unanimous.
I cant think of one time weve disagreed because
its right there in front of us, he said. We get
better views than you get on TV and we have the equipment to stop
it and start it and look at it from different angles that the public
We dont disagree because we have the facts right in front
And, when the facts provide enough conclusive evidence to overturn
the calls their on-field colleagues have made, the video reviewers
do not hesitate to overturn decisions and get it right.
Students face new drug policies
Citizens Voice - Exerpt
Greater Nanticoke school district plans to have the life-saving drug
naloxone in schools this year to deal with the opioid crisis and possible
overdoses in school.
District policy addresses the proper storage and administration
on Narcan in the event its ever needed, said Ronald Grevera,
superintendent at Greater Nanticoke Area. This is a proactive
step with the hope that it will never need to be utilized.
Greater Nanticoke expects to receive Narcan in September from the
state, which will provide a set amount and is not providing a monetary
grant for the district to buy Narcan, Grevera said.
New attendance rules
School districts this year are required to implement new state-mandated
attendance regulations and must now hold conferences with parents
after a student has a third unexcused absence.
At the conference, district officials and parents will discuss truancy
and develop an attendance improvement plan. A fourth unexcused absence
will result in referral to a district magistrate, and districts also
must report additional unexcused absences to either the magistrate
or the county children and youth agency.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Greater Nanticoke Area
School District, and throughout the year, the district will be recognizing
the founding of the district through athletic events, Grevera said.
The first event was at Fridays football game, and alumni who
played football for Nanticoke between 1967-2017 were admitted for
free, Grevera said. The district unveiled a new state of the art lighting
system at the alumni night game.
The LED system was a project through Musco Lighting, which has provided
sports stadium lighting at Clemson University, Auburn University,
the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Notre Dame Stadium, Petco
Park in San Diego and Ford Field in Detroit, Grevera said.
Kennedy Elementary School will remain under construction this year
and will reopen for 2018-19 as the Kennedy Early Childhood Center
for Pre-K through the second grade.
The new school will be equipped with a multipurpose room which
will serve as a gym and full service cafeteria, special education
offices, nurses suite, numerous classrooms including two pre-K classrooms
and a large group instruction room that will be utilized as a media
center and a room for special programs, Grevera said.
While construction is taking place this year, the road into the high
school across from Noble Street will be shut down as construction
is expected to continue through June 2018.
The high school this year will offer a career exploration course,
which is new to the high school curriculum, Grevera said.
In addition to examining numerous areas of careers, students
will have an opportunity to complete job shadows to determine a career
path, Grevera said.
Nanticoke artist Leonardo Davenport, known
for storefront art, dies at 63
Leonardo Davenport, a local artist known for his splash art
mainly painting storefront windows for Christmastime and other
occasions died Tuesday. He was 63.
Anne Carmody, receptionist at Geisinger Health System on Public Square
in Wilkes-Barre, said staffers were sad when they learned of Davenports
He was such a gentleman, we just fell in love with him. Hes
been here 10 years painting our windows for the holidays. Carmody
said, adding that Davenport helped bring attention to Valley
Santa when he painted a waif-like child that represents the
charity on the Geisinger windows.
A lot of our employees dont live in the Wyoming Valley
and didnt know about Valley Santa. His paintings led people
to ask about it, Carmody said.
Mary Rossi, director of administration at Joyce Insurance Group in
Pittston, said shes known Davenport for several years, since
she called and asked him to paint the agencys windows.
Rossi, a founder of the Miles for Michael charity, which is named
for the late Michael Joyce and assists families of cancer patients
with travel expenses, said Davenport sought help from the charity
when his daughter became ill. Every holiday season since, he painted
something about Miles for Michael on the agency windows.
He just came up last week to (paint the windows for) the tomato
festival for us, Rossi said, noting he didnt appear in
very good health and wasnt his usual talkative self.
I dont know what were going to do for Paint Pittston
Pink without him.
Davenport told the Times Leader in 2015 that his first name wasnt
always Leonardo. Id tell people my name was Leonard, and
theyd forget it, he said. I added the o
and now they remember.
He was a kind, gentle, and very happy man and hell be
missed so much, Ryan Davenport, of Tipp City, Ohio, wrote of
his father on Facebook.
Details for funeral arrangements were not available.
What a talent: Local artist Leonardo
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
Leonardo Ray Davenport, an artist well-known for painting business
windows throughout Northeast Pennsylvania, died Tuesday. He was 63.
Davenport, owner of Paintings by Leonardo in Nanticoke, posted on
Facebook earlier this month that he had suffered a heat stroke, has
been feeling exhausted and fatigued and his painting business suffered.
As a painter for more than 30 years, Davenport was known for his unique
style and the joy he brought to people who enjoyed his artwork. He
often wore a beret and colorful outfits as he painted.
John Maday, president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association,
said Davenport was a major force in downtown Wilkes-Barres
annual Window Wonderland project.
During the holidays, Davenport volunteered to paint windows at some
downtown Wilkes-Barre businesses for free. Among them, he painted
Valley Santa on Geisinger Health Plans building on Public Square
in honor of the charity that ensures children in need throughout Luzerne
County have Christmas presents. He also volunteered to paint the F.M.
Kirby Centers windows for free and completed paid jobs painting
holiday scenes on windows throughout the area at businesses such as
Curry Donuts on Public Square and The Citizens Voice.
His artwork enhanced our building for the holiday season,
said Stephen Parulski, marketing and events coordinator at The Citizens
Davenport also painted windows at The Citizens Voice book sale
held at the Wyoming Valley Mall, he said.
Maday said he could tell just by watching Davenport paint that he
really enjoyed what he was doing.
The thing that always impressed me was how quick he did what
he did. He was unique and unconventional in his technique. He was
absolutely a free spirit. He was such a unique individual, Maday
said. After I saw his style of work, every so often I would
be driving around and I would notice his paintings on other businesses
and I said, Thats Leonardos. His work was
all over the valley. He had that unique way of doing what he did.
Recently, Davenport painted windows to celebrate the Pittston Tomato
Festival at many Pittston businesses, including Joyce Insurance Group.
Davenport painted the businesss windows for at least 10 years,
said Bill Joyce, who owns the business with his brothers.
In addition to the Tomato Festival, Davenport also painted the businesss
windows for St. Patricks Day, Christmas and Paint Pittston Pink.
He would do all the windows in town. He was very creative. He
did a great job with it and it was always something different,
Joyce said. We didnt even have to call him. He just came.
Were going to miss him.
Roseann Chaump, who owns the Hair Station in Pittston, said she always
admired his artwork in downtown Pittston so she called him a few months
ago to paint her salon window. She called him in the morning and he
showed up a few hours later, she said.
I just got a kick out of him, Chaump said. He was
the nicest, sweetest guy. He parked in front of the salon and he had
100 different colors of paint. He had a little transistor radio and
he put his little beret on and he went to town painting my window.
It was very entertaining to watch him. I thought, What a talent.
When Davenport returned to remove the paint from her window, he completed
the job in exchange for a haircut, Chaump said.
Davenport painted windows in several other communities. Brenda Bartlett,
owner of Village Pet Supplies & Gifts in Hanover Twp., said Davenport
was the window artist for her business for many years. His beautiful
artwork helped tremendously in drawing attention to her businesss
grand opening after the flood in 2011, she said.
His creativity was constantly complimented by customers,
Bartlett said. He was an extremely talented artist and a gentle
kind and sweet man. He will be greatly missed by our entire staff.
GNA board president resigns
The Greater Nanticoke Area School
Board voted Thursday to appoint Len Olzinski as board president to
replace Ryan Verazin, who has resigned from the board.
The board has 30 days to appoint someone to Verazins board seat,
solicitor Vito DeLuca said. The board will seek interested applicants
through an advertisement.
Verazin said he resigned from the school board because he is taking
a job as executive director of the Nanticoke Housing Authority, which
receives federal funding. Verazin was first elected to the board in
2009 and became board president in 2013.
It has been an absolute honor to serve my alma mater on the
school board, Verazin said. There has been a lot of change
for the better.
Also at Wednesdays meeting, the board approved a new policy
establishing procedures on storing and using the life-saving drug
naloxone in district schools. The drug is also known by the brand
name Narcan and is an overdose-reversal agent used in cases of opiate
The district will obtain a state grant to buy Narcan and should have
the drug in schools sometime in September, Superintendent Ronald Grevera
The school board also voted to appoint retired state police Trooper
Raymond Whittaker as school resource officer for $40,000 a year. The
district last year paid Nanticoke around $60,000 to station a city
police officer at the school campus, Grevera said.
Greater Nanticoke Area board president steps
Greater Nanticoke Area School
Board President Ryan Verazin has resigned, citing a new job as executive
director of the Nanticoke Housing Authority.
The board this week voted to appoint member Len Olzinski as president.
Under state law, the board has 30 days to appoint someone to fill
Verazins seat. If the board cannot agree on a replacement, the
choice would be turned over to a Luzerne County judge.
District solicitor Vito DeLuca said the board will advertise to seek
candidates interested in the job.
The next regular board meeting is set for Sept. 14, which is more
than 30 days.
If necessary, the board will move up the meeting or schedule a special
session to vote on Verazins replacement.
Verazin was elected to the board in 2009 and became president in 2013.
His tenure as president covered some high-profile moves, including
replacing long-time Superintendent Anthony Perrone with current Superintendent
Ron Grevera; removing Perrones name from the campus parking
lot; and launching the expansion and renovation of Kennedy Elementary,
converting it to the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.
Collins: An inspiring return to the ballpark for Kreitzer
There had to be part of Aaron Kreitzer that wondered what he was doing
in that room. There were TV cameras in front of a podium, a couple
of reporters standing in front of it, scribbling as fast as they could
write into notebooks and recording what they missed onto their smart
phones. Hes such a big baseball fan, chances are he has read
or watched their reports.
He stood at that press conference at PNC Field on Tuesday, and his
eyes moved around the room like a kid waking up on Christmas. The
guy at the podium was David Abrams. He owns the team Aaron has come
to love. The guy standing off to his right is Josh Olerud, that teams
president and general manager. In the back of the room, taking it
all in, stood Randy Mobley. Hes the president of the entire
Aaron is just a kid proudly sporting his official RailRiders jersey.
A kid who has been through his share of difficult times. More, actually.
A kid very much at the center of everything guys like Abrams and Olerud
talked about that day as they updated reporters on events planned
around the Sept. 19 Triple-A National Championship Game at PNC Field.
Weve known something since Abrams went public with his own cancer
battle in June.
He and the RailRiders were pushing to make the title game as much
a fund-raiser for cancer research and a vehicle for building awareness
as it is a baseball game. On this day, Abrams introduced two area
natives who will be among 15 game ambassadors who will
try to drum up support for the game in local communities around Northeast
One is Aaron. To Aaron, its a chance to give back to those who
have given him so much.
Hi, Im Aaron, he said quietly, standing behind the
lectern. Ever since I was diagnosed, the whole community has
really been behind me, and Im just really excited for the game.
The team that hopes to play in that game is just as excited for him.
Back in March, Aaron looked every bit like a typical 18-year-old.
He opened his final baseball season at Nanticoke Area High School,
practicing to secure his starting spot in the outfield. Prom beckoned.
So did graduation. But three months before that, and just one week
before his first scrimmage with the Trojans, he and his family received
He hadnt been feeling quite right, and after tests, doctors
diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer that
starts in the bone marrow but can move quickly into the blood and
possibly other parts of the body.
A fight for his life was on, and Aaron put up his dukes. But what
hurt him as much as anything, he said, was that baseball season came
and went without him.
Aaron loves the game. He rooted for the Yankees from such a young
age, he cant even remember why he started. His most vivid memories
of childhood revolve around a baseball diamond. He smiles when he
talks about his team back in the Newport Little League. It went winless
one year, then played for the championship the next, he said, nodding
his head proudly. Same kids both years, too. He still counts them
among his best friends.
Aarons first job even came at the ballpark. He helped his uncle,
Pat Revello, prepare pizza dough at the Revellos Pizza stand
at PNC Field the last two summers.
When he went to the hospital to start treatments, his baseball teammates
were there. They were there, too, when he was bedridden and struggling
to eat and drink, when his health deteriorated in mid-June. When they
graduated from high school and he was too sick to attend the ceremony.
When he needed a major surgery to help him later that month.
Aaron fought leukemia in a hospital bed, and many in the community
were rallying around him outside. There were softball tournaments
and golf classics and raffles to benefit his family. A player for
rival Hanover Area, pitcher and shortstop Matt Clarke, even helped
organize a charity exhibition between the schools in Aarons
As happy as that made him, Aaron still felt the sting of not being
able to play in a game like that.
It was just ... weird, he said. To hear about (Nanticoke)
playing, and to not be there? It was weird not playing, because this
was the first year I didnt play any baseball. I was in the hospital,
but I knew it was spring, and it was summer, and I wasnt on
the baseball field.
So, the RailRiders brought the baseball field to him.
As part of their annual HOPE Week work in June, the RailRiders were
scheduled to visit Aaron in the hospital. They sent him a video message
instead, wishing him well with the surgery. But in the six weeks since,
his bonds with the team have only strengthened.
One player who stood out, he said, was Tyler Austin, who got called
to the big leagues right around the time Aaron got wheeled toward
the operating room. Austins fight with cancer is well-known.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 17, and he has
since made a full recovery.
When he heard about Aaron, and what he was going through, it hit home
for Austin. He made sure Aaron received an autographed bat, and he
stayed in as close contact as he could with him through Twitter, a
kid at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and a big leaguer
striving to carve a place in the Bronx.
Its always good when you see someone fighting like he
is, Austin said. This is a lot of stuff to deal with.
Its not like youre going to wake up one morning and this
is going to be gone. Its a good story, and I pray for him every
day. I pray, every day, for his recovery.
Aaron is doing well now. Since the surgery, he said, he has begun
to feel much better. He can eat and drink pretty much what he wants.
Sitting in the sun for extended periods still bothers him, but he
anticipates hell be able to be back at the ballpark more as
the summer proceeds. He still has a few treatments left, but hes
confident. Hell fight cancer. Hes ready.
Hes becoming a big RailRiders fan, Olerud said,
but were bigger Aaron fans.
Its funny the power an athlete has. Knowing guys like Austin
and the rest of the RailRiders supported him made a world of difference
for Aaron Kreitzer. Such a difference that the best way he can think
to repay the RailRiders is by rallying the community behind them,
by bringing them to PNC Field to watch a championship game in September
with the hopes theyll be playing in it.
If not, so be it. Aaron will be where he always wants to be anyway,
the place to which he fought so hard to return.
Hall welcomes 12 new members
Citizens Voice - Staff report
Williams graduated from Nanticoke Area in 1969, followed by graduation
from Wilkes College in 1973 with a B.A. in physics, physical science
He began teaching in Greater Nanticoke Area in 1973 and was head golf
coach from 1978 to 1982, sending four players to states.
He was head softball coach from 1991 to 2012 and finished with 330
wins, six league titles, six District 2 titles and two PIAA Championships.
Gary is married to the former Ann Zubritski. They have twin daughters
Kelsey and Hollie, who with their husbands Blair Cannon and Dennis
Williams have three daughters, Emerson 7, Quinn 5 and Elyse 4.
Families build birdhouses together at Mill
Memorial Library in Nanticoke
Families share craft time at Mill Memorial
If you wondered where families had gathered to build birdhouses on
a recent Tuesday evening, all you had to do was follow the sound of
hammering at the Mill Memorial Library.
Its amazing we didnt get a finger squished,
Audrey Urban, of Wilkes-Barre, happily reported after she and her
daughters, 6-year-old Xena and 3-year-old Isis, took turns nailing
wooden boards together.
As the girls painted their birdhouse red, teal and purple, Urban said
she might install it outdoors, attached to the family clothesline
pole. If that doesnt work out, she said, it will find
a home in my father-in-laws yard.
Members of the Lombardi family, meanwhile, were getting ready to dip
their brushes into the paint activities director Dena Bobbin was doling
out, with 4-year-old Gabrielle voting for purple and 5-year-old Ella
voting for pink.
Each daughter would get her wish, Dana Lombardi said, explaining their
multi-color birdhouse would be pink, purple and in keeping
with the preferred color of her son, Jake red.
We see quite a bit of animals, Dana Lombardi said. Were
living in Sweet Valley, and we have deer and bears and squirrels and
I found a birds nest, Ella Lombardi said excitedly,
adding there werent any birds in it.
Maybe birds will come to the new birdhouse. Ella and Gabrielle hope
Seven-year-old Garrett Makowski, of Wapwallopen, also hopes birds
will come to the birdhouse he built with help from his parents.
Melanie and Lee Makowski have spotted and helped their son identify
many birds around the area, including hairy woodpeckers, cardinals,
yellow finches, blue buntings and blue jays, Melanie Makowski
For the Makowskis, the recent birdhouse-building session, which was
part of Build a Better World Week, marked their first
visit to the Nanticoke library. They came because their relatives
David and Michelle Vnuk, of Newport Township, brought their 7-year-old
son, Nathan, and invited the Makowskis to join them.
Look, I made brown, Nathan said as he dipped
a paintbrush into a jar of water and watched it turn darker.
Im having a blast, said his father, David, whose
affinity for carpentry comes in handy in his job as an instructor
at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center.
For other parents, the carpentry aspect of birdhouse building was
more of a novel experience.
Audrey Urban, for one, said she brings her children to the library
primarily for the reading opportunities.
These two get tons of books out of the library, she said.
It must be, like, 50 a week.
The chance to make a craft or join the LEGO Club only adds to family
fun, she said.
And, the crafters efforts might end up sheltering some families
Theres a mommy bird, a daddy bird
and an uncle bird, Michelle Vnuk said with a nod
toward 7-year-old Nathan. Thats how he describes them.
Library event lets kids meet animals that
were given a second chance
Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader
Jessica Exley once got pulled over for swerving a bit before pulling
her car to the side of the road.
Looking behind her, Exley saw flashing lights and then a policeman
making her way over to her car window.
When the policeman asked what was going on, she responded, I
was securing my alligator.
At first, the officer thought she might have been drinking
until she rolled down her back window.
Thats an alligator, he said.
Yes, it is, said Exley.
When asked why she had an alligator in her car, Exley told the officer
they were returning from a reptile beauty show.
She took first place at that show, Exley said.
Exley, who owns Endless Dreams Animals, was quick to share this and
other stories with attendees young and old at a presentation at the
Mill Memorial Library on Saturday.
Endless Dreams Animals specializes in bringing animals to you
and your event, and exists as an educational rescue and retreat.
Exley, several volunteers and about 15 animals were on scene at the
event providing information and inspiration to attendees.
Each animal, Exley said, has a story, has a personality and deserves
a second chance.
For example, Heidi, an alpaca, was brought to the rescue because her
previous owners said she wasnt show ready.
At first, Exley couldnt figure out why. The beautiful animal
with soft, clean fur and a good spirit seemed to be the perfect fit
for interacting with an audience.
Then we took her to a nursing home, Exley said. After
an hour, she decided she was done. She laid down and made the residents
come to her.
Tiffany Mears, of Nanticoke, attended the event, which was part of
a library summer series, with her children, Michael, 7, and Destiny,
Mears said both of her children love animals and are always excited
when they get a chance to see them up close.
We come every time the annual rescue is at the library,
she said. My son always chooses the zoo for his birthday.
Michael, she said, had some limits when it came to being in close
proximity to the animals.
Destiny will pet anything, she said. Michael doesnt
Donna Exley, Jessicas mother and a rescue volunteer, said about
100 animals live at the rescue in Benton.
Exley, who instilled a love for animals in her daughter, introduced
Heidi to the children, encouraging them to pet her or even give her
Still, Exley reminded attendees that animals need to be respected.
You dont want to come up behind an animal suddenly,
she said. That will spook them.
Also part of the presentation was Cocoa, a cockatoo who doesnt
like being alone.
I got a job when I was gone about 14 hours, said Jessica
Exley. She wasnt used to me being gone that long. She
pulled out many of her feathers.
Joe Bobbin, of Nanticoke, attended the event with his daughter, Lilly,
7. The activity, he said, has become a tradition.
We come here all the time, he said. We were just
here the other day building a birdhouse.
To Jessica Exley, being the director of Endless Dreams Animals for
over 10 years has been much more than a job, its a life mission.
Ive loved animals for as long as I can remember,
she said. I take in animals that might have been neglected or
perhaps their owners are sick and could no longer take care of them.
A nonprofit, Endless Dreams Animals depends solely on donations of
money, other items and volunteer labor.
I dont focus on money, Jessica Exley said. I
just want these animals to have good quality lives.
Everyone, she said, deserves a second chance.
Ceramics class provides creative outlet for
Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Nearly two dozen children learned how to turn a liquid mixture of
clay into some beautiful ceramics Saturday at the Mill Memorial Library.
Lori Duda, 39, of Nanticoke, and her daughter Emily, 8, explained
the process, which begins with a batch of slip a liquid mixture
of clay particles.
I dont think a lot of people understand how long it takes
to make ceramics, said Duda, adding that she and her daughter
make ceramics and pottery in their garage.
Dipping her finger into the gray, milky liquid the consistency of
heavy cream, she asked a few kids to help her pour it from a large
measuring cup into two holes in a wooden mold. After the mold was
filled, she tapped it on the table a few times to get the air bubbles
If theres an air bubble, the piece will explode in the
kiln, she said, pointing out that a kiln is an oven that fires
Duda then inverted the mold onto a bucket to catch any excess liquid.
After a few minutes, she cleaned off the excess clay near the openings
of the holes with a plastic scraper. In about 24 hours, the mold would
be safe to open and the shapes inside would be intact.
Cracking open another mold, which was identical to the one she used
for the demonstration, Duda carefully pulled out two round, gray balls
called greenware, which she passed around for the kids to feel.
Each child was given a finished replica of the demonstration ceramic
to paint. Since the theme of the event was Christmas in July,
the ceramic piece given to the children was in the shape of an ornament.
It doesnt have to be an ornament, Duda said. It
can be turned sideways and you can put little feet on it and make
it a pig. Emily also showed how the ornament can become a tiny
lantern by poking holes and cutting off the top before firing. You
can put a tea light in it.
With a palette of yellow and black, 11-year-old Ryan Kenney, of Plymouth
Township, said he wanted to make his ornament look like a smiley face.
Its fun how you can just paint whatever you want,
Ryan joined several of his good friends at the table as each one painted
one-of-a-kind pieces. Im going to make mine a sort of
Pokémon theme, added Connor Kosicki, 12, also of Plymouth
The boys, who are cousins, said they and their friends attend a lot
of events at the library. My mom usually goes on the librarys
Facebook page to see whats going on, said Connor.
Its pretty fun. You can really express your creativity.
The library will host a birdhouse making event on Tuesday, and a visit
from animals of the Endless Dreams Animal Shelter next Saturday.
Grateful Kreitzer takes part
The pre-game introductions likely were more memorable than a senior
all-star baseball game that lasted all of seven outs Thursday.
A fierce thunderstorm rolled through the Mountain Post 781 baseball
field in the top of the second inning, marking an early end to the
Wyoming Valley Conferences senior all-star game. The conferences
East team led 3-0 and had just put two runners on board, while only
four West players had at-bats.
What could have been chalked up as a wasted car ride to the field
for some was still worth it for at least one member for the East team,
though. Nanticoke Area graduate Aaron Kreitzer got to don a jersey,
walk the dugout and line up on the first base line for the national
anthem with the rest of the players from his graduating class.
Its the first time Kreitzer, who is battling leukemia, got to
do any of those things with high school teammates this season. So,
the washed out game still had meaning for Kreitzer, who at one point
wasnt even sure hed be back in the area by summers
It just made me feel happy to be back there, that I was able
to get back there this year, said Kreitzer, who was named the
games MVP. Being back for the summer for a little bit
and being there, I was grateful to be back.
Kreitzer was introduced as a member of the Easts coaching staff.
It was far from the first gesture sent his way since word of his fight
His Trojans and Hanover Area held a doubleheader of exhibition games
between their softball and baseball games on April 30. Proceeds from
the game went to the Kreitzer family.
A golf event in late June at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club was formed
to benefit the family, too.
More signs of support came last month when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
RailRiders gave him a hospital visit and let him throw a first pitch,
and when he was named an honorary captain for the WVCs side
of the Field of Dreams all-star game, which pits the conferences
top seniors against the Lackawanna Leagues.
The shows of support seemed to come one after another. They hardly
had to pick up Kreitzers spirits, because the last event had
lifted him just days or weeks before.
Kreitzer thanked everyone for what he called a ridiculous amount
of support that he couldnt have imagined.
Its just a constant reminder that everyones behind
you, he said. There was no point that I felt it was just
me an my family. I felt like my whole community was behind me.
Complications recently sent Kreitzer to the Childrens Hospital
of Philadelphia, and hell return there for further treatment.
Things still seem to be looking up, though.
I feel like the worst is behind me, Kreitzer said. I
feel great, almost back to normal.
Although hes lost strength since being in the hospital, he was
still healthy enough to attend Thursdays game.
He watched as Wyoming Areas Mike Bonita and Meyers Colin
Pasone led off with a single and double, eventually scoring runs along
with Dallas J.D. Barrett. Tunkhannocks Brian Muckin made
the defensive play of the game, laying out on his way to the warning
track to snag a fly ball by Hazleton Areas Livan Reinoso to
end the Wests first inning.
The storm that came minutes later didnt put a damper on Kreitzers
Just being in the dugout and talking to the guys was amazing,
Influential doctor honored in Nanticoke
Staff report - Citizens Voice
Nanticoke city and state officials recognized Wednesday as
Dr. Dudrick Day in the city and unveiled a historical
marker to be placed outside Standley Dudricks childhood
home on West Union Street.
The descendant of Nanticoke coal miners, Dudrick invented the
intravenous feeding method known as total parenteral nutrition,
or TPN, which is considered one of the most important breakthroughs
in modern surgery.
Known as the father of intravenous feeding, Dudrick
is constantly ranked among the most influential doctors in world
history for his pioneering work, which he unveiled in July 1967
at age 32.
His work is credited with saving millions of lives. This month
marks the 50th anniversary of Dudricks invention.
Dudrick invented TPN while a surgical resident at the University
of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He always intended
to return to the Wyoming Valley, but after his invention, his
skill level was too far advanced for what was being practiced
in local hospitals.
He became a professor of surgery at Penn. He helped launch
the surgery department of the University of Texas Medical School
and became chief of surgery at the universitys hospital.
He was named chairman of the surgery department at Pennsylvania
Hospital, the oldest in the nation. Later, he was tapped as
surgery department chairman at the Yale University School of
Dudrick, 82, is now the director of the physician assistant
program at Misericordia University and is a professor of surgery
at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.
Influential area doctor to be celebrated in
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
As a rookie physician in the early 1960s, Dr. Stanley Dudrick was so
frustrated with his patients dying he nearly switched specialties. Instead,
the Nanticoke native revolutionized the medical world.
The descendant of Nanticoke coal miners, Dudrick invented the intravenous
feeding method known as total parenteral nutrition, or TPN, which is
considered one of the most important breakthroughs in modern surgery.
Known as the father of intravenous feeding, Dudrick is constantly
ranked among the most influential doctors in world history for his pioneering
work, which he unveiled in July 1967 at age 32. His work is credited
with saving millions of lives.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Dudricks invention and
his hometown is planning a big honor for him this week.
It seems very simple and obvious now, but at the time it terrified
the medical profession, Dudrick said. A lot of people said
it wouldnt work and youre going to kill people.
I had to convince doctors not only that it would work, but it would
be safe. Soon, it took the world by storm. And the rest is history.
Nanticoke City will recognize Wednesday as Dr. Dudrick Day.
A historical marker will be unveiled at the monthly city council meeting
that night at Luzerne County Community College. The plaque will eventually
be erected outside Dudricks childhood home on West Union Street,
which his grandfather built during evenings after long days working
underground in the mines.
Dudrick invented TPN while a surgical resident at the University
of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He always intended to return
to the Wyoming Valley, but after his invention, his skill level was
too far advanced for what was being practiced in local hospitals.
He became a professor of surgery at Penn. He helped launch the surgery
department of the University of Texas Medical School and became chief
of surgery at the universitys hospital. He was named chairman
of the surgery department at Pennsylvania Hospital, the oldest in the
nation. Later, he was tapped as surgery department chairman at the Yale
University School of Medicine.
But Dudrick always longed to come back home. And in 2011, he did.
Dudrick, 82, is now the director of the physician assistant program
at Misericordia University and is a professor of surgery at Geisinger
Commonwealth School of Medicine.
All these years later, I still wanted to come back home to kind
of pay back the people who helped me grow up and support me and allowed
me to go off and get a great education, Dudrick said. I
had this emotional draw to come back to the area.
Dr. Steven J. Scheinman, president and dean of the Geisinger Commonwealth
School of Medicine, called Dudrick a mythical character
whose contribution to medicine ranks in importance with the development
of open heart surgery and organ transplantation.
I think its fitting that Stans monumental contribution
has been to nourish people. Thats what true philanthropists do
they find ways to sustain and uplift people and never forget
that all the technological wizardry in the world cannot replace simple
caring, nurturing and compassion, Scheinman said.
Scheinman noted Dudrick developed hundreds of scientific and technological
advances to invent TPN, but never sought to patent any of his work.
Had he done so, and licensed and profited from them, he would
today be a billionaire, Scheinman said. But he felt that
to do so would limit access to these advances by patients and their
doctors, and limit their benefit, so he intentionally did not do that.
So Stan is not just humble and brilliant, he is absolutely selfless.
On July 19, Nanticoke will honor city native Dr. Stanley Dudrick,
who is considered one of the most influential doctors in history.
Dudrick, then a 32-year-old surgical resident at University of Pennsylvania
Hospital, invented an intravenous feeding method in July 1967 that
has been credited with saving millions of lives.
On Wednesday, the city will host Dr. Dudrick Day. A historical
plaque in Dudricks honor will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Wednesday
during the monthly city council meeting, being held at Luzerne County
Community Colleges educational conference center. The marker
will eventually be erected outside Dudricks childhood home at
414 W. Union St.
About Dr. Stanley Dudrick
Born: April 9, 1935
Childhood home: 414 W. Union St., Nanticoke
Current residences: Scranton; Naugatuck, Connecticut; and Eaton Center,
High School: Nanticoke High School, Class of 1953
Family: Dudrick and his wife, Theresa, a Pittston native, have been
married 59 years. They have six children, 16 grandchildren and one
B.S. Biology, Franklin and Marshall College (1957)
M.D. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (1961)
Residency: University of Pennsylvania Hospital
Invented total parenteral nutrition: July 1967
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, professor of surgery
University of Texas Medical School, founding chairman of surgery department
and chief of surgery at university hospital
Pennsylvania Hospital, chairman of department of surgery
Yale University School of Medicine, professor of surgery and later
chairman of surgery department
Misericordia University: chairman, head professor and medical director
of the physician assistant program
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine: professor of surgery
Emeritus professor of surgery at Yale
About total parenteral nutrition
WHAT IS TOTAL PARENTERAL NUTRITION?
Total parenteral nutrition, or TPN, is a method of feeding that bypasses
the gastrointestinal tract. Fluids are given into a vein to provide
most of the nutrients the body needs. The method is used when a person
can not or should not receive feedings or fluids by mouth. TPN delivers
a mixture of fluid, electrolytes, sugars, amino acids (protein), vitamins,
minerals, and often lipids (fats) into the veins. TPN can provide
a better level of nutrition than regular intravenous feedings, which
provide only sugars and salts.
HOW IS TPN GIVEN?
An IV line is often placed in a vein in the hand, foot, or scalp.
A large vein in the belly button, the umbilical vein, may be used.
Sometimes a longer IV, called a central line or peripherally-inserted
central catheter line, is used for long-term IV feedings.
SOURCE: MEDLINEPLUS, THE U.S. NATIONAL MEDICAL LIBRARY
Q&A with Dr. Dudrick:
1. As the grandson and son of a coal miner from Nanticoke, what has
it been like to have gone on to become one of the most influential
doctors in world history?
My dad and three uncles all had to work in the mines as a condition
for my grandfather to keep his job. They worked from age 13 to 21.
They started as breaker boys. My family was devoted to keeping me
out of the coal mine. My family on both sides supported me getting
an education. When I left Nanticoke, I left specifically to try to
become a doctor. No one else in town gave me much encouragement. Most
doctors said it was going to be a tough, long ride. I
think they were preparing me to not make it. That energized me to
work hard. I went to Franklin and Marshall College and they were the
most influential years in my life. They converted me from a kid from
Nanticoke into a scholar. It all started there. The thought of becoming
one of the most influential physicians in history never would have
crossed my mind. I am still in awe of that honor.
2. You are called the Father of intravenous feeding.
How did you recognize the need for it and how did you invent it?
When I was a medical student at Penn, as an intern working
with surgical patients, we had a lot of patients who were the most
critically ill. The smaller hospitals would send their most challenging
patients to Penn. It was life and death every day. I got frustrated.
Even though they had good operations, they still died. The chief of
surgery said Stanley, its not your fault they died.
He said they died primarily because they are malnourished. I was like,
Why dont we feed them better? He said because of
the nature of their problems, we cant feed them. Im like,
Why dont we feed them intravenously? I thought,
as physicians, we could do better. I spent two years working extra
hard studying nutrition. After that period of time, I told him I was
ready to go into the laboratory. I took a year in the lab and tackled
the problem and I was fortunate enough to be successful. It seems
very simple and obvious now, but at the time it terrified the medical
profession. A lot of people said it wouldnt work and youre
going to kill people. I had to convince doctors not only that
it would work, but it would be safe. Soon, it took the world by storm.
And the rest is history. Im still humbled by the results we
3. You once said you always intended to return home to the Wyoming
Valley after medical school, but the type of work you got into was
too advanced for local hospitals. Was that difficult for you? And
what made you decide to return home in 2011 to start working at Misericordia
and the regional medical college?
I was just a kid from Nanticoke who wanted to be as good of
a doctor as I could possibly be. I wanted to come home back to Nanticoke
to take care of my people. I wanted to do the IV work to be a better
doctor. I had no concept it would develop into what it became. Once
I got into it, it took over my life. It took me a year or two to realize
that I wasnt going to be able to come home. I had mixed emotions
about that. At the University of Pennsylvania, they said, Youre
not going back to Nanticoke. You cant just walk away.
I had to change my career goals. I became a servant of my own ideas
and innovations. I became totally immersed in it. It ran my life.
All these years later, I still wanted to come back home to kind of
pay back the people who helped me grow up and support me and allowed
me to go off and get a great education. I had this emotional draw
to come back to the area.
4. What was it like growing up in Nanticoke?
It was a pretty positive and pretty idyllic. We were poor,
but we didnt know we were poor. And it didnt matter. We
were happy. We just did what we did. We had fun. We went to school.
We tried to grow up and hope to be something special if we could.
If I had to live my life over again there, I would do it in a New
York minute and Id love it. My grandfather had seven kids. He
built two double-occupancy homes on West Union Street. One had four
separate apartments. Another had three, and one for him and his wife.
So, he provided housing for all seven kids if they wanted it. I had
good friends and neighbors all around. We grew up together. We are
able to run around in the fields and work and play. Families were
very self sustaining. You learned what you had to do. My grandparents
had chickens and turkeys and rabbits. We made things like kielbasa,
butter and cheese. We made our own beer and wine from what was right
there in the backyard. The biggest negative at the time was the second
world war. I could tell you precisely where I was when Pearl Harbor
happened. Nanticoke had a great sense of loyalty to the country. After
that, all the young men wanted to go serve in the Army, Navy and Marines.
5. What do you think about the city declaring Dr. Dudrick Day
and creating a historical marker honoring you?
Im hoping we could stimulate and demonstrate to the young
people in Nanticoke they could do anything. I am so humbled by it.
I would never have thought the mayor and council, the senators and
other legislators would be involved. I didnt even think Id
be in their line of vision or if they even knew about me or cared.
I look upon it not so much as a personal kudos to me, but evidence
of accomplishment of the community. I am a product of the Nanticoke
community. I am beholden to family and neighbors and teachers who
worked to teach me, nurture me, and mentor me to get me where I am.
Its acknowledging Nanticoke is a great place to be from and
you could accomplish substantial things in your life if you want to.
I hope it will be a stimulus to the youngsters.
6. How are things going at Misericordia and the Geisinger Commonwealth
School of Medicine?
At Misericordia, we have made great progress and theres
great potential. We have a brand new science building we are going
to build. They have a bit of that Wyoming Valley caring and compassion
that a lot of the country has lost. You meet people in the Wyoming
Valley and they are the best health care professionals around. They
bring more than education and cognitive abilities. The medical college
has grown and developed beyond my expectations. Medical schools cost
money. They are very expensive to operate. They started the school
with a visionary initiative. They did it against all odds. In the
last year or two, I started to get worried. I could see we were going
to run out of money. I thought we were going to have to merge. When
the Geisinger organization decided to invest in the medical school,
that was the most significant advancement that we could have anticipated.
Its a new, idealist young school. Now the school has everything
it needs. Success at the school is now guaranteed. Now, its
how great are we going to be, not are we going to
make it? We are going to bring in and attract talent from all
7. Are you ever planning to retire?
No. I keep pretty busy for an old guy. I dont know what
I would do. I would maybe write. Theres a lot of things I want
to write down. I hope I live long enough to do that. But to stop doing
what I am doing, I dont know why I would want to do that. I
am still able to do it. As long as people still think Im useful,
I want to be as useful as I can for as long as I can. I stopped operating
seven years ago, but I still enjoy helping young people achieve their
God-given maximum potential. If I could do something to make a young
person be as good as they possibly could, that gives me great satisfaction
and purpose in life.
Developer eyes Nanticoke property for potential
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
Frank Cawley has seen Pittstons Main Street where he
has a location for his physical therapy practice improve during
the last decade.
He foresees the same thing happening in Nanticoke.
Cawley plans to develop the site of a former nursing home to hold
a location for his business as well as a pharmacy, a fast food
restaurant and other tenants.
He is negotiating with the Nanticoke Municipal Authority to purchase
the old Nanticoke Villa property, which the authority recently bought
for $825,000 from Arm 3 LLC.
The facility is in the citys downtown, across Arch Street from
a Weis Markets grocery store. A parking lot on the site is on the
corner of East Main and North Walnut streets.
Cawley plans to move a location of his practice currently at 160 S.
Market St., Nanticoke, to the facility, and add a pool for aquatics
therapy. Future tenants will include Nockley Family Pharmacy and a
fast food restaurant, he said. He is also talking to two other potential
We have had a location in Nanticoke, and at the time that we
went there, the main street was not developed but was looking to be
developed. Its starting to come a long way, Cawley said.
The development will renew a building that has been vacant since an
assisted living facility at the site closed in October 2014.
That facility closed after the state Department of Public Welfare
opted not to renew the license of its owner at the time, Constantinos
Mallios. The department said practices there risked exposing residents
to hepatitis B.
Mallios purchased the facility a few months earlier in May 2014, when
state regulators refused to renew the license of the previous owner,
Ron Halko, after several residents contracted hepatitis B. This occurred
after employees used the same blood glucose equipment to treat several
The new use for the property might qualify the authority for state
grants, said Mark Grochocki, chief of staff for state Sen. John Yudichak,
Were hoping that this gets the ball rolling in general
in Nanticoke, said authority solicitor Lawrence Moran. The
municipal authority has a lot of big plans to improve and revitalize
and redevelop a lot of the downtown.
Puck Cancer event raises money to help patients
Marcella Kester - Times Leader
Hundreds filled Quality Hill Park in Nanticoke on Saturday, having
fun and pucking it out for a worthy cause.
Puck Cancer held its fifth annual fundraising event at the park Saturday,
offering a foot-hockey tournament, basket and 50/50 raffles, games,
childrens activities and more.
Proceeds from the event help the Medical Oncology Associates of Kingston
Prescription Fund. The organization has raised roughly $13,000 for
the fund since it began six years ago. This year, organizers are hoping
to collect $10,000.
And its possible, which is pretty awesome, Lauren
Myers said of the goal.
Myers and her husband, Shawn, began the organization with the help
from Dr. Bruce Saidman of Medical Oncology Associates. Shawn grew
up playing hockey with his friends at Quality Hill Park, so it made
sense to bring the event back to where it all started, and include
some type of hockey tournament.
My husbands mother passed away from cancer. She was a
patient of Dr. Saidmans at Medical Oncology, so its his
way of giving back, Lauren explained.
What started out as just a few players has grown into a much larger
event, and the duo hopes it will get even bigger with time.
Fifteen teams of five players each battled with pucks and sticks on
the tennis courts, vying to win their game and advance to the next
round. Those crowned hockey champions earned a trophy.
Dave Warren, of Nanticoke, has been playing hockey for 10 years, and
has participated in the event for the past three years. This year,
he played on the team Just the Tip. While he enjoys the
games, Warren said being supportive of the mission is what matters
Its for a good cause. My buddys mom passed away
from cancer, so hes been doing this event to raise money for
breast cancer, and youve got to contribute, Warren said.
Its about doing the right thing.
This years game had a special importance to the team, however.
On the back of their blue team shirts, #AK4TheWin was
printed, which was a reference to Aaron Kreitzer. Hes a local
18-year-old who is battling leukemia.
Nearly 100 raffle baskets were donated, including everything from
pet supplies to home goods and tailgate gear. Chances to win a gift
card or free items from local restaurants and businesses were also
available. Perhaps the most popular raffle was the Wheelbarrow
of Cheer, which included a wheelbarrow full of various liquors
to be raffled to one lucky winner.
As teams played on, attendees enjoyed picnic-style meals and desserts
while children crowded a face-painting tent, bounce house and games.
One game adults and children alike gathered around involved a very
wet outcome for one willing volunteer.
Standing in front of the dunk tank, Ken Thompson took a ball and handed
it over to his son, Christopher. Together, they tried to throw the
ball at the round metal target and dunk the volunteer inside the tank.
After a number of tries, neither hit the mark. But Thompson decided
to try again, handing the ball over to Christopher one more time.
The 10-year-old baseball player finally hit the target.
Aside from dunking volunteers, the family also took time to visit
and contribute to the memory board. Patrons were able to buy and decorate
a ribbon in honor of someone whos fought, passed away or survived
Sitting under the food tent, Clem Krzynefski said hes now seven
years cancer-free. The Nanticoke resident had esophageal cancer, and
attends Puck Cancer yearly.
Very precious is every breath of air I take, he said.
And I would do anything to help someone who had cancer.
Id be right there for anyone who needed it.
Nanticoke native, globally known physician
to get street honor
Melanie Mizenko - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nanticoke native and world-renown physician known as the Father
of Intravenous Feeding will have a city street named after him
July 19, officials say.
In addition to the street distinction, Dr. Stanley J. Dudrick will
be honored by Nanticoke City Council with a historical plaque dedication
near the house he grew up in, said Elizabeth Zygmunt, of Geisinger
Commonwealth School of Medicine.
Dudrick, 82, was raised on West Union Street and was once named one
of the 50 most influential physicians in history by Medscape.com,
according to his biography. Medical professionals credit his development
of intravenous feeding, or tube feeding, with helping save countless
lives over the years. IV feeding allows ill patients who cannot eat
to get nutrients through their blood instead of their digestive system.
The feeding technique is one of the four most significant accomplishments
in the history of modern surgery, ranking with the discovery and development
of antibiotic therapy, anesthesia, and antisepsis procedures to ensure
a sterile surgical environment, according to the Journal of the American
Medical Association. Many sources also consider Dudricks work
as one of the three most important advancements in surgery over the
past century, along with open heart surgery and organ transplantation,
according to information from Geisingers Commonwealth School.
Dudrick still serves as a professor of surgery at the Scranton school.
Previous roles include associate chairman of the Department of Surgery
and Director of the Program in Surgery at St. Marys Hospital,
a Yale-affiliated teaching hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut. Other
notable work includes serving as a professor of surgery at Yale.
There will be a reception immediately following the July 19 city council
meeting, which will be held at Luzerne County Community Colleges
Educational Conference Center, 1333 S. Prospect St., Nanticoke.
Zygmunt said reservations for the reception are required by Monday,
July 10. To register, call 570-504-9065; or email email@example.com.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V41MUsKGYY
Fireworks event in Nanticoke benefits the
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Lilly Makowski couldnt wait to see the fireworks.
I love the colors, the seven-year-old Alden resident said.
I love all of the colors.
Lilly waited with family and friends for the start of the show at
Nanticokes fourth annual Big Bang at Nanticoke Area
Shed come running back to her parents campsite from the
football field where vendors sold food, drinks and game tickets all
to benefit community nonprofits like the football team, cheerleading
squad, marching band and others.
Nanticoke mayor Rich Wiaterowski sold tickets for raffles and event
T-shirts under one of the vendor tents. He said the whole event, from
the venue to the fireworks, was paid for by the vendors and does not
cost Nanticoke taxpayers a cent.
We get about 2,500 people, he said.
The fireworks started at dusk, but the event opened at 4 p.m. Wiaterowski
said many people showed up even earlier to claim prime parking spots
to view the evenings show.
Ryan Verazin and Mark Baron of Nanticoke were a few of the early-birds.
Baron said he parked his car in the lot overlooking the baseball field
by 9:30 a.m. on Sunday and Verazin arrived by 10:30 a.m.
The two combined campsites with other friends and waited for the show.
Verazin said the group has been coming to the event since it started
four years ago.
Its right in town and it benefits the local community,
Wiaterowski said the event has grown over the last four years and
he hopes to see it expand even more.
Im an entertainer, he said. The goal is to
get this bigger and go down to Lower Broadway.
He thanked the school district for allowing the city to use the facilities
free of charge.
Its just getting everybody out, he said. Its
friends and family having a great time.
'Family Fun Night' brings out builder in
kids at Nanticoke library
Marcella Kester - Times Leader
Children let their imaginations soar as they cut, glued and taped
their way to the top of a box-building contest at the Mill Memorial
Library on Tuesday.
The event was part of the library's "Family Fun Night,"
which is held monthly. Working together as a team, each family must
construct a particular object using cardboard boxes, egg cartons,
duct tape, paper-towel rolls and similar items. At the end of the
event, each project gets displayed and judged. A winner is crowned,
collecting a Barnes & Noble gift card as a prize.
More than two dozen boxes filled a corner of the children's section,
including a table that had an array of craft supplies one could ever
need for such a creative challenge.
As the families scattered and began stacking boxes, activities director
Dena Bobbin told them the event's only rule: You must make a building
Bobbin said the event stems from a nationwide summer program initiative
called "Build A Better World." She hopes free events such
as "Family Fun Night" will bring more patrons into the library
"Our goal is once a month to do a family event," she said.
"It's just a fun thing for kids and the whole family to do."
Sitting at a table, 3-year-old Skye Percival was busy pushing her
gluestick along a piece of colored construction paper. Meanwhile,
her 8-year-old sister, Juliana, was preparing to complete a bull's-eye
on one side of their house. The sisters were joined by their parents,
who were happy to help assemble the boxes to their children's pleasing.
Sara Percival said her children love the library, as Skye comes in
with her grandfather on Tuesdays for a toddler program. A lifelong
library patron herself, the Nanticoke native says the free events
not only help the children socialize with others their age, but also
aids development of other needed skills.
"It helps with their dexterity and fine motor skills, and just
togetherness with family," said Sara.
Behind them, Stephanie Gatrell helped her two daughters put the finishing
touches on their castle. Using five boxes varying in size, the sisters
tiered them on top of another and were busily cutting apart an egg
carton to use as people. Gatrell said she, too, started bringing her
children for the toddler program about six years ago and has since
become a library regular.
"They always have fun stuff for the kids," she said of the
various events, noting a "Book Bingo." "They really
like that because they get to go home with a bunch of new books to
Now placing her egg carton cut-outs inside the castle, 10-year-old
Olivia Cromer said she wants to continue making things from old boxes
at home. Her sister, Sophia, agreed.
"There's cool things about boxes," she added. "I like
building and recreating things that aren't that useful."
The next Family Fun Night is set for July. Participants will be building
Benefit aids Greater Nanticoke Area athlete
Camille Sciolo-Fioti - Times Leader
Over 500 people packed the Nanticoke Armory on Saturday evening for
a benefit to support Aaron Kreitzer, a Nanticoke area senior who is
Dozens of orange and white balloons were clustered on tables and over
100 raffle baskets lined the perimeter of the huge hall.
Aaron is a starter in the outfield on the schools baseball team
and also plays varsity soccer.
Many of those in attendance, including members of his baseball team,
wore yellow football jerseys because Aaron is a huge Michigan
fan, said his cousin, Kelly Krietzer, who also helped organize
We wanted to focus on something other than the leukemia,
she said. The orange balloons represent the color of the leukemia
Plans to put together the benefit began in March, soon after Aaron
was diagnosed, Kelly said. I knew we had to do something to
The $20 admission included food, beer, soda, dessert and live entertainment
by the band Oz. A giant poster of Aaron in his varsity baseball uniform
hung on the wall above the band.
This town really rallies together and surrounds anybody whos
going through a tough time, Kelly said, adding that several
smaller fundraisers were held prior to Saturdays event. Countless
people donated trays of food and there are over 100 raffle baskets.
We have a huge family and word of the event spread fast through Facebook,
flyers and word of mouth.
The doors opened at 4 and at least 40 people were in line,
said Kelly. Its so overwhelming to see how many came out
to show support for him and his family. Hes doing very well,
she said, adding that Aaron couldnt attend the event because
he was out of town getting treatment. He has a great attitude
and all of the support is really keeping him going.
Hes such a great kid, Kelly said. If it were
somebody else going through a hard time, hed be one of the first
ones to help.
Nanticoke police secure grant for drug collection
With the help of a program offered by CVS Pharmacy, Nanticoke police
will be able to provide a safe place to dispose of medication.
In a Thursday press release, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-119, Newport
Twp., announced the Nanticoke Police Department received a grant for
a drug collection unit through the CVS Health Medication Disposal
for Safer Communities Program.
The unit will be located in the lobby of the Nanticoke municipal building
and provide "a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose
of unwanted, unused or expired medication, including controlled substances
... with no questions asked," according to the release.
The site will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
EPA grants will clean up mine-scarred sites
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $800,000 in brownfield
grants to the Earth Conservancy for job training and cleanup of mine-scarred
sites in Luzerne County.
Acting EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues announced
the grants Thursday at a press conference held on a parcel of formerly
mine-scarred land across from Luzerne County Community College.
Two grants totaling $400,000 will go toward cleaning up two land parcels
at "Bliss Bank" near LCCC. The properties sustained damage
from several years of coal mining.
"The money will be used to assess the property and clean up the
property and hopefully it will lead to further redevelopment,"
Nanticoke, Newport Twp. and Hanover Twp. come together at one point
at Bliss Bank, said Mike Dziak, president and CEO of the Earth Conservancy.
The Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the impact of
coal mining in Northeast Pennsylvania, has been working in the area
for years, Dziak said.
"This continues the operation to continue reclaiming land in
the area," Dziak said. "Our hope is that (the location)
will become a new industrial development in the future."
Another $200,000 grant will go toward restoration work on 6,200 feet
of Espy Run in the Nanticoke Creek watershed. The area lost its stream
bed due to mining activity and is affected by acid mine drainage.
By restoring the stream, "They not only restore habitat and clean
water, but they also stop the discharge of the ugly orange stuff you
see in the creek," Jeff Barnett, EPA brownfields project officer,
An additional $200,000 will go toward an environmental job training
program for local unemployed residents and veterans.
The Earth Conservancy will work with Penn State University and other
partners to create a program to assist unemployed residents in getting
the training needed to seek jobs in areas impacted by hazardous waste.
The grants were among those awarded to 172 organizations and communities
across the country
for brownfield site revitalization.
"This is a great day for the Earth Conservancy and the community,"
Earth Conservancy lands federal grants for
Nonprofit group Earth Conservancy is receiving $600,000 in federal
grants for environmental projects in Hanover Township and Nanticoke,
officials announced Thursday.
The same group, based in Ashley, is also getting another grant - for
$200,000 - for a workforce training program aimed at helping veterans.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced the grants during a
ceremony at an abandoned mine site in Nanticoke.
The $600,000 is for brownfield site revitalization. Brownfields are
former industrial or commercial sites - including old mine land -
where future use is affected by environmental contamination.
"This is a great day for Earth Conservancy," said Cecil
A. Rodrigues, acting administrator for EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region.
Rodrigues said days like Thursday are vital because it illustrates
how the EPA collaborates with non-governmental organizations "to
make a better place to live."
The Hanover Township project will cover two Bliss Bank parcels, 200
acres of former mining land. The reclamation will move northeast below
the Wilkes-Barre Mountain. When completed, the area could be home
to mixed-use development, including recreational sites.
The total grant award for the Hanover reclamation project is $400,000.
The total projected cost is $1.4 million.
The Nanticoke work will focus on restoration of a segment of Espy
Run, a stream which feeds into Nanticoke Creek. Espy Run has been
tainted by acid mine drainage.
The total grant award was $200,000. The total cost for the project
is expected to be $273,000.
Elizabeth Hughes, director of communications for Earth Conservancy,
said the projects won't begin until October.
While the EPA is known for its environmental programs, it actually
does much more.
For instance, officials also announced a $200,000 grant for a workforce
training program tailored to veterans.
The grant comes via the EPA's Environmental Workforce and Development
Job Training Program. Since 1998, more than 16,000 people nationwide
have gone through the program, with 12,000 landing full-time jobs.
Earth Conservancy, working with Penn State Wilkes-Barre, plans to
send 40 students though the curriculum, which includes land surveying
techniques. The program begins in the fall.
"For displaced workers, especially veterans, it offers a new
pathway to help secure meaningful employment," said Michael Dziak,
president and CEO of Earth Conservancy.
WWII Vet to celebrate 93rd birthday on Memorial
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice
Henry Rishkofski never leaves home without his World War II veteran
Im just a proud veteran, the 92-year-old Nanticoke
Hell don his hat as always on Monday, but his day will go a
little differently than his normal routine. Not only will Rishkofski
turn 93 on Monday, hell spend his birthday as grand marshal
of the West Side Veterans Memorial Day Parade.
Im honored, he said. Memorial Day, thats
more or less to remember all the ones that made the supreme sacrifice
like two of my best friends.
Rishkofski keeps a map of the course he charted with the second infantry
division during World War II.|
We traveled with them all through the war, he said.
Rishkofski vividly remembers the day his unit lost two of their own:
their first sergeant and staff sergeant.
They were both killed on Christmas Day, 1944, he said.
They were in Belgium, staying in Elsenborn, where part of the famous
Battle of the Bulge would take place. The pair of soldiers were leaving
headquarters when a shell struck the building, killing them, Rishkofski
He said the rest of the unit was enjoying a turkey dinner with the
family that had taken them in when the second lieutenant got a call
informing them of what had happened.
We were having a good time, he said. All of a sudden,
the telephone rings and he said he had to go back to headquarters
... that was a heartbreaker.
Rishkofski will keep the fallen members of his unit in his mind when
serving as parade grand marshal this Memorial Day.
He said he wears his hat out and about in the hope of having a chance
to talk to people about what soldiers go through. He wears it when
he goes bowling at Chackos every Monday and when he heads to
the lake to go fishing.
For me Memorial Day its ... a celebration and then again
its a sad day for me, he said. You have to remember
the ones that paid the supreme sacrifice.
The West Side Veterans Memorial Day Parade steps off at 10:30
a.m. on Monday, rain or shine, and will follow a route from Kingston
corners along Wyoming Avenue to the Forty Fort Cemetery.
3 displaced after fire in Nanticoke rekindles
A fire that broke out at a Nanticoke home on Saturday morning rekindled
in the afternoon, displacing three people.
The Nanticoke Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 7:52 a.m.
at 131 Orchard St. It started in a second floor bedroom, Fire Captain
Mark Boncal said.
We had the fire under control within 10 to 15 minutes,
The fire rekindled at about 12:30 p.m. as a result of a hot spot.
A couple and their daughter were displaced but were not injured, he
said. Firefighters also rescued the familys cats and parakeets.
A firefighter Boncal did not identify was taken to a hospital for
The fire was ruled accidental and was caused by an electrical malfunction
as a result of wiring in the bedroom, Boncal said.
The Hanover Twp. Fire Department assisted Nanticoke firefighters on
French Quarter brings Cajun-styled food to
Charlotte L. Jacobson - Citizens Voice
In less than two months, Nanticoke residents welcomed their newest
neighbors at the French Quarter restaurant with open arms.
Owner and chef Kelli Fritz worried that opening a restaurant far away
from her Berwick home might be a disadvantage to the business, but
the locals proved her wrong.
"I know my people (in Berwick) will follow me here to eat, but
I don't have many friends up here," she said. "But through
word of mouth, we've been busy."
The restaurant hugs the corners of South Walnut and East Union streets,
which sat vacant for four years prior. Customers who enter the establishment
are immediately greeted by the scent of Cajun spices and a cozy atmosphere.
A menu full of variety sits on the chalkboard wall with different
options written in brightly colored chalk, and Mardi Gras-themed decor
covers the restaurant in the signature green, purple and gold color
Fritz said after so many years working for other people she decided
it was finally time to open her own restaurant, with her style of
"I lived in New Orleans until I was eight, and my uncle had a
restaurant down there," Kelli Fritz said. "For years, people
told my mom and I to open a New Orleans-styled restaurant, but we'd
been busy working for other people, making them money."
In November, an opportunity to lease the restaurant on South Walnut
Street presented itself to Kelli Fritz and her husband, Larry, and
they couldn't pass it up.
"It was a long time coming," Kelli Fritz said.
But she couldn't do it alone. With help from her family and friends,
they opened the restaurant after five months of revamping the interior
and decorating it to their liking.
Now, the restaurant specializes in various New Orleans- and Cajun-styled
cuisine, from the famous Po'Boys - both hot and cold - to crawfish
etouffee and jambalaya. But most notably, the French Quarter serves
alligator bites as an appetizer, to really bring something new to
"We allow people to have samples of gator before ordering,"
Kelli Fritz said. "And 90 percent of people like it."
"It's like a fishy chicken with a steak texture," Larry
Although they are still a budding restaurant, the food spoke for itself
when it came to Facebook reviews, which have been mostly five-stars.
Kelli Fritz said she fears the day they receive a bad review, but
said, "you can't please everyone."
Even with the more unique dishes, the couple said locals keep returning
to the restaurant to try new things. Within the few months they've
been open, they said many people are repeat customers, from the 911
call center employees that order lunch to the neighbors across the
street that eat dinner at the restaurant several times a week. "The
best part is meeting all of the new people, from the people across
the street to any new customer that walks in daily," Kelli Fritz
For now, the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but
Kelli Fritz said they hope to open Wednesdays after they have some
time to get into the swing of the business.
The French Quarter
Location: 701 S. Walnut St., Nanticoke
Cuisine: New Orleans-styled sandwiches and dinner entrees
Owners: Kelli and Larry Fritz
Hours: Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday: noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 8 p.m.
Contact: 570-258-2795 or the French Quarter on Facebook
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.