Greater Nanticoke Area Educational Center
Six students from the Greater Nanticoke Area Educational Center were
finalists in the annual Fine Arts Fiesta Poetry Contest. They each
received a certificate from The Wyoming Valley Poetry Society and
were invited to read their poems to the public on May 20 on Public
Square. Their poems were submitted by their reading teachers, Lisa
Kapral and Carol Hromisin.
Finalists Sixth Grade: first place, My Grandma
by Jenna Thomas; second place, Teardrop by Rylie Lewis;
honorable mention, Family by Ryan Kenney; honorable mention,
Try by Kiersten Johnson.
Seventh Grade: first place, Along the Way by Nicholas
Neipert; honorable mention, Raindrops and Rose Petals
by Maura Jenceleski.
Nanticoke man files suit against county DA's
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man has filed a federal malicious prosecution lawsuit
against the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, alleging he
was arrested on "trumped up charges" after splitting up
with the niece of a county detective.
Damian Caban alleges county Detective Charles Balogh "turned
a blind eye toward potentially exculpatory evidence" when his
niece, Janelle Everetts Skipalis raised allegations against Caban
following their split on Dec. 19, 2015.
"The defendant Balogh knew that (Caban) was the victim of false
statements by Janelle Everetts Skipalis, but because defendant Balogh
intended to protect and favor his niece, Skipalis, he instead used
his position as a county detective to charge (Caban) with trumped
up charges, without probable cause," Wilkes-Barre attorney Andrew
J. Katsock III wrote in the complaint.
The lawsuit names as defendants Balogh as well as the Luzerne County
District Attorney's Office. District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis
declined to comment Wednesday.
According to the complaint, Skipalis and Caban got engaged on Nov.
6, 2015. The couple planned to move into a home in Hanover Twp., and
Caban put $6,000 down toward the purchase and spent another $5,000
on renovations, the lawsuit said.
But on Dec. 19, 2015, Skipalis told Caban she wouldn't marry him and
that he could not stay in the house, according to the complaint. The
couple got into an argument and then Skipalis, with the "help,
advice and assistance" of Balogh, filed charges against her former
fiance, the lawsuit alleges.
Court documents show Hanover Twp. police arrested Caban on charges
of simple assault, harassment and trespassing after Skipalis alleged
he had forced his way into her home and grabbed her hair during a
struggle. The complaint alleged Caban injured Skipalis' head and face
during the altercation, and that he threatened to kill her.
The lawsuit alleges that during a preliminary hearing, Assistant District
Attorney Angela Sperrazza threatened to file more charges against
Caban unless he admitted guilt. Caban refused, the complaint said.
Court records show the district attorney's office subsequently added
charges of making terroristic threats and reckless endangerment against
"As was threatened and promised, the Luzerne County district
attorney charged (Caban) with additional criminal charges because
he refused to admit guilt," Katsock wrote.
The state Attorney General's Office later took over the case and Caban,
who maintained his innocence, was found not guilty on all counts at
The lawsuit alleges Caban was wrongfully accused and that the DA's
office "grossly over-charged him" solely because Skipalis'
uncle is a Luzerne County detective.
The suit alleges malicious prosecution, false arrest, defamation and
failure by the DA's office to adequately train and supervise Balogh.
Caban is seeking damages for humiliation, lost wages, legal bills
and other expenses, in addition to punitive damages against Balogh.
The lawsuit said Caban has also filed a state lawsuit against Skipalis
over a $26,000 diamond engagement ring and a $2,300 gold chain and
charm that Balogh has maintained possession of,despite the relationship's
Storm leaves behind a big mess
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
Cleanup was under way in Nanticoke on Wednesday after a storm with
high winds and heavy rains caused severe damage on Tuesday.
Nanticoke firefighters responded to more than 20 calls of trees, power
lines and street poles down.
Nanticoke Fire Lt. John Polifka said some properties were damaged
as well as a parked vehicle when a street light pole fell on it on
Broad Street near Patriot Square.
The storm's damaging winds toppled a tree in Nanticoke Cemetery and
caused damage at Patriot Square, where police tape surrounded an area
where a large tree snapped. Nanticoke public works employees were
still cleaning up downed trees Wednesday.
Trees were uprooted in Quality Hill Playground, which is closed to
the public for safety reasons until the damage is cleaned up.
In all, six trees in the playground were damaged, said Kenny Gill,
president of the Quality Hill Playground Association.
Conklin's Tree Service of Wapwallopen removed three downed trees in
the playground that blocked an alley.
Jamie Conklin, owner of Conklin's Tree Service, said in addition to
removing downed trees at the playground, he received more than 25
calls in three hours to remove trees that fell on houses and vehicles
in other areas from Hazleton to Hunlock Twp.
Many trees were uprooted as a result of the high winds and he was
busy Wednesday responding to emergencies. He plans to return to Quality
Hill Playground to remove the other downed trees.
About 30 feet of fencing in Quality Hill Playground was gone from
the trees falling on it, Gill said. Trees fell on fencing that surrounds
the basketball court and the tennis court.
Gill said Quality Hill Playground Association officials are waiting
to find out if insurance will cover the damage or if it will be considered
an "act of God."
As a nonprofit organization, he said the association raises money
to do park improvements and not to respond to "Mother Nature's
If people have storm damage to their homes, it could be covered under
their homeowners' insurance policies or if there is damage to their
vehicles, it could be covered under their auto insurance, said local
insurance agent George Shadie.
Shadie recommended people notify insurance agents of damage as soon
as possible. He said to take pictures immediately and press insurance
companies about repairing and cleaning up the damaged areas.
"Confirm their conversations in writing," Shadie said. "Either
use insurance company recommended contractors or confirmed reputable
Shadie said his Jaguar convertible was damaged by tree limbs and flying
debris in Butler Twp. from Tuesday's storm which he said is covered
under his auto comprehensive coverage. He said his deductible is zero
and it's important for people to know their deductibles on all their
"This is money they'll have to pay," Shadie said. "For
example, if you have a $500 deductible and the agreed damages are
$1,500, your insurance company will only pay $1,000."
In addition to downed trees, the storm also left a number of people
throughout Luzerne County without power, including 397 PPL customers
by late Wednesday afternoon. PPL regional affairs
director Alana Roberts said all power should be restored to customers
in Luzerne County by 11 p.m. Thursday.
About 500 workers were working to restore power day and night "as
quickly and safely as possible" throughout PPL's service territory,
Roberts said. Crews were brought in from other states such as Tennessee,
Kentucky and Illinois. She said crews will move into Luzerne County
after restoring power in the Lehigh Valley area, Harrisburg and Lancaster.
By late Wednesday afternoon, nearly all UGI customers in Luzerne County
had their power restored, according to the utility's online outage
The majority of UGI's power outages were in Union Twp., Conyngham
Twp., Ross Twp. and Hunlock Twp. Crews were working late in the day
to restore power to those areas. The remainder of UGI customers should
have their power restored Thursday, UGI spokesman Joe Swope said.
"This storm caused a lot of damage and the consistent rain slowed
things up," Swope said.
If you have storm damage and need to file a claim, the Pennsylvania
Insurance Department offers these tips:
o Know your insurance policy, policy number and the customer service
line to file a claim.
o Read and understand what your insurance policy states.
o Keep a record of everyone you spoke to on the telephone, including
names, dates and times of the conversations, as well as any exchanges
o Ask questions if you do not understand something.
o Photograph and make a list of the damaged items.
o Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs.
o Do not throw away damaged property unless a claims adjuster advises
you to do so.
o Protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs
until your insurance company is able to advise you.
o Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company
has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the
cost of repairs. If you make permanent repairs before the adjuster
has seen the damage, your claim could be denied.
o After you file a claim form and the insurance adjuster has inspected
the damage, the insurance company usually will respond in writing
within a week.
o If your claim is complicated or questionable, the company may request
additional time. If you don't hear from the insurance company, call
and ask for reason for the delay.
o Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of a settlement,
the law requires you be sent payment promptly.
o If your claim is denied, make sure you obtain a letter explaining
o If you are not satisfied, call the Pennsylvania Insurance Department,
Girls basketball: Nanticoke Area finds head
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
While he was growing up in Nanticoke, Ed Grant always made sure to
get to as many Nanticoke Area basketball games as he could. In fact,
Alan Yendrzeiwski was his favorite player. And when Grant finally
was able to take the court as a seventh grader for the Trojans, Yendrzeiwski
was his first coach in the program.
The two continued to bond over the game of basketball, and for seven
out of the last nine seasons, Grant served as Yendrzeiwskis
assistant coach with the girls program at the school.
And when Yendrzeiwski decided to step away from the job at the end
of April, Grant thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him
to slide one seat over on the bench.
On Thursday, the Nanticoke Area school board voted unanimously to
name Grant the new girls basketball coach at the school.Im
just excited about it, there is a lot of tradition, Grant said.
Im proud to be the coach. This is where I went to school.
I came up through the program. It means a lot to be among the coaches
that have come through here. There have been a lot of great ones.
During Yendrzeiwskis nine years with the program, the Trojanettes
won four Wyoming Valley Conference league titles and appeared in three
district championship games, winning one of them. The Trojanettes
also won four state playoff games.
Grant will inherit a program that will lose three starters from last
seasons squad that finished 22-6 and advanced to the second
round of the state tournament, where it was eliminated by Gwynedd-Mercy.
Coach Yendrzeiwski was my favorite player growing up, I was
able to play for him, Grant said. To be able to take over
for him is very special. I am going to keep everything flowing; the
philosophy will be the same. We are going to continue to do the things
that we believe in with the tradition of the program.
Grant believes the transition will be a smooth one since he is familiar
with the girls and they are with him. By not changing the philosophy,
that means the Trojanettes will continue to use there pressuring defense
to help create turnovers and easy baskets on the offensive end. Although,
Grant wont be afraid to tweak a few things in terms of the scheme
on the offensive end of the floor.
We lost three starters from last year, but there were many other
girls who contributed off the bench that we expect to flow into the
scheme of things, Grant said. It will be a little bit
of a reboot for us.
Now that his hiring is official, Grants first order of business
will be to meet with the returning players and any newcomers as soon
as possible. The next step will be the get everything lined up for
the summer league and off season program.
I always wanted to be a head coach at Nanticoke Area,
said Grant, who coached the Lake-Lehman boys basketball team for one
season. You cant beat the community following at all the
games. The fans are there before any of the games are ready to start.
I cant thank the school board enough for giving me this opportunity,
and (Yendrzeiwski) for all he has done for me over the years.
Boys soccer: Matusek stepping down as Nanticoke
Eric Shultz Citizens Voice
Back in the late 1980s, Mark Matusek hardly knew a thing about soccer.
He knew who all-time great Pelé was, but had never played or
coached the game. By 1989, he had only a few years of youth coaching
experience to point to as his soccer background.
Thats not quite the resume of an average high school coach nowadays,
but Matusek remembers Wyoming Valley soccer still in its early stages
back then. In 1989, it was enough to make Matusek the man to start
Nanticoke Areas boys soccer program from scratch a position
hes finally ready to give up.
After 29 seasons, Matusek is stepping down as the Trojans only boys
soccer head coach to date.
Ive been thinking about it on and off for the past two
seasons. I just think that 29 years long time, Matusek
said Thursday night. And I was thinking, maybe its time
to give someone else an opportunity to run the program.
Matusek called the move the toughest decision Ive ever
had to make. He had his resignation letter typed up and saved,
but it took some time to finally hit the send button and
deliver it to athletic director Ken Bartuska.
Nearly three decades of coaching Trojans soccer would have never happened,
though, had it not been for a family friend.
Bartuska recalls his sisters neighbor suggesting he head to
a weekend clinic to learn how to coach soccer. Nanticoke was starting
a youth program and needed people to help run the team.
I didnt know anything about it, so how can I coach?
Matusek gave it a shot, though, and a weekend at a Crestwood coaches
clinic turned into three years of youth experience, which turned into
a job recommendation from parents for the brand-new Trojans job. Then-AD
Jim Davis gave him a call, and Matusek, a substitute teacher at the
time, figured it wouldnt hurt to start the program.
It was rough at first.
Matuseks first team included roughly 24 players, but just four
freshmen with prior playing experience. Its first game, a trip to
Crestwood, resulted in a 19-0 loss.
The Trojans finally won their first game in 1990 at Wyoming Area,
the first of a three-win, two-tie season.
The bus driver drove around town blowing the horn (for the first
win), and people didnt know what was going on, Matusek
By the time his four experienced freshmen in 89 became seniors,
they honestly got sick of losing, Matusek said, and the
Trojans went undefeated in league play and made it to the 1992 league
That kicked off a nice run of winning seasons throughout the decade.
But perhaps Matuseks biggest career highlight came in 2003.
Nanticoke Area qualified for its first District 2 title game after
beating then-undefeated Dallas, 5-1, he said, and it qualified for
states despite losing in the title game. The Trojans opened their
first state tournament against defending state runner-up Eastern Lebanon
Catholic and held a second-half lead before falling, 3-2, to the eventual
That was the only time as a coach that Ive lost a game
and felt really good about it, Matusek said.
Nanticoke Areas last season under Martusek ended in the D2 Class
2A quarterfinals. Wherever the next coach takes the Trojans in future
seasons, Martusek hopes he or she can boost participation numbers.
Its been very difficult the past few years getting kids
out, Martusek said. Im hoping whoever comes in can
get into the youth program and help with the youth program.
Long-time Nanticoke boys soccer coach Matusek
wont return for 30th season
Dave Rosengrant Times Leader
For nearly three decades, Nanticoke boys soccer hasnt had a
head coach besides Mark Matusek. That will come to an end for the
upcoming season as Matusek, the longest-tenured coach in the Wyoming
Valley Conference, informed Nanticoke Area athletic director Ken Bartuska
that he would not be returning for his 30th season as head coach of
the Trojans. Matusek, who couldnt be immediately reached for
comment on Thursday, piled up more than 250 wins since the programs
inception in 1989.
Matusek racked up several division titles in his 29 seasons, with
Meyers being runner-up to the Trojans on a few occasions, and the
Mohawks getting the best of Matusek a few times as well.
Any time you have a coach with that kind of tenure, you have
a great coach, said Meyers coach Jack Nolan, now the longest-tenured
coach in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference. Any time
you have a coach thats been around a long time, he gets the
best out of his kids.
I was actually a little upset because they are going up to Triple-A
this year and up to Division 1, and we wouldnt get to play them.
Him leaving is going to be a big loss for the league and the
program and the sport.
Even when the Trojans didnt have a division-winning team on
the field, Matuseks teams were always tough to beat.
Just a few years ago in 2016, the team finished with just seven wins
in the regular season but managed to win two matches as the No. 9
seed in the District 2 Class 2A Tournament. That included ousting
top-seeded Blue Ridge to reach the semifinals before losing a one-goal
game to Wyoming Seminary.
We all have those couple years when were rebuilding and
you know its going to be a struggle, but Mark was always competitive,
Nolan said. And you always had to have your team prepared because
you knew it was going to be a tough game.
Thats a testament to Mark and his knowledge of the sport
and how much he gets out of the kids. Hes put a lot of time
and effort into it and deserves all the accolades hes received,
and the time off in his retirement.
Preliminary budget for Nanticoke Area includes
The tax rate on properties in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District
would increase 3.6 percent, according to a preliminary budget proposed
The proposed budget would allocate nearly $30 million. The school
board voted 6-3 to propose the budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year
and is required to adopt a final budget by June 30. The fiscal year
starts July 1.
The proposed tax hike would increase the property tax rate to 11.9113
mills. A mill is $1 on every $1,000 in property assessment.
The tax increase also does not exceed the state index, which is the
maximum amount allowed without the approval of a voter referendum
or state exception amount.
Business Manager Al Melone recommended raising the tax rate to the
index because state funding is not going up.
We have to take care of ourselves, Melone said. GNA
takes care of GNA.
The district cut $1.1 million in expenses that were in a rough
and dirty version of the budget in January, Melone said. The
retirement of six employees helped reduce spending by about $500,000,
National Nurses Week: Finding her real role
With a mother who taught high school music and a father who taught
college theater, small wonder Kyra Yezefski first appeared on stage
when she was 6, and has been in "10 or 15" productions in
her 28 years. The bigger question may be, how did she end up not only
working as a nurse, but being so good at it.
"I love science and I love music," she explained. "Theater
is a hard career to make a living at, but I didn't have a clue what
I wanted to do in science."
After graduating from Greater Nanticoke Area High School (where her
mother taught) in 2008, she tried going to Wilkes University (where
her father taught) to study biology. But something didn't quite click,
until she decided to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She liked
it so much she went back to school, this time in the nursing program
at Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center, and hasn't looked
"At Guardian Elder Care, a big part of my day is handling the
medicines, taking vital signs, assessing the residence day to day,
doing any kinds of treatment that needs to be done," she said.
"But really, my favorite part is just talking to them, spending
time with them."
In fact, becoming a nurse meant she got less of that. "The hall
was split between three CNAs. As a nurse, you have responsibility
for all 28 people. It can get pretty busy."
Yezefski said she enjoys hearing what the residents have to say.
"A lot of times they want to tell you about what they did in
their lifetime. Sometimes they just want to talk about what's going
on that day. A lot of them don't have families that come around. The
nurses and CNAs that work there, they really look forward to seeing
Though she's only been a nurse since December, Yezefski clearly feels
the calling, and has no plans to look for another career. She expects
to advance her training and eventually become a Registered Nurse.
"Probably within the next year I'll get started," she said,
"but right now I'm content where I am."
Of course, she still loves music, and she still sings every chance
she gets. "My favorite Broadway show is Into the Woods, followed
by Le Miz or maybe Wicked," she said. "I also love Whitney
But she doesn't feel as strong an urge to return to the stage as she
does to help the people she now serves, despite the fact that she
started showing up in her father's productions of Shakespeare plays
when she was around 6 years old, albeit without any speaking part
- or really much of a part at all.
"I was shy as a young kid, I didn't want to talk. Dad made these
signs and I'd walk across the stage with them," announcing the
start of the next act, say.
Yezefski heaps high praise on her husband, a high school sweetheart
who shared the stage with her in productions of Carousel, Into the
Woods and Guys and Dolls. He now works as a lighting and sound designer
for Effects Unlimited in Pittston.
"He paid for my education, for all the stuff I needed,"
she said. Which may be why her favorite Whitney Houston tune is "I
"Share my life, take me for what I am, 'Cause I'll never change
all my colors for you
School: Greater Nanticoke Area High School class of 2008, Wilkes-Barre
Area Career and Technical Center practical nursing program.
Became a nurse in December, previously worked as a Certified Nursing
Works at Guardian Elder Care, Nanticoke.
Information sought on historical event
Letter to the Editor - Citizens Voice/ Published: May 5, 2018
Editor: A few weeks ago marked the 82nd Anniversary of a very sad
day in this areas history. On Good Friday, April 10, 1936, a
tragic series of events unfolded in the Wyoming Valley, which became
known as The Good Friday Bombings.
Six packages containing cigar box bombs were mailed to Thomas Maloney,
of Georgetown; Michael Gallagher, of Hanover Twp., Harry Goulstone,
of Kingston; Judge Benjamin Jones, of Wilkes-Barre; sheriff and funeral
director Luther Kniffen, of Wilkes-Barre; and James Gorman, of Hazleton.
Sadly, on that Good Friday, Thomas Maloney opened the first package,
wounding him, his son and daughter. He and his son died from their
wounds, and his daughter survived.
Later in the day, Michael Gallagher also opened a package, which killed
him instantly and wounded his son-in-law, Clinton Lehman. Ultimately,
Michael Fugmann, of Hanover Twp., was arrested, tried, convicted and
put to death for the crime. In Fugmanns defense, the names of
Big Joe Danowski and Big Tony Denovige were also mentioned.
I am a member of the local historical societies and am interested
in researching this historical event. If anyone has any information
on the Good Friday Bombings of 1936, any of the people involved, or
are relatives of these people please contact the Nanticoke Historical
Society at Nanticokehistorical@yahoo.com or by calling 570-258-1367
or myself at 570-606-8443.
Mike Chmiola - Member - Nanticoke Historical Society
Yendrzeiwski stepping down at Nanticoke Area
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
Ever since he was 12 years old, all Alan Yendrzeiwski knew was Nanticoke
Area basketball. Whether it was a practice or a game for him at that
young of an age, he knew where he was going to spend his holiday weekends.
Now, he will be spending that time at home.
Yendrzeiwski announced that he is stepping down as the head girls
basketball coach at the school after a nine year run. He plans on
spending more time with his family, particularly with his children
age 10, 8 and 6.
I talked to the girls on Friday, it is on my terms, Yendrzeiwski
said. Its just time to take a little break and recharge
the batteries. There is no reason. I do tell people that every Thanksgiving,
Christmas and New Years, I have been doing this since I was
12 years old. It is all Ive known. Im looking forward
to spending time with my kids. Im going to get to see what it
is like not having to go to practice the day after Thanksgiving and
Yendrzeiwski recently wrapped up his ninth year with the Trojanettes,
finishing 22-6 overall and losing to Gwynedd-Mercy in the second round
of the state tournament, for the second consecutive year. Yendrzeiwski
began his coaching career as an assistant with the boys program under
current Nanticoke Area athletic director Ken Bartuska, before moving
on to become the head coach of the girls program.
While the head coach of the Trojanettes, Yendrzeiwski led the team
to three district championship games, winning one of them. He also
won four league titles and four state playoff games.
It was a tough decision, it was a proud nine years working with
the kids, Yendrzeiwski said. I am happy to have the opportunity
to do that. I always respected the tradition of the program, and in
the meantime add to it. I think we have done that during my time.
I am just really proud of what we accomplished.
Nanticoke pulls together for leukemia-stricken
mayor, Richie Wiaterowski
Nanticoke rallied for one of its own on Sunday.
Half a world away, another man is helping him out.
Since November, the citys mayor, Richie Wiaterowski, has been
battling acute myeloid leukemia or AML. The city gathered together
at the Nanticoke Armory to raise money to help cover the costs of
his medical bills.
Wiaterowski said the support was overwhelming.
My doctors said I wasnt even supposed to be here, but
there was no way I could miss it, he said, pulling aside the
surgical mask covering his face.
Since his diagnosis in November, Wiaterowski said that hes only
been able to spend a total of 20 days at home. The rest of that time
has been spent in and out of hospitals in Philadelphia.
But that hasnt put a damper on the love he has for his town.
Wiaterowski said that scenes like Sundays were what he wants
people known Nanticoke for.
These are Nanticoke people. Theyre good people,
he said When someones sick, they come out and pull together.
And pull together they did.
Throughout the day, more than 1,000 people came in to support the
mayor, according to his sister Nancy Potsko.
Residents of Nanticoke and others packed into the armory to try food
and beer, listen to live music or simply to offer the mayor well.
Many of those supporters donned bright orange t-shirts that read The
Mayors Battle Is My Battle.
Potsko, who organized Sundays event, said she was thrilled by
It means a lot; its amazing, overwhelming and emotional
all at once, she said.
In addition to the other festivities, Potsko said attendees could
have tried their hands at winning one of 137 raffle baskets or even
a $1,000 door prize.
Wiaterowskis wife, Wendy, expressed sincere thanks to everyone
who took part on Sunday.
Everyone in the state of PA is praying for us, Wendy said.
According to Wendy, things have been progressing along well for her
husband. The mayor received a perfect match for a marrow donor, a
young man from Germany, and since the donation was made, things have
been going well.
The doctors say hes doing amazing. I update everyone on
Facebook about how hes been doing, and lately its been
boring; we like boring, she said with a laugh.
For his part, Wiaterowski is looking forward to May 13. So far, its
been 72 days since the marrow transplant.
The magic day is 100, he said, indicating that May 13
end date. If we get there okay, I lose a lot of restrictions;
I wont need to wear this mask anymore.
Benefit planned for Nanticoke mayor recovering
May 13 is Day 100 for Rich Wiaterowski.
That Sunday will mark 100 days since the 44-year-old Nanticoke man,
the citys mayor, received a stem cell transplant that helped
him recover from acute myeloid leukemia.
Life has changed dramatically for him and his family since his diagnosis
in November 2017.
It kept him from the basketball gym where he loves to cheer for the
Nanticoke Trojans and share in the camaraderie of his hometown. A
weakened immune system meant most of the games were off-limits on
doctors orders. He watched while his children shoveled the snow.
His job site changed from a dusty construction site to light duty
on a computer at home. Hunting and fishing had to wait while chemotherapy
and total body irradiation prepared him to receive stem cells to replace
The Wiaterowskis dont know the donor, but his cells were an
excellent match that helped save Richs life.
When Rich Wiaterowski first learned a transplant could come from an
anonymous donor, not knowing the identity didnt seem like a
big deal. Then came the day a coordinator with Be The Match, an organization
that helps arrange stem cell transplants, called their house to tell
the Wiaterowskis they had a donor.
Once I got home, I opened the email, and it said scroll down,
keep going, then Your donor is: (From) Germany, 28 years old,
O-positive (blood type.) I got very emotional. I broke down
and cried, he said.
For now, thats all he knows. The donor knows even less about
him. A year after donation, the organization will ask both parties
if they want to share their contact information.
In the meantime, Wiaterowski continues to recover.
This Sunday is day 72 post-transplant. His family, friends and supporters
will gather for a benefit event to show their support and to gather
funds to help the family with the thousands of dollars in medical
bills that health insurance didnt cover.
It is crazy the way people in this town have come together,
he said. When someone is sick, not just me, anybody that weve
seen go through a sickness like this, the town pulls together.
His sons sixth grade class sent get-well cards. Hes gotten
cards from friends and strangers. Hes kept every one.
Its overwhelming, said his wife, Wendy Wiaterowski.
Its amazing how much people care, genuinely care, and
want to send love and prayers and warm wishes.
Wiaterowski moved home from the hospital in the beginning of March,
although he still travels to Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia
for weekly follow-up appointments.
Recovery has been months in the making.
He realized something was amiss in November 2017. He was exhausted
and his bones ached.
When his doctor called to say he was coming over to discuss the results
of a blood test, he knew the diagnosis would be bad.
Tests at Fox Chase confirmed the news, and he started chemotherapy
that day. More than two months later, he was receiving a stem cell
Right now, hes doing very well. In (the physicians)
eyes, hes doing remarkable. Theres lot of positive with
that. But theres still a long road ahead, Wendy Wiaterowski
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Benefit for Rich Wiaterowksi
WHEN: 1 to 8 p.m., Sunday
WHERE: Nanticoke Armory, 490 E. Main St., Nanticoke
DETAILS: A $10 donation at the door includes entrance to the event,
one soda/water ticket, food and entertainment.
Children 12 years old and younger are free.
Parking is available at the armory. Overflow parking is also available
at Greater Nanticoke Area High School, and a shuttle will leave form
the bus port next to the high school near Church Street.
There will be a cash bar, silent auction and other raffles.
1 p.m.: Acousticstein
2 p.m.: Strawberry Jam Duo
3 p.m.: Doug and Sean Acoustic
5 p.m.: Ol Cabbage
6 p.m.: Rhythm and Booze
7 p.m.: 40 lb. Head
A NEW KIND OF VIBE LOCAL FIRM PUTS THE STORY
BACK IN HISTORY WITH UNIQUE, DIGITALLY-LAYERED APPROACH
Lois A. Grimm - Citizens Voice
For anyone whose had to sit through a history class filled with dates,
obscure names and nebulous references to laws, social movements and
events, the word exciting rarely enters the picture. According
to a 2003 Gallup Poll, only 10 percent of responding teens named history
as one of their favorite classes.
Conversely, popular media derived from historical events has long
been popular among book and movie audiences. Books such as The
Other Boleyn Girl, The Help, and Cold Mountain
were wildly popular bestsellers. Moviegoers couldnt get enough
of Glory, Saving Private Ryan or Schindlers
So what gives? Why do people hate history class but love books based
on historical figures and events?|
The founders of VizVibe, a transmedia company in Nanticoke, think
they have the answer.
History can be dry. What we are doing is engaging, Vic
Deluca, director of sales and marketing of the fledgling tech media
company said recently.
Combining media of all types from video to mobile apps to photographs
and everything in between, VizVibe seeks to make history come alive
for current and future students. Their inaugural project, and the
catalyst for the existence of the company itself, depicts the Selma
marches of March 1965. The idea took hold after Kevin Jones, one of
the founders of VizVibe, and Jim Gavenus, a self-described photo storyteller,
threw around the idea of a documentary on the Selma marches.
Gavenus, who is a photography professor at Luzerne County Community
College, has been documenting individuals involved in the Civil Rights
movement for the past 15 years. He routinely traveled to Alabama to
photograph and hear the stories of Americans who not only participated
in the marches but in other aspects of the movement. Recently, Gavenus
work was shown in the Selma to Montgomery exhibit at the
college, along with the work of Spider Martin, the prolific photojournalist
who covered the marches in 1965. The exhibit will be traveling nationally.
While the idea of a documentary on Martins work was appealing,
both Gavenus and Jones expressed concern that the length and breadth
of the Martin collection couldnt be accurately portrayed in
that type of format.
When you make a documentary, there are budget and time constraints,
Gavenuss approach to storytelling helped propel VizVibes
If Im going to tell a story, I have to experience it.
It makes it real for me. I think you need to be a participant,
Gavenus said of his work.
With VizVibes approach to education, anyone with access to a
tablet or smartphone can experience history and all that goes into
Tentatively titled Selma AR (augmented reality), the transmedia experience
will allow students to not only view a photo of Alabama state troopers
advancing on a group of marchers, theyll be able to see video
of the incident. Then, using AR cards, students can view 3D representations
of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which marchers crossed on their way to
the state capitol.
VizVibe has access to Spider Martins collection of photos, many
of which have never been seen by the general public and which number
more than 3,000, as well as the entire collection of the National
Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Ala.
Many of the photographs in the collection have notes written on the
back of them by Martin himself and detail the experiences he had while
documenting the marches. As Gavenus put it, these notes are ultra
first-person history and provide another lens through which
to view the iconic marches.
This is going to be a multiple platform way to tell stories.
Its a totally immersive interactive experience, Deluca
While there are some apps available that are based on history and
other educational subjects, they are often lacking in content, Jones
said. They only go so far. VizVibe believes learning about any subject,
not just history, is a multilayered experience.
Being accurate is key. The content is limited right now (in
existing apps) and there is nothing linking the learner to additional
sources, Jones said.
What Jones, Deluca and their coworkers, Jeremy Stair and Eric Thomas,
seek to do is bring all of the story telling elements together to
form a cohesive experience for learners.
In February 2017, when VizVibe was founded, they opened shop in an
unassuming building with a space over Hands on Learning Daycare and
Preschool on South Walnut Street, Nanticoke.
The growth of VizVibe has been completely self-funded by the four
men and each brings a unique skill set to the business. Jones, who
is the owner, is also a professor, and coordinator of the communication
arts department at Luzerne County Community College. He has an extensive
background in multimedia and interactive design including broadcasting,
advertising, television, and radio experience.
Thomas has previous experience with web and app design, 2D/3D animation,
and audio production while Deluca utilizes his commercial photography
and printing background to round out the teams expertise.
All four say they believe the business has the opportunity to change
the way teachers present information to students ... and not just
from a historical perspective.
I hated school but I would have loved to have VizVibe,
Stair said. Stair is in charge of user interface design and development.
He emphasized that the app part of the transmedia package is a tool
to get to other content.
Jones agreed, saying VizVibe is a full-service shop for any educational
organization - schools, museums, etc. They are currently working on
a space package which will allow students to use AR cards to travel
to different planets, see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descend from
Apollo 11 and take their first lunar steps and hear the audio between
the astronauts and mission control.
The possibilities are really endless, Jones said. Take
the Selma project. Thats just one part of the Civil Rights movement.
There are so many directions you can go with it, he added.
Part of their business plan includes helping struggling school districts
access their products through the use of preloaded smart devices which
would include bundles depending on what the schools were
looking for. According to Jones, education bundles could be made for
just about any topic you can imagine.
The founders of VizVibe are not only excited about the opportunities
their products will provide to students but to the local economy as
well. They want to bring more tech jobs to the area and plan on staying
in Nanticoke. Their first app, Solar Space AR, is now available on
the Apple store and should be available for Android within the next
few weeks. VizVibe is beginning work on a Gettysburg project, too.
Between the college and VizVibe, this is the most excited Ive
been in years to come to work, Jones said. Thomas, Deluca, and
Stair agreed, noting the time and money theyve invested has
been well worth it.
Thomas, the mad scientist of the group, is in charge of
coding and animation, though he says each member of the foursome delves
into all parts of the business.
Were a family and a team, Thomas said.
Jones envisions schools using VizVibe to encourage their students
to explore, learn and grow ... which just happens to be the companys
Greater Nanticoke Area approves plan to reconfigure
grades next year
The Greater Nanticoke Area School
Board voted Thursday to approve a plan to reconfigure grades in school
district buildings next year.
The district plans to close K.M. Smith Elementary School, the only
school not located on the district campus off Kosciuszko Street, after
the current school year, and open a $9 million addition to Kennedy
Elementary School when the 2018-19 school year starts.
K.M. Smith Elementary School is currently for pre-K, kindergarten
and first graders. Next year, students in pre-K through second grade
will go to the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.
Students in the third through fifth grade will go to the Elementary
The Educational Center will become a middle school for sixth through
eighth grades. The high school, which had started with eighth grade,
will start with ninth grade next year.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the reconfiguration is a
big step and it will help principals focus on student
achievement. Grevera thanked board member Tony Prushinski, chairman
of the education committee, for his work developing the reconfiguration
Nanticoke nurse to stand trial over patient
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
A registered nurse whose patient died under her care on Wednesday
waived her right to a preliminary hearing, allowing a felony count
of neglect of care to move forward to trial.
Kelly E. Levandowski, 39, of Nanticoke, is accused of intentionally,
knowingly or negligently failing to provide sufficient care
to Melvin Johnson, 72, who died after going into cardiac arrest at
the Guardian Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center at 147 Old Newport
St., on June 20, 2013.
As she left central court Wednesday morning, Levandowski declined
to comment. Waiving the charge forward will allow the defense to get
discovery in the case and determine how to proceed, defense attorney
John Pike said.
According to charges the state Attorney Generals Office filed
against Levandowski, the criminal investigation began after the state
Department of Health cited Guardian in 2013 for failing to provide
adequate monitoring over the incident.
The charges say Johnson had suffered from a ruptured aneurism and
subsequent bleeding of the brain prior to being admitted at Guardian
on the day of her death. She had been on a ventilator, but was weened
off of it prior to admission, according to the charges.
According to prosecutors, at least four staff members told Levandowski,
a shift supervisor, that they were concerned about Johnson pulling
on a breathing tube. Levandowski, however, stayed seated at the nursing
station, according to the charges.
Shortly after 7 p.m., Johnson pulled the tube out and Levandowski
reinserted it herself, but did not call 911 as required by facility
policy, the complaint says. Levandowski also wrote in her notes that
15-minute checks were to continue, although prosecutors say there
is no evidence that they had started previously.
About a half-hour later, another nurse discovered that Johnson had
again removed the tube and was unresponsive, prosecutors said.
Levandowski claimed to have performed CPR until medics arrived on
scene, but no other staff members were able to vouch for her life-saving
efforts, according to prosecutors. In fact, one nurse aide told investigators
that after Johnson died, Levandowski directed her to fill out a form
indicating 15-minute checks had been performed on Johnson since 3
p.m., even though they had not been.
Levandowski has been free on $25,000 unsecured bail since her arrest
in January. She is due back in court for a dispositional hearing on
Pennsylvania Department of State records show Levandowski remains
a registered nurse with a license that expires Oct. 31. Online records
show no disciplinary actions against her.
Ex-Penn State star Hamilton accused of assaulting
son, blasts authorities
A perplexed Harry Hamilton lashed out at authorities this week, accusing
investigators of enabling drug sales, embellishing facts and manufacturing
evidence against him during a preliminary hearing in Centre County
The former Nanticoke Area, Penn State and NFL star defense back swatted
away at charges brought by State College police that accuse him of
assaulting his teenage son during an attempt to intervene in a situation
Hamilton fears could lead the high school student into the world of
Hamilton believes the boy, a track and field standout who lives in
Centre County but is not in Hamiltons custody, is being influenced
by a reputed marijuana dealer who has access to the track team. Hamilton
admits to scolding, but not striking, them both.
Youre talking to a man who is capable of hitting, and
has hit, somebody so hard they never played football again,
Hamilton said of a tackle he made during his NFL days with the New
York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If I hit someone, there
would be hospital reports, emergency reports. You dont have
that. Did I hit the (other) kid? No. Did I scare the (other) kid like
I scared my kid? Yeah.
State College police charged Hamilton with felony counts of burglary
and criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor count of simple assault and
two summary offenses of harassment following an incident at his sons
State College residence March 3.
Police say Hamilton, a New Jersey attorney who is defending himself
in the case, punched his son and threw a second person to the ground
after damaging a front door frame that reportedly had been locked
and screen door at the residence before accusing his son of using
Interesting, said Hamilton, who maintains homes in New
Jersey, State College and Wilkes-Barre. They have to embellish
it in a way that simply didnt happen. They (investigators) told
the (sons) mom, We dont know how he got in, you
better get a new lock. Meanwhile, the original lock which
was undamaged gets lost. Nobody can find it.
There was no proof of a punch not a picture, not even
a mark except for the kids statement, Hamilton
continued, suggesting that statement may have been coerced. If
I hit him, where is the bruise? Where is the proof?
Thats the embellishment Im talking about. Thats
His preliminary hearing began March 28 and was continued to this Wednesday,
although Hamilton will be back in court at 10:30 a.m. Monday for a
protection from abuse hearing.
I grabbed him
From Hamiltons standpoint, the police reports are inaccurate.
He said he arrived at his sons residence March 3 to check on
the welfare of the boy and his mother and knocked on the front door,
only to find it unlocked which Hamilton called a rarity that
raised his suspicion.
Once inside, Hamilton said he smelled marijuana coming from an upstairs
room as his son came down the steps. After the two exchanged an extended
greeting, Hamilton continued, he tried to pull his son out the door
and away from what he believed to be an illegal situation with one
hand while attempting to open the door with the other.
When he refuses, thats when I grab him, Hamilton
said. I grabbed him as if I was tackling him to get him outside
and away from what was going on inside. Hes almost 6-3, weighs
as much as some of those lanky receivers I used to cover. He was able
to escape the grasp, partially. I got turned around toward the stairs.
At this point, Im hearing, not seeing, there were other people
in the house.
Hamilton said he then received a blow to the back of the head that
was sufficient enough to knock him down.
When I turned to identify the assailant, I believed I was looking
into the face of a 6-foot-6 drug dealer who, it looked like, had something
in his pants, had his hand in his pants, Hamilton said. I
grabbed him instantly there was no way he was getting out of
my grasp and threw him outside.
Hamilton said he also injured his knee in the process and went to
a hospital afterward to receive treatment.
During the altercation, police said, Hamilton punched his son several
times and threw him to the ground a statement Hamilton vigorously
He said he pushed his son toward the doorway with a short, quick shove
that is commonly known as a punch in football jargon
similar to an open-handed chuck a defensive back would give to a receiver
coming off the line of scrimmage.
Punch, to me, is to extend a hand with the front part of your
hand open, Hamilton said. Im not a boxer. I dont
punch people with a closed hand, youll break your knuckles.
He said he later left through the buildings back door when he
noticed the alleged assailant waiting in a car and feared the boy
may be carrying a weapon.
I didnt want to get shot, Hamilton said.
Most troubling to Hamilton, he said, is the resistance hes faced
from authorities over the past two years while trying to alert them
about what he claims is a serious drug trade in the State College
Where is the investigation into that? The police decided to
pass, said Hamilton, who was a star safety on Penn States
1982 national championship team and made 23 interceptions as a defensive
back during his eight NFL seasons. You have a drug war. There
is a major cover-up with the Centre County police department. Whos
being protected? Who are they covering up for? It greatly disturbs
They want the headlines, continued Hamilton, a son of
the late and iconic Wyoming Valley community activist and humanitarian
Stan Hamilton. They want the professional football player. You
have a man with an impeccable background. If I went into a burning
building to save somebody from a fire, would the thinking be different?
Somehow, now I try to save somebody from the gateway drug of marijuana,
I have been charged criminally.
They should be thanking me for exposing a major drug operation.
Hamilton, who joined the Army after retiring from the NFL, was a spokesman
for a drug rehabilitation clinic while playing for the Jets.
This is a message for any kid, Hamilton said.
I took an oath, as an attorney, as a military officer. It would be
my civic duty almost a direct order to do something
about illicit activity if I encounter it. And then I am in trouble.
Big trouble. Because I step in to curtail any possible activity where
my son is concerned. Unfortunately, my actions and my efforts are
Harry Hamilton, local football legend, accused
of attacking son
Bret Pallott, Centre Daily Times
Nanticoke Area graduate and former Penn State football player Harry
Hamilton is charged with two felonies after allegedly punching his
son several times and throwing another individual to the ground.
Hamilton, 55, starred on offense and defense for the Trojans in 1979.
He was an Academic All-American and played for the Nittany Lions from
1981-1983. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round
of the 1984 NFL draft and intercepted 23 passes in his eight-year
Hamiltons son heard loud banging noises coming from the front
door of his State College residence on March 3 and went downstairs
to find Hamilton just inside the front door.
After exchanging a greeting, Hamilton accused his son of using drugs
and started a physical altercation with him, according to State College
Hamilton placed his son in a headlock, pulled him off the stairs and
banged his sons head off the steps. Hamilton also punched his
son several times in the head and neck before throwing him to the
ground, according to police.
A second person came downstairs after hearing the altercation and
began to argue with Hamilton outside the front door. Hamilton allegedly
picked the person up and threw them to the ground. Hamilton was last
seen leaving the residence on foot.
Further investigation showed the front door was locked before Hamilton
entered. A picture frame, front door frame and rear screen door had
all been damaged.
Hamilton was charged with felony counts of burglary and criminal trespassing.
He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of simple assault and
two summary counts of harassment.
Hamilton was arraigned before District Judge Thomas Jordan, who set
bail at $25,000 unsecured.
Hamiltons preliminary hearing was continued to April 4.
According to Sports Illustrated, Hamilton sued the NFL for $5 million
in 2014. He claimed he was not made fully aware of the dangers associated
with football-related head injuries.
At the time of the lawsuit, Hamilton said he has memory issues, headaches,
anger management issues and occasionally relies on painkillers.
The SI article said Hamilton was one of more than 200 players to opt
out of the $765 million class action settlement between the NFL and
thousands of former players.
The settlement came after retired NFL players accused the league of
being aware of the evidence and risks associated with repetitive traumatic
brain injuries, but failing to warn and protect players against those
TheGNAInsider.com: The skys the
By Aaron Miller, Newspaper In Education student columnist / Published:
March 21, 2018
The 2017-18 school year marked the beginning of a new era for The
GNA Insider, the student newspaper at Greater Nanticoke Area High
School. For many years, the paper had been published as a quarterly
account of life at GNA, ranging from sporting events, award ceremonies
and other honorable distinctions. The creativity of the journalists
was limited by the printing costs and time restraints of the school
day. On top of that, each paper had a given limit of 30 to 35 pages,
so when it came time for printing, a lot of great ideas had to be
cut to fit in our given restrictions.
Prior to my senior year, I had discussed transitioning our newspaper
from solely a traditional one to an online paper with Sean Carey,
our journalism adviser. Our dream and expectations of how the finished
product would transpire were extremely high, leading us to be reluctant
in finally suggesting the idea to the administration of our school.
That all changed two weeks prior to the first day of my senior year
when my adviser had messaged me saying that we were approved for our
website and would begin working on it the very first day of school.
With the support of Dr. Grevera, the districts superintendent,
we received the funding and began working with the program used by
many distinguished schools and organizations, including: American
University, New York University, Emerson College, Misericordia University,
Wilkes University, Marywood University, University of Pittsburgh,
and many, many more. The program is School Newspapers Online Sites
(SNO), a subset of Wordpress. The features provided by the site allow
our journalists to bring up-to-date information to all GNA students,
faculty, staff and community members alike within a variety of mediums
Our newspaper has multiple sections that help organize all of our
articles and reporting. The most viewed sections include: sports,
campus life, alumni, and multimedia. Sports is the most developed
of the four because of the student bodys enthusiasm at all sporting
events. Campus life incorporates everything that happens on campus,
including teacher profiles and college advisement updates. Our Alumni
section is devoted to former students and also includes a Where
Are They Now? section, which recounts the accomplishments and
goals achieved by individual alumni of the district. This section
was even featured in an issue of The Citizens Voice last year.
Finally, our multimedia category attracts the most viewers because
of the vast selection of photos. The various sections of our newspaper
allow for current and future students alike to gain access to the
happenings of GNA.
Our main priority here at The GNA Insider is to keep readers current
with the affairs of the school and surrounding area, and now we can
successfully achieve that. Without the help of entire 2017-18 Journalism
Class, none of this would be possible. Student journalists include:
Seniors Eric Jeffries, Dawson Hughes, Derek Kurkoski, Taylor
Zabrenski, Mark Walters, Destiny Geahr, Aaron Miller: Juniors
Nate Kreitzer, Brianna Stritzinger, Harley LaRue, EJ Gill, Liam Carcieri,
Elias Miller, Madelyn Bugdonovitch, Haileigh Hendricks, Allison Williams,
and Sophomore, Kimberly Smith.
To expand our horizons, we have recently begun to venture out into
the social media realm. Twitter, along with Facebook and Snapchat,
allow our writers to receive feedback. It also expands our typical
viewership from just people in the district to parents and community
members interested in what their children and teachers have accomplished.
My senior year of high school has been lighted with the success of
a dream becoming reality and building a foundation for something even
greater. Even though I am graduating in a few short months, I plan
to continue my commitment to The GNA Insider, no matter where my future
endeavors lead me. I will always be grateful for the opportunity my
school and adviser provided me, and I know the same goes for them.
Writing is my passion and helping pour the cement for something that
will last a lifetime is mesmerizing. The experience I obtained from
this project encouraged me to apply to Emerson College, in Boston,
Massachusetts, the number one rated journalism school in the country.
I was recently accepted with one of the colleges most prestigious
merit awards and will be fully committing soon. This transition from
a traditional paper not only was a great way to bring our school into
the 21st century, but it was also a way to gain exposure to the real
world of journalism and will provide a stepping stone into my future
Yet, I am only one piece to the puzzle. There have been leaders before
me and there will be leaders after me, but if I make only the slightest
impact upon the way things are executed, I consider my work as an
accomplishment. With our step into the future of reporting, the skys
the limit to the possibilities of what future students can do. I hope
future students can take the advice of their teachers and strive for
greatness, because it has been proven by this years success
that anything is possible.
Visit us at thegnainsider.com!
Aaron Miller is a senior at Greater Nanticoke Area High School. Student
columns are published Wednesdays during the school year.
Gaming grants pump $6M into Luzerne County
Wilkes-Barre City is getting $1.14 million in grant funding, including
$220,000 to help restore the Irem Temple on North Franklin Street.
Nanticoke City has $700,000 coming to acquire properties on Market
Street for a streetscape project and to fund a stadium project for
the school district.
Pittston City has been allocated $695,000 to expand its public
works garage and to help pay for the replacement bleacher at the school
In all, more than $6 million will be infused into Luzerne County for
projects through money generated by the gaming industry, state officials
The office of state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Twp., announced
the list of projects in a press release. He said the Commonwealth
Financing Authority approved over $6 million in grants from the Luzerne
Countys Local Share Account, which is funded by tax revenue
generated by the states casinos, including Mohegan Sun Pocono.
The broad scope of the LSA grant program allows Pennsylvania
to invest in creating jobs and building better communities throughout
Luzerne County, Yudichak said.
The largest total award in the Wyoming Valley was $450,000 for Nantcokes
Market Street project.
I am so excited to hear of the two LSA grant awards to the city
of Nanticoke, Nanticoke Mayor Rich Wiatrowski said. The
city is pleased to know that the state considered these projects viable
for continued revitalization for our downtown and for the schools
district athletic field improvements.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George said each project the city sought funded
for was successful, but more funding is needed.
All of them were, I think, given grant money not nearly
as much as needed, but I think it was fair across the board. Everyone
got a percentage (of the amount requested), George said.
Some optimism displayed at vigil for Phylicia
It's been 14 years since Phylicia Thomas went missing -14 years that
her mother, family and friends have grieved as they wait for a resolution
of the case.
On Sunday night at Patriot Square in Nanticoke, a slight breeze of
optimism blew through the crowd of about 50 people gathered to sing
Phylicia's favorite song and light a candle in her memory.
Pauline Bailey, Phylicia's mother, and family friend and advocate
Judy Fisher announced to the crowd that they have been contacted by
Pennsylvania State Police and told there will be a meeting soon to
review the case, opening a door that appeared to be closed for a long
Bailey believes her daughter, then 22, was killed Feb. 11, 2004, while
attending a party inside a house trailer and dismembered in a barn
on Timber Lane in Hunlock Township. That belief is based on what Bailey
and her friends were told by some people who attended the party. There
have been no arrests in the case.
"We received a call from the state police informing us that they
will meet with us soon to discuss the case," Fisher said. "All
we want is to work as a team so we can bring Phylicia home and solve
"Let's hope this is the last year for us to have this vigil,"
Bailey said as she opened the ceremony. "In recent weeks, some
people have called us, some to just talk and console us, some to share
information. All we ask is that anybody with any information about
what happened to Phylicia come forward and tell us. We won't reveal
your name. We just want you to tell us what you know."
A sign on a table nearby read, "Phylicia Thomas - her life mattered."
The attendees sang Phylicia's favorite song - "Wish You Were
Here" - Pink Floyd's 1975 hit. The crowd also joined in saying
"The Lord's Prayer."
Pauline Bailey has six other children: Todd, Jesse, Jared, Wyatt,
Jocelyn and Wade. Most of them attended the vigil with their children.
Jocelyn's oldest daughter is named in memory of Phylicia.
"Just the thought that those responsible for Phylicia's death
are still out there is unbelievable," Jocelyn said. "They
could do the same thing to somebody else's child."
Jocelyn said the last 14 years have been difficult on her family,
especially her mother.
"It's been beyond frustrating," she said. "But it's
important that we come to remember Phylicia and keep her name alive."
Bailey said she is determined to bring her daughter home.
"Nobody will stop us," she said. "We know what happened.
We will find her. We won't stop until we do."
Fisher said the main goal has always been to bring Phylicia home to
allow her family to bury her so she can rest in peace.
"This is about telling the truth," Fisher said. "And
it's about bringing closure to the family."
Bailey and Fisher believe Thomas' remains may have been buried in
a vegetable garden or burned and disposed of somewhere on a 25-acre
site where the trailer once stood along Golf Course Road and Timber
Lane in Hunlock Township.
The site was sold in December 2015, a house trailer was razed and
debris removed. Following the sale, the new property owners allowed
Bailey to search the area. In 2016, separate searches were conducted
on the property using animals from Malvern-based Search and Rescue
Dogs of Pennsylvania: one on behalf of Bailey, a second for state
During the first search, cadaver dogs gave indications at certain
areas of the property, suggesting they may have detected decomposing
human remains. State police took one of the same dogs back to the
site two weeks later and no hits were recorded. The dog's handler
said he couldn't explain why no hits were recorded on the second search.
Bailey expressed disappointment that the 14-year investigation has
not been successful in finding Phylicia, nor those responsible for
her disappearance and presumed murder.
"We want to see the people responsible brought to justice,"
Fisher said. "We believe some of the people involved are still
As Bailey was walking to the center of Patriot Square, she was struggling
with the fact that 14 years have passed with no resolution to the
"I woke up this morning sick to my stomach," she said. "This
is like going to a funeral every year."
Hope rules at vigil for missing woman
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
Hope was the theme of Sunday night's vigil for Phylicia Thomas, who
has been missing for 14 years.
"We are bringing my daughter home and no one is going to stop
us," Pauline Bailey told dozens of people gathered in Nanticoke's
Patriot Square Park.
Bailey said that Sunday's vigil - the 14th consecutive gathering on
the anniversary of Thomas's disappearance on Feb. 11, 2004 - will
be the last before her daughter's case is solved.
"We know what happened," Bailey said. "We're not going
to stop. ... We just want to bring her home."
Thomas, of Lake Twp., was 22 when she disappeared. Her family and
friends have searched to find out what happened to her ever since.
They gather each year to honor Thomas, who was remembered Sunday as
a young woman with a big heart who would do anything to help anyone
Some stood in snow and slush, held lighted candles and sang Thomas's
favorite song, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."
Bailey and Judy Fisher, a family friend and community activist, said
they will soon have closure - and the answer to what happened to Thomas.
Bailey said that over the past year she has spoken with people who
said they saw Thomas at a house party in Hunlock Twp. the night she
disappeared. Thomas was sexually assaulted at that party, then killed
and her remains were disposed of nearby, according to the witnesses,
Bailey and Fisher said.
The only person ever named as a person of interest in the case was
Steve Martin, an acquaintance of Thomas's. Martin committed suicide
in state prison in 2005, while serving a sentence for causing a fatal
automobile accident in Wilkes-Barre.
Bailey criticized the police investigation into her daughter's disappearance,
but said new investigators have been assigned to the case.
Fisher said Thomas's family and friends would like to hear from anyone
who attended the party at which she was allegedly assaulted and later
killed. Witnesses may remain anonymous and need not fear for their
safety, she said.
As more people come forward, the answer to what happened to Thomas
becomes clear, according to Bailey.
"We have hope again," she said. "We have a pretty good
idea where she is. We had people tell us things."
Anyone with information about Thomas or her disappearance may call
Fisher at 570-328-4957 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
County approves tax break for commercial
Luzerne County Council on Tuesday approved a 10-year tax abatement
for a proposed commercial project that the developer says could create
thousands of jobs.
Council voted 7-3 to approve the tax abatement for NorthPoint Development,
the Missouri-based firm that plans to build three large commercial
structures on a 330-acre tract off state Route 29 in Hanover Twp.
Council voted to exempt new buildings on the site from property tax
liability for 10 years. The exemption will be 100 percent for the
first seven years, decreasing to 90 percent in year eight, 80 percent
in year nine and 70 percent in year 10.
Hanover Twp., Nanticoke, Hanover Area School District and Greater
Nanticoke Area School District have approved the tax abatement, through
a program known as Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, that
allows local taxing authorities to exempt improvements to business
properties located in "deteriorated" areas.
A council majority on Tuesday cited the benefits the project could
bring to the county, especially the creation of 2,000 or more jobs,
once the buildings are leased and fully operational.
"I can't see us turning it down," Councilwoman Sheila Saidman
The vote was not unanimous, though.
Councilmen Edward Brominski, Harry Haas and Stephen A. Urban voted
against the tax abatement. Councilman Matthew Vough was absent.
Haas said he hoped to see the county obtain better terms on the tax
deferral deal, such as limiting the 100 percent tax exemption to a
shorter time frame.
County Manager David Pedri said he had discussions with NorthPoint
Development officials and expects the firm to be a good corporate
citizen, but that no other terms were presented for the tax abatement
Haas questioned whether the site is really "deteriorated,"
as required to qualify for the tax abatement program.
Brent Miles, NorthPoint Development's vice president of economic development,
described the site as rugged and "very topographically challenged,"
with steep slopes that will require grading. He said he once rode
in a vehicle that got stuck while driving around the site.
NorthPoint Development has reached a tentative agreement to purchase
the tract from the nonprofit Earth Conservancy.
Council members encouraged Miles to hire local contractors and laborers
to help construct the project, which NorthPoint Development estimates
will cost $100 million.
Warren Faust, president of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Building
and Construction Trades Council, raised the issue of local hiring
during public comment.
"There are plenty of qualified contractors in this county who
can work on this project," Faust said. "They are ready,
willing and able to build this."
Faust criticized NorthPoint Development for using too many contractors
from out of the county when the company built the 800,000-square-foot
Chewy.com fulfillment center in Hanover Industrial Estates.
Miles said the company was under a very tight deadline for construction,
so it hired firms with which it had previously contracted on other
projects, to make sure the Chewy.com warehouse was finished on schedule.
He promised to work with Faust and county officials to make sure Luzerne
County contractors are included on the project. Plans that NorthPoint
submitted to the county include a proposed 1.3-million-square-foot
commercial structure and two other large buildings.
Also on Tuesday, council approved a $25,000 settlement of a lawsuit
filed against the county by Francis Lombardo, a former inmate at Luzerne
County Correctional Facility. Lombardo alleged in the suit that officials
of the jail abused him and violated his rights.
Portion of South Valley Parkway opens
Part of the South Valley Parkway in Hanover Twp. opened to drivers
Monday morning. The section of the $83 million road construction project
that opened occupies a stretch of land northwest of the South Cross
Valley Expressway/state Route 29. It runs from a connection off of
South Main Street near Exit 2 of the expressway to a newly constructed
roundabout west of there. Two ramps near that roundabout connect to
the South Cross Valley Expressway between exits 2 and 3. Further west
of that roundabout, one lane of traffic will be open on a bridge over
the expressway and Dundee Road, leading to another roundabout. The
planned roadway continues to Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street in
Nanticoke, but that section remains under construction. It is scheduled
to open sometime in 2019.
Former school transformed into training center
for electrical apprentices
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
Since he was young, Wilkes-Barre resident Mark Gatusky wanted to be
Both his grandfathers, his father and uncles were electricians and
part of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union
Gatusky, 37, said his family wanted him to try going to college first,
He went to the University of Scranton, earned a masters degree
in history and subsequently worked in the health insurance business
for years. He often traveled, didnt see his family enough and
he said the return on his investment just wasnt there.
Then, he decided to follow his dream to become an electrician.
Gatusky is in his final year of a five-year electrical apprenticeship
where he gets on-the-job paid training as well as education at a training
center that opened last year at 41 W. Church St., Nanticoke.
He has done electrical work for projects ranging from a water park
to natural gas power plants to the PPL Center, an arena in Allentown.
Pointing out that he earns a higher salary with better benefits as
an electrician, Gatusky said, I found myself much happier doing
this and working with my hands.
Its a creative way to make a living. No day is the same,
he said. You could use your mind, be creative and have a living
that you could have pride in, not only from a paycheck perspective,
but you could look at a building and say, You know what? I did
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 163 and
Penn-Del-Jersey chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association
turned the former St. Stanislaus Catholic School in Nanticoke into
a training center for electricians.
Gatusky is one of 57 apprentices in the program.
Training director John T. Nadolny said there is no cost for a five-year
Prior to opening the new training center, they rented space from Luzerne
County Community College, he said.
Apprentices in the program receive technical training on Monday and
Wednesday nights for three hours and occasionally Saturdays from September
to April as well on-the-job paid training with contractors.
Their starting pay is about $12 an hour plus benefits for the first
1,000 hours. Electricians have the potential to earn more than $34
an hour plus benefits for an entire family, he said.
You earn while you learn and at the end, you get college credits,
Nadolny said. You can go for an associates degree, a bachelors
degree or a masters degree and get up to 60 credits for this
Over the five years of the program, Nadolny said apprentices receive
8,000 hours of on-the-job training.
This isnt a job. Its a career, he said. Its
not for everybody. Its hard work. Its very dangerous work.
We teach them how to be safe.
Electricians do outside work and inside work ranging from wiring homes,
schools, hospitals, arenas and commercial, industrial and manufacturing
facilities to lighting protection.
The future for electricians is wired for growth.
Nadolny said there is a big demand for electricians. Good candidates
have mechanical knowledge and are dependable, he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics,
employment of electricians is projected to grow 9 percent over the
next eight years. As homes and businesses require more wiring, more
electricians will be needed.
Becoming an electrician is a good high-paying alternative for interested
applicants who dont want to take on the high debt of college,
Unfortunately, many of people who go to college end up with
a quarter of a million dollars of debt when theyre done and
they work at McDonalds, he said. College isnt
for everybody. Maybe some would do better in the trades.
Mountain Top resident Jillian Henderson, 31, is in her first year
of the electrical apprenticeship.
While being an electrician is not a traditional career for women,
Henderson said she loves to work with her hands.
You get to use your hands and your brains. Its the best
of both worlds, Henderson said. My father is a contractor
so it runs in the family.
Wilkes-Barre resident Ernesto Tapia, 27, who also is in his first
year of the apprenticeship, said he also loves working with his hands
and doing something different every day.
I cant stay in one spot, Tapia said. I cant
sit inside. Ive got to do different things, work inside and
People can apply for the apprenticeship on the first Monday of each
month between 1 and 6 p.m. at 41 W. Church St., Nanticoke. Applicants
must be 18, be a high school graduate or have a GED and receive a
satisfactory score on a Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
test and resident in the Local 163 jurisdiction, which is mostly Luzerne
County. For more information, call 570-258-2665
IBEW Local 81 has a training center with the same program in South
Abington Twp. for Lackawanna County residents. For more information,
Section of South Valley Parkway will open
Bill Wellock - Citizens Voice
A section of an $83 million road construction project will be ready
for drivers soon.
Part of the South Valley Parkway in Hanover Twp. will open at 11 a.m.
The section to open occupies a stretch of land northwest of the South
Cross Valley Expressway/state Route 29.
It runs from a connection off of South Main Street near Exit 2 of
the expressway to a newly constructed roundabout west of there. Two
ramps near that roundabout connect to the South Cross Valley Expressway
between exits 2 and 3.
Further west of that roundabout, one lane of traffic will be open
on a bridge over the expressway and Dundee Road, leading to another
The planned roadway continues to Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street
in Nanticoke, but that section remains under construction. It is scheduled
to open sometime in 2019, spokesman Mike Taluto said.
The new parkway opens up land to potential development. Missouri-based
NorthPoint Development is considering building there.
The company has already built a warehouse for Chewy.com, an online
pet supply retailer, on another nearby section of land in Hanover
Twp. Two other NorthPoint buildings near the Chewy.com warehouse will
be homes for Adidas and Patagonia facilities.
Now, NorthPoint is considering constructing three new buildings on
Earth Conservancy land next to the South Valley Parkway. Once occupied,
the site could be home to 1,300 to 2,000 jobs.
The company is looking for tax breaks on the development. NorthPoint
has already secured tax deals with Hanover Twp., Nanticoke, and those
municipalities respective school districts. Luzerne County Council
will vote on whether to extend that tax break to county taxes at a
Development was part of the vision for the road construction project
when it was conceived, along with alleviating traffic on Main Street
through the Askam section of Hanover Twp.
The road and its roundabouts in the township will connect the highway
to about 2,000 acres of land for potential industrial development.
County council set to vote on tax break request
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
County council could vote next week whether or not to grant a 10-year
tax abatement for a proposed commercial development in Hanover Twp.
NorthPoint Development, a Missouri-based industrial development firm,
plans to build three large commercial structures on the 330-acre parcel
off state Route 29 and Kosciuszko Street, which the firm says would
create 1,300 to 2,000 jobs. NorthPoint has reached a preliminary agreement
to purchase the land from the nonprofit Earth Conservancy.NorthPoint
has requested that Hanover Twp., Nanticoke, Hanover Area School District
and Greater Nanticoke Area School District exempt new structures on
the site from property taxation for a decade. The firms request
falls under a tax abatement program known as Local Economic Revitalization
Tax Assistance, or LERTA, that allows local taxing authorities to exempt
improvements to business properties located in deteriorated
areas.The two municipalities and two school districts already approved
that request, according to county records.
At a Jan. 9 work session, county council members heard a NorthPoint
executive extol the virtues of the project. On Tuesday, the issue reaches
the agenda for councils voting session.
Council will consider a resolution that would provide tax exemption
for the NorthPoint project, with 100 percent tax abatement the first
seven years, followed by 90 percent in year eight, 80 percent in year
nine and 70 percent in year 10.
Those numbers could change, according to Councilman Harry Haas.
I encourage the manager and council members to get a better deal
for the county, Haas said Friday.
Haas said he was impressed by NorthPoints presentation at the
work session earlier this month. He is also impressed by the success
NorthPoint had developing the parcel in Hanover Industrial Estates that
houses the 800,000-square-foot Chewy.com warehouse, he said.
But NorthPoints argument that it all comes down to nickels
and dimes for industrial development projects works both ways,
It also comes down to nickels and dimes for taxpayers, he
It is possible that county Manager David Pedri will negotiate better
terms on the countys behalf, or that a council member will make
a motion to amend the resolution to reflect better terms, Haas said.
Council Chairman Tim McGinley said he expects council to discuss the
requested tax abatement in detail, then vote on the resolution that
will determine its fate Tuesday.
Search for fallen WWII soldiers family
moves to Moosic
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice - Note: partial article from CV
The hunt for family of a World War II soldier missing since October
1944 has shifted and appears to be over.
Military officials initially contacted the Nanticoke Historical Society,
looking for family of Private Anthony Laskowski, believed to have
been a Nanticoke native killed in a massive explosion near Agincourt,
But some Laskowskis in the Nanticoke area knew the military was on
the wrong track their Anthony Laskowski survived the war and
died in the 1980s. After a recent story was published in The Citizens
Voice, they eventually helped track down the right family, the Laskowskis
originally from Moosic.
Delphine Krappa Mattei, 81, of Dupont, on Wednesday said the Laskowski
the military is inquiring about is her uncle, Anthony A. Laskowski.
He was the brother of her late mother, Laura Laskowski Gerlak.
Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Hazleton, Nanticoke
mull cooperation on blight
The mayors of three of Luzerne Countys four cities met Tuesday
to discuss issues and possible partnerships to help ease some of the
financial burdens each faces and ways to grow their communities.
Mayor Tony George of Wilkes-Barre, Mayor Mike Lombardo of Pittston
and Mayor Jeff Cusat of Hazleton met for more than an hour in Wilkes-Barre
City Hall to exchange ideas and to share experiences. Mayor Rich Wiaterowski
of Nanticoke could not attend the meeting.
Lombardo said the group, for now, is called Council of Cities and
the plan is to meet quarterly or more often, depending on issues.
Tuesdays discussion centered on blighted properties and how
to deal with absentee owners and overcrowded units with numerous code
violations. The mayors goal is to find the best way to get the
buildings rehabilitated and returned to the tax rolls as soon as possible.
There was extended conversation on Act 90 the Neighborhood
Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act which took
effect in 2011.
Act 90 expands the powers that municipalities have to reduce blighted
properties. Those in serious code violation, as determined
by local zoning officers, can have several legal actions taken against
them. Buildings that are determined to be a public nuisance
also fall under the law.
A city may take action if after six months from the date of an order
to correct violations there has been no substantial step
to correct those violations.
Some of the options available:
Liens can be placed against properties with code violations.
Municipalities can take property owners to court to seek judgments
against an owners assets.
Municipalities may deny permits to owners of buildings who
are in violation.
Municipalities may deny permits to owners who are behind in
Municipalities may deny permits to owners behind in other municipal
accounts (water, sewage, refuse collection, etc.)
Municipalities may deny these permits until all existing violations
Out-of-state property owners may be extradited to Pennsylvania
to be charged with property-related violations.
Magisterial districts may establish housing courts
additionally, judges are encouraged to attend training and
education relating to new blight laws.
George, Cusat and Lombardo will invite Luzerne County District Attorney
Stefanie Salavantis to discuss what her office can do to assist the
cities in addressing the issues covered by Act 90.
In Pittston, our focus over the next four years will be on our
housing stock, said Lombardo, who returned to office this month.
All of our downtowns are growing or have the potential to grow
and housing issues dictate where we go from here.
Lombardo hopes the mayors can share issues each city is confronting
and also discuss how they can join together to make purchases of items
and materials they all use.
In Hazleton, we certainly have a lot of issues with housing,
Cusat said. We found one apartment where eight people were living
in one room. Weve also found people living in basements with
no way out.
George agreed the four cities together have the potential to present
a stronger argument on issues.
As a group, we have a better chance at securing federal funding
for certain projects, George said.
Lombardo and Cusat agreed, saying each city acting alone would not
be as influential as a united effort by the four.|
The mayors also intend to find ways to attract developers to their
cities to help eliminate blight.
Family sought of Nanticoke soldier killed
in France in World War II
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
After more than 73 years, there is renewed hope of determining the
fate of a Nanticoke soldier believed to have been killed during World
Private Anthony Laskowski and 32 other men were thought to have been
killed in a horrific explosion and inferno on Oct. 10, 1944 near Ajincourt,
France. But the remains of Laskowski and 12 others were never recovered.
Theyve been considered missing in action ever since.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency recently recovered remains in
that area and are trying to link them with the missing through family
The organization recently reached out to the Nanticoke Historical
Society to help track down relatives of Laskowski.
Chet Zaremba, the groups vice president, said hes been
having little luck.
He did live in Nanticoke at one time, so we owe him something,
Zaremba said. Theres lots of Laskowskis around here, but
I cant make any connection.
Military officials have told Zaremba that Laskowskis enlistment
paperwork indicates he was from Nanticoke and his mother, Stefania,
lived in the Sheatown section of Newport Twp.
News accounts from January 1945 reported on his suspected death and
says he was the brother of Mrs. John Gerlak of Dupont and the husband
of Evelyn Laskowski, of Center Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.
The militarys missing persons website has Laskowski listed under
those unaccounted for from New Jersey.
Military officials provided the historical society with a summary
about the incident that likely killed Laskowski.
Members of Laskowskis unit the Armys 35th Infantry
Division, 60th Engineers Combat Battalion were laying anti-tank
landmines at night on Oct. 10, 1944 during a period intermittent artillery
and mortar fire. Truck after truck was loaded with fused mines.
A big explosion from the leading truck caused the systematic detonation
of other trucks and mines on the ground, causing more than 1,500 mines
The entire area immediately became an inferno of exploding mines,
small arms ammunition and burning, according to an after-action
report by the 60th Engineers Combat Battalion. The night was
very dark and there was a heavy fog, which made rescue work most difficult
Zaremba is hoping Laskowski still has some local relatives so the
military can determine if his remains have been found.
They are trying to identify them so they could bury them properly,
Relatives can contact the Armys Past Conflict Repatriations
Branch at 1-800-892-2490.
Missing in action
Name: Private Anthony Laskowski
Branch: U.S. Army
Missing since: Oct. 10, 1944
Location: Near Ajincourt, France
Unit: 35th Infantry Division, 60th Engineers Combat Battalion
Marital residence: Newark, N.J.
Are you a relative?
The military is seeking relatives of Private Anthony Laskowski in
order to provide a DNA sample that could help identify remains found
in the area where Laskowski went missing during World War II. Relatives
can contact the Armys Past Conflict Repatriations Branch at
Winning lottery ticket sold in Nanticoke
will expire soon
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice
Time is running out for someone to claim a $50,000 winning
lottery ticket purchased at a Nanticoke convenience store last year.
Someone correctly matched the Pick 5 numbers the evening
of Jan. 12, 2017 in a ticket purchased at Turkey Hill Minit Mart at
460 W. Main St.
The winnings will be forfeited if the ticket is not claimed by Friday,
Jan. 12, as winning tickets expire after one year, lottery officials
The winning numbers, in order, were 8-1-0-5-8.
Turkey Hill in Nanticoke has a sign up near its lottery register advising
residents to Please check your tickets as a big winner sold
here is set to expire.
This is a $50,000 winner and is unclaimed, the sign reads.
Allen Zieglar, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Lottery, encouraged
people to check old tickets in hopes they have the winner. If its
not claimed by next Friday, the $50,000 will be returned to the lotterys
fund that benefits older Pennsylvanians.
We want players to check every ticket every time. We dont
want them to miss out on a prize. Thats why we are here. We do
our best to notify the public and players that there are winning tickets
out there, Zieglar said. Unfortunately, if its not
claimed in time, the money goes back to the lottery fund.
While some state lotteries give players only 90 or 180 days to claim
a prize, Pennsylvania Lottery prizes expire one year from the drawing
date, Zieglar noted.
In the past year, $18.8 million in lottery prizes have gone unclaimed,