State cash to help remove fallen-down ruin
The city had appealed to Gov. Rendell for aid in getting
rid of an old cigar factory
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
city will soon receive $50,000 in state funds to clear the ruins of the former
Consolidated Cigar building on West Church Street, city officials said Wednesday.
A meeting between council members and Gov. Ed Rendell that took place two weeks
ago could help the city clear the hulking mess that has sat untouched since it
collapsed in 2003.
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski said the money, dispensed
from the governor's discretionary fund, could come as soon as next week and will
allow the city to begin clearing the site.
"He said that it was definite,
and we would be getting the money very, very shortly," Bozinski said at a
council meeting Wednesday. "It was a very promising meeting."
officials had appealed to the state for a $275,000 grant to rehabilitate the West
Church Street site but have yet to be informed how much funding has been awarded.
The $50,000 should, however, allow preliminary work to begin, City Administrator
Greg Gulick said.
Council members also discussed with the governor plans to
enter the state's early intervention program for financially troubled communities
and other available state aid, Bozinski said.
A recent state-commissioned
report painted a bleak picture for the city, stating fiscal insolvency is unavoidable
if changes were not made in the municipality.
Council passed on first reading a $52 Emergency and Municipal
Services Tax on all those making more than $9,400 a year.
Rejected the county
government's offer to collect county taxes within the municipality for $1.50 per
Congratulated Kevin Grevera, a Nanticoke police officer, on being named
Luzerne County police officer of the year.
Announced the city had collected
$50,000 in uncollected taxes this month, decreasing the total amount of uncollected
taxes for the year to $70,000.
Nanticoke tackles social issues with task force
By Elizabeth Skrapits , The Sunday Voice
Mihalichko, an eighth grader in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, and
Sean Haines, a freshman, agree that Nanticoke is a pretty "beat" town.
"If you don't play basketball or sports, there's nothing to do," Haines
"Except bowling," Mihalichko added.
They said it would
be nice to have an arcade or someplace similar, for kids to go.
drugs aren't going to go away, so something like that would be taken over, too,"
"She said a mouthful," Nanticoke City Police Officer
Kevin Grevera said, shaking his head. He sees firsthand the extent of the drug
problem in town.
That is why the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force Inc.,
listened to the teens in town when they said that more than anything else, they
wanted somewhere to go.
Mihalichko and Haines have been members of the GNA
Youth Task Force almost from its inception in February. They both know people
who were involved with drugs and want to help their peers avoid the problem.
Besides, there are things to do at the youth center, which is open Tuesday nights
in the basement of St. Francis Church.
Task force board member Michael Kotch,
who also is affiliated with Clearbrook Lodge, said the number-one relapse trigger
for a recovering addict is boredom.
It's also about preventing kids from getting
involved with drugs in the first place, board member James Samselski said.
"We can't tell kids to say 'no' and not give them an alternative,'' Samselski
said. "That's what this whole thing is about."
Grevera said there
are youth sports programs, but not everyone is into athletics. There is no indoor
recreation in Nanticoke - nowhere for "latchkey kids" to go after school.
He pointed out that not only do kids need something to do, they need a safe place
to do it, which is what the youth task force wants to provide.
there is a "good majority" of kids involved in the program who are not
necessarily at risk and who do not have drug problems. Diversity is a key element
of the program.
"They have common ground in what they see in town - they
want something better here," Grevera said.
Kotch said he and Samselski
are both fathers of 14-year-old daughters, which is one reason they got involved
with the task force. They remember there being more to do in Nanticoke when they
were growing up.
"We see what's going on in this town. We don't want
it for our kids and we don't want it for other peoples' kids," Kotch said.
Williams initially wanted to invite a Narcotics Anonymous chapter into Nanticoke.
But they felt the city needed more, so over time, the GNA Drug Task Force was
It was formed in Aug. 2003, with a board of trustees that includes
doctors, clergy, school district personnel, mental health professionals, parents,
and city councilmen.
When the task force was formed in February it began with
three members, and now has about 35 active members.
Grevera said he went for
help to Rev. William Langan of St. Francis Church, who became the GNA Task Force
vice president. Langan sent out letters seeking support from churches of different
faiths, and allowed the youth task force to meet in the basement of the church.
Board member Don Williams, who is also treasurer of Clearbrook Lodge, said the
GNA drug task force attempts to work on three areas - prevention, education and
The common goal is not just to build a permanent youth center,
but to have after-school programs for kids, educational seminars and space for
12-step programs, Grevera said.
"I think these kinds of ideas occur in
many communities, but Nanticoke put it into action," Samselski said.
Grevera said the church is a great place to meet, but the group is growing so
it needs more room. If the youth task force keeps increasing and a bigger, permanent
home is not found, some kids may have to be turned away.
have been so enthused about this, they have raised their own funds to keep things
going," Williams said.
They sent out mailers, had bake sales and Samselski
said the kids made close to $2,000 selling hoagies. Area businesses have been
generous with their donations - such as supplies for the hoagie sales - and there
has been a lot of support from the community.
Several possible locations are
being scouted, but no commitment has been made, Grevera said. "I really don't
feel the people in this town are going to let us down, and let these kids down,"
In the meantime, the task force is seeking funding for the building
and operating expenses. Grevera said the goal is to raise $200,000, but he would
like to collect $500,000.
County gets 6 towns to agree to cut tax commission rates
By James Conmy and Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writers
an effort to save approximately $146,000, Luzerne County is implementing property
tax billing and collecting changes in six communities.
Skrepenak, Stephen Urban and Todd Vonderheid approved the move at Thursday's budget
Hazleton, Nanticoke and Pittston, all third-class cities, and Kingston
and Wilkes-Barre townships and the Municipality of Kingston, all home-rule communities,
will still have the opportunity to collect county property taxes themselves.Municipal
officials must agree, however, to lower the commission they receive from $3.50
and up per bill to $1.50.Under the former agreement, Pittston charged $15.91 per
bill, Nanticoke charged $6.93, Hazleton charged $3.45, and Wilkes-Barre Township,
Kingston Township and the Municipality of Kingston each charged $3.50.The county
started collecting its property taxes from Wilkes-Barre residents in 2003. The
move has saved the county $161,722 annually."It was very last-minute,"
Kingston Township Manager Ed O'Neill said. "I got a call Tuesday morning
from the treasurer's office. We had the option of taking the reduction or they
would assume duties of collection."
Since the county treasurer's office
told him they had to know what Kingston Township was doing by the next day - Wednesday
- O'Neill said he had to do a quick phone survey of the five supervisors.
Having tax collector Karen Rose go from $3.50 to $1.50 commission for each taxable
she handles for the county means a loss of up to $7,000 in revenue in Kingston
Township's budget, but the supervisors opted to do it anyway, O'Neill said.
He said he was in the treasurer's office Thursday, where he learned that of the
other six municipalities, Wilkes-Barre Township, Kingston, Hazleton and Pittston
City also offered to take the reduction. He said the only municipality that did
not give an answer was Nanticoke.
"This is the first I've heard of it,"
Nanticoke Councilman John Bushko said when asked what the city planned to do about
the tax collection changes.
Council was not notified about the matter by City
Administrator Greg Gulick, who Bushko said should have done so in order that a
meeting could be called to discuss the city's options and make an informed decision.
Bushko also believes the county should have given municipalities more time to
"They just asked Tuesday, and they want an answer Wednesday?
That's very unfair to do it that way," he said. "The county commissioners
know how municipal governments work, and you can't expect to get an answer in
Bushko said there are 4,600 people to whom Nanticoke sends
bills. He does not think the city can afford to reduce the commission to $1.50
per bill without having to lay off one of the three people in the tax collector's
Luzerne County, Nanticoke City and the Greater Nanticoke Area School
District each pay a third of the salaries for the three employees, according to
New Bridge opens to traffic on Union Street
Motorists today can begin using a new $494,000 bridge along Union Street in Nanticoke.
Officials cut the ribbon marking the completion of the work Tuesday. The $494,000
construction project involved the replacement of the old structure over Forge
Creek with a precast concrete box culvert, rebuilding of he roadway on both sides
of the bridge, drainage work, concrete curbs and concrete sidewalks. The project
in was paid for with 80 percent federal, 15 percent state and 5 percent local
funds. A short detour had been in effect since construction began last spring.
The detour is scheduled to end today when the new bridge opens to traffic. Marking
the opening of the bridge Tuesday were, from left, Jake Censulla, Slusser Brothers;
Greg Gulick, city administrator; Bernie Walko, PennDOT; Ben Sevenski, Michael
J. Pasonick Engineering; Jeff Novitski, PennDOT; Bill Brown, Nanticoke council;
John T Yudichak, state representative; Ted Zurla, PennDOT; Paul Maher, aide to
Congressman Paul Kanjorski; Michael Yurkowski, city clerk; John Toole, mayor;
John P. Flannery, PennDOT.
in Nanticoke' draws crowd
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice
his reindeer resting at the North Pole and his sleigh getting a tune up, Santa
Claus was given a fire truck escort to the fifth annual "Christmas in Nanticoke"
The event is funded by private donations and proceeds from the
Nanticoke Musicfest, according to Nanticoke Mayor John Toole.
Sunday's festivities, which were held on Patriot Square, attracted the largest
turnout in the event's history - approximately 150 people.
with some of the kids," Toole said. "They're just happy to see Santa
Children and their parents were treated to horse-pulled wagon
rides around the park after Santa gave out his gifts.
Following a Christmas
carol sing-a-long led by the Greater Nanticoke Area High School Chorus, Santa
took time to speak to the gathered youngsters.
Santa assured each youngster
he'd pass along the requests to his elves in the North Pole workshop. However,
he reminded them they would have to be especially good this week.
7, of Nanticoke, told Santa she wanted a new bike.
However, when he asked
if she'd been good, she told him, "Not all the time."
Tammy Stortz, doesn't think that will be a problem come Christmas.
honest," Stortz said. "So that makes up for it."
Bronze Star recipient trained 'all his life' for duty
By: Tom Venesky
Shickshinny resident Barbara Poperowitz fondly
recalls the days when she used to get on her husband's case about sitting on the
porch having a beer when he should've been taking care of odd jobs around the
Today, she yearns for the day when her husband will be back on the
porch enjoying a cold one.
Mrs. Poperowitz's husband, 1st Sgt. Francis Poperowitz,
52, has been away from home since last December when he was deployed to Iraq.
Mr. Poperowitz has been a full-time soldier with Nanticoke B Battery of the 109th
National Guard for nearly 30 years. Mrs. Poperowitz describes him as a family-oriented
spouse with many friends, but when he's with the soldiers, "he's all business,"
That approach recently earned him the Bronze Star Medal for his
work in building the Iraqi security force and defending Iraqi police stations
in Sadr City against attacks by the insurgent Mahdi Army.
"He was shocked
when he got the medal. This is the first time he was deployed and he trained all
his life for this,"
Mrs. Poperowitz said. "Getting this medal was
big for him.
"But he doesn't have to win medals, we're proud of him anyway."
Mr. Poperowitz is stationed outside of Baghdad and his wife said he goes into
the city three times a week to supplement the police force.
She said phone
access in Iraq is hard to come by so the couple communicates by e-mail. The conversations
rarely center on the perils of combat. Instead, Mrs. Poperowitz said her husband
wants to know how the family is doing and who won the latest NASCAR race.
When he does write about his experiences in Iraq, she said he tells her how strongly
he believes in the mission and how he fully supports President Bush.
told me the Iraqi people want a good education for their children and a decent
life, and it's just a handful of insurgents that want things back to the way they
were," Mrs. Poperowitz said. "Other than that, he really can't say what
His daughter, Tina Balasavage of Pittston, said she e-mails
the results of every race to her father and she has big plans for him when he
is expected to return home next February.
"We're hoping he gets back
in time for the Daytona race because we'll throw him a huge race party,"
But with many soldiers having their tours extended, Balasavage said
she doesn't dwell on the day her father returns.
"I don't think about
it because I know how things can change in the military," she said. "I
don't want to put myself through that. When I get the call saying he's on the
plane headed home, that's when I'll get excited."
Mrs. Poperowitz has
no doubt that day will come and she will see her husband sitting on the porch
at home with the family.
"Everybody is praying for him and prayer is
very powerful, that's why he's coming home," she said with tears in her eyes.
Twp. officials asses DPW damage
By: Elizabeth Skrapits
was black Saturday for Plymouth Township in the aftermath of a fire that devastated
the public works department's garage.
Three trucks and plows and the road
crew's equipment, was damaged by the blaze that fire officials estimate began
before 8 p.m. Friday.
A state police fire marshal sifted through the debris
Saturday, but did not release a cause of the fire.
Black soot covered the
floor of the meeting room in the municipal building where the board of supervisors,
Ed Brennan, Mike Manley, and Chairwoman Gale Conrad, met with Mike Carroll of
State Rep. John Yudichak's office and Jeffrey Box of the Northeastern Pennsylvania
Alliance, the township's Act 47 coordinator.
The first priority was to arrange
for plowing in case of snow, which is predicted Sunday night. Carroll said PennDOT
would be available for emergency snow removal.
Conrad assured residents and
the Greater Nanticoke Area School District that the supervisors would do everything
possible to be sure roads are cleared.
Two of the three destroyed trucks just
had $8,000 worth of work done to them, according to Brennan, who is also roadmaster.
He said one truck can be salvaged and will be fitted with a plow and spreader.
The township's recycling and garbage trucks were not damaged, and Brennan said
pickup will proceed as usual this week.
Township offices were not harmed,
but the building is inhabitable. The fire damaged the plumbing and electrical
systems, so the building is without heat, light, or water.
"If you flush
the toilet, it's going to come out of the ceiling," Brennan said. "Everything's
burnt right out."
The supervisors will decide next week what to do about
temporary offices. Conrad said residents who need to contact the township may
Jackson Township Supervisor Chairman and roadmaster John Wilkes,
Jr. came by to offer neighborly assistance to Plymouth Township, volunteering
the use of Jackson Township's municipal building and public works department garage
"When we got the call this morning, I came down to lend a
hand any way we could. Who knows, we could be in the same position," Wilkes
said. "Anything we can do to help out, that's the bottom line."
Box said the situation is now in the hands of Plymouth Township's insurance company,
which will send an adjustor Monday morning to assess the damage and bring in a
cleaning crew. NEPA Alliance will also aid the township any way it can.
work with them to re-adjust their financial priorities, to get them through this
latest disaster," Box said.
Plymouth Township started the year by having
to lay off its police force in January due to an extreme lack of funds, was declared
Act 47, or financially distressed, by the state in July, and then was hit hard
by the flooding from Tropical Storm Ivan in September - it took the township two
months to clean up all the debris.
"We'll get through this," Conrad
said of the fire. "We'll be better for it, I'm sure."
Nanticoke Area Notes
These students have the spirit
Students who attend first grade at Pope John Paul II School have been busy little
The past several weeks they have been making decorations for the Christmas
tree at the Nanticoke Municipal Building.
First grade teachers Ellie Anthony
and Helen Baluta tell me it's an annual event the children look forward to. "They
have a great time making the decorations," said Mrs. Anthony. "We explain
to them that they are helping to bring Christmas joy to their neighbors and friends."
A highlight of the project is a trip to the city building to decorate the tree
and sing some Christmas carols. "We appreciate the invitation and the people
at the city building really make the children feel welcome," added Ellie.
The students are not the only ones who look forward to the trip. So do those who
work at the city building. "The kids are really adorable," said Karen
Kanjorski from District Justice Donald Whittaker's office. "The ornaments
they make are really nice and every year they do a great job decorating the tree."
We all know that decorating is hard work and requires a lot of energy. That's
why the students were treated to cookies and punch and received a treat bag filled
with Christmas goodies.
Get your history book(s) now
of Nanticoke and Newport Township" by Charles Ciesla is available from the
members of the Nanticoke Historical Society. The book, 8½ by 11 inches,
contains 363 pages and includes more than 100 photos of breakers, churches, schools
and businesses in the area. Mr. Ciesla tells me the book makes an excellent gift
for the holidays. The price is $30 and all the profits go to the Nanticoke Historical
Society. The book may be ordered by calling 570-258-1367.
Time for Christmas
in the Park
Don't forget to visit Santa Claus today from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
at the annual Christmas in the Park. There will be free, horse-drawn carriage
rides. Caroling will be presented by the Nanticoke High School and Holy Trinity
Church choirs. Culinary students from Luzerne County Community College will provide
the Christmas cookies. Who knows maybe Mother Nature will provide some Christmas
snow! See you there!
Artist of the week
By MARQUES G. HARPERemail@example.com
Artist Anthony J. Waichulus, a Nanticoke resident, has become a national name
through his trompe l'oeil works. At his home studio, he works on new pieces and
teaches several art students. He is the Artist of the Week.
T he names of
'A Fool's Argument'
'Pieces of History'
'Caps & Robbers'
Waichulus at a glance: A recent incident took Waichulus
by surprise. One of his latest pieces, called "Orchestrating the Drama,"
won first place in a contest sponsored by The Artist's Magazine.
Nanticoke resident recalls thinking the award was a mistake. Out of 13,000 artists,
Waichulus' work took top honors in the still-life category. The piece was reproduced
in the magazine's December issue.
"Thankfully," he says sitting
in his dimly lighted home studio, "I continue to be well-received. I thank
God every day. It's like a dream to do what I do every day. I'm just very grateful
for all of it."
These days, Waichulus sticks to a schedule that allows
him to paint constantly at the studio where he teaches several students. He also
teaches at Luzerne County Community College and the Wyoming Valley Art League,
among other local spots.
As far back as he can remember, he says, he has wanted
to do something creative. He studied art at The Art Hatchery in Bear Creek, Luzerne
County Community College and the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore.
His journey into trompe l'oeil still lifes began on a trip to New York while he
was an LCCC student. In the great halls of priceless artwork, he discovered the
lifelike painting style in which he is now well-versed.
"When I saw that
work for the first time, I knew that's what I wanted to do for a living,"
says Waichulus, whose works are sold at the John Pence Gallery in San Francisco.
On another college trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1990s, he got
a chance to court the woman, Leah, who later became his artist-wife.
he says, "The Met has probably played a crucial role in my professional and
personal life. I should write them a letter or something."
aspiring artists: "A masterpiece can come from anywhere," he says, noting
that his award-winning piece depicts a similar thought. The piece, he told The
Artist's Magazine, came from a lively class discussion at LCCC.
He told the
magazine: "We were discussing what makes a successful expression of art.
I wanted to tackle this idea in a painting, giving the viewer a behind-the-scenes
understanding of artistic impression."
Ultimately, he says artists should
stick to the three Ds: drive, determination and discipline. In his case, sticking
to the Ds worked.
"When you have a real drive to do something,"
he says, "it almost becomes an obsession." For example, he says, he
took what he needed from Schuler's program in two years instead of the usual five
and was told by his instructors to go into the world and paint.
get too discouraged," he says. "You usually are your own worst critic.
That's the biggest message I try to deliver to my students. Don't be afraid of
Web site: http://www.thewaichulisstudio.net
Pioneers sign GNA grad
Nanticoke Area High School standout Todd Bargella was one of three players recently
signed to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers training camp roster.
(6-foot-6, 280 pounds) was an all-conference selection at Nanticoke and played
at Lackawanna College in 2000-2001 before transferring to NCAA Division I-AA Western
Carolina. As a junior there in 2002, he had seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown,
while totalling 12 tackles and two sacks on defense. In 2003, he played in 12
games, catching five passes for 53 yards to earn all-Southern Conference honors
as a tight end. He also made 12 tackles and two sacks on defense that season.
Nanticoke looks to state for help
in solving money woes
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice
Nanticoke City Council
voted to take the first step on the road to fiscal stability at a special meeting
Wednesday night, by approving the city's participation in the state Department
of Community and Economic Development's Early Intervention Program.
provides municipalities in financial difficulty with 50-50 matching grant funds,
to be used for hiring a consultant to help develop and implement a comprehensive
multi-year financial plan.
DCED Local Government Policy Manager Dean Fernsler
called Nanticoke "a prime candidate" for the program, and was pleased
with council's vote.
"In their particular case, I think it would be advantageous
for them," he said.
Earlier Wednesday, council and Mayor John Toole met
with Fernsler and state Rep. John Yudichak, D-119, both of whom stayed for the
The five-year financial plan was recommended in a recently released
study compiled by DCED's Governor's Center for Local Government Services.
The study indicated Nanticoke could be facing insolvency no later than fall 2005,
and would not be able to continue to provide its current level of services.
If a five-year plan is not adopted, the state will be unwilling to grant the city
money for programs and projects, and the city could even face Act 47, distressed
municipality designation, according to the study.
Yudichak said the process
Nanticoke is about to embark on is the same one Wilkes-Barre City has already
Nanticoke has an opportunity to achieve fiscal discipline through
the program, and Yudichak believes the city will get an honest assessment of its
current debt and how to get out of its bind, among other benefits.
said it is up to Nanticoke now to get things started by submitting requests for
proposals from professional financial consultants.
Once the bids are in, they
will be evaluated, a consultant selected, and then the city applies to DCED to
get started with the program.
"At that point, we would expedite that
application fairly quickly," Fernsler said.
He said he hoped the city
could get into the program as early as the first quarter of 2005, but it would
depend on city officials.
Toole said he heard the program could run anywhere
from $120,000 to $300,000, but he hoped that since Nanticoke was such a small
city, the cost would be less.
He said the city would have to look for money
for the matching-funds portion of the grant.
Toole suggested the city go to
court to petition for use of the approximately $255,000 he said is in the sinking
fund, which is meant for paying off debt.
"It would be a godsend if we
could use it," he said.
Yudichak said there is flexibility in the program,
and costs to the city could be minimal; DCED realizes some cities cannot afford
the 50 percent share of matching funds. For example, he said City Administrator
Greg Gulick's work could be considered an in-kind contribution.
the city would be sending out requests for proposals soon, but expressed skepticism
about the city being able to overcome all its problems without following a plan
year after year.
"This five-year plan is actually never-ending,"
Toole said to get Nanticoke out of its financial hole, departments
will probably have to be downsized and contracts re-negotiated.
The city might
also end up raising the occupational privilege tax, which is currently $10 annually
for people who work in the city and earn more than $10,000. New state legislation
permits municipalities to increase the tax up to $52, to be used for emergency
During the meeting, Solicitor Bernard Kotulak handed out copies
of a sample ordinance, one that was passed recently on first reading by Wilkes-Barre
Nanticoke council will have to decide by the Dec. 29 work session
whether they want to raise the tax, and if so, by how much, and what the minimum
income limit will be.
Worried Nanticoke will seek state help
The city hopes
to avoid insolvency by obtaining financial advisers.
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
to fend off municipal insolvency, city council appealed to the state's Early Intervention
Program at a special session Wednesday evening.
After a 20-minute meeting
with state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and a representative of the Department
of Community and Economic Development, council members voted unanimously to apply
to the program.
If accepted, the city would receive half the cost necessary
to retain professional financial advisers. The move came close on the heels of
a state commissioned report that painted city finances in an exceedingly bleak
The city, it stated, could face insolvency, from which it would not
recover, by fall 2005. A $225,000 budget deficit was predicted for this year.
"I think it's great for the city," Mayor John Toole said. The program,
however, he noted, requires a 50 percent match by the financially strapped municipality.
"We don't have it budgeted right now, so we're going to have to sit down
next week and look for the money," he said.
Councilman John Bushko welcomed
the assistance that may come in the form of a detailed recovery plan drafted by
consultants. "We need help and we need it quick. You have to be willing to
go with the recommendations. Sometimes it may not be pleasant."
said he anticipates advisers recommending cuts to the fire and police departments
and arbitration to restructure labor contracts. It is an area of expense the recent
state report indicated was pushing the city close to distressed status under that
state's Act 47 relief program.
Pay rates, paid leave benefits and health benefits
are "out of control," it stated.
The Early Intervention Program,
introduced in September, is a way to prevent the more drastic "distressed"
status declaration, Yudichak said. "There's no question it's a precursor.
Act 47 is on the horizon. It's a good opportunity to spend some money now and
get local government back on track."
Dean Fernsler, local government
policy specialist with the Governor's Center for Local Government Services, said
the city could be accepted into the competitive program as early as the first
quarter of 2005.
If accepted into the program, the city would then seek proposals
from financial consultants. Once a firm is selected the municipality will likely
undergo a financial assessment and management audit and then adopt a multi-year
recovery plan, according to DCED literature.
Even with the state contributing
half the cost of financial advisers, the burden to a overburdened budget could
be extreme. Mayor Toole said the city's contribution could be nearly $100,000.
"In speaking with DCED and discussing the city's current financial situation,
they're aware that the city may not be able to make the 50 percent match,"
Fernsler, the local government specialist, said the program
accepts "in kind contributions," which are services performed by municipal
employees, such as a city manager, that may count as payment.
At the moment,
the state has received only one application for the new program based on a model
Governor Rendell developed for Philadelphia. That application is from Luzerne
In addition to Nanticoke's application in process, Fernsler
said "there are a number of applications being developed by cities across
Updated financial software advised
Ailing city would benefit from new accounting methods,
says state analysis.
By JON FOXemail@example.com
will meet with representatives of the Governor's Center for Local Government Services
during the next two weeks with hopes of updating municipal accounting software,
said state Rep. John Yudichak.
A recently issued state analysis of Nanticoke's
administrative and financial situation recommended the city update to software
specific to state local government accounting.
Such a software package, costing
in the range of $8,000 to $12,000, could be paid for with a grant, according to
the report. At a recent council meeting, Yudichak offered assistance in securing
such a grant for the city, which a recent report commissioned by the state Department
of Community and Economic Development indicated could face financial insolvency
as early as the end of this year.
It's important to ascertain what type of
software will be appropriate for a city of Nanticoke's size, said Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
"Obviously, something the size of what Philadelphia has is not going to work
QuickBooks accounting software is the favored package
utilized by Pennsylvania municipalities.
The report states the current system
entails "duplicative work, and needed reports are not being produced."
In moving to a new software package, "the payback in efficiency of office
personnel and information to council would be rapid."
"One of the
glaring issues was that there wasn't a monthly financial statement produced,"
Yudichak said of the analysis. In speaking with the author of the report, a Philadelphia-based
analyst, there appeared to be "a general lack of communication between"
the city's finance department and council.
Sue Bennett, the city's accountant
and financial analyst, says monthly reports are being produced.
Pot fire company struggling
By Tom Venesky, Citizens' Voice Staff
Just like the community, the 1964 pumper truck has always been there
for the Honey Pot Volunteer Active Fire Co.
But time has taken a toll on the
40-year-old truck. It has been refurbished twice and parts are hard to come by.
Locating a simple window crank has proven to be an impossible task for the company.
Age has turned a formerly reliable piece of equipment into a liability, with the
truck often out of service for weeks at a time while it's being repaired.
The company is working to purchase a new engine, but coming up with the $225,000
is proving just as impossible as the search for the window crank.
to Chester Kopco, president of the Honey Pot Firemen's Active Association, the
old pumper was purchased for $45,000 in 1965, when the fire company was born.
The truck was paid for entirely by the Honey Pot community, but Kopco acknowledged
that asking the community of 600 households to bear the cost of a $225,000 engine
is not realistic.
"We need a miracle. We need to hit the lottery,"
said Honey Pot Volunteer Active Fire Company Chief Frank Wolfe. "We do our
best to raise money for a new truck and we also have tried to get grants, but
we're having a hard time getting any and that's what's hurting us the most."
The company has 28 members and prides itself on being self-sufficient, thanks
to community support. When the company is in need, the citizens always deliver,
Kopco said. But with such a large expense for a new engine, the fire fighters
had no choice but to seek grant assistance.
The company applied for a federal
Homeland Security Assistance Grant and was turned down right before the final
approval stage, Kopco said. The company will try again in 2005.
would cover 90 percent of the cost of a new truck, Kopco said, and he was confident
enough funds could be raised through the community to cover the remaining 10 percent.
"This was the first time we ever applied for any grant money at all,"
Kopco said. "We always went to the citizens or bought it on our own."
If the federal grant fails to materialize next year, the company does have another
plan to obtain the money - a plan that parlays decades of generosity from the
Kopco said Honey Pot will host the Six County Fireman's Convention
in 2006, and the company plans to turn the convention into an enormous bazaar
that will showcase the Honey Pot community.
If all goes well, the convention
will generate enough money for a down payment on the new engine.
will be a celebration of the Honey Pot citizens because they have been our sole
contributors for 40 years," Kopco said. "It's a thank-you to them."
The most pressing reason for a new engine is not the age of the 1964 pumper, but
rather safety concerns that arise when the old truck is down for repairs.
Kopco said when the pumper is out of service, the Nanticoke Fire Department covers
State Rep. John Yudichak said the department has been successful
recently in obtaining several state grants to perform repairs to the fire hall.
He cautioned, however, that it wasn't wise to expect a large state grant to purchase
a new truck.
Instead, Yudichak recommended the company continue to focus on
a grant from the federal government and also look at other funding options.
"The large dollars are going to come from the federal level," he said.
"There's also the state low-interest loan program, where a fire department
can seek a grant to match the funds they've raised and take out a loan to cover
Yudichak said he's worked closely with Honey Pot volunteers.
The company's story is similar to many other small community fire departments.
"They have limited revenue, funds are hard to raise and there are only so
many volunteers," he said. "The cost of equipment is astronomical, but
these small departments all do a great job for their communities and they need
a reliable equipment base."
Wolfe said the company raised $11,000 this
year, and $2,000 of that went toward truck repairs.
"Our truck was alright,
but now we're putting so much money into it and we're nickel and diming ourselves
to death," he said. "We need a new truck desperately, but the cost is
extremely high. That's why we need help, volunteer or financial."
help the company, contact Wolfe at 735-8031 or Kopco at 735-7030.
children celebrate holidays with 'Army friends'
By Robert Kalinowski
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Alycea and Marissa Ohl enjoy being with their
To do this, though, the Corning, N.Y., youngsters
come to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Their dad, Capt. Bob Ohl, is the commander
of Bravo Battery of the 109th Field Artillery, Pennsylvania Army National Guard,
now serving in Iraq.
The proud youngsters said they haven't fit in with their
hometown classmates since their dad left for the war in January.
kids say I am immature because I wear this outfit," said Alycea, 8, wearing
a desert Army uniform her dad sent from Iraq.
Alycea and her sister, along
with 10-month-old brother Robert Jr., and mother, Ginny, attended a Christmas-themed
party for soldiers' children held at Bravo Battery headquarters in Nanticoke on
"I thought it would be nice for the kids to be around other kids
in the same situation," Mrs. Ohl said. "They call these kids their 'Army
When it's possible, Mrs. Ohl said she brings Alycea and Marissa
to events organized by the Bravo Battery family support group, known as the "Busy
At Sunday's party, Alycea, Marissa, 6, and the other children received
presents and candy from Santa's "elves," made Christmas tree garland
with string and cereal, listened to holiday music and took rides in a horse-pulled
The event was paid for by proceeds from the Nanticoke Musicfest, according
to Nanticoke Mayor John Toole.
"I like seeing the kids enjoy themselves,"
Toole said. "That's what it's all about."
The Ohl sisters said the
party was fun and it helped them look forward to Christmas - especially the presents.
"I want anything Hillary Duff," said Alycea.
"I want a new
piggy bank with a lock on it," Marissa said, joking that every time her piggy
bank feels a bit light, Alycea seems to have some extra money.
I actually want my dad back, but it's going to be after Christmas," said
"Yeah, in February," Alycea quickly added.
Sorber, 9, of Hanover Township, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Sorber, realizes
this fact, but is still holding out hope.
"I want him to come home on
Christmas," she said of her dad.
Shrugging her shoulders about if that's
going to happen, Samantha said she talked to her father in the morning and he
assured her that he'd be home "soon."
"Soon" is tentatively
scheduled to be early February, as Bravo Battery soldiers are set to complete
a one-year deployment to Iraq.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pamela Urbanski
He knows how to paint a town
When driving through the city of Nanticoke, you
might have noticed the colorful paintings on storefront windows.
holiday season in full swing, Nanticoke resident and artist Leonard Davenport
is working with store owners to not only help them advertise, but add a festive
touch to the community.
Through our conversation, I learned his business,
Paintings by Leonardo is a well-known company. Leonard has customers from Milford
to Selinsgrove and Williamsport to Mount Carmel. He tells me that he is one of
the few people left that provide this service.
"Window painting is a
dying art, but I love it and it is a service that is needed." He added that
the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania are the nicest people he has ever worked
This past week, I found him at Bartuska's Furniture Store on East Main
Street where last year he painted scenes from the classic holiday film, "A
Christmas Story" by Jean Shepherd. It was well received.
had people calling us this year and asking if we could do the same thing,"
Says storeowner Jim Bartuska. "I think people love it so much
because it takes them back to a time when things were a little less hectic and
demanding," said store owner Jim Bartuska.
"It is the perfect family
film," Davenport added.
Yes, he will bring Ralphie and his Red Ryder
BB gun to life again on the side window. You won't be disappointed in this year's
main window. When passing Bartuska's Furniture Store on East Main Street, I am
sure you have noticed the Serta sheep just lounging around.
Jim tells me because
Serta mattresses are so comfortable, people don't need to count sheep anymore.
The sheep are bored and need a job! So while they are not grazing, they will be
pulling Santa's sleigh to the North Pole!
Leonard thinks the makers of Serta
mattresses would be very impressed! "I told them to take a picture and send
it to the company," he commented.
Below the red-nosed sheep pulling the
sleigh is the village from the Christmas story with Ralphie peeking out from the
"I think people will enjoy this year's theme just as much,"
I can tell the good people at Bartuska's enjoy thinking of and providing
a different theme each year for people to enjoy!
Planning to make a street
While driving up Kosciuszko Street this past week, you probably noticed
some heavy equipment and mounds of dirt.
According to Frank Grevera, director
of buildings and grounds for the Nanticoke Area School District, drivers have
been complaining about not being able to see when then are trying to make a right-hand
turn coming out of the high school at the intersection of Union and Kosciuszko
"Because of the safety issues, as well as numerous complaints
we have received about kids riding their bicycles up and over that hill into the
road, we decided it was time to take care of the problem," Frank said.
The hill will be cut and the ground leveled. In the spring, they will decide what
to do with that area. "We are discussing projects such as a walk of fame."
He tells me rather than hanging signs on the fence in that area, plaques would
be placed to honor athletic teams. Other ideas include planting grass and flowers
to perk up the area.
Get set for Christmas in the Park
Be sure and make
time for Nanticoke's Christmas in the Park next Sunday, Dec. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m.
There will be free, horse-drawn carriage rides. The sounds of the season will
be provided by the Nanticoke Area High School choir and the choir from Holy Trinity
Church. Of course, the highlight of the event will be a visit from Santa Claus.
See you there!!
If you like trains, this is for you
If you are one of
those people who love to see a train chugging along the tracks beneath the Christmas
tree, then you might want to visit Clemar Distributions Inc. on Market Street
The O'Jevich family has owned a business in Nanticoke since
the 1940s. About 10 years ago, Clem O'Jevich decided to concentrate on trains.
"It is a hobby for me," he said laughing. "It is something I enjoy
doing and it keeps me busy."
I have passed the store many times and decided
I to check it out.
It is a neat place, carrying a full line of trains like
LGB, Aristocrat, O scale and HO scale to name a few. He also carries replacement
parts and accessories. What he doesn't have on hand, he can order for you from
one of his many distributors.
Another neat "toy" is the large-scale
train for the outdoors. "Because of their size, these trains are really detailed,"
Clem added. "You can see every nut and bolt that would be on a train on these
I know most of us are not thinking outdoors now, but he tells
me they are great for your yard or around ponds and can be left outdoors year
round. Sounds like a great Christmas gift to me!
Store hours are Monday through
Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, Friday from 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m. You can call the store at 735-5570 for additional hours.
A world of fun
Nanticoke grad tours with Globetrotters
By JERRY KELLARfirstname.lastname@example.org
Like so many college students, Luke Malishchak
wanted to travel abroad after graduation before settling into the real world.
OK, so where does one start?
Since earning a degree from Moravian in June,
the Nanticoke native has been, well ... trottin' around the planet with the most
famous basketball team on the planet.
Malishchak is a member of the New York
Nationals, an eight-member touring opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters - aka
The Clown Princes of Basketball. In just a few short months, the 5-foot-7 point
guard has been to Moscow, Bejing and Sydney, Australia, as well as Honolulu and
And he just turned 23.
"It's been extremely fun, just getting
to see the world," Malishchak said earlier this week from his parents' home,
while on a short break from a recent four-month tour. He leaves for the club's
West Coast tour Dec. 21.
"We've been to the Great Wall, Tienanmen Square,
Waikiki Beach, Olympic Park in Sydney. ... It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I'm traveling around the world for free doing something I love. You can't beat
Malishchak's global hoops dream actually started three years ago
on a playground in Wilkes-Barre. Nationals scout Al Clocker, a Wyoming Valley
native and veteran basketball coach, approached the former Greater Nanticoke Area
standout after watching him play in a summer league pickup game.
asked me if I was interested in playing for the Globetrotters," Malishchak
recalled. "As a 19-year-old kid my eyes lit up. I was like, 'Wow, of course.
I'll go right now."'
At the time, Clocker didn't realize Malishchak was
just a freshman in college. Not wanting to forfeit the remainder of his college
eligibility and turn pro, Malishchak finished school then met with a Globetrotter
official in Atlantic City.
He was a National.
Since then, Malishchak's
life has been consumed by basketball, Harlem Globetrotter-style.
consisting primarily of ex-college players, the New York squad is more than just
the basketball opponent for the 'Trotters. The Nationals are also supporting actors
in the show's many rehearsed skits, known on the tour as "reams."
"That's obviously a big part of it," said Malishchak, the latest Wyoming
Valley Conference alum - Larry Koretz (GAR) and Dave Steigerwald (Northwest Area)
are the others - to tour with the Globetrotters. "It's all choreographed,
very kid-oriented. There's a set amount of (show) plays that they run."
Don't take that to mean the Nationals are expected to simply roll over each night.
"We play to win every single night. When we have the ball on offense we're
trying to score every time," he said, adding that the Nationals routinely
push the stars in practice.
"We do have some credibility on the court.
We don't get to show it in front of 60,000 people, but we both know that there's
respect going both ways. More than enough we give them a run for their money."
Malishchak, who has a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology, has a two-year
contract with the Globetrotters/Nationals. He declined to divulge his salary but
noted that the organization picks up all expenses, including health benefits.
"I think the exposure and the experience of traveling and seeing the world
for free is worth more than I'm getting paid," he said. "These past
six months have been nothing like I've ever dreamed of. It's tough being away
from my family and girlfriend, but I'm playing basketball. It's something I've
loved doing since I was a kid. And I'm getting paid for it.
the time of my life, I really am."
Pepsi challenge too good for GNA to stay with Coke
By BONNIE ADAMSemail@example.com
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District has switched from Coke to Pepsi vending
machines in a deal that might net more than $200,000.
School Board President
Bob Raineri said the board approved the seven-year deal at Monday night's meeting.
Raineri said Pepsi will give the school district $10,000 up front and $5,000 a
year in the contract's second through seventh years.
Raineri said the district
will get a 35 percent commission on water and soda sales and a 20 percent commission
on Gatorade sports drink sales.
He said the school district will receive about
$217,000 for the contract, which he described as more lucrative than Coke's. The
contract also includes a $1,000 annual scholarship.
can only watch, wait
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
of a 13-year-old boy severely burned while playing with gasoline last week has
set up a fund to help cover his medical bills.
Jimmy Knight Jr. was playing
with four friends at a cemetery on West Field Street on Nov. 30 when he inadvertently
lit himself on fire.
"I guess they were making a bomb," said his
mother, Donna Roman, speaking in her mother's home on New Grant Street.
remains in the Lehigh Valley Hospital Burn Center recovering from second-and third-degree
burns over more than half of his body.
Roman has spent nearly every day since
the accident at her son's side.
She is focused on Jimmy's recovery, and expects
medical costs to be significant. She has insurance, but said she has no idea how
much of Jimmy's expenses will be covered.
Jimmy's grandmother, Dorothy Kopiak,
told the story of how he was burned:
On Nov. 30., Jimmy came home, fetched
some gasoline from Kopiak's garage and met his friends.
"From what I
understand, he spilled it on himself, and when he lit a match he caught fire."
His four friends, all brothers, covered Jimmy with their jackets, helping extinguish
the flames. But by the time his gasoline-soaked clothing was put out, Jimmy had
suffered the burns.
Jimmy's friends helped him walk several blocks back to
his grandmother's house. Jimmy lives across town on Orchard Street with his mother.
His clothes burned to tatters, the flesh on his legs and arms scorched, Jimmy
told his grandmother he loved her and embraced her.
"He said, 'Gram,
I'm burnt.' How he walked that far, I have no idea."
The sight of her
injured grandson was so shocking that Kopiak couldn't even manage calling 911,
Jimmy's aunt, Monica Kristensen, called emergency medical services
and Kopiak called Roman after she had calmed a bit.
Kopiak was so shaken that
two hours later she suffered a heart attack. "I came completely unglued."
She said she underwent a catheterization procedure and is recovering from her
first heart attack.
Jimmy was airlifted to the burn center outside Allentown,
where he remains.
On Thursday he underwent skin grafts. He remains under sedation
and is unable to speak.
Roman spends most days at the hospital, sleeping at
a home for family members of patients where lodging costs $30 per night.
Tuesday, however, Roman spent the day at her mother's.
She appeared exhausted
and conceded she was still in shock.
"Today, I'm not going down because
they're changing his dressing," she said.
The painful procedure takes
four to six hours and extra pain medication will likely push her son nearer unconsciousness,
"We're just taking things day by day," she said.
"They say it's going to be a good couple of years before he's better,"
Jimmy is one of about 1,500 children who are burned each year
playing with matches and gasoline, according to the Burn Foundation, a Philadelphia-based
non profit organization.
CITY FINANCIAL WOES
Nanticoke must curb labor cost,
By JON FOXemail@example.com
pay rates and benefits in the municipal work force are identified as problems
ruining city finances, according to a report by the state Department of Community
and Economic Development.
But bound by restrictive state labor-relation laws,
the city is limited in its options to deal with organized labor, the report concedes.
Pegged as a significant contributor to a deficit likely to reach $225,000 this
year, labor policy is a problem more easily identified than remedied.
leaders fail to address labor-related issues, there is "a limited probability"
the city will be able to avoid distressed status under Act 47, the state's relief
program for financially failing communities, according to the report.
city, it states, will require "excellent core policy, preparation and representation"
in dealing with labor over the next five years.
As for specifics, the report
suggests the city could be fully protected with eight full-time firefighters rather
than the 10 it employs now. It also suggests changing the structure of their shifts.
Currently no "coherent policy or plan with regard to labor exits," the
Under state Act 111, emergency personnel such as firefighters
and police officers relinquish the right to strike, but in return they receive
the right to binding arbitration. Municipalities cannot appeal the decisions arrived
at through arbitration.
The bargaining process should result in concessions
by management as well as labor, but unions have made few concessions to the city,
according to the 47-page report.
In addition, pay and benefits are "out
of control to the extent that failure to significantly modify them over the five
years will likely contribute to forcing the city into Act 47."
the firefighters' contract, which calls for a minimum staffing level of 10 individuals
with two on per shift, is just not possible, according to Mayor John Toole.
"It can't be done," he said. "I don't call that defeatist. It's
"We don't have $130,000 to go to arbitration," he
added referring to estimated legal fees. In November, the city entered into a
new four-year contract with firefighters.
With 18 building fires in 2003 including
"fewer than five" categorized as "major incidents," the city's
current staffing level is unjustified, the report states.
The report advises
employing seven full-time firefighters working 24-hour shifts and a full-time
chief. Currently the city employs its firefighters in 10-hour day shifts and 14-hour
Cutting two firefighters would save between $100,000 and $120,000
in salaries and benefits, according to cost estimates by City Administrator Greg
Nanticoke's condition as a community confronting financial failure
and trapped in binding labor agreements is not unique. Labor costs often make
up the largest portion of municipal budgets and navigating labor law is often
"There's no question that the labor element is a constraint.
It's a very significant constraint, and it's not one unique to Nanticoke,"
said Scott Hoh of the Governor's Center for Local Government Services.
the city seeks relief as a distressed municipality, a recovery plan drafted by
state-appointed financial advisers could trump union contracts, releasing the
city from some of its obligations.
But state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke,
hopes complete financial failure is not a prerequisite for change and disagrees
with the mayor's bleak assessment.
"I think it's disingenuous to suggest
nothing can be done," he said. "Just look a few miles north at the city
That city, he said, has made tough choices and worked
with unions to move toward stable fiscal footing.
The state report suggests
preparing for eventual arbitration and a strategy of explaining the city's tough
financial position to employees and unions.
Nanticoke-based military unit honored in Iraq
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
A ranking U.S. Army officer
recently presided over an awards ceremony held in Iraq to recognize the service
of local National Guard soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Col. David Philips,
commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade, commended the Nanticoke-based Bravo
Battery guardsmen of the 109th Field Artillery for their performance in combat
operations, especially in the April insurgent uprisings in Baghdad and Sadr City.
Their work included patrolling the streets of Baghdad, performing traffic control,
conducting convoy security escorts and taking part in base and police station
security operations, according to information supplied by 1st Lt. Cliff A. Morales,
public affairs officer for Bravo Battery.
At the ceremony, 14 soldiers received
the Bronze Star Medal and 86 soldiers received the Army Commendation Medal.
Col. Philips commended the professional attitude the soldiers have displayed towards
Iraqi citizens during their tough mission.
He told the unit that their professionalism
has helped build a stronger Iraqi-American bond and a more stable environment
for the new democratic government in Iraq.
Though they have long sacrificed
by serving and risking their lives in a foreign land, they have ensured a safer
homeland for the American people, especially their own families, the colonel said.
Col. Phillips then shared a personal story with the guardsmen - how he spent his
morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
At the time, he was working as a senior security
official at the Pentagon.
Just 10 minutes before the terrorists drove a hijacked
plane into the building, he was finishing a conversation with a Department of
Defense civilian and two soldiers. He then walked out of their office and out
of the Pentagon.
Seconds later, the plane struck the building.
was one of the first people to rush into the burning, smoke-filled building to
search for survivors.
He found none.
The office he had just left was destroyed.
His worst fears were later confirmed when he learned the people he just talked
to were killed.
Hoping to walk out of the building with survivors propped
over his shoulder, Col. Phillips left the building only able to salvage a single
United States flag.
He stood proudly with that flag at the Bravo Battery awards
ceremony, which was held on Nov. 24, saying he wanted to remind the soldiers of
that fateful day when everything changed.
Col. Philips said he feels looking
at the flag helps people remember why they fight against terrorism to ensure the
American way of life.
At the awards ceremony, Col. Philips, along with several
other military officers, personally presented each soldier with a certificate
of achievement for excellence in combat and other citations.
First Sgt. Francis
Poperowitz, of Bravo Battery, an artilleryman, was honored for earning a place
on the honor roll of military police for his performance Iraq.
He was issued
a challenge coin from Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Guyette, of the 89th Military
to keep their spirits up
109TH FIELD ARTILLERY
By STEVE MOCARSKYfirstname.lastname@example.org
Decorations of red and green, an electric train encircling a Christmas tree, dozens
of children running and playing. All that combined with the empathy of others
present helped relieve some of the heartache and loneliness.
But the underlying
feelings of everyone in the room were pronounced in the lyrics of one song that
played on a jukebox at the edge of a barren dance floor: "All I Want for
Christmas is You."
"That song says it all," said Jane Harris,
whose husband, Spc. William Harris, is deployed with the 109th Field Artillery's
Bravo Battery in Iraq.
Bravo Battery's "Busy Bs" family support
group had its Christmas party, which included a luncheon, at Lacey's Catering
Hall on Main Street next to the Nanticoke armory on Sunday.
"It's a great
way for the families to get together and support each other in a time of need,"
said Harris, of Ashley.
She has the daunting task of seeing through the holidays
two stepchildren, two foster children and a foster son she and William are in
the process of adopting. "He left at a good time, when it came time for potty
training," Harris joked.
This will be the first holiday season through
which she and other support group members will have to cope with the absence of
their military spouse, parent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or sibling through
the holiday season. Bravo Battery was deployed for training to Fort Dix, N.J.,
on Dec. 30 last year before leaving for the Mideast.
"I could cry now,"
Harris said when asked what she expects it to be like for her and the kids on
Christmas Day. "It's going to be a sad day, his not being there to see the
expressions on their faces, the toys they got."
One tradition Harris
will miss is attending midnight Mass with her husband. She hopes he'll call her
as the Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City is being broadcast so
she can hold the phone up to the TV and they can keep some part of their family
Jeremy Metz said he'll miss opening one present each on
Christmas Eve with his brother, Spc. Adam Metz of Wilkes-Barre, and going to their
aunt's house on Christmas Day to open the rest of the presents and share a family
Apparently, Jeremy will also miss being able to razz his brother in
person, as he noted that Adam's war injury consists of a broken shoulder that
resulted from an overenthusiastic football game.
Adam's mom, Diane, will miss
"just having him home for the holidays."
Sitting at a table with
the Metzes, Sophia Arnold of Hunlock Creek spooned mashed potatoes onto the plate
of 2-year-old Jaycee Arnold, the daughter of her son, Spc. Stephen Arnold.
"He is very family-oriented, so it's going to be hard. He'll miss everything
- being together with the family, shopping with the baby, all of it," Arnold
said, her voice trailing off as she suppressed an urge to cry.
support group president and wife of Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Sorber, said getting
together with the group for the holidays means a lot to her.
deployment went on, we all became better friends. I didn't have a lot of friends
before; now, I can't count them all. And we didn't let terrorism stop our happiness
in getting together," Sorber said.
Sorber predicted that her husband's
absence through Christmas will be hardest on her 5- and 8-year-old boys, Carl
and Kyle, more so than the other three children. "The older boys feel the
As for herself, Sorber misses the tradition of decorating
a live tree with Jaime.
"I didn't have the heart to put up a real tree
and decorate it by myself. My parents bought us an artificial tree and decorated
it for us. My husband promised me we would never have another Christmas without
a real tree."
Given her husband's almost certain absence on Christmas,
what else would Sorber want to receive on Christmas Day?
"I just hope
we can talk to him. The lines will be long for the phone, so I'm praying."
in time of war: 109th's party goes on
The troops are away, but the families
of Battery B still provide kids a good time.
By JENNIFER LEARN-ANDESemail@example.com
It won't be quite the same this year, but the 109th Field Artillery Battery B
children's Christmas party will still go on.
Last year's party was canceled
because the unit's Army National Guardsmen were in the process of being deployed,
so this year their spouses and other family members in the Busy Bees support group
decided to get it together for the children, and each other.
As they wrapped
Bratz dolls and GI Joe figures at the Nanticoke armory on Saturday, the women
felt the absence of their husbands, sons, boyfriends and brothers.
Gallagher remembers shopping and wrapping gifts for the party two Christmases
ago with her husband, Staff Sgt. Patrick Gallagher. Gallagher and the other men
had done most of the cooking for the party.
"It's very difficult to do
Christmas this year but we have to do it for the kids," she said.
donations and fund-raisers, the group raised about $900 to hold today's party
at Lacey's Catering in Nanticoke for 62 children and 86 adults.
of Mountain Top, said the bustle of folding and taping wrapping paper was a welcome
distraction. Her son, 20-year-old James Kania, doesn't want store-bought Christmas
packages sent to Iraq.
He craves his mother's baking instead.
sent brownies and is about to ship a batch of dozens of chocolate chip and oatmeal
raisin cookies. Her favorite cookie shipping device is a Pringle's potato chip
Kim Rogaski, of Plains Township, said her boyfriend, Brian Lukashewski,
put green tea, beef jerky and Christmas lights on his holiday list. He plans to
use the lights to decorate his tent and others.
Lukashewski was pleased to
learn through e-mail that the holiday party will continue, Rogaski said. Their
7-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, had always looked forward to attending with him.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pamela Urbanski
Looking at a church's history
Let me take you back in time, way back to the year 1742.
It was a time when
one of the few visitors to the Wyoming Valley and the Indians living by the
Susquehanna River, the Shawanese tribe of Plymouth or the Nanticokes, were the
Moravian missionaries who came preaching Christianity to the tribes.
1762, close to 200 settlers arrived after learning of the beauty and fertility
Wyoming Valley. In 1770, the First Presbyterian Church was started
in the Wyoming Valley. The wars and battles that followed throughout the years
could not deter the growth of the church and the communities that surrounded it.
Members met and worshiped in various places and buildings. In 1829, a group of
people wished to organize a new Presbyterian Church. The new church, to be known
as the Presbyterian Church of Hanover and Newport, was organized.
with only 13 members in the congregation, the church was reorganized and the name
changed from the Union Church to the Presbyterian Church of Nanticoke.
congregation outgrew its building and 30 years later, the construction of a new
church (the present edifice) was begun in 1893. During the early years of the
20th century, Nanticoke was a thriving town with a growing population.
were the days of "packed pews," Christmas cantatas, church suppers,
ice cream socials, strawberry festivals and active missionary societies.
the dawn of the 21st century, additions and renovations were made to the church
building and manse (parsonage). The church elders tell of the dawn of the 21st
century as a "rough patch."
The six-person Board of Session, along
with pastor Robert Boyar, was faced with structural problems of the church building
and dwindling members. But, they were determined that God would see them through
their time of strife.
The first-ever commissioned lay pastor, Laura Lewis,
arrived in 2001. Since then, with determination and the strong faith of church
leaders and members, there has been a slow, but steady increase in membership.
This year marks the 175th anniversary celebration of the First Presbyterian Church
of Nanticoke, founded Nov. 27, 1829.
On Oct. 24, 2004, a special morning worship
service and banquet was held to mark the occasion. The celebration continues.
Today, church members will sponsor a Victorian tea. Those attending will be treated
to tea and homemade refreshments including tiny sandwiches and warm scones.
The cost is $7, but I've been told tickets were just about sold out for this event.
However, those wishing to get a glimpse of the past are invited to a Victorian
open house on Dec. 12 from noon to 4 p.m.
Members have planned a wonderful
holiday event. "The parsonage next to the church will be decorated to reflect
the Victorian era, complete with evergreens and candlelight," said church
elder Martha Price.
"We are taking you back to a very important time
in our church and community history," she added.
In addition to the tours,
a craft fair featuring homemade wooden and needlepoint items, in addition to jewelry,
will be held. Martha tells me committee members have worked very hard for the
past six weeks organizing this event.
"It's a great opportunity to buy
something for yourself or a Christmas gift for someone special on your list,"
Homemade cookies also will be available to purchase and a Chinese
auction featuring theme baskets for young and old will be held.
I thank Martha
for providing me with a history of the First Presbyterian Church. There is so
much to be written. Unfortunately, my space is limited. Perhaps the elders and
members of the church say it best.
"As we look back on these 175 years,
we fondly recall and remember the many past members of this church, a congregation
that once filled nearly every pew in the church. Though we are now a smaller group,
the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Nanticoke remains even more
dedicated to bringing the good news of the Gospel to our community."
The church is located at Main and Walnut Streets with parking on Spring Street.
For information about events, please call 735-6449.
winter rink being moved to school lot
Paved area near the football field will
be used because area provides more parking.
By BONNIE ADAMSfirstname.lastname@example.org
The city plans to move its ice skating rink to school property this season
to provide more parking than last year's location.
Nanticoke Area Superintendent Anthony Perrone said the city recently
approached the school district about relocating the rink from the park along Prospect
The school district plans to locate it in a paved area near the football
stadium, where there's ample parking. He said a drain will need to be covered.
Perrone said there is a paved edge on three sides of the macadam area. The city
will place sandbags on the fourth side to contain the water until it freezes.
He has heard some complaints from residents who questioned the ice skating project's
cost, but Perrone said it will not cost the school district anything. He said
the fire department will fill the area with water.
Perrone said the city is
in charge of the project and the city's liability insurance will cover it.
"Kids have nothing to do in this town," Perrone said. "The school
is here for the kids."
Perrone said the rink should be open before Christmas
if temperatures are cold enough. The concession stand will sell hot beverages.
School board President Bob Raineri said it's important to create recreational
opportunities for children in town.
City administrator Greg Gulick said locating
the rink on a paved area will save money because a liner won't be necessary.
Kingston ordered to pay in dispute
A Nanticoke businessman
says the borough owed him money for clothing vouchers.
By RON LIEBACKemail@example.com
A Nanticoke businessman who said Kingston municipality failed to pay for more
than $900 in clothing purchased at his sporting goods store recently won a default
judgment against the borough.
District Justice Joseph Halesey issued the judgment
in favor of DNR Sports owner Mark Komoroski after both parties failed to show
for a Nov. 22 hearing. Kingston was ordered to pay $927.
Mayor James Haggerty
disputes the judgment and said he plans to appeal. He has until Dec. 23 to take
Haggerty said the borough did not attend the hearing because Halesey
held it in the wrong place. Haggerty insists the hearing should have taken place
in Kingston, not in Halesey's Hanover Township office.
Komoroski filed the
civil complaint at District Justice Donald Whittaker's office in Nanticoke in
April. DNR Sports provided vouchers to Kingston public works employees so they
could purchase clothing for work. Komoroski said he gave the borough 15 vouchers,
worth $150 each, and Kingston refuses to pay for six that have not been used.
Haggerty has said he refused to pay because Komoroski submitted invoices stating
that work-related clothing was bought. He said Komoroski didn't oversee what was
purchased, resulting in at least one Kingston employee buying items not related
offers Nanticoke help in solving financial crisis
Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Rep. John Yudichak, D-119, offered assistance to Nanticoke in getting the city's
finances in order, and council now must decide whether to accept his offer.
A preliminary report on Nanticoke's financial situation recently issued by the
state Department of Community and Economic Development states, among other findings,
that the city might end up with a 2004 operating deficit of $225,000, and could
be facing insolvency within the coming months.
Yudichak came to Wednesday
night's council meeting to offer his assistance, recommend the city get involved
with DCED's early intervention program, and ask council members if they wanted
him to obtain a grant for a computer system and financial software.
intervention is a program managed by the DCED's Governor's Center for Local Government
Services. Yudichak said it provides up to $100,000 to hire a personal financial
adviser to work with the city in putting together a five-year financial plan and
a strategy to get the city on a track to a balanced budget.
he thought it would be a smart idea for the city to bring in outside help, someone
who could step back and take an objective look at the financial situation.
He said it would not be a case of the state taking over the city; all decisions
would be made by Nanticoke officials.
"But this gives us some help at
virtually no cost to the city," Yudichak said. "It makes good sense
that when you have a financial crisis, you bring in an expert and plot a strategy
to get out of that predicament."
DCED's report recommended a software
package specific to Pennsylvania local government accounting, which would handle
tax, sewer and refuse billing, fixed assets billing, accounts payable and receivable,
and reporting functions.
It would cost from $8,000 to $12,000, but suggested
a grant would be appropriate.
Council voted to have Yudichak try to obtain
the computer grant, but will have to pass a resolution to get involved in the
early intervention program.
Councilman John Bushko said City Administrator
Greg Gulick will get the paperwork done for the program.
Since council does
not meet until the work session on Wednesday, Dec. 29, Bushko said he would like
to try to call a special meeting to pass the resolution.
An immediate financial
problem brought up Wednesday night is the fact that the city was in danger of
not having enough in its coffers to meet the $73,607 total December payroll, let
alone other pressing expenses.
Treasurer Albert Wytosek said there is $102,984
outstanding in municipal property taxes, and $8,050 behind in per capita tax.
"Some people wait until the last minute to pay their taxes. Dec. 15 is the
deadline," Gulick said. "We're not short yet. We're getting there, but
we're still going. We may only get a half of it, a quarter of it or none of it,
but there's still money to come in."
If an insufficient amount of taxes
come in, the city will have to transfer money from another account to make payroll,
Councilman Bill Brown said some tax funds came in from Berkheimer
on Thursday, bringing the cash on hand from $63,393 "up to the $70,000 mark."
The first payroll for Dec. 10 should be covered, said Brown, but the city still
does not have money for the second payroll, which will fall due Dec. 24.
Nanticoke urged to enter financial program
Yudichak recommends getting fiscal advice from state before it's too late.
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
State Rep. John Yudichak, at Wednesday night's
city council meeting, called for the city to enter the state's early intervention
program for financially troubled municipalities.
The program would allow the
city to take advantage of professional financial advice and devise a five-year
plan for recovery, said Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
The representative's advice
comes a week after city officials received a draft of a financial analysis commissioned
by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
paints a bleak picture of the municipality. It indicates the city is floundering
financially and could face insolvency this year, by next fall at the latest.
"We finally have in black and white evidence of what you were raising concerns
about," Yudichak told city council at the meeting. Mayor John Toole was absent
because of a death in his family.
There are more bills than there is money,
and it's been that way for seven of the past nine years, Yudichak said.
needs a plan "to get us away from taking the (Tax Anticipation Note) every
year, to get us away from deficit spending, to right this fiscal ship," he
There was little argument from council members.
Asking that the
city administrator be authorized to solicit quotes for a TAN, a type of loan,
to get cover budget shortfalls, Councilman Bill Brown said the money will be critical
in getting the city through the first months of the coming year.
but in July we won't be able to pay it back," said Councilman John Bushko.
From a balanced budget in 1999, the city has slowly slid into debt and leaned
more heavily on short-term credit. This year the deficit is likely to be in the
neighborhood of $225,000, according to the state report.
a problem trying to make the last month of payments to vendors and payroll,"
The city needs $294,369 to pay all its end-of-the-year bills and
$73,607 just to pay employees.
The city account, however, holds only $63,393.
Treasurer Albert Wytoshek said he only expects an additional $15,000 in property
taxes to flow in before the year's end.
And in the spirit of a final straw,
the city just received a bill from the state for more than $20,000 for their share
of a bridge project on Union Street.
Seemingly exasperated, Brown appealed
to the audience for suggestions on how to pay the bill. Simply put it off, one
Nanticoke lacks funds
to make December payroll
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice
Nanticoke City Council examined some negative financial news
at Wednesday night's meeting.
Councilman William Brown, who was sitting in
for absent Mayor John Toole, said the city is having trouble meeting its $137,000
He said the city has due $67,918 in health insurance, $33,643
in non-uniform retirement fund payments, and needs to come up with $119,200 for
the refuse fund.
The city only has a total of $63,393 total cash on hand,
and needs $73,607 more just to make payroll, or $294,369 altogether, Brown said.
In addition, the city owes the state $20,256 for its share of the Union Street
Bridge project, payment of which council agreed would have to be postponed.
Bills are not getting paid on time, according to Brown, and there will only be
about $19,000 left in the sewer fund at the end of the year.
want to run a shop this way," he remarked.
Treasurer Albert Wytosek said
the city was "extremely far behind" in all the taxes taken in. So far,
it has collected $102,984 in city taxes, which is $40,000 less than usual, and
Wytosek estimated less than $15,000 is due to come in by the end of the year.
The city has also received $8,050 in per capita taxes, which he said is less than
Council voted on the first reading of the ordinances to pass the annual
taxes, but chose to table an ordinance maintaining the occupational privilege
tax of $10 for 2005.
Schools wary of slots impact
Districts want to be
certain how much gambling money they will get before committing to tax reductions.
By BONNIE ADAMSemail@example.com
gambling legislation that would reduce each homeowner's school taxes by about
$109 to $359 a year has sparked questions and skepticism among local school boards.
They are still untangling details before deciding whether their school districts
should opt into the Homeowner Tax Relief Act program, commonly known as the Homestead
Act, which uses gambling proceeds to help fund education.
The property tax
savings from Act 72 vary by school district and come at a cost because participating
districts must increase their earned-income taxes. That 0.1 percent increase must
be used for property tax relief in addition to gambling proceeds.
probably one of the toughest decisions a board will have to make," said Tim
Allwein of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Association representatives
are traveling statewide to help school boards and the public understand the legislation.
"There are a lot of questions," he said. Allwein said it is frustrating
for school boards because they want to know for sure how much gaming money their
school district will receive before committing to the program.
sure what a good estimate will be," Allwein said. The state Department of
Education has released estimates for each school district based on two distribution
totals - $1 billion and $500 million a year.
Each district's estimate is based
on a tax relief formula that gives the most state resources to districts with
the greatest tax burden and the least local wealth.
Wilkes-Barre Area business
manager Ralph Scoda agrees with Allwein that the decision is difficult for school
boards. "It's not a win-win situation for both sides."
He said that
what might be good for the school district could mean a higher earned-income tax
for residents. Also, the act includes a back-end referendum: If a district opts
into Act 72, it can't raise taxes beyond a certain point without voter approval.
Scoda said that no matter what a school board decides, it will be based on guesswork.
"It's extremely difficult."
Virginia Falzone, president of Wilkes-Barre's
North End Citizens and Taxpayers group, said senior citizens are hoping for a
But she said residents are skeptical that the yearly property tax
savings will be as high as the state estimates. Department of Education figures
list savings of $200 to $356 for homeowners in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
Lake-Lehman School Board President Jim Mahon said the estimates are inflated.
He doesn't believe Lake-Lehman homeowners will pay $133 less a year if there is
$500 million in the fund, or $214 less if there is $1 billion.
a Pennsylvania School Boards Association representative will attend a future school
board meeting to address the board and public. He opposes using gambling proceeds
to help fund education. Mahon said he would rather see property tax relief through
wage tax increases.
If a district already collects an income tax - and all
local districts do - the school board must pass a resolution by May 30, 2005,
to raise that tax by 0.1 percent.
Greater Nanticoke Area School Board President
Bob Raineri said the district plans to form a citizens advisory committee to seek
input from retirees and working people. Wyoming Area is doing the same.
said a homeowner might pay less in school taxes, but pay more in earned income
taxes. "I really don't think we're going to gain too much from this."
Pittston Area School Board President Mark Singer said it's likely the district
will opt into the program because it needs the money. Pittston Area faces a $550,000
budget shortfall from the closing of Techneglas in Jenkins Township.
what I know, I think it's a situation where we have to," Singer said.
Bonnie Adams, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7241.
For more information on the Homeowner Tax Relief Act program, go to
the state Department of Education's Web site at: www.pde.state.pa.us/proptax/site/default.asp.
Draft of state report says Nanticoke
in financial trouble
By Elizabeth Skrapits , Citizens' Voice Staff
Nanticoke City is in deep financial
trouble that will require quick action by city officials, according to a draft
report from the state Department of Community and Economic Development obtained
by The Citizens' Voice on Monday.
The report, based on a study performed for
DCED's Governor's Center for Local Government Services by Cornell Hopkins of Hopkins
and Hopkins LLC of Chalfont, outlines the city's financial mistakes, their consequences,
and the need for a five-year plan.
The report states that the city is facing
a 2004 operating deficit of $225,000, and could be "facing insolvency from
which it cannot recover," starting "as early as late this year and not
later than fall of 2005.
Some key questions outlined in the report are whether
the city can pay for programs and services it currently furnishes; if there are
reserves to finance economic emergencies; and whether there is financial flexibility
The answer to all the questions is no
"It paints a very stark picture
for the city," state Rep. John Yudichak, D-119, said of the report. "It
validates some concerns I've had, and that some members of council have raised,
about the financial health of the city.
DCED spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the
report is in the draft stage, and should be completed soon
"This is a
report that will help DCED help Nanticoke make sure they can follow the best practices
in a way that will help them to best use state resources to avoid fiscal insolvency,"
The final report will include a recommended five-year financial
plan and management advice to help implement it. Wilkes-Barre City is following
a five-year plan from DCED
The report states that if Nanticoke does not adopt
the five-year plan, the state will be unwilling to give it funding for programs
and projects, and there is the possibility the city could enter Act 47 - distressed
municipality - status
"It's exactly what I expected from it. I could
have told them that," Nanticoke Mayor John Toole said of the report
said the $225,000 figure may end up being less, and doubts the city will become
insolvent this year or next, although he admits to the possibility "a few
years down the road.
The report states that the city has operated in a deficit
for seven out of the last nine years, and has been using $1.1 million in tax anticipation
notes from 2000 to 2003 to cover operational expenses from previous years, instead
of using them to run the city for the first few months of the new year. The city
then consolidated two of the TANs into a $1 million bond that created an additional
$150,000 in principal
"The city's got to tighten its belt and start doing
things the right way," Nanticoke Councilman John Bushko said. "Basically,
we can't afford our services on the amount of tax dollars we take in.
noted the budget has a "built-in deficit guaranteed every year," and
the city has been raiding the sewer fund for years for operating expenses.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pamela Urbanski
fees put to good use
The City of Nanticoke continues to put the
monies collected through its sewer fees to good use.
City officials continue
to map out plans to repair and upgrade sewer lines throughout the city. It is
an ongoing process and the worst sewer lines are targeted and repaired.
two current projects on the to-do list will be completed before the winter weather
Betsy Chesinski, city administrative assistant, tells me the sewer
line on Chestnut Street running from Ridge Street to Church Street is undergoing
repair. Once that sewer project is complete, the roads will be paved. New handicap-accessible
corner sidewalks also will be installed. Lagana construction was awarded the contract
for the work.
In the Hanover section of Nanticoke, engineers found a major
sewer line problem in the area of Standard Place. It is considered more of an
alley than a street because of its size and location, which is behind Front Street
to the rear of Pelas candy store. Krasavage Construction was awarded the contract
to replace 1,000 feet of sewer line, manhole covers and paving of the roadway.
This work is set to begin within the next few weeks.
Trojan effort is just what GNA needs
no way universal
Greater Nanticoke Area's
Len Butczynski will try to remain undefeated today in his third time coaching
the East team in the UNICO All-Star Football Classic.
Amazing what a coach
can do when he has a full team to work with.
He'll coach 40 high school seniors
in today's game, nearly twice the number of players occupying the home sideline
At Nanticoke the past four years, Butczynski led half a team
to a 9-31 record, including the recent 1-9 season that ended with about 23 Trojans
Because of that record, Butczynski has become a target of some
Nanticoke fans who think someone else could do better.
I'd like to meet that
someone, and tell him about college vacancies at Florida and Illinois.
has the second-largest male enrollment among District 2's 15 Class 2A schools.
But when it comes to the amount of boys who played fall sports, the number is
small pierogies. Of 410 boys at Nanticoke Area, only 58, or 14 percent, participated.
"Kids just don't want to practice," said senior tight end Chris Ushinski.
It's not just the football team. The Trojans boys soccer team, a state qualifier
last year, ended this season with only 15 players and just missed the playoffs.
Same goes for the cross country team, which, two years removed from a division
title, finished with about five boys. The Trojans golf team? About six.
is not a school lacking athletic success, tradition or community support.
What happened to the Distasios, the Bilkos, the McDermotts?
This is clearly
a guy thing. Nanticoke's girls have little trouble filling out their teams' rosters.
Butczynski, a 1986 Nanticoke graduate, has discussed the problem with his athletic
director. Butczynski and his staff try to recruit boys in school, along every
road that intersects with Kosciuszko Street and at other school sporting events.
The coach was even able to sell the fact that the school district committed to
renovating the stadium for this past season.
Still, he was barely able to
field a team. He admits he has no answers.
With so few players, Butczynski
has no choice but to go half-speed in practice, against blocking bags and tackling
dummies. He tries to stress the importance of stepping it up to full speed for
games, but the Trojans are still outnumbered, still a step behind.
who said he enjoyed his career despite three 1-9 seasons, tried to convince his
classmates to join the team.
"They'll come out for a day and say 'This
isn't for me.' They'll make up some kind of lame excuse."
Two other lame
excuses, according to Ushinski: "My stomach hurts" and "I don't
think my mom or dad will let me play."
Smaller rival Hanover Area doesn't
have this problem. The Hawkeyes football team consistently fields about 40 boys.
So it appears that priorities have changed for teenage boys in Nanticoke. No one,
however, is sure why they've changed, or what's behind the change.
and jobs have long robbed high school teams of players. Add computers, video games
and extreme sports to the list of accomplices.
If kids aren't hearing the
adults, maybe they'll accept the challenge from one of their own, Ushinski: "Kids
aren't as hard-nosed as they used to be, I guess."
Nanticoke can no longer afford to ignore growing
There were 37 overdose deaths in the city over the past four
This letter is for the edification of the citizens of Nanticoke
as it relates to the growing drug problem within our community.
is a partial account of narcotics activity in Nanticoke City during October: A
woman died from a heroin overdose; a pharmacy was robbed at gun point; a bar was
robbed at gun point; a pharmacy was burglarized; two attempted burglaries of a
pharmacy occurred; two families lost custody of a total of six children; 64 criminal
arrests were made as a result of thefts, assaults, and other drug related crimes.
There have been at least 100 instances of drug overdoses over the last four years.
To wit, 37 have resulted in death. I often hear the question, "In Nanticoke?"
The answer is emphatically, "yes." Families have been ruined and bankrupt,
parents have taken their own lives over this epidemic, and hepatitis has become
no less common than a seasonal cold.
Despite the efforts of parents, police,
clergy, schools and medicine, nothing has changed. We tell our children, "don't
use drugs" but give them few alternatives. We placate the taxpayers and forget
the future taxpayer. We ponder the exodus of the best and brightest, yet offer
no vocational opportunity.
Slightly more than a year ago, concerned members
of our city bonded together over the bleak realization that we are in big trouble.
We formed the non-profit GNA Drug Task Force Inc. We held a meeting with about
30 people. All were under age 20. Three have since died. Overwhelmingly, they
told us they wanted a place to go, a youth center. They asked why they never got
their skate park that was promised.
To date, the task force has welcomed Narcotics
Anonymous into Nanticoke, established a youth group, held educational events and
organized efforts of recovery and treatment for individuals. We cannot afford
to be embarrassed about our drug problem any longer. Our city needs a youth center,
and we are working toward that goal.
If you need help, or can help; please
contact us at:
GNA Task Force, P.O. Box 139, Nanticoke, PA 18634.
Kevin J. Grevera
GNA Task Force president
Nanticoke library declines stock offer
By Robert Kalinowski Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Memorial Library board members declined a donation of $165,000 in stock from a
cofounder of Cornerstone Technologies during a meeting Wednesday.
at the meeting, which was held at the Nanticoke library, lamented about "digging
deeper" into their trust fund and discussed several costly purchases.
Susan Maza, board president, explained that the donation was wanted - and especially
needed in the face of government cutbacks - but the library could not obtain the
money due to a conflict with the contributor, Bruce Conrad, and current company
"The issue has to be settled among the shareholders. It's
not a stock that's readily accessible on the open market," she said.
The stock in question, she explained, is invested in severa1 "limited liability"
entities and is not traded as a stock on the New York Stock Exchange would be
One of those entities is Cornerstone Technologies, an innovative research
and development company which began operation in 1999 after Congressman Paul Kanjorski,
D11, helped secure more than $9 million in government funds for the project.
Since that time, the company has been at least four of Kanjorski's relatives.
Conrad parted ways with the company several years ago and has recently claimed
the company had been trying to buy out his stock for some time.
When the dispute
could not be settled, Conrad offered to donate the stock to the library.
it became apparent to the library board the unresolved dispute would not allow
for that, Maza said.
"We couldn't liquidate it," Maza stated after
the board voted 6-0 to decline Conrad's offer.
After Conrad made the offer
in September, the board vowed they would perform "due diligence" before
In recent weeks, several board members were told Cornerstone is
involved in litigation and the library might be "liable" if it accepted
A Cornerstone official also told a board member that there
was "no market value of the stock."
When contacted at his Jim Thorpe,
Carbon County, home Wednesday night, Conrad disputed both of these statements
and hinted that some people close to the situation might have tried to corner
the library in to declining the donation - or at least from pursuing it.
noted that the $165,000 was a proposed settlement to a lawsuit the company filed
against him for allegedly stealing company secrets. That amount, he said, was
what they subtracted from the stock's worth due to his alleged "harm"
to the company.
"They alleged in court that the stock was worth that
value. So, were they lying then or are they lying now?" he asked.
said that it is "clearly not true" that the library would be held liable
if litigation were brought against Cornerstone. He said that it's a corporation's
responsibility to protect its shareholders.
In recent weeks, Peter Kanjorski,
CEO of Cornerstone and the congressman's nephew, could not be reached for comment
about the donation.
"I really did try to give the library something of
value. It's appalling that isn't possible," Conrad said Wednesday.
that the library board has rejected the offer, Conrad said he does not know where
the stock is or where it will go.
DA's office offers farewell to arms, hello
State, federal funds will allow county officials to purchase handguns
for a $75 gift certificate; shotguns, rifles for $50.
Have a gun you don't want anymore?
to the district attorney's office. The staff would be more than happy to buy it.
That way the weapon will be sure to stay out of criminals' hands, said spokeswoman
Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas on Tuesday announced
the start of a new program, dubbed "Operation Safe Guns."
will allow Lupas, using a $10,000 grant, to buy guns from people who no longer
need or use the weapons. The guns will be destroyed.
Crane said the office
will pay the gun owners with gift certificates. Crane said gift certificates were
chosen because the program will mirror a successful program used in Allegheny
"Guns are like gold to criminals," said Crane, noting stolen
guns can be sold at a high price to drug dealers. "The less that are laying
around out there, the better."
A handgun will be worth $75, shotguns
and rifles will be worth $50. Crane said the gift certificates will most likely
be from Wal-Mart because consumers would be able to use the certificates for merchandise
and groceries in every part of the county, Crane said.
The gun buy-back program
is only one component of the new initiative.
Lupas also will be distributing
brochures to teach people about gun-safety. The brochures will give gun owners
insight on storing weapons at home, telling them to keep them out of children's
Crane said the grant came from the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency,
which obtained the money through the U.S. Department of Justice.
money was to specifically "combat firearms violence," she said. "How
do you best do that? By removing guns off the street."
Crane said the
program, which is not an anti-gun campaign, is believed to be the first of its
kind in Luzerne County. But it has been done in other counties.
the most part there's been overwhelming success. We don't know how it's going
to work here."
Several police chiefs joined Lupas for his announcement
Tuesday. Luzerne County Detective Dan Beky is the project coordinator.
interested in selling guns they no longer want can sell them to the Luzerne County
District Attorney's office on the following dates and times:
6 to 9 p.m. Nov.
18 at the Emergency Management Center on Water Street in Wilkes-Barre.
a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Pittston Police Department.
6 to 9 p.m. Dec.
2 at the Hazleton Police Department.
6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Dallas Township
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at the
Nanticoke Police Department.
Woman finds time machine
By DONNA M. GILLIS-For
the Times Leader
After shedding more
than 70 pounds, 51-year-old Debra Rinehamer of Nanticoke noticed another dramatic
change in her body. This one, however, wasn't as appealing as the weight loss.
"I looked like an iguana," she said.
That's because after losing
the weight, Rinehamer was left with a drooping face and jiggling neck that made
her look well beyond her years.
That changed, however, thanks to some surgical
lifts and tucks that gave her a new look.
"I can wear necklaces and chokers
again," Rinehamer said. "Everything is so much firmer, to the point
where my neck looks like that of a 21-year-old."
Rinehamer sought help
from Dr. Francis J. Collini in Shavertown, who performed a face lift and eyelid
surgery. She found the recovery to be more uncomfortable than painful, and said
the results were worth the discomfort.
"I was bandaged for a couple days
and had some swelling and bruising."
Rinehamer admits that before her
weight loss, she had been grappling with the effects of aging.
people say that one year could make such a difference in the way you look, but
that's not really true. I noticed things that happen overnight.
wake up in the morning and think, 'Where did this saggy skin come from? This wasn't
Rinehamer said she feels more confident, talkative,
and excited about simple things such as wearing jewelry and trying on new clothes.
"People I haven't seen in a while don't even recognize me. I feel confident,
younger and sexier.
"I've learned that sometimes if you look old, you
stock in question
By Robert Kalinowski, The Sunday Voice 11/14/2004
What initially appeared to be a generous donation to Nanticoke's Mill Memorial
Library might turn out to be a bust.
October, The Sunday Voice reported that Bruce Conrad, a co-founder of Cornerstone
Technologies, donated all his stock in the company - or $165,000 worth - to the
After members of the library board of director heard the news, they
were gracious, but cautioned they would perform "due diligence" before
accepting the transfer.
Conrad, who parted with the company several years
ago, assured them that the current operators of Cornerstone Technologies, some
of whom are relatives of Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski, had offered him approximately
$165,000 for his shares.
Upon hearing about the proposed transfer, Peter Kanjorski,
CEO of Cornerstone and nephew to the congressman, declined comment until he could
investigate the matter.
During the past four weeks, the library board has
looked into the situation and the initial feeling is that it doesn't look good,
according to Bob Bray, vice president of the library board.
don't know if we have a donation or not," he said.
Bray said the board
has learned there apparently are suits pending against the company which might
make the library liable if they accept the donation. The worth of the stock is
Bray said representatives from Cornerstone have indicated there
is "no market value of the stock."
"What appeared to be a generous
contribution might not turn out to be," Bray said.
He said he would have
more information when the library board meets this Wednesday.
to contact Peter Kanjorski this week about the worth of the stock and if the library
would receive any money were unsuccessful.
In previous reports, Conrad said
officials at Cornerstone were "struggling for ways to buy out" his stock
for some time. There was a dispute on how the money would be paid, he said.
Conrad said he wanted an upfront payment so he didn't have to deal with the tax
consequences and they wanted to pay him in yearly installments.
said there was never any question that it was worth around $165,000 and that they
were willing to pay that amount.
Reached at his Jim Thorpe home on Saturday,
Conrad said the value of the stock should be even more than that. The $165,000
was a proposed settlement to a lawsuit Cornerstone filed against him in Northampton
County Court for allegedly stealing company secrets.
That amount was what
they subtracted from the stock's total worth due to his alleged "harm"
to the company, he said
Because of the ongoing dispute, Conrad, who is dealing
with potentially serious health problems, said he wanted "finality"
with the stock in the company he co-founded.
After seeing a newspaper article
that the Mill Memorial Library was going through some financial difficulty, he
decided to give his stock - at least what they were offering him - to the library.
The library, which recently had to revert to money in its trust fund in the face
of government cutbacks, planned to use the donation for its daily operations and
other miscellaneous ventures.
In October, Conrad challenged Cornerstone to
"match my gift" to the library. After hearing that Cornerstone representatives
told the library there was "no market value" for the stock, Conrad suspected
wrongdoing by the company.
Unless Cornerstone's assets were transferred, or
hidden, which would be "fraud," they should pay the library the money,
Cornerstone Technologies is a research and development company that
uses high pressure liquid to break materials into tiny particles, generally under
20 microns in size.
Congressman Kanjorski, D-11, helped secure more than $9
million in government funds to begin the company, which was operated by at least
four of his relatives since 1999. He has insisted he never steered or earmarked
federal money for his family members, claiming they happened to be the successful
applicants that were awarded the money.
A Nanticoke man reawakens his golden memories
of the world are put aside
By DAVID ISEMANfirstname.lastname@example.org
Mrufchinski had spent much of his life worrying about others.
mother. The good folks at St. Stanislaus in Nanticoke. His fellows at the Nanticoke
But, retired and pained by a bad hip, it was time to think of
A glorious opportunity presented itself, he says. So, hurting or
not, he had to consider it.
"The timing was tough. They scheduled my
hip replacement operation and I said I'd like to go on this trip.
told my doctor and he said to go, just go, just go."
Still Frank worried
about the 11 hours of traveling, about getting around in a wheelchair. He considered
waiting until after the surgery.
But he had already done so much waiting.
For nearly a decade he had taken care of his homebound mom, often nearly a 24-hour
job. Before that, there were other relatives to care for, as well as his work
for the church and Rotary.
So it was now - or wait some more.
I first saw the campus I got tears in my eyes.
It wasn't a typical campus.
There's the glowing Golden Dome, the somber, stately Basilica of the Sacred Heart,
the arched cave of rock kept lit with hundreds of candles called the Grotto.
Frank, though disciplined in demeanor by years of teaching, got animated as he
told of his Oct. 21-24 visit to the University of Notre Dame.
He paused before
he spoke, searching for just the right words. He handed to a reporter a two-page
note, crafted in cursive, of the things he saw on the Holy Cross Heritage Trip,
the kind people he met.
He spoke as he passed around photographs. And he couldn't
help himself from gushing.
"They were so good to me. That's the Holy
Cross spirit. ... You could feel the presence of the Lord." Putting a closed
fist to his chest, he added: "I could feel it. I could. I could feel it in
Frank ended up missing the football game that was offered as part
of the tour. Rain made him too nervous to try to maneuver with a wheelchair through
But he got a special tour of the stadium later due to the kindness
of a groundskeeper. He met players, as well as Fighting Irish coach Tyrone Willingham.
He has photos of them all.
By luck, he was able to visit with two men who
had taught him a half century earlier at King's College. Retired priests William
Beston and Augustine Peverada live at a nursing home at the university, Frank
And more good fortune. Current King's President the Rev. Tom O'Hara
also happened to be visiting because Notre Dame was honoring priests who serve
or had served as college presidents. Frank attended Mass with Father O'Hara.
Frank spoke about his trip from a hospital bed at John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation
Medicine. He had his hip surgery Oct. 27.
Asked to recount the trip's best
moment, Frank paused, moving his jaw back and forth like older folks sometimes
do without realizing it. He answered slowly.
"At night we'd go to the
Grotto, and I'm there and I'm facing this operation and I'm praying and everybody's
praying with me," he said, his voice trailing off, his eyes moist.
quickly regained his composure, though, and reached for more photographs.
Nanticoke girl to compete in Miss PA USA Pageant
Heather Baranowski of Nanticoke will compete in the Miss Pennsylvania USA Pageant
at the Hyatt Regency in Pittsburgh Nov. 26-28.
is the state preliminary to the nationally televised Miss USA Pageant.
21, will be competing for the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2005 among 117 other
women. Heather graduated from Greater Nanticoke Area High School in 2001 and Barbizon
School of Modeling in 2002.
Heather spent the summer of 2003 in Tokoyo, Japan,
modeling for World Top and this past summer returned from Milan, Italy, where
she modeled for 2Morrows Management. She has done modeling in runway, print and
commercial work through D&D Talent/Model Management and Reich, New York, in
New York City.
Heather is the daughter of Anthony and Michelle Baranowski,
Nanticoke, and the granddaughter of Edward and Adeline Baranowski, Nanticoke,
and Florence Levan and Fred Hunsinger, Berwick.
Heather has a sister, Sarah,
and two brothers, Tony and Joshua.
Celebrating Education Support Professionals' contributions
On Nov. 17, every school in the United States will celebrate Education
Support Professionals Day. In 2002, The Educational Support Personnel name was
changed to Education Support Professionals. This change acknowledges the major
contribution ESPs make to children and public education everyday.
We are involved
in the lives of children everyday, maybe not in the classroom but in our own special
and professional way. The new name reflects a growing pride in the valuable role
ESPs play throughout America's public schools. ESPs are often the first people
who our children encounter on a daily basis.
We are the people who help them
cross the street, provide them a nutritious meal, and keep their school buildings
clean and safe. ESPs are the "unsung heroes" and the "backbone"
of our School Districts.
Even though we are not educators, we educate in our
This is a good time to remember that ESPs such as secretaries, hall
monitors, school police, aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, maintenance workers,
cleaning personnel and crossing guards are an integral part of every school system.
Visit www.nea.org to learn more about Education
Support Professionals and the work they do.
James (J.D.) Verazin
Greater Nanticoke Area Educational Support Professionals Association
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pamela Urbanski
Christmas Fair at
Friends of the Mill Memorial Library, a group of dedicated
individuals who love and support their local library, will host their annual Christmas
Fair on Sunday, Nov. 14, from noon to 4 p.m. at the library on East Main Street.
There will be something for everyone.
"Most of our crafters and vendors
will have items geared toward the Christmas season," said Marion Diacheysn,
president of the Friends.
New this year will be a Chinese auction featuring
Italian, kitchen, Christmas, bathroom and children's theme baskets. A yearly favorite
is the grand raffle.
"Each crafter donates an item to be chanced off
at the end of the fair," Marion added. "You do not have to be present
to win. Other events include a book and bake sale, granny's attic and, of course,
delicious homemade food like haluski, wimpies, pizza, and soup. Our hope is that
we have a nice turnout so we can continue to support the library."
of C planning holiday parade
If you are like me, you're thinking, Christmas
But, in order for organizations to have successful events, the word
must get out early. That's why the Greater Nanticoke Area Chamber of Commerce
is asking local residents to think about being part of its annual Santa Claus
Holiday Parade, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 20.
Joseph Lach, parade
chairman, is inviting all community organizations and groups to participate by
walking, riding in an automobile or on a float. The parade will form at the Nanticoke
High School, proceed West on Ridge Street, Hanover to Green to Market and Market
to Main Street where it will conclude.
If you would like to participate, you
can call Joe at 287-4787 or the Chamber office at 735-6990 by Nov.15. You also
can return the forms issued through the mail.
Park steering committee to
Julie McMonagle from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC),
who along with area residents, has been working on the Greater Nanticoke Recreation
Park Project, announced that due to low attendance at the October steering committee
meeting, a Nov. 19 steering committee meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. at
the Plymouth Township Municipal Building.
"This will be the last meeting
until January and there are several issues that need to be discussed," Julie
They include the implementation plan for the park (which areas of the
park will be built first, second, etc.), and a date for a public meeting to present
the draft report and maps of the park. A discussion needs to take place about
the possibility of using some of the remaining grant money to purchase used skate
park equipment. This includes discussing who will do this and how the potential
skate park equipment would be maintained.
Steering committee members are asked
to make this important meeting a priority.
Night-at-Races at Pope John
Pope John Paul II School will hold its annual Night-at-the-Races
on Nov. 20 in the school cafeteria on South Hanover Street. A $10 donation goes
toward the purchase of a horse ticket. Your horse will then be entered in one
of many races with a chance to win $50. A $2 donation will be collected at the
door for those who have already purchased a horse and a $7 donation for those
who have not.
This donation includes a delicious all-you-can-eat dinner menu
prepared by Jack Rentko. Menu features London broil steak sandwiches, meatball
hoagies, clam chowder, sausage hoagies, ziti, spicy chicken tenders, potato and
noodle salad, cole slaw, baked beans, hot dogs, wimpies and dessert, as well as
also coffee, beer and soda. You must be 21-one years old to attend. Horse tickets
should be purchased by Nov. 12. For more information, you can call the school
at 735-7935 or Karen at 735-7476.
Council waits to fix damaged sewer line
over city finances causes members to put off accepting a bid
City council postponed accepting a bid for the replacement
of sewer lines on Standard Place at Wednesday night's council meeting until officials
could verify the balance of the sewer fund.
Councilman Bill Brown suggested
tabling the acceptance of the low bid of $244,416.50 by Ed Krasavage Construction
of Wyoming to make sure that the funds in the account were adequate.
aren't we aware of the finances of the city?" asked Councilman John Bushko.
The account contains more than $300,000, but Brown said he wanted
There hasn't been tins much development in the history of the city."
Among the many projects discussed by Leighton were the impending new street lights,
the former call center building on South Main Street, the riverfront park and
The infrastructure for the street lights is being put in place,
Leighton said. He hopes the lights, which have a historical design, will begin
being installed in early 2005, starting on South Franklin Street.
not like going to Home Depot and putting in a new lamp," said Leighton said.
"The engineering has started. You're going to see lighting in the downtown
in the very near future. My philosophy is to take our time and do it right the
first time. We're not going to make mistakes with the street lights. It's too
The city is also moving on finding a tenant for the former
call center, an 80,000-square foot building, he said.
"It's being marketed
aggressively and I get updates daily. We have to be sure there are no outstanding
bills to be paid.
Brown's motion to table the acceptance of the bid was seconded
by Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski, providing an emergency meeting to award the contract
be scheduled for Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
The motion was approved with only Bushko
voting against. "Let's face it. It will get lost in the shuffle. That sewer
will be broken until May, June."
Shouting from her seat in the audience,
Standard Place resident Sandy Sadowski protested the delay. "The stink's
not in your house."
The confusion about city finances began at last month's
meeting. A repaving project on Lincoln Avenue was postponed by Mayor John Toole
so that the city finances could be examined.
At Wednesday's meeting, city
Administrator Greg Gulick explained that funds earmarked for the project were
bits and pieces of 30-year-old grants that could not be used for that improvement.
The revelation came last week from a state auditor, Gulick said.
look like fools here," Bushko said of the confusion. "Everybody up here
was under the impression that we could use that money for any capital improvement
in the city."
In other business council:
Approved on second and final
reading an ordinance prohibiting placing trash out more than 24 hours before the
Voted not to raise the trash fee for 2005. The fee will remain
Approved the sale of a 2-acre property on Church Street to the Step-by-Step
program for $45,000. Step-by-Step plans to use the site to build a facility to
temporarily house up to five mentally disabled children.
Honey Pot's 'dear friend'
By STEVE MOCARSKYemail@example.com
TRIBUTE TO AN ACTIVIST
It's impossible to tell how
many of the 110 little ghosts and witches who paraded around the Honey Pot Playground
on Sunday ever heard of Jean Kutz.
But were it not for her efforts through
the years, the children of the city's Honey Pot section might not have had the
opportunity to enjoy using playground equipment in their section of town.
That's why state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and others gathered to dedicate
a new picnic table at the playground in Kutz's memory after the Halloween party.
City native Kutz died on May 31 after a lifetime of community service and activism.
But her dedication to the betterment of Honey Pot remains apparent through the
products of her efforts and the stories shared by her family, friends and members
of the Honey Pot Recreation Association.
After the Halloween party, association
members shared stories about Kutz while sitting around the picnic table that will
soon bear a plaque in Kutz's honor.
"We were working on (U.S. Rep.) Paul
Kanjorski's campaign. John (Yudichak) was 11, and he came up to me and Jean and
said, 'I just want you to know I'm going to be president of the United States
some day, and I want you to work on my campaign,"' said association treasurer
"Through the years, they were always supportive of
me and taught me valuable lessons about staying close to your roots and giving
something back to the community. That's what I think a great citizen is and what
our leaders should be. I aspire to have the same kind of work ethic that Jean
had," Yudichak said.
"(Kutz) was one of the first people to come
visit me after I was elected and asked for my help for the Honey Pot Playground,"
Yudichak said. "It was sad when she passed away. She was a dear friend and
we wanted to honor her in a special way. They came to me with idea of picnic table,
and I was glad to donate it just to recognize what a wonderful person she was,
always concerned about the welfare of the people in the community, particularly
Some local children remember Kutz well and are appreciative.
Dressed in a sorceress costume, 9-year-old Melanie McIntyre recalled her fondly.
"She was really kind. She used to talk to me a lot, ask me about school,"
said Melanie, whose bus stop was across the street from Kutz's home.
sister, Dolores Prushinski, was touched by the dedication ceremony and fondly
recalled her sister's service as a judge of elections, City Council member, playground
advocate and treasurer of the recreation association.
"The last check
she wrote was from her bed for this fence," Dolores Prushinski said, referring
to the recently installed fence surrounding the playground. "She said, 'Now
I can die peacefully.' "
takes heat over cash balance
By RON LIEBACK-rlieback@leadernet
Resident Sandy Sadowski questioned a $69,000 discrepancy in the balance in the
city's bank account at Wednesday night's council meeting.
Greg Gulick said he could only account for $210,115 out of the $280,000 in the
"I am waiting for the bank to give us the statements,"
Gulick said in response to Sadowski while sitting among 16 residents. "This
stuff takes time."
"Excuse me," she sarcastically said to Gulick.
"You give me the account number tomorrow and I will get you the balance in
The figures came into question after three bids were opened
for the pavement of Lincoln Avenue.
The lowest bid for the work was from Pikes
Creek Side Contractor, an affiliate of Reading Materials in Hunlock Creek, for
$149,311.15. Two other bids were presented, one for $258,150 by Slusser Brothers
of West Hazleton, the other for $169,178 from Lagana Supply of Hazleton.
John Toole said the city will wait until he gets an accurate picture of the city's
finances before making a decision on the construction.
"I think we should
do it because we should have $278,000 in our account," said Councilman John
Bushko. "We know the money is there, we just need track it down in the system."
Gulick also said the city needs to fix water damage at the Senior Center on North
Market street that occurred from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.
met with Gulick
to give the city an estimate of the structure's damage. "He
said it was $30,000 off the top of his head." Toole again said the city must
wait until the finances are in order.
At the end of the meeting, Toole said
a four-wheel-drive police vehicle was damaged while police were chasing a criminal
through a parking lot and wooded area. He said the cruiser is being repaired.
In other news:
-Representatives from Stepby-Step are looking to purchase 2
acres on Church Street to build a facility to house up to five mentally disabled
children. The children would be allowed to reside there for 30 days a year while
parents are busy or on vacation.-
-The cost of yearly garbage stickers will
rise from $175 to $180.-
Three soldiers from 109th injured in Iraq
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Three soldiers from
the 109th Field Artillery, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, were injured Friday
in an explosion near Baghdad, Iraq, local military officials confirmed yesterday.
"They were in convoy and their Humvee was hit with an IED (improvised explosive
device)," said Capt. Gerard Wrazien of the 109th Field Artillery Armory.
Wrazien identified the soldiers as Spec. Dave Miscavage, 20, White Haven; Spec.
Ryan Craig, 20, Swiftwater; and SSG. Patrick O'Boyle, 41, Mountain Top
of Service Battery, Kingston, sustained the most severe injuries, according to
During the incident, Miscavage was struck in the face with shrapnel,
which injured his left eye and broke his jaw, Wrazien said.
He was initially
treated at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, where surgery was performed
on his eye. The soldier was then transferred to a military hospital in Germany
to receive a second surgery on his eye, said 1st Sgt. Thomas Tinner of Service
"He's still under medical care, and I believe he's going to
be moved to Walter Reed," said Wrazien, referring to the Army hospital in
Sgt. Tinner said he believed Miscavage's return to the United
States would occur within a few days.
Wrazien said Miscavage's exact medical
status was unknown Wednesday, only adding that in civilian terms, it probably
wouldn't be considered critical condition.
He said military officials have
spoken with him and "he's in good spirits." His military future is uncertain,
Wrazien said Craig of Headquarters Battery, Kingston, and O'Boyle
of Bravo Battery, Nanticoke, were treated and released after the incident.
Craig took some shrapnel and sustained ruptured eardrums. O'Boyle also took shrapnel
to his face and received three stitches.
Local military officials said they
would know more about the incident and the injuries when a report is released.
Wrazien said initial speculation is that the IED was planted on the roadway.
He didn't give an exact location of where the explosion occurred, only confirming
the soldiers were en route to Baghdad.
Nanticoke Area Notes
By: Pam Urbanski
the queen and her court
votes have been tallied and the Greater Nanticoke
Area Senior High School students have elected a new Miss GNA and her court.
The young ladies, chosen by their peers, are well-rounded individuals who excel
in and out of the classroom. They were the center of attention at the annual homecoming
Mr. Thomas Kubasek, GNA Senior High principal, welcomed family
and friends to this year's festivities. "We are especially proud to have
this beautiful stadium to share with you," he said.
Miss GNA and her
court, dressed in beautiful gowns, arrived in classy automobiles donated and driven
by members of the community.
Kara Levandoski, is this year's homecoming queen.
She is the daughter of Philip and Janice Levandoski. In talking with Kara, you
can sense she is a talented senior with a great spirit. "I was very excited
when I was chosen as Miss GNA," Kara offered. "I feel very honored to
represent my class."
Kara has been vice president of her class since
the ninth grade. She is president of the National Honor Society, corresponding
secretary of the Student Council, photojournalist for the Nanticoke Tribune, and
a member of the Science Olympiad, the yearbook staff, the Youth Salute Program,
and is the National Society of High School Scholars. She is a member of the volleyball
and soccer teams. Kara plans on attending college to pursue a degree in the medical
In a few weeks, she will be in the running for Miss UNICO. Judges will
interview her and ask her questions about school and her involvement with community.
Thanksgiving weekend she will attend the Miss UNICO pageant where Miss UNICO will
Good luck, Kara!
Kara's court includes the following:
Kimberly Higgins, daughter of Mike and Patrice Higgins. She is a member of the
National Honor Society, Student Council and Who's Who Among High School Students.
She plans on attending Penn State University to pursue a career in the medical
Lauren Kuryloski is the daughter of Robert Kuryloski and Linda Wheeler.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, editor of the Trojan Tribune, vice
president of the French Club, and a member of the Science Olympiad, Who's Who
Among High School Students and the track and field team. She also plans to attend
college to pursue a career in medicine.
Lindsey Ludorf, daughter of David
and Cathy Ludorf, is a member of Student Council, Who's Who Among American School
Students and a 2003 winner of the USA National History and Government Award. She
plays softball and was a member of 2002 State Championship girls' softball team
and the track team.
Courtney Pientka is the daughter of Chet and Pam Pientka.
She is a member of Student Council and was selected to Who's Who Among High School
Students, was chosen for the Youth Salute, and Academically talented. She is co-captain
of the volleyball and basketball teams, and a member of the soccer team. She plans
to attend college and major in biology or engineering.
Following the ceremonies,
Kubasek thanked senior class advisors, Connie Larson and Alan Yendrzeiwski for
helping to coordinate the evening's events. A special thank you was given to the
U.S. Marine Corps for escorting the young ladies and their parents. Lee Wysocki
from Broadway Jewelers provided the crowns for Miss GNA and her court.
to these talented and gifted seniors. You represent your school and our community
well. And hats off to their parents for raising such fine individuals!
Tribe keeps customers happy
By RENITA FENNICKfirstname.lastname@example.org
are a lot of things Linda Prushinski likes about Mohegan Sun, a 240-acre gambling
resort near Uncasville, Conn.
The interesting American Indian decor, the unique
shops and boutiques, the variety of restaurants -they're all reasons the Nanticoke
woman is preparing for her 13th trip to the New England gambling destination.
But, if she had to pinpoint one thing it would be the casino's employees.
"It's the atmosphere of the people," Prushinski said. "The people
that work there are really nice, very friendly and knowledgeable about American
Indians. That's the big reason we love to go there."
On Sunday morning,
Prushinski and 159 other area people will board three buses bound for a two-day
trip to Mohegan Sun.
"When we read they were interested in Pocono Downs,
we were excited," she said. "I'm hoping they remodel it so that it has
the Indian motif like they have at the casino in Connecticut."
Indian influence in the design, architecture and decor of the 3-million-square-foot
facility is no gimmick: The casino is owned and operated by the Mohegan tribe
of Connecticut. It opened the gaming facility in 1996 on the tribe's 450-acre
reservation near the Thames River. The tribe, which has about 1,000 members, including
600 in Connecticut, received federal recognition in 1994.
Mohegan Sun is a
15-minute ride from Foxwoods Resort Casino, the world's largest single casino,
which is operated by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.
In the eight years since
opening, the Mohegan tribe facility has grown to the point where it holds an even
market share of the state's casino dollars, according to Brian Lyman, a Norwich
(Conn.) Bulletin reporter.
In September, the Mohegan Sun posted a win of $71.1
million on a handle of $873 million in slots revenue, Lyman said. The win is the
money the casino pulls out of the machine and the handle represents all of the
money that goes into the machine.
Lyman said the Mohegan tribe has been looking
to diversify its holdings so it's not surprising it has agreed to buy the Plains
The Mohegans have been investing in other tribal gaming
enterprises including the Menominee Indian Nation in Wisconsin and the Cowlitz
Nation in Washington state.
The Mohegan facility in Connecticut includes a
Casino of the Earth, Casino of the Sky, Shops at Mohegan Sun, a 10,000-seat arena
for sports and entertainment, a 300-seat cabaret, meeting and convention space
and a 1,200-room luxury hotel. Other amenities are a spa, fitness center and seven-story
waterfall. The 300,000-square-foot gaming area offers more than 6,000 slot machines,
table games and keno.
"There's a lot to do there and with the complete
mall inside the casino, a lot of shopping can be done," Prushinski said.
"When we go there, we play slots or we go out for dinner."
said she learns a lot about American Indian culture when she visits Mohegan Sun.
"If you ask a question, you're going to get an answer, sometimes more than
you want," she said.
The Mohegans, which means Wolf People, is the ancient
wolf clan of the Lenni Lenape Indians. Originally a part of the Pequot, the Mohegans
lived in the upper Hudson River Valley in New York near Lake Champlain. When the
Europeans arrived, the Mohegans relocated in Quinnehtucket, or Connecticut.
Nanticoke library gets windfall
Kalinowski , The Sunday Voice 10/10/2004
Bruce Conrad, a co-founder of
Cornerstone Technologies, recently donated all of his stock in the company to
the Mill Memorial Library, Nanticoke.
Conrad, who several years ago parted
with the company operated by relatives of Congressman Paul Kanjorski, said he
was just looking for "finality" with his approximately $150,000 worth
of shares in Cornerstone.
He also wanted to do a good deed for the library,
which like most libraries, is currently going through some tough times. It's a
library he's especially fond of because it helped him in the past, he said.
When Conrad was the director of planning and development in Carbon County, a post
he held for 16 years, the Dimmic Library in Jim Thorpe was destroyed by fire.
In addition to raising funds to rebuild and repair, he and the library reached
out to other regional libraries for donations of spare copies of books to restore
"I remember boxes and boxes coming in from the Mill Memorial
Library," said Conrad, recalling the kind gesture.
Conrad said he was
grappling with what to do with his stock in Cornerstone for some time when he
saw a newspaper article about the library having financial problems.
having a discussion with his wife, the 53-year-old decided to donate all his stock
to the library, which his son frequently uses as a student at Luzerne County Community
Recently, Conrad met with library officials to complete the transfer,
setting the stage for the library to obtain a large sum of money it would use
for operational expenses.
"I challenge them (Cornerstone) to match my
gift," Conrad said.
That statement, Conrad said, was not with any ill
will toward his former partners. He said he would just like to encourage them
to offer the library as much as they tried to give him for the stock.
(Cornerstone) have been struggling for ways to buy out my stock," Conrad
He said the current Cornerstone owners previously offered to give
him $150,000 for the stock.
However, he wanted an upfront, one-time sale and
they wanted to pay him in yearly installments, he said.
Conrad said he didn't
want to deal with the tax consequences with the installment plan, especially as
he is dealing with a serious health problem.
So, he decided to sign over all
the stock to the library, which won't have to pay taxes on it because they are
a not-for-profit entity.
"It's finality for me in terms of that stock
and how to get rid of it," Conrad concluded.
Bob Bray, vice president
of the board of the directors of the Mill Memorial Library, said the library board
would soon meet to determine how to proceed.
"There is still a lot of
work that has to be done," said Bray.
Bray said the library board would
perform "due diligence" in evaluating how much the stock is worth and
how it could be obtained.
If the stock is worth as much as Conrad said, the
money would go a long way at the library that recently had to revert to its trust
fund in the face of government library budget cuts, he said.
Bray said the
board would look to have a meeting with representatives at Cornerstone in the
Peter Kanjorski, CEO of Cornerstone and a nephew of Congressman
Kanjorski, when contacted this week, said it was the first he heard of the transaction.
He, therefore, said he was unable to comment about the stock.
he would look into the transaction and respond at a later date after he obtained
Nanticoke mayor supports new parkade
wants to raze downtown buildings for the project.
KEVIN OWEN KEARNEYemail@example.com
Dominick Ortolani has the backing of the city's top official in his quest to develop
a downtown parking garage project.
Ortolani approached Mayor John Toole and
city council at Wednesday night's meeting, saying he hoped they were in favor
of the project. Ortolani is working with the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority
on the project, which will be accompanied by the development of 20,000 square
feet of retail space.
Toole said he feels the project is worthwhile. No council
members voiced opposition or posed questions to Ortolani.
Ortolani said after
the meeting that some feasibility tests have been completed, and the next step
to be addressed is the redevelopment authority taking over several buildings,
some still in use, to make room for the proposed 260-space garage.
would really, really brighten up ... the city," he said, noting that of the
five or six buildings, most are vacant and in disrepair. He stressed that the
project is just in the infancy stage.
It could not be determined Wednesday
night if the redevelopment authority would consider taking over the buildings.
Plans for the garage have been in development for six months. The estimated cost
is estimated at $6.5 million, Ortolani said, adding he hopes to receive state
funding to help cover some of the costs.
The municipal authority has paired
$25,000 of its money with $25,000 from investors to conduct feasibility studies
and draft preliminary plans.
State Reps. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and Raphael
Musto, D-Pittston, said they would assist in Ortolani's quest for funding, according
to the developer. Ortolani added that he would look to obtain a private loan for
the retail phase of the project, which would be a public-private partnership located
in heart of downtown parking district.
Most of the parking spaces would serve
HealthNow, a New York-based Medicare claim-processing company that rents space
in the authority-owned Kanjorski Center. The company has about 200 employees.
Ortolani has done work in the city before, developing Lexington Village, a $12
million elderly housing complex.
Nanticoke could see
Money has been allocated for feasibility studies and some preliminary
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
a hard time parking that behemoth Buick downtown?
with the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority, developer Dominick Ortolani has
drafted plans for a 250- to 300-space downtown parking garage with 20,000 square
feet of retail space, said state Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
has worked on the plans for about six months, Yudichak said.
just the infancy of the project stages," he said. "There's a lot of
work to be done yet, but people are working very hard."
developed Lexington Village, a $12 million elderly-housing complex in the city,
could not be reached for comment.
The municipal authority has combined $25,000
of its own money with $25,000 from investors to conduct feasibility studies and
draft preliminary plans, Yudichak said.
The project would be a public-private
partnership located in the heart of the downtown, Yudichak said, adding that the
additional parking would serve employees of HealthNow. HealthNow is a New York-based
Medicare claim-processing company that rents space in the authority-owned Kanjorski
Center and employs about 200.
Exactly how the project would be funded has
yet to be determined, Yudichak said. "Money has to be secured, and private
investment has to be secured."
Mayor John Toole said he would like to
see a usage study done.
"In talking to some of the people from HealthNow,
they say they don't need the parking," Toole said.
Nanticoke Police over the limit on overtime
By: John N. Hemsley-CV correspondent
The City of Nanticoke's
Police department is runnin into trouble with overtime issues.
Bill Brown announced at a work session on Wednesday that the city's police department
has almost doubled its budgeted overtime this year, and the city might struggle
paying the force its wages.
"The city's running low on general fund money,"
The department is allotted $20,000 this year in overtime funding.
They have used $39,633 as of the end of September.
One possible solution to
the problem is hiring part-time police officers to take the load off of the force,
but there is an agreement between the city and the police department stating that
they can dispute that.
"They feel that (part-timers) create lawsuits,"
"Legally, you can't go out and hire part-timers," said
Mayor John Toole. "We'll lose in arbitration. The only thing to do is to
negotiate with them."
Brown said that most of the overtime is occurring
because it is being previously approved.
"Eighty percent of it is scheduled
overtime," said Brown. "We don't have the money coming in."
Toole said that the city has its hands tied behind its back because of circumstances
that caused the police department to be shorthanded.
"We had a policeman
out with heart and lung injuries, and there is another officer using up all of
his sick and personal days," said Toole.
Toole went on to say that their
wages will likely be paid by transferring money into the general fund.
board is not asking the mayor to perform miracles, but to investigate this issue
"We're just asking you to look into it," said Councilwoman
Yvonne Bozinski to Toole.
Flood: Everyone pulled together
from Sunday 9/26/2004 Times Leader
rains from tropical Hurricane Ivan, moved through our area last weekend, causing
flooding for area residents which, in turn, required extra manpower from city
Mayor John Toole and members of Nanticoke City Council met early
Saturday morning (Sept. 18) and authorized the Nanticoke City police, fire and
street department to call out extra manpower to help
with the flooding that
occurred from the Nanticoke Creek and the Susquehanna River in the area of West
Police Chief James Cheshinski had his work cut out for him.
Officers Kevin Grevera, Lee Makowski and Michael Roke were assigned to monitor
water levels at various locations. They also handled police calls with the remaining
officers in the department.
When our neighbors trom Plymouth Township needed
assistance, Cheshinski assigned Officers Bryan Kata and Brian Williams to the
township. "These officers went door-to-door to help notify residents that
they were advised to evacuate their homes."
assistant was called in to handle phone calls coming into the municipal building.
The fire department handled numerous calls," Chief Cheshinski explained.
"Fire department personnel were kept busy conducting 30 pumping operations,"
Fire Chief Michael Bohan added.
The areas receiving the most attention were
Union Street, the Hanover Section of Nanticoke, Ridge, Church and West and East
Main Streets. The fire department also assisted the staff at the Mill Memorial
Firefighters answered calls of downed power lines and trees due to
strong winds and rising water. When the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke bridge was shut
down until the river level subsided, the department maintained two traffic control
points - Lower Broadway at Weis Plaza and Walnut and Arch Streets.
Souci Parkway was closed and fire personnel were asked to re-route traffic onto
Kosciuszko Street to Middle Road. The Nanticoke City Street Department also assisted
with traffic control until the Luzerne County Road and Bridge Department reopened
City firefighters assisted the West Nanticoke Fire Department in
on Monday after floodwaters subsided.
knows it was the cooperation from all city departments that madethis difficult
time a little easier for area residents. "It was nice to see all the departments
working together," he said.
Breakfast at the
Doris Merrill and son Paul Merrill of Kingston recently ate
breakfast at the White House with first lady, Laura Bush and President George
Bush while visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Paul Merrill, Laura Bush, President Bush and Doris Merrill.
Closing the gap
By BONNIE ADAMSemail@example.com
EMPHASIS ON READING
Low reading test scores among fifth-graders prompted Greater
Nanticoke Area to seek a competitive grant to address the problem starting
The School District is the first in Luzerne County to implement
the five-year Reading First program, which focuses on coaching teachers so they
can help children become better readers.
The $174,963 annual grant GNA received
is based on the district's low fifth-grade test scores and the number of low-income
students in 2001-2002. GNA competed against other school districts with similar
GNA reading coordinator Thad Wadas said 42 percent of fifth-graders
at the former Lincoln Elementary and Kennedy Elementary and 47 percent at K.M.
Smith scored "below basic" proficiency on the Pennsylvania System of
School Assessment tests that academic year. Those schools each had 43 percent
PSSA test results are categorize as advanced, proficient,
basic or below-basic proficiency.
With Reading First, GNA students will receive
90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction daily. Wadas said that length
of time can be a challenge with kindergarten students.
He said the goal is
to take the reading strategies students learn and apply them in all subject areas.
Every student in kindergarten through third grade will be tested starting this
week to determine their reading skills.
New reading coach Carmela Michno has
taught at Nanticoke for 32 years. She said teaching reading has changed for the
better because of the research into children's varied needs.
provides scientific-based reading instruction in the early grades to help "eliminate
the reading deficit," according to the state Department of Education.
Michno will help with the staff-development portion of Reading First. She is visiting
classrooms and observing teachers' methods for helping students read. Michno said
teachers are receptive to being coached.
"We give them our undivided
attention," she said. "They all want to have success here."
Wadas said teachers have the answers to improve students' reading skills, but
the program helps them to focus their priorities.
"How can we as a district
improve what we're doing. It helps us look at ourselves in a constructive, not
a critical sense," he said.
Posted on Sun, Sep. 19,
Valley's dikes cause worries downriver
Twp. worry waters blocked by the levees upriver will find them.
the Susquehanna crests according to plan, Shickshinny residents could see 5 to
10 feet of water running down Main Street on this morning. It's a problem the
town has faced before, but the newly raised dikes in Wilkes-Barre have raised
fears as well.
Down the river from Wilkes-Barre, beyond the levees, citizens,
shop owners and emergency workers spent Saturday preparing for a disaster that
could leave roadways looking like rivers and homeowners looking for help.
Saturday morning, Jim Bach undertook the monumental task of emptying his first-floor
store, Edgar G. Scott Furniture, into a second-floor loft across Main Street.
Next door, at Miss Ashley's Beach House Preschool and Daycare, every item on the
lower level was taken upstairs.
Sofas and recliners, bureaus and carpets,
televisions and air conditioners and beds and mats: Each needed to be moved, because
Main Street was projected to be under water when the river crests.
emergency coordinator for Shickshinny, said a voluntary evacuation of Susquehanna
Avenue and Canal Street became mandatory at 4 p.m. Saturday.
floods at 31 feet without the new dikes in Wilkes-Barre. With them, who knows,"
Smith said, adding that anyone seeking shelter would be welcomed and helped at
Northwest Area High School, where community members and Red Cross volunteers were
getting things ready.
Smith said he did not believe the Shickshinny/Mocanaqua
Bridge would have to be closed.
Plymouth Township is the first community downriver
from where the dikes end, and people there were preparing for the worst. The fear
is water that in the past would have flooded Wilkes-Barre will find its way to
their town instead.
At 10 a.m. Plymouth Township officials and volunteers
got together to come up with a plan. One hour later, a voluntary evacuation of
low-lying areas began. Residents were bringing precious belongings to the town's
Municipal Building, nestled on a hill, and cots were being procured.
already have water in basements," Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Gale Conrad
said. "Most people here will have relatives or friends on higher ground to
go to if they need to evacuate, but this building will be ready for those who
Nanticoke doesn't face tremendous flooding problems, so Mayor
John Toole was in Plymouth Township to lend support.
"We've got firemen
and police officers that will be working overtime, and we're here to give you
any help you need," Toole told Conrad.
Plymouth Township has no police
officers of its own: Due to budget issues, the municipality was forced to dissolve
its department in December.
Toole attended a meeting of Luzerne County officials
at the county's EMA building at 7 a.m. Saturday, and said officials claimed communities
downriver wouldn't face additional problems because of the dikes.
see what they say after," Toole said. "There are also soft spots in
that dike, parts that aren't totally finished, so we'll see what happens."
In Mocanaqua, Tina Remensnyder juggled phones at the Conyngham Township Municipal
Building, coordinating volunteers offering help with residents needing it.
"The underpass will flood, and River Street will be under water by nightfall,"
Remensnyder said. "I could handle 36 feet, we've done that before. It's just
if it goes higher, who knows what will happen?"
Remensnyder said evacuees
were going to the municipal building and Polish Falcons Hall for shelter.
Have some damage? Here's what to do
are busy, while hardware stores are restocking shelves.
By DARRIN YOUKERfirstname.lastname@example.org
Ivan the Terrible make
a mess of your home? Here's some advice to clean up and keep safe:
The Department of Environmental Protection reminds homeowners to turn off all
gas and electricity when returning to flooded homes. Never stand in water when
touching appliances or main switches.
Any problems with electrical service
to a home should be handled by utility workers.
Anyone with questions
about appliances or meters that might have come into contact with water should
call PG Energy, which services about 157,000 customers in Northeastern and Central
Pennsylvania, said company spokeswoman Donna Gillis.
The utility has about
50 PG Energy workers in Hanover Township and Wilkes-Barre to handle calls.
Any food that has come in contact with floodwaters should be thrown
away, said Mark Carmon, DEP spokesman. Canned food can be salvaged as long as
it is sterilized and not punctured, but better to play it safe and throw it out.
Any partially defrosted frozen food should be used immediately or thrown away.
Throw out food left in a refrigerator that has been without power for more than
All cooking utensils and dishes should be cleaned. Drinking water
should be brought to a rolling boil if there is suspicion of contamination.
Toss out water-logged rugs and mattresses because contaminated material
will likely stay in them. Anything that comes in contact with floodwater should
be cleaned and disinfected. Floodwater picks up sewage and contamination as it
Furniture can be aired out, though fabric may be ruined.
and photographs can be salvaged if dried within 48 hours.
can be cleaned and tested by electricians.
Several cleaning companies in the
Wilkes-Barre area offer 24-hour service for homes with water damage. They are
listed in the phone book under Fire and Water Damage Restoration.
a manager for ServiceMaster, said his crews had responded to 74 calls since 2
Supplies:Local hardware and home improvement stores report a
shortage of pumps and wet-dry vacuums
Scott Quick, assistant manager of the
Home Depot in Wilkes-Barre, said the store ran out of pumps 30 minutes after the
doors opened at 6 a.m. Saturday. The store hoped to restock by day's end, he said.Shoppers
also were buying up patch materials to plug leaks in roofs and basement walls,
Lawrence Hager, manager of Main Hardware in Wilkes-Barre, said
homeowners from battered South Wilkes-Barre were coming in to buy anything that
would sop up water.
"It's crazy here," Hager said.
sold out twice, he said. Mops and squeegees were also in short supply, he said.
PG Energy: 829-3461 or 800-432-8017
Luzerne County Rumor
Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency: 820-4400
PPL Utilities: 800-342-5775
UGI Utilities Inc: 819-4844
Water Co.: 800-565-7292
Red Cross: 823-7161
Department of Environmental
Kennedy won't campaign for Kerry
in our area after all
The death of Mary Jo Kopechne comes up as a possible
By BRETT MARCYemail@example.com
Ted was coming. Now, he's not.
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy will stump for presidential
candidate John Kerry in Harrisburg and perhaps Pittsburgh tomorrow, but he won't
swing through Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A hinted stop in Nanticoke by the
liberal Massachusetts Democrat is off the itinerary, according to Kennedy's spokesman.
On Wednesday, local officials heard Kennedy would be in the area to campaign for
Kerry, the other Massachusetts senator. By midday, the visit had fizzled.
"Senator Kennedy will not be in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Friday,"
said Kerry campaign spokesman Mark Nevins, confirming a local visit had been discussed,
but not finalized.
Carole Lewis, director of the Luzerne County Area Agency
on Aging, said she received a phone call Wednesday morning from someone asking
permission for Kennedy to visit the Nanticoke Senior Center to discuss senior
health care issues.
"We were just asked if he could come and speak about
it, because he is a sitting official and health care is something our seniors
really care about," Lewis said. "But it wasn't long after that when
someone called back and said that it had been canceled."
Also, one source
close to the Kerry campaign said the Kennedy visit to Nanticoke was a "done
deal" as of Tuesday night.
The source, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, said the event was canceled by early Wednesday, soon after news reports
of the visit surfaced.
Although no reason has been given for the cancellation,
it's possible that Kennedy's ties to the area still haunt him.
forever entwined with the Wyoming Valley on July 18, 1969, when the car he was
driving plunged off Dike Bridge into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass. His
passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, a Forty Fort native and Democratic campaign
Those memories stick with area residents, said one source.
"I think people who were Kerry supporters told the campaign that they were
crazy to bring Kennedy here. If he comes, it's going to be a negative, black mark
Kerry's sister, Peggy Kerry, will visit Hanover Township
on Sunday as an attendee of Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas' annual
Fall Gathering at the Catholic War Veterans Grove.
disable Nanticoke municipal authority
Board that was negotiating a lease with
company that employs 200 lacks a quorum.
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
board members of the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority and the authority solicitor
unexpectedly tendered their resignations Monday at the end of what was otherwise
a routine authority meeting.
The authority is in the midst of renegotiating
an expired lease with HealthNow, a New York-based Medicare claim-processing company
that rents space in the authority-owned Kanjorski Center and employs about 200.
But the resignations, leaving the authority without a sufficient number of members
to conduct business, will not jeopardize HealthNow's presence in downtown Nanticoke,
said Mayor John Toole.
Toole, who met with a representative of HealthNow Tuesday
afternoon, said "they have no intention of moving."
Those who resigned,
Jim Zoller, Susan Saunders, board Chairman Mike Jezewski, and Solicitor Garry
Taroli said little about their motivations or failed to return calls, but an official
close to the authority said negotiations with HealthNow had levied an intense
amount of pressure on the five-member body of appointed officials.
happened last night is a matter of public record, and I don't have anything to
add to it," said Saunders, a seven-month member of the board.
municipal authority has a long history and it's not something that can be summarized
quickly. A lot of it was going on for some time."
Saunders made her decision
individually, she said, and was surprised by the resignations of her fellow board
U.S. Rep Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, said discussions between
the authority and the company had deteriorated. "There appeared to be little
or no communication between the authority and HealthNow."
Toole and Kanjorski
described the development as an opportunity to move negotiations forward.
"Today I feel optimistic about it and think this is probably the best thing
that could have happened," Toole said.
Toole, who was at the meeting
Monday, said he was surprised by the spate of resignations but said Jezewski had
seemed "burned out."
Joe Lach, of the Greater Nanticoke Chamber
of Commerce, was disheartened by the departure of the majority of the board.
"I don't know what this means for HealthNow and its position in the city,"
he said. "I'm concerned that we haven't been able to get over what hurdles
existed in making that relationship (between the city and the company) more comfortable
and quasi permanent."
Members of the authority board are appointed by
Nanticoke City Council. The next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29, and
Toole said a special meeting will be called if needed to appoint members before
the end of the month.
A faith-building experience in Nanticoke
The sounds of hammers and
circular saws filled the air on Ridge Street in Nanticoke on Saturday.
of volunteers, motivated by faith, pounded nails and poured concrete all day to
erect a house for the Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity
In honor of national
Building on Faith week, three shifts of volunteers put in a few extra hours on
Saturday at the Ridge Street site. The project, which began in May, will transform
a vacant lot into a home for Jamie Dean, his wife Amanda, and their children,
Hailey, 9, and Paige, 3.
Coordinator Morag Michael said the 1,200 square foot
ranch house should be completed by next spring depending on the weather.
Building on Faith week is a way to build partnerships with faith congregations
and invite them to join with us," she said, adding United Methodist churches
in Newport Township, Nanticoke, Trucksville and Centermoreland along with College
Misericordia are all lending a helping hand.
The project is sponsored by the
United Methodist Churches of the Wyoming Valley, which is funding the $45,000
cost of the house through donations.
Richard Spering, pastor of the First
United Methodist Church of Nanticoke and Newport, said the project gives all people,
regardless of race or nationality, an opportunity to join together for a good
As he took a break from shoveling gravel, Jamie Dean watched the activity
and said he and his wife thought it would be years before they could ever purchase
One of the requirements of Habitat for Humanity is the new homeowner
has to contribute "sweat equity" to the tune of 300 hours, plus 100
additional hours for each adult in the family.
"I really feel sense of
ownership knowing I helped to build my house," he said. "When they put
up the inside walls and the house began to take shape, it really hit that we're
going to have a home."
Although the money for the home is being raised
through donations, Dean will pay it back through a monthly mortgage. Michael added
another requirement for prospective homeowners is they have to live in sub-standard
housing and don't have the means to move out.
While work on Dean's house is
progressing, Michael said the churches are still seeking donations. Of the $45,000
goal, she said $25,000 has already been raised.
To make a donation or to volunteer,
call the Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity at 820-8002.
Air would be cool, but some pens will do
Nanticoke library needs help with
most of the basics
NOTE: Mill Memorial Library is one of five organizations featured this week in
a Times Leader series devoted to community service. The series encourages readers
to do good works - such as donating time or material goods - as a tribute to the
people killed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
By MARK E. JONESemail@example.com
air conditioner conked out at Mill Memorial Library earlier this year, making
a sticky situation even worse.
And not just for patrons in search of summer
Mill Memorial's decision makers are coping with a cash crunch, due
mostly to the state government's cutbacks in library funding and a stubborn stock
market. It certainly doesn't help matters when the AC goes kaput (replacement
cost estimated at $7,000 to $9,500) and a copy machine teeters on the brink ($900).
Library director Melissa Szafran Jones increasingly finds herself evaluating gadgets
and materials, asking, "Is it something we can do without for a while?"
Likewise, the library's board of directors tries to curb expenses while not leaving
patrons stuck in a bind.
"Our board is very conservative," said
treasurer Barbara Lach. "We treat every issue as if it were our own home;
we don't make rash decisions about making big repairs."
For the time
being, fans supplied by the library's friends group provide cool relief. And this
weekend the library will resume its Saturday hours, which had been dropped for
the summer. So, by all outward appearances, the place is operating as usual, catering
to the information whims of patrons ranging from toddlers to octogenarians.
Mill Memorial makes fact and fiction available mostly to Nanticoke and Newport
Township residents. Its self-defined "service area" encompasses a region
with 23,000 people, Jones said.
Gerald Brown, 37, who lives about two miles
from the library, said he has stopped here "just about every single day for
the past two years." He's been hunting for a job in the credit collections
business, using the library's Internet access. He also thumbs through "Forbes"
and "Fortune," watching for "companies on the rise," he said.
Michael Waugh, 6, visits the library for children's storytimes, much as his three
older siblings did, said mother Elaine Waugh. Recently, Michael and 14 other youngsters
listened to excerpts from "Summertime in the Big Woods" and "Toasting
Marshmallows," including a poem that proposed: "The best paths lead
you to where you didn't know you wanted to go."
Long, winding road
Mill Memorial got its start in the World War II era, thanks to the generosity
of Nanticoke resident Samantha J. Mill.
Upon her death in 1937, she bequeathed
her home and property on Main Street for what became a public park and library.
Of course, back then, there wasn't a building to house the books, so town officials
opted to temporarily put the collection in the former Ebenezer Presbyterian Church.
In September 1958, the city officially dedicated the present-day library - a stone-and-glass
structure built for about $200,000. "It's one of the high points of the community,"
board member Lach said. "Without Samantha Mill, what would we have had?"
Among other services, the 46-year-old Mill Memorial lets patrons peruse all sorts
of periodicals ("Astronomy" to "Rolling Stone") and leaves
area school students with few excuses for avoiding homework; it keeps copies of
every textbook on hand.
But Mill Memorial could do more, with some support.
When asked to supply a library wish list, director Jones concentrated on the kinds
of items that most families can afford. Copy paper, pens and pencils. Children's
craft supplies (paste, crayons and construction paper). And age-appropriate DVDs
and videotapes (PG-13 and below).
Garden items such as plants and benches
also would be helpful for a pending project in the courtyard, she said. Of course,
in the best-case scenario, bigger donors would chip in for those costly items:
an air-conditioning unit and a copier.
Regardless of whether readers decide
to contribute, count on the library to continue its mission of supporting lifelong
learning. Today's toddlers, Jones said, might grow up to be avid readers, distinguished
professionals, maybe even library benefactors.
"My mom took me to storytime
when I was 3," she said. "And look where I am now."
Memorial Library's Friends group will have its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept.
14 at the library, 495 E. Main St., Nanticoke. New members are urged to attend.
A yearly membership costs $6.
The group will soon schedule its Christmas festival,
an annual fund-raising event held in November. Watch for details.
only new or top-condition items. The library is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday
and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone: 735-3030. Visit the Mill Memorial
website at www.gnasd.com/millmemorial.htm
Guitar is octogenarian's fountain of youth
By BONNIE ADAMSfirstname.lastname@example.org
His 88-year-old fingers nimbly
work the strings of his guitar.
Carl Kemrite wears a cowboy hat and sits on
a bench outside the assisted-living facility where he lives. He strums and sings
- "Someday you'll want me to want you."
Inside his neat room, two photos of
country singer Alan Jackson in guitar-shaped frames hang on the wall above his
bed. Kemrite's guitar rests on a stand beside it.
"I have had a musical life,"
he said. He got his start taking violin lessons as a teen before he bought a cheap
guitar. Since then, he's been all country.
Kemrite and other musicians played
every weekend for farmer dances, now more commonly called square dances. They
performed at a pavilion at the former Sans Souci Park, at a grove in Hunlock Creek
and at Lake Silkworth.
"We were pretty well known," said Kemrite. He later
played with the Country Playboys band in area bars and parks.
make a few bucks," he said. Music was a passion rather than a full-time job for
A guitar has accompanied him everywhere, including his travels in the
Navy during World War II. He performed on his own weekly 15-minute radio show
at a Norfolk, Va., radio station.
He played guitar on an aircraft carrier,
an ammunition ship and a small submarine chaser on which he served. Kemrite was
a Navy radioman deciphering what he calls the "dits and dots" of Morse Code.
His love for playing the guitar has remained steady and he is thankful for hands
that are arthritis free. He removes the hearing aid in his left ear before he
plays "You Can't Break My Heart," a tune he wrote.
"It's been broken before,
broken by someone like you," he sings.
The Nanticoke native grew up on Ridge
Street in a family of 10 boys, of which he is the only one living. He has settled
into the Smith Health Care home where he has lived since February. Kemrite walks
in the rural area and has nurtured two tomato plants outside his window.
plays his guitar for fellow residents, but the man who has provided music for
so many, admits he has no talent for dancing. He used to perform at senior centers
and nursing homes and is still willing to do that, but he needs a ride.
like performing, entertaining old people."
Youth group asks Nanticoke council for help
By JON FOXemail@example.com
15 members of the Youth Task Force, part of the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task
Force, appealed to city council on Wednesday to help them find space for a recreational
The teenagers handed council a petition with roughly 600 names supporting
their request. The group has space available in St. John's Lutheran Church, but
it's open for only a few hours one day a week, said Don Williams, part of the
drug task force.
"About a year ago, the citizens of Nanticoke stepped out
of denial and realized we have a pretty serious drug problem," he said.
youth program offers children an alternative to drugs, but the program needs space,
Mayor John Toole suggested the former CVS building in downtown
Nanticoke might be available on an interim basis and made plans to explore the
"I have nothing but praise for these young people," he said. "In seven
years as mayor, this is the first group of young people I've seen come together."
In other business:
Residents of Pine Street in the Hanover section presented
a petition to council asking to investigate the actions of a resident who they
say films the neighborhood with hand-held cameras and has installed surveillance
cameras on his home.
"We talked to the chief (of police), but he said his
hands are tied and residents are tired of it," said Dan Drury.
the purchase of back hoe for sewer work at the cost of $74,308.
the expenditure of $2,500 to repair the all-wheel steering mechanism on the fire
department's ladder truck.
Municipalities wary of county collecting its own taxes
By James Conmy
-Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
officials from six local communities are concerned a Luzerne County proposal to
take back its property tax collection could make residents' lives more inconvenient.
Under the proposal, the county would collect its own property taxes from Hazleton,
Nanticoke and Pittston cities, Kingston and Wilkes-Barre townships and the Municipality
of Kingston. The proposal would save the county approximately $148,000.
six communities would then no longer collect the county's property taxes, which
they currently do.
Commissioners held a meeting with representatives of the
communities Monday morning to hear their concerns.
According to Public Information
Officer Kathy Bozinski the officials' primary concern is the added level of responsibility
placed on residents. Instead of coming in person to pay or sending their tax bills
to one place, under the proposal, they would have to pay in person or mail one
tax bill to the county and another to their community.
Officials on hand were
Chris Yankovich, Eddie O'Neill, Dave Jenkins, Carl Goodwin and Jeff Box, Kingston
Township; Mayor John Toole, Nanticoke; Solicitor Harry Mattern, Administrator
Paul Keating and Rosalie Pinkoski, Kingston Municipality and Manager Michael Revitt,
"They felt this can be a disconcerting change for the
residents, who are primarily elderly," Bozinski said of the officials' concern.
Goodwin also asked if the decision to collect the six communities had anything
to do with their political party make up. He said three of the communities, Kingston
Municipality, Kingston and Wilkes-Barre townships, are predominantly Republican.
Bozinski said commissioners assured Goodwin that was not the case.
the inconvenience issue, according to Deputy Treasurer Dominick DePolo, in the
City of Wilkes-Barre, 98 percent of residents pay taxes by mail, there have been
few problems and a minimal increase in traffic of people physically paying in
DePolo also said the treasurer's office can handle the increased collection
by adding only two per-diem employees at a small expense.
Debra McNulty, tax
collection administrator from treasurer's office, also explained how the billing
cycle works and what the relationship would be between the communities and the
county, under the proposal.
The issue only was discussed at a Monday morning
meeting, it will not be voted on for at least a few weeks.
Bozinski said one
of the commissioners biggest concerns is how the new system would impact the budget
process of these particular municipalities.
Chairman Greg Skrepenak called
the meeting positive and set a timetable for a decision to be made.
most part they have issued their concerns, primarily the convenience issue, saying
it is a sufficient system that has been in place for a long time and they are
comfortable with it," Skrepenak said. "We need to reanalyze the situation, go
through the numbers, look at every thing and make a decision some time in the
Skrepenak admitted the decision needs to be made soon not only
for the county's budgeting purposes, but for the six communities as well. The
Municipality of Kingston begins its budget process in October and Skrepenak acknowledged
a determination needs to be made by then.
Experience proves a good one in a Nanticoke neighborhood
By LANE FILLERfirstname.lastname@example.org
treat a dog better than those people," Mike Bernatovich remembers a resident stating
when Step-By-Step proposed a community home for the mentally ill and disabled
in the city.
Bernatovich, Step-By-Step's northeast regional director, was
shocked at the venom - still is eight years later. He feels there's no cause for
Yet residents have been alarmed, repeatedly, when homes for the mentally
ill and disabled have been proposed in their neighborhoods, and have fought zoning
variances that would permit the facilities.
And many residents opposed Step-By-Step
when it proposed a community home at South Market and Washington streets to house
But Step-By-Step prevailed, and recently interviewed neighbors
don't have a single problem with the facility or its residents.
In what might
be a bit of revisionist history, no one could recall opposing the home way back
"It's wonderful, and it's improved the neighborhood," said Joan
Machinchick, who owns the neighboring property. "They're nice, they all speak
to us, they never make any trouble, and the house and landscaping are immaculate."
"They love my dog," added daughter Ann Gensel.
Norman Duzinski sat on his
porch smoking a cigarette, and glanced across the street at the neat home that
houses Step-By-Step clients, several of whom were also sitting on their individual
porches, taking in the sunny day from their white rocking chairs.
know, I guess they're a little slow or retarded, but they're no trouble at all,
those people," Duzinski said. "They sit on the porch, smoke, take walks around
the neighborhood, and there's always somebody over there trimming bushes or cutting
grass. They're always real nice."
Often one argument against such homes in
residential areas is the safety of the children who live there.
blond granddaughter, Tiffany, 3, played away on the porch, and her grandparents
have no special fears for her safety.
Ora Evans also lives across the street
from the facility. Getting on in years, white-haired and not too fleet of foot,
Evans might fit one profile of a resident who could fear living near the mentally
disabled. But she has no such qualms.
"They're fine neighbors," Evans said.
"I talk to them all the time, they go on trips and I ask them if they had fun.
I have no complaints."
"It's an improvement and they're actually good neighbors,"
said John Butchko, owner of Butchko's Garage, which sits catty-corner to the home.
"It was an empty lot, and now it's a real good-looking place."
makes the community home stand out, according to Machinchick, is the positives.
"There are problems with noise and normal troubles from other houses here, just
not that one. It's really the quietest place in the neighborhood, and one of the
best-maintained. It's probably raising property values."
Veteran competes in Annual National Veteran Golden Age Games
a Navy veteran from Nanticoke competed in the 18th annual National Veteran Golden
Age Games in Fresno, Calif.
Merrill was awarded gold medals in wheelchair
bowling, 25-yard backstroke swim and the 50-yeard freestyle swim. She is qualified
for competition in the National Senior Games.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
TIMES LEADER-CLARK VAN ORDEN
art life got started in Cleveland, Ohio, where she and her four siblings were
taken to museums and symphonies. Obaza, a Nanticoke resident, says her parents
were a strong influence on her artistic start.
Despite taking art lessons
in grade school and later in high school, Obaza gave up her artistic life for
domestic bliss. As a student at Indiana University, she met her husband, David,
a Nanticoke native. At the time, the two were studying dental technology. Eventually
the study of teeth lead to marriage and a family.
After their studies, Obazas
moved to Western Pennsylvania where they ran a dental business. When David Obaza's
father died, the family left Johnstown and moved to Nanticoke in the early 1980s.
"It was difficult being here," says Obaza, 45, a mother of three and a member
of the Wyoming Valley Art League and the Colored Pencil Society of America. "The
art career started as a prayer to find something."
Someone told her to pursue
art. So she picked up some colored pencils and learned to find pleasure in the
"It was cheap," she says. "It was easy."
Obaza moved on to take
formal lessons with local artist Nina Davidowitz and was encouraged enough to
study art at Luzerne County Community College in the early 1990s. She also studies
with Nanticoke artist Tony Waichulis and was involved with art shows in New York.
A decade ago, though, she didn't have a lot of confidence in her artistic abilities.
That has changed significantly, she says. Now one of her goals is to explore acrylic
and mixed mediums and to continue to push her creativity and herself as an artist.
Ultimately, her art career, particularly doing portraits, "brings me a lot of
pleasure. It really does," she says. "I sometimes take for granted how easy it
comes. I think anytime you purse something afraid of you grow somehow."
days she and her husband run Nantego Dental Prosthetics of Pittston. Meanwhile,
Obaza continues to do portraiture on a commission basis and she coordinates a
weekly life-drawing class for the art league.
And perhaps as important, she
says she realizes she's not alone. The area's art world is full of talented people.
And Obaza says she's truly delighted to know many people in the local scene.
What inspires her: "I seem to be especially good at portraiture," she says. "I
try to bring out what is unique to them. I wonder about them."
She says people
have said her work has spiritual and emotional touches.
"I want to do more
than just bring out the outward person. I want to bring out the inward person."
Advice to aspiring artists: "If it's something you love to do just get all the
training you can," Obaza says. "Follow your heart. Follow your inspiration. Success
might not be what you think, but it's worth pursuing."
If you want to start
in art, Obaza recommends trying colored pencils first because supplies are inexpensive.
Iraq mortar attack injures local soldier
Pvt. Eric Zagata of Bravo Battery
loses part of a finger, his family says.
By KEVIN OWEN KEARNEYemail@example.com
22-year-old Wilkes-Barre newlywed serving in Iraq was injured in a mortar attack
Thursday, his wife and father said.
Pvt. Eric Zagata of the 109th Field Artillery's
Bravo Battery, based in Nanticoke, was struck in the lower back with a piece of
shrapnel and had part of his left ring finger amputated, said his wife, Tara.
The couple will celebrate their one-year anniversary in September.
who was part of a military convoy near Camp Anaconda when the attack occurred,
suffered additional injuries to the left side of his body, said his wife, who
spoke with the Department of Defense in Harrisburg on Thursday afternoon.
Military officials could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
said she was stunned when informed of her husband's injuries. "It was the worst
feeling I've ever had. I don't even know how to (explain it)."
She said she
spoke with her husband after the attack, which he tried to downplay in an attempt
to comfort her. He didn't say much, other than he'd be "coming home soon," Tara
Eric also spoke with his father, Leonard, of Hunlock Township.
upset," Leonard Zagata said. "I could tell by his voice. He said he hopes to get
home. I told him I hope so too."
He said Eric joined the military shortly
after graduating from Northwest Area High School four years ago. The battery members
have been in Iraq since the unit was activated late last year.
said her husband is being treated at a hospital in Ballud, Iraq. He will eventually
be transferred to Germany, and his wife will take a military plane there to see
Leonard Zagata said Eric had come under attack before. While assisting
police in Sadr a few months ago, he barely came out unscathed in a mortar assault,
his father said.
"It was a close call," the elder Zagata said.
A true inspiration
By Debby Higgins , The Sunday Voice
Doris Merrill she's a champion. She'll only respond by complimenting others for
The retired Greater Nanticoke
Area schoolteacher refuses to take credit for winning numerous gold and silver
medals in competitions held throughout the United States.
There is no contest
that Merrill most certainly is a champion, despite the fact that she suffers from
multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions that keep her in a wheelchair.
Over the past six years, Merrill has competed in wheel chair competitive events
that even she never thought she could do.
The Nanticoke native's success recently
got her invited to attend a breakfast with President George W. Bush and First
Lady Laura Bush, famous actors Jack Palance, Tom Hanks and Ernest Borgnine and
a host of other notable Americans in Washington, D.C. for the unveiling of the
World War II memorial.
But, Merrill, a Navy veteran of World War II, humble
as always, refuses to acknowledge she's a winner.
"We disagree. We think Doris
is our personal winner who represents all veterans from our area. We know she's
special,'' said Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center public affairs officer
Merrill recently returned from her latest round of wheelchair
games where she earned four more gold medals.
"I really can't tell you how
many I've won. I just don't count them because the number isn't important.What
is important is representing our veterans,'' Merrill said.
The seemingly boundless
energy she exhudes serves to spur others to help them realize their potential,
explained VA Medical Center director Rowland Moore.
"Doris is an inspiration
to all of us. Despite her physical challenges she continues to achieve great accomplishments.
She is our champion from Wilkes-Barre,'' Moore said.
Merrill has competed
throughout the United States and Puerto Rico in wheelchair games ranging from
ramp bowling to 50-meter freestyle swimming to motorized slalom racing.
with her son Pepper, Merrill competes in games sponsored by the Eastern Paralyzed
Veterans, Golden Age Games, the United Spinal Association of America and others.
"I've been competing for about six years and I can't begin to tell you how much
I enjoy it. I wish more handicapped veterans from our area would join us in the
competitions,'' she said.
Donations sponsored through the VA Medical Center
help Merrill finance her traveling expenses for the competitions, explained Kim
Hoge, VA Medical Center chief of volunteer services.
"We have an excellent
sponsorship program and very generous donors who help Doris pay her expenses so
she can compete,'' Hoge said.
Hoge said Merrill is the only veteran from our
local VA medical center to compete in these kinds of wheelchair games.
wish we had more people to represent our area,'' Hoge said.
She also volunteers
her time at the medical center to help brighten the day for hospitalized veterans.
Dedicated fellow volunteer Nino Sartini said Merrill is an asset the medical center
can't do without.
"Doris is our shining star. She's our own personal winner
who gives all handicapped veterans hope,'' Sartini said.
"Everyone in the
VA inspires me to go out there and compete. I didn't believe I could do it, but
I found out I could. Winning gold medals isn't important. Showing others they
can accomplish great things is,'' Merrill said.
Merrill also is a volunteer
with Pennsylvania Association of Retired Teachers, where she also served as past
"Doris is a big asset for our veterans in our nursing home and
throughout the entire hospital. We would hope others would follow her lead,''
Merrill will represent our area's veterans in 2005 in Pittsburgh
when she competes in the United Spinal Association Games.
"My life has been
surreal. Just incredible. I'm having a wonderful time,'' she said.
said she would encourage anyone who would like to help her keep up the spirits
of our veterans at the VA Medical Center to please call 821-7237 to find out more.
"Doris is an inspiration to all our veterans and to our volunteer service,'' Hoge
GNA might need kindergarten help
By KRISTIN KILE-Times Leader Correspondent
Tony Perrone at Thursday's school board meeting said enrollment is "sky high"
in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District,
especially in kindergarten.
Because of the increased enrollment, another kindergarten
teacher might have to be hired, he said.
There are five kindergarten classes
at the K.M. Smith Elementary school, filled with 29 students each. Officials do
not know exactly how many students there will be because of students moving in
and out of the district.|
Perrone said he would like to see no more than 25
children in a class. "During the first two weeks we'll check enrollment and if
it stays as it is, we'll have to hire another teacher."
With the addition
of another teacher, additional classroom space is needed. Officials are not worried
because they say there is enough space to add another class.
Victims of a tire-slashing spree earlier this week are getting help from a
pair of local businesses.
Radio station WNAK and
Kost Tire & Muffler are working together to provide free tires to the
On Monday, the tires on 22 vehicles parked on East Main, Walnut,
Church and East Noble streets were slashed, causing about $2,000 worth of damage,
said Nanticoke police Chief Jim Cheshinski and Detective Bill Shultz.
McQuillin, general manager of the radio station, said it wanted to help the victims
because of the high cost of tires, about $80 for each one. "To the average family,
that can represent a significant cost just to get their vehicles back on the road."
Kost owner Erwin Kost said his business is "glad to help and make short order
of this problem."
To get free tires, victims will need to give Kost a copy
of the police report, proof of residency and vehicle ownership. Police usually
charge for copies of reports, but are not doing so in this case.
be reached at 735-0730, and Kost can be reached at 586-3078.
No one has been
charged in the case and police urge anyone with any information to contact the
Nanticoke City Police Department at 735-2200 or send us anonymous email
Nanticoke tire slashers leave owners flat
By JON FOX - jfoxrq~leadernet
was a morning of vandalism and inconvenience.
"I work at Wegmans at 10 o'clock,
and I had to change three tires before I went to work," Mark Baron said Tuesday.
On Monday morning, the Baron household's three vehicles each had a punctured tire
- as if Mondays weren't bad enough already.
"It was an interesting morning,"
Baron said with deadpan delivery.
Residents living on a series of streets
crisscrossing downtown Nanticoke woke to at least 20 vehicles leaning to the left
or right on flat tires. Police estimate total damages at $2,000.
is not an isolated incident, said Detective William Shultz of the Nanticoke Police
Department. "We've had incidents with BB guns and tire-slashings in the past."
Residents on Tuesday called in about two more punctured tires from Monday. Shultz
said the police department has no leads. He suspects they're looking for "teenagers
on a rampage."
If Rosemary Baron, Mark Baron's mother, was angry Monday morning,
the emotion had ebbed into placid resignation by Tuesday afternoon. She sat on
the steps of her home in the 400 block of South Walnut Street as her son pulled
a flat tire from the trunk of his car.
"It's just money out of your pocket
you don't have," she said.
The family's two dogs, kenneled at night, failed
to issue a single bark Sunday night. 'We said where were you when we needed you?"
she said of the pair of dogs, seemingly more amused than annoyed.
Bernadine Pietrzyk had already gotten her tires replaced. She woke up to find
two tires ruined.
"When you have one car, you have to do it immediately."
A South Walnut Street resident for 28 years, she said this is the first time she's
experience vandalism of this nature.
"If they stole something, maybe they
could use it, but what good is slashing a tire other than doing something rotten?"
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Nanticoke City Police Department
at 735-2200 or send us anonymous email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A partnership for the future
By Tim Gulla , The Sunday Voice
the South Valley section of Luzerne County wants to grow, state Rep. John Yudichak
doesn't think it can afford to wait for a "grand slam" project that would change
the economy overnight.
"There have been those who have been looking for the
home run," he said. "We have to hit some singles, some doubles and get people
moving around the bases."
But the sister communities of Nanticoke City, Plymouth
Township and Newport Township have never had the finances to field a team capable
of doing this. With Yudichak's support, however, a group of local businessmen
is at least trying to change the way the three communities manage the game.
Funded with a $20,000 start-up grant acquired by Yudichak, the new South Valley
Partnership is a not-for-profit corporation created to "generate strategies for
sustainable regional growth."
The partnership was founded on a belief that
the communities in the South Valley region have been unable to attract private
and public funding for development due to a lack of strategic planning. Planning
is even more important today, Yudichak said, given the way the state will be doling
out economic development dollars to communities that have projects waiting to
Yet this isn't always easy for towns, by themselves, to do.
aren't going to spend $100,000 on a comprehensive plan when there's $200,000 of
road work to do," Yudichak concedes.
Members of the South Valley Partnership
say they're not stepping on any toes and not offering any criticism.
no shortage of well-intentioned people in the South Valley, said Attorney Joseph
Lach, secretary of the new corporation. What was lacking, he said, was someone
to help guide the communities in regional development.
And just as they're
trying to tackle the future in a constructive way, none of the board members from
the South Valley Partnership, who sat down with The Sunday Voice on Thursday,
professed to know all the answers to the challenges of developing the South Valley.
That's why their goal is to leverage private funding to hire the services of a
consultant to help the three communities formulate plans for the future.
have no interest in ownership or in taking credit for anything that happens,"
Lach said. "Our goal is to help everyone else do what they want to do."
Rushton, president of the South Valley Partnership and owner of Randy's Paints
in Wilkes-Barre, said his involvement in the project is simple. Born and raised
in Nanticoke and now living in Newport Township, Rushton said he wants to see
the communities grow.
For the project to be a success, the group believes,
the three communities and all of the stakeholders have to provide input. The end
result of the work won't be mandates to the communities, they said, but agreed
upon goals and common vision.
Elected officials from the three communities
have already signed off on the idea and a stakeholders meeting is planned for
Aug. 11, in which the South Valley Partnership board hopes to get everyone involved.
Board members and Yudichak say regional planning is vital, especially in light
of the planned construction of the South Valley Parkway, a four-lane highway that
will branch off from Route 29 and open up thousands of acres of land, much of
it in Newport Township, for development.
No longer just an idea, the parkway
is in the final design stage and PennDOT plans to unveil those plans within the
next few weeks, according to Dave Krisanda, a PennDOT spokesman. Construction
is expected to start in 2006 or 2007 and PennDOT already has $27 million budgeted
in the first eight-years of the project.
Other economic development officials
welcome the company the South Valley Partnership will provide.
support what they're doing," said Steve Barrouk, president and CEO of the Greater
Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry. The chamber plans to offer whatever
support it can to the group.
"We need more people pulling in the same direction
in this community and welcome their participation because I believe a good part
of the future of the Wyoming Valley will be in a southerly direction," Barrouk
The South Valley Parkway should open up former coal land, now owned
by Earth Conservancy, to development.
"They have a unique opportunity to really
create a new community there," Barrouk said.
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole said
he, too, supports the efforts of the South Valley Partnership.
to have somebody out there looking for private capital," he said.
believes in a regional approach and conceded he would like to see a merger of
the communities, although he doesn't know if that will ever happen.
has the land and they have the space to expand, where in Nanticoke, we're sort
of landlocked," he said.
Yet Nanticoke, as the larger community in terms of
population, might have a greater ability to land funding for projects.
is not the idea behind the South Valley Partnership, however.
in the South Valley Partnership know they have a long way to go. But they say
they've already gotten further in the past six months than they ever imagined.
Already, they said, other business people are approaching them with ideas and
potential development projects.
"We realize the opportunities are there,"
The idle Dan Flood Industrial Park, for instance, could become
a very marketable property if funding comes through to restore rail service in
that area. A rail spur would put the entrance to the park only 300 yards from
the main rail line from New York to Harrisburg.
Nowhere else along the route,
the board members believe, is there a more accessible piece of property for development.
None of this is "pie in the sky," the board members say. But of course, they understand
it's going to take funding to get some of these ideas off the ground.
committed to finding the funding one way or another," Rushton said. "That won't
be the issue that stops this from happening."
Nanticoke ready for fresh start
By Elizabeth Skrapits , The Sunday
State officials have a message for Nanticoke City: get your finances
fixed and then we'll talk funding.
One of the things Gov. Ed Rendell has said
is that the state will not invest any more money in Nanticoke until the city "gets
its financial house in order," according to State Rep. John Yudichak.
Rendell recently announced funding for projects in Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, and
Hazleton, some people wondered if Nanticoke was being ignored.
"In my six
years in office, we secured over $600,000 for projects in Nanticoke. That's substantial.
Nanticoke is not being shortchanged," Yudichak said. "But the governor is right
- you have to have your financial house in order, and you have to have a plan.
I don't think that's unreasonable."
In 1999, Yudichak helped the city secure
a $100,000 community revitalization grant from the Department of Community and
Economic Development for a new public works department garage.
had until 2001 to execute the grant, and had the opportunity to amend it if they
needed more time.
But city officials failed to do that, and lost the grant,
Yudichak said, adding that his office tried to urge the city to expend the money
in a timely fashion, but the city did not.
"It's the only grant to my knowledge
in my legislative district that had to be turned back because the guidelines weren't
followed," Yudichak said.
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole said the city could not
have afforded the project anyway.
"What happened was there wasn't enough money
to build a garage, and we didn't have the extra funding, or a place to put it,"
Yudichak said he does not want to dwell on the city's past mistakes,
but instead wants to look to the future.
"We're going to get that roadmap
to get our fiscal house in order," he said, noting that it is being drawn up thanks
to an apolitical regional effort called the South Valley Partnership, made up
of representatives from Nanticoke, Newport Township, and Plymouth Township.
Its first goal is to put together a comprehensive land use and community development
Its specific mission is to plan for community development, so it's unique
in that it has a very focused mission and it is trying to work with these three
communities for sustainable growth," Yudichak said of the partnership.
plans are necessary, but they cost money, and many municipalities don't have the
funds. Yudichak said his office has secured a $20,000 state grant, and the partnership
will raise the rest of the money itself.
Another way the city is getting its
fiscal house in order is by having the state compile a report and make recommendations.
Yudichak said DCED's Governor's Center for Local Government Services has been
brought in, at the request of Nanticoke officials, to get a handle on what the
city's financial situation is.
City administrator Greg Gulick said the report
is tentatively scheduled for release Aug. 17, and the state is still collecting
"I hope things aren't as bad as some people have suggested, but
they have to be honest with the residents," Yudichak said. "They can't put their
heads in the sand and say 'next year we'll deal with the deficit.'"
realizes all too well Yudichak's warning that the city will have to make some
tough decisions. He said the city has been "sort of cutting down every year, sort
of downsizing, but trying not to affect any services."
The hardest thing for
city officials to do is manage a budget, with costs going up - particularly for
healthcare - and tax revenue staying stagnant.
Toole said when he first took
office, the city had a spending deficit of over $300,000.
The 2003 audit has
not been done, but Toole said, "Last time I spoke to the accountant, he thought
it would be about $120,000 or $130,000 - he said it would be a lot better this
Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-11), said he is aware of some of the
circumstances Nanticoke is facing, but said it is important to stop criticizing
the city and instead offer assistance.
"There isn't any question that Nanticoke
has to get its house in order, and they are going to do that," he said.
and Kanjorski both admitted there were some internal issues to be dealt with,
such as getting city officials to work together and stop infighting that can obstruct
"I'm open to get together with city officials and municipal authority
officials," Kanjorski said. "I don't want to say they've been at loggerheads,
but they certainly have not been keeping each other informed, and keeping me informed."
Over a period of several years now, there have been federal grants exceeding $3
or $4 million, including Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation
grants, that are still waiting for Nanticoke to decide how to use, Kanjorski said.
He added he thinks Rendell is "pleasantly disposed" to assist funding in Nanticoke.
There have already been some major projects using both government and private
funds underway in the city, Yudichak and Kanjorski pointed out, and both emphasized
their willingness to help Nanticoke officials as much as possible.
Nanticoke has a great deal of opportunity, but we have to get a better focus,"
Kanjorski said. "From what I know, they certainly have the wherewithal to make
some major infrastructure improvements. I just want to make sure they get the
best leverage to utilize state and federal funds."
Three towns collaborate on futures
Business leaders want a development
plan for the city and Newport and Plymouth townships.
By JON FOXemail@example.com
South Valley Partnership, a group of local business people, is hoping Nanticoke,
Newport Township and Plymouth Township can move out of their economic doldrums
and enjoy a bit of redevelopment.
The newly formed nonprofit organization
plans to draft a regional development plan, which the three municipalities do
The group has entered into an agreement with all three municipalities,
secured $20,000 in state funding, and is ready to move forward.
a conference table at state Rep. John Yudichak's Nanticoke office, Joe Lach, the
partnership's secretary and solicitor for struggling Plymouth Township, described
the aim of the organization.
The governments of the three municipalities,
absorbed in the daily struggle of running operations on limited budgets, often
can't step back far enough to attack the larger goal of local revitalization.
"It's hard to plan the war when you're fighting the battle," Lach said.
D-Nanticoke, who has worked closely with Lach and the other board members, stressed
the importance of a plan when dealing with state economic funding. "It's the first
time on a regional basis that we're going to try and tackle one of the biggest
deficiencies which is a lack of a land-use plan."
In working with the governor's
office, Yudichak said securing state funding for local projects is often contingent
on how development fits into a larger economic road map.
"It is certainly
apparent from the Rendell administration that they want a plan in place."
In the past, local governments such as Nanticoke's have sought funding for piecemeal
projects, he said. "It had been 'find us some grant money and we'll put our thumb
in the dike."'
Consulting with a Wilkes-Barre-based urban planning firm, the
organization plans to spend August meeting with business owners and community
leaders to begin working toward the development of a comprehensive plan.
the coming months, members of the group will meet with people Yudichak referred
to as the "stakeholders" in the three communities and begin identifying areas
ready for development.
"We're going to unleash the professionals on the communities,"
Nanticoke unsure of size of city's deficit
By Elizabeth Skrapits ,
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
finances were once again an issue at Wednesday night's Nanticoke council meeting.
Hank Marks of the Nanticoke Taxpayers Forum asked council whether anybody had
been sent in by the state to study the city's financial situation.
of Community and Economic Development has been doing a financial study of the
city, and will make recommendations.
Administrator Greg Gulick said the tentative
date for the state to submit a report is Aug. 17, and that he is still being asked
for financial information.
"I don't think we're in the category of Plymouth
Township," Mayor John Toole said, referring to DCED's recent granting of distressed
municipality status to the township.
Marks pointed out that the fire and police
departments were the largest part of the budget, which Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski
She said of the city's approximately $3 million budget, $1.2 goes
to the 23 members of the fire and police departments, mainly for benefits. Toole
said $100,000 of that was for retirement, including buyback of accumulated sick
Marks said when the contracts are negotiated, the city should start
looking for concessions, noting, "Years ago, wages weren't very good, so they
gave benefits. Now wages are good."
Resident Mike Stachowiak asked council
what the city's projected deficit was.
The 2003 audit has not been received,
but Toole said, "I'm hearing everything from $130,000 to $240,000."
has made cuts to the police department and has cut down on roadwork and fire department
overtime, according to Bozinski and Toole, but Councilman Bill Brown said the
city still had to borrow $300,000.
Toole said over the past several years
the city has cut its work force by 35 to 40 percent, but added that officials
will have to see what the state's recommendations are.
In other business,
council authorized the city engineer to solicit bids for road and sewer work on
Brown said the portion of Chestnut Street from Church to
Noble would be paid for from the sewer fund, and Chestnut from Noble to Union
with leftover county Office of Community Development grant money.
asked council if the city could spare some space for temporary use by the Youth
Task Force division of the Greater Nanticoke Area Drug Task Force.
asked if the city could allow the use of one of its buildings for a few months
until a permanent home for the group is found.
Toole said the city would have
to look into liability, but suggested the use of the former CVS building on Main
"We'll try to come up with something," Toole promised.
Nanticoke OKs repairs for eaves
Board awards $9,975 deal to S and B Construction
fix the faded overhangs.
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
to the eaves of the municipal building could begin in a week, council members
Council voted Wednesday to accept a $9,975 proposal from S and B Construction
to repair the discolored eaves that ring the squat building that houses the municipal
offices, the police department and a magistrate's office.
"I've been waiting
for years to get this done, and we finally have the money," said Mayor John Toole.
"Let's do it."
In other business:
Mayor John Toole presented a $925 dollar
check to the Civic Pride Association. The funds came to the city as part of the
proceeds from Wilkes-Barre's First Fridays on Franklin Street.
The July event
was operated under Nanticoke's liquor license, and in return, 25 percent of the
profit was given to the city, Toole said.
Council voted to open for bids a
sewer project on Chestnut Street between Church and Union streets. The funding
for the work will come from community block grant funding and the city sewer fund.
Jim Samselski appealed to council to provide a meeting place for the Greater Nanticoke
Area Drug Task Force, a youth group. The group meets in St. John's Lutheran Church,
but Samselski said the expanding group needs more space.
Mike Stachowiak decried
the condition of a couch in the lobby of the municipal building. "I would be ashamed
to put that out for the garbage," he said of the dilapidated couch. "Why is that
still out there embarrassing us?"
Mayor Toole asked City Administrator Greg
Gulick to remove the furniture.
109th troops to get family videos
The Kiwanis, Circuit City and a high
school student pitch in to help Battery B.
By JANINE UNGVARSKY
from home will soon be on the way to deployed members of Battery B of the 109th
Field Artillery First Battalion, thanks to the Wyoming Area Kiwanis and some local
The Kiwanis brought a video camera to the Bravo company family
support meeting Monday night at the armory in Nanticoke. "Each family will have
an opportunity to go into the room and make a private three to five minute video
to be sent to their soldier," said Kiwanis President Steve Harmanos.
City donated the blank disks and tapes for the recording, he said, while Guaranty
Bank is providing a DVD player to be sent to the unit overseas to play the videos.
Harmanos said the project was the idea of Kiwanis member Malcolm Williams. "He's
a veteran who served in Korea for a year and remembers how lonely it was."
"One of the best things when you're over there is the communication from home,"
Williams said. "I was thinking about what we could do to use the technology that
we have today to send something over there. This is something they can treasure
and watch again and again."
Williams expects the Kiwanis to make 60 to 70
videos. About half of that amount were taped Monday.
Wyoming Area High School
senior Adam Ciampi will assist with the DVDs as his senior service project. "I'll
be editing them, putting a little personal touch to them."
Williams said the
Kiwanis hope this project will let the families and the soldiers know how much
their efforts are appreciated. "Everyone thanks the troops but this is a way to
thank the families and the troops and make their separation a little easier."
Work begins on Nanticoke eyesore
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice
Staff Writer 08/02/2004
more than a decade sitting idly and deteriorating, the fire-ravaged former LS
Skate-A -Rama in Nanticoke is on its way to being renovated.
owner, George Ellis Jr., of Buttonwood, plans to turn the city's most infamous
eyesore in to a warehouse following numerous requests by city officials over the
years to bring it up to code.
For the past several months, a contractor hired
by Ellis has been clearing out massive amounts of loose debris left inside the
old, popular teen nightspot since it was damaged by fire. This arduous task is
nearing completion, according to city officials.
The next step calls for internal
and external renovations and a new roof for one half of the old Duplan Silk Mill,
as the other half escaped the flames and houses the LS Bowl-A-Rama.
there are no definite plans on when this may begin.
Mayor John Toole said he's glad the years-long battle to get the building up to
code appears to be over and progress is being made.
"There have been a number
of complaints from neighbors of it being an eyesore and just being dangerous,"
"There were loose bricks falling onto Washington Street," he said
of the street running parallel to the building.
The mayor credited Greg Gulick,
city administrator, and Rich Wiaterowski, city building inspector, for aggressively
enforcing the city building code.
"We're enforcing the codes of the city.
We started this project quite a while ago," said Gulick.
Gulick noted that
Ellis is "doing what has to be done."
He said if a building owner ignores
the city's requests, he or she would risk being fined or jailed.
working well with the city," Gulick said of Ellis. "It helps eliminate an eyesore.
Once it gets fixed up, it will be a warehouse and maybe it will create some jobs
in the city."
The city administrator added that past inspections were done
to see what parts of the building are good and what parts are bad. Engineers and
workers from environmental agencies also evaluated the building.
this was done to make sure the right steps were taken and the building eventually
is brought up to code.
"Inspections will continue until the work gets done,"
Gulick said the renovation would be a "long process" and wasn't able
to put a timetable on when it would be or could be complete.
Ellis Jr. could
not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
Nanticoke In Need of Volunteer Firefighters
Paul Ellis-CV Correspondent
Trying to attract fresh faces to the ranks of
the city's threadbare volunteer fire department, Nanticoke
council announced plans for an outreach program to involve high school students
in the fall at Wednesday night's work session.
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski
said the program will begin in September or October and is designed "to encourage
youth out of high school to become volunteers."
"Due to the shortage, we have
to get kids involved and associated" at a young age with the hopes some or many
will remain on the volunteer firefighting force after graduation, she said.
"It's been successful in other areas," she said. "Even if we get three or four
out of the group, it would help us greatly."
Bozinski stressed the parents
of each student volunteer will be required to oversee and authorize participation
in the program. Volunteers would be limited to certain firefighting responsibilities
out of safety concerns, she explained.
In other news, Bozinski and council
approved retaining Tim O'Reilly of Philadelphia to represent the city if the contract
dispute with the fire department ends up in arbitration.
"The fire department
requires the city to contract an attorney to represent it during the negotiation
if it gets to arbitration," she said. "We're hoping we don't have to get that
Councilman John Bushko recommended council vote on paying for repairs
for the eaves on the city building and fixes to the senior center for under $10,000
at August's council meeting.
In response to comments made by Mayor John Toole
about $3,000 in repairs being made to a police cruiser put out of commission after
a recent accident in Newport Township, Bushko urged council to put all future
auto repair work on city vehicles out for bid.
"Anybody should be able to
get a crack at it," he said. "Spread it around town."
Bozinski concurred and
recounted a story about repairs to a police cruiser several years ago that cost
the city $500 less than an original estimate once work was put out for bid.
Council also debated merits of the purchase of a trailer for transporting a lawnmower
back and forth across the city.
Presently, city workers drive the lawnmower
where it needs to go, posing a safety hazard to motorists and possibly doing damage
to its transmission.
"We have a trailer," commented Bushko. "Why get another
one when you have one that just sits there?"
Council members agreed that an
inventory will be conducted to determine the condition of the trailer.
Nanticoke starting junior volunteer program
By KRISTIN KILE-Times Leader
volunteer program with the fire department will begin this fall, city council
announced at Wednesday night's meeting.
Firefighters, the fire chief and Councilwoman
Yvonne Bozinski will visit schools in September to explain the program.
are hoping it will encourage some of our young people, once they get out of school,
to volunteer with the fire company. ...," Bozinski said. "Even if we get three
or four out of the group we will be lucky."
Although students won't be putting
out fires, they will be in the background handing out water to firefighters, going
through training and assisting at the firehouse.
In other business, council
is waiting for bids from four vendors for the installation of security cameras
and lights at Patriot Park. City administrator Greg Gulick said he expects the
project to begin in the next 30 days.
Taking a ride on the Wheels of Freedom
Motorcycle event benefits families
of the 109th's Bravo Battery.
By ANDREW CLYDE-Times Leader Correspondent
150 motorcycles took to the road during Saturday's Wheels of Freedom, a charity
ride benefiting the families of the 109th Field Artillery's Bravo Battery.
Dennis Boor, a Vietnam veteran, was one of the many who took part in the ride
that started at the Nanticoke armory and ran on U.S. Route 11 to Red Rock and
back. "A lot of people forget about those left behind."
And those left behind
- parents, spouses, children and friends - all feel a sense of uncertainty when
it comes to their loved ones abroad, and take comfort in gatherings such as Wheels
"This is what keeps me going," said Judy Buff, mother of Spc.
Kyle Buff. While Kyle is in Iraq, Judy is "very active with the 109th. We sent
packages even when (Kyle) wasn't over there. ... I never thought I'd be sending
them to him.
"It becomes more personal. It becomes a little harder because
it has a face."
Judy's eyes welled with tears as she remembered the last days
before Kyle's departure.
"Christmas was somber. We didn't do the traditional
things. Nothing really fell into place," she said wiping her eyes. "Nothing is
Buff said she misses Kyle's hugs, and her husband, Chet, misses
gardening with his son. The garden was not planted this year.
"There's a lot
we didn't do this year," she said. "It's just too hard."
Behind the concession
stands surrounded by hot dog buns and cups of soda, Casey Kopco said she is really
proud of her husband, Spc. Nicholas Kopco. "I love him and I miss him a lot,"
Casey said, who is due to give birth in four weeks. "I hope he's here for the
Wheels of Freedom was thought up in April. Founders Kelly Chestnut
and Chris Brigalia want to make it an annual event.
"And after the troops
come home, we'll raise the money for charity," said Jennifer Sorber, one of the
event's coordinators and wife of Sgt. 1st Class K. Jamie Sorber.
click on the following links for all Military Information - From Nanticoke Webdesign
Video Images From
Iraq & Afghanistan
Riding the rails to success
Industrial park will get railroad facility.
Backers see a bright future.
By DAVE JANOSKIemail@example.com
state-financed rail facility planned for the long-vacant Daniel J. Flood Industrial
Park will help attract industry to the Nanticoke area and replace thousands of
trucks that haul coal waste and fly ash on local highways, say backers of the
The new owner of the park, HUD Inc., trading as Emerald Anthracite
II, has received a $249,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation
to build the facility. HUD will use the facility to transport culm and fly ash
from two ongoing mine-reclamation projects in the Nanticoke area.
hopes the rail link also will attract new companies to the park, which has failed
to generate business development since it was established with state funding 28
"It's a big plus for Nanticoke," said HUD Inc. corporate engineer
Doughton said the 3,000-foot rail spur, which will connect
to a nearby Canadian Pacific interstate line, and the proposed South Valley Parkway,
which would provide quicker access to Route 29 and Interstate 81, will improve
the park's prospects.
State Rep. John Yudichak, who worked with township officials
to secure funding for park infrastructure repairs and find new owners, said the
rail access will be "crucial" to the park's success.
"The lack of access was
one of the things that always held the park back," said Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
HUD Inc. will provide $107,000 for the rail construction, which will include loading
facilities for culm and fly ash. HUD operates two mine-reclamation projects in
Newport and Hanover townships. The company ships culm to a Philadelphia power
plant and uses the fly ash produced by the plant for fill at the two sites.
HUD's application for the PennDOT grant says the rail facility will maintain 60
existing jobs, create 35 new ones and eliminate 32,000 truck trips between here
and Philadelphia annually.
"We're happy to help remove that truck traffic
from the highways," said PennDOT spokesman Kirk Wilson.
HUD expects to finish
the rail facility before the end of the year, according to its application. It
envisions 2,000 round trips to Philadelphia this year and 8,000 round trips in
both 2005 and 2006.
Doughton said he didn't know how long the mine reclamation
projects would last. HUD Inc. President Kenneth M. Pollock did not return a phone
HUD Inc. purchased the 400-acre Daniel J. Flood Industrial
Park for $300,511 in a Luzerne County Sheriff's sale last month. The park was
sold by the sheriff because a $180,000 loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development
Authority that was used to establish the park in the 1970s was never fully repaid.
The two government-related entities that ran the park, the Nanticoke Industrial
Development Corp. and the Nanticoke Industrial Development Authority, ceased to
exist several years ago.
The park originally consisted of 630 acres, but about
230 acres were sold for residential development.
Nanticoke blaze ruled accidental
By Robert Kalinowski , Citizens' Voice
that ripped through a South Walnut Street home in Nanticoke on Saturday evening
has been ruled accidental in nature, according to Fire Chief Mike Bohan. Bohan,
who returned to the scene Sunday morning to conduct the investigation, said the
fire started in a side porch and then spread to a rear kitchen, an upstairs room
and the attic of the two-story home.
He said the fire got "a good start" on
firefighters, as it was fully involved by the time the first crews arrived on
the scene at 130 S. Walnut St.
However, he said the work of firefighters helped
contain the two-alarm blaze from spreading to the next door residence at 132 S.
Walnut St. or the nearby Davis-Dinelli Funeral Home, both of which had just minor
"They got at the interior and did a good job," Bohan said.|
He admitted he was very close from ordering his crew out of the home.
took a beating, but they did a good job. They didn't want to get out. Their efforts
saved the next door structure," he said.
He said crews extinguished the stubborn
blaze in about 30 minutes, but remained on scene until about 11:45 p.m.
added that several firefighters who were treated and released at area hospitals
experienced heat exhaustion and minor smoke inhalation. He said they were all
doing fine on Sunday. The lone occupant of the home, Josephine Fouchia, 78, was
not harmed and is staying with relatives.
Passerby rescues Nanticoke woman
By: Kevin Donlin-Citizens Voice
elderly Nanticoke woman escaped her burning residence Saturday night thanks to
the quick actions of an alert passerby.
The two-alarm fire did significant
damage to the large, two-story home at 130 S. Walnut St. The lone occupant, Josephine
Fouchia, 78, was not injured.
A few firefighters needed to be treated for
heat exhaustion, however. One unidentified Nanticoke firefighter was examined
at an area hospital for a combination of heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation,
according to Nanticoke Deputy Fire Chief Jay Munson.
"It's under investigation,
but it's not suspicious," Munson said. "Most of the damage was confined to the
porch and the kitchen."
Mary Elmy of Slocum Township was driving on South
Walnut Street when she said she smelled something burning.
"I parked my car
and the gate was locked," Elmy explained as she stood outside the residence. "I
got inside and she (Fouchia) was on the phone. By the time we got to the kitchen,
flames were shooting in the side window."
Elmy said Fouchia was safe and with
family members as firefighters battled the stubborn blaze.
According to authorities,
the fire was called in at approximately 8:30 p.m. The house, which is located
on South Walnut Street at Broad Street, was fully involved when fire crews arrived
on the scene.
The neighboring home at 132 S. Walnut St., as well as the Davis-Dinelli
Funeral Home at 170 E. Broad St., each sustained mild thermal damage, Munson explained.
"This was a pretty good knockdown," Munson said. "It was under control within
20 to 25 minutes."
Munson said he did not expect the state police fire marshal
would be needed to examine the scene.
Authorities believe the fire originated
in an enclosed, side porch that faces a small alley. Nanticoke Police Officer
Brian Williams said some cardboard and an electric lawnmower were stored on the
"When I arrived on scene, I asked if anyone else was inside and she
(Fouchia) said, 'No, I live alone.'"
From the porch, the fire worked its way
up the side of the home and eventually settled in the roof. Nearly an hour after
responding to the scene, firefighters were still working to water down the smoldering
Crews from Nanticoke and Hanover Township, including Medic 9, Franklin
Hose Co. 4, Rescue 5, Hanover Engines 4 and 5, Nanticoke Engines 2 and 6, Truck
1, and Hose Co. 3, responded to the scene.
Plan to trash Patriot Park? You might be caught on film
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
Vandalism under the cover of darkness.
a perennial problem in Patriot Park says city Administrator Greg Gulick, but he's
hoping a healthy dose of electronic surveillance will end the nighttime destruction.
"They've been turning the tables upside down, dumping the garbage cans, breaking
the trees," Gulick said. "We put trees down there. They were 90 bucks a piece,
and they came and just snapped them. It's unbelievable."
For at least the
past year and a half, the vandalism has become more frequent, he said.
come August, there could be digital cameras mounted around the downtown park,
keeping an unwavering watch over saplings and picnic tables, Gulick said.
Next week, Gulick, police officers and a representative from Vector Security will
look over the park that covers a square block to determine how many cameras are
needed, where they'll be placed, and how much it will all cost.
Bill Shultz of the Nanticoke Police Department says investigating the vandalism
has proven difficult.
"Not many people see anything," he said. "You don't
have many houses, per se, around the park."
The businesses surrounding the
park close at night and acts of vandalism, for the most part, go unobserved. "We're
not getting a lot of cooperation," Shultz said.
With cameras in place, police
will be able to review surveillance tapes after incidents in the park, Gulick
said. Vandals caught on tape "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the
The installation of cameras is a step other Wyoming Valley communities
have taken to crack down on miscreants, Gulick said. "It's not unusual, but I
don't want to divulge communities that do have them."
The eye in the sky won't
be much of a secret in Nanticoke if approved by city council at its next meeting
on July 28. "There will be signs stating that you are now on video," Gulick said.
Hanging out on the western edge of the park on a soupy summer afternoon Jonathan
Stewart, 17, and Bob Boston, 21, weren't too keen on the possibility of cameras
coming to the park, their daily hangout.
"I think it's trying to set us up
to get us in trouble," Stewart said. "I mean the cops already circle this park
like 600 times a day."
He and his friends aren't responsible for the vandalism,
Stewart said. The worst his crew gets up to is a little littering, he said.
If the cameras do go up, Boston predicts an ironic end to the experiment in surveillance.
Whoever is responsible for the vandalism is likely to turn their attention to
the cameras themselves, he said.
"If they put cameras up here, they won't
be here for long."
Residents to receive tax relief from
newly signed budget
2004-05 state budget signed by the governor this week contains important funding
increases for schools, communities and local governments to assist with their
operations in the upcoming year, says an analysis by State Rep. John Yudichak,
"After 10 years of watching their property taxes increase steadily,
people will finally receive the property tax relief they have been waiting for,"
Yudichak said. "Coupled with budget increases for education, local governments
and community revitalization funding, this year's budget supports quality-of-life
improvements for citizens, communities and local governments," Yudichak said.
Yudichak said he was particularly pleased that the budget contains no new taxes,
and with the enactment of the property tax reduction and slots legislation, Pennsylvanians
should see noteworthy decreases in their property taxes within the next few years.
The budget increases the total Accountability Block Grant funding for schools
to $200 million, a $25 million increase from the $175 million originally agreed
upon last year. The grants can be used by districts beginning this year for initiatives
such as decreasing class sizes, providing tutoring programs and implementing fullday
Yudichak said basic and special education funding will
also receive substantial increases. School districts in the 119th Legislative
District will receive the following increases in state funds for basic and special
Crestwood, $152,683; Greater Nanticoke Area, $246,923; Hanover
Area, $137,227; Wilkes-Barre Area, $532,410; Wyoming Valley West, $313,634.
"This unprecedented amount will help area schools establish and maintain programs
to increase student learning and academic success," Yudichak said.
said the new budget provides a $12.5 million increase in local government resources
development and a $4 million increase for community revitalization. Additionally,
$6.8 million in new money has been designated for the cleanup of scrap tires to
help restore abandoned waste tire sites.
Yudichak said that a $600,000 increase
in shared municipal services grants will especially benefit smaller municipalities
that are struggling with their daily operating expenses by giving them the resources
to merge some services with neighboring municipalities.
of municipal services is a good costsaving measure that serves to free up money,
time and labor for other important activities," Yudichak said. "Many municipalities
in this area will benefit from the funding increase.
Yudichak said overall,
he was pleased with the 2004-05 budget allocations, and felt that Pennsylvanians
could look forward to a better standard of living as the year progresses.
Nanticoke crime watch prepares for `Night Out'
Neighborhood Crime Watch of the Hanover section of Nanticoke will host the annual
"National Night Out" celebration
Tuesday, Aug. 3, beginning at 5 p.m. or before.
The theme this year is "Give Crime and Drugs a Vacation."
Featured will be
a live broadcast of the weather with Kim Martucci of WBRE-TV Channel 28.
band "Oz" will provide music for the event.
Luzerne County District Attorney
David Lupas will also be present to lend his support for the event.
Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter and Congressman Paul Kanjorski, Gov. Ed Rendell
and state Rep. John Yudichak along with Mayor
John Toole and Nanticoke city
council have been invited.
The Nanticoke Police Department will be doing children
IDs for all those present. This will include a picture, fingerprints and a DNA
sample to be given to the parents for safekeeping.
Free hot dogs, hamburgers
and beverages will be available to all children. Food and beverages will be available
to the public as well.
Free parking will also be available.
All of Nanticoke
City and especially residents of the Hanover section are invited. Come and see
your Crime Watch at work.
Nanticoke Council to join South Valley Partnership
By John N. Hemsley
Citizens' Voice Correspondent
Nanticoke City Council entered into an
alliance with surrounding communities on Wednesday, unanimously agreeing to join
the South Valley Partnership.
The South Valley Partnership is a not-for-profit
organization that assists in planning of investments and provides resources to
sustain growth for municipalities.
"It gives us a much better base to obtain
funding," said Attorney Joseph Lach of the South Valley Partnership. "We have
some prospects for funding."
Nanticoke joins Newport Township and Plymouth
Township in this alliance.
Council feels that if everyone works together,
more can get done to help the communities.
"The city could use all the help
we can get," said Councilman John Butchko.
Councilmen Bill Brown, Joseph Dougherty,
and Butchko, Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski, and Mayor John Toole voted in favor
of the measure.
In other business, based on mid-year numbers, Nanticoke is
projecting a deficit of between $200,000 and $240,000 by the end of the year,
according to Treasurer Al Wytoshek.
This is more than the estimated $151,000
stated at a regular council meeting in April. Nanticoke's deficit in 2003 was
Nanticoke to install WVSA drop box; 0Ks street lights on Varsity Drive
By JON FOXemail@example.com
council at a meeting Wednesday approved the installation of a Wyoming Valley Sanitary
Authority drop box in front of the Municipal Building.
The box, a drop point
for payments made after business hours, will be installed near the front entrance.
Council also approved the installation of street lights on Varsity Drive. The
city will not pay for the installation but will pay the electricity fees estimated
by city Administrator Greg Gulick at $10 to $15 a month per light.
his report on the state of the police department, Mayor John Toole said staffing
is stretched thin while several officers are on medical leave. He estimates the
department is down to eight full-time officers.
Hank Marks, president of the
Greater Nanticoke Taxpayers Forum, suggested the city hire part-time officers
to fill out the department and avoid excessive overtime payments.
that would not be permitted under the current union contract.
Given the state
of financial affairs, Marks suggested the union might be willing to make concessions.
"We're not a rich community. We're in financial trouble and things need to change."
Council member Yvonne Bozinski suggested council sit down with a union representative
to discuss options.
A Nanticoke area teen's project to collect sporting goods for U.S. troops has
Caitlin Klish, a junior at Greater Nanticoke Area High
School, decided to collect new or used sports equipment for the soldiers in Iraq.
Her mom, Diane, said she collected more than 700 items, including basketballs,
baseballs, frisbees, golf clubs and bags.
Sporting goods are still being accepted
at the Nanticoke Armory. For more information, call 735-0671.
Asphlat zipper to hit the streets
By Pam Urbanski
some city streets in Nanticoke can be a challenge.
Potholes and uneven pavement,
combined with narrow roadways, make it difficult for drivers to get where they
are going. Funding for street improvement projects is hard to come by and manpower
City officials must target the worst roads in need of repair and
come up with ways to stretch the dollar Thanks to cooperation between the Nanticoke
Public Works Department and the Regional Equipment Center in Newport Township,
East Grove Street, Tory Court and Kings Court will be paved and sewer lines will
City Administrator Greg Gulick tells me that newly found underground
springs are the reason the roadways are deteriorating.
A new machine that
is being demonstrated to city employees is helping to keep the cost down. The
asphalt zipper, a small, milling machine that attaches to a backhoe hopefully
can be purchased by the city for future roadwork.
"It really keeps cost down
when our people can do a lot of the work," said Gulick. "This is a great area
to try out this piece of equipment because there is not heavy traffic," he added.
Manpower and machinery from the Regional Equipment Center will be used to grade,
roll and pave the roads.
"We are grateful for the help we are getting from
our neighbors," Gulick continued. "If small cities are going to survive we all
have to pull together."
Fire department to get a new roof
By Pam Urbanski
city projects include replacing the roof of fire department headquarters located
on East Ridge Street. Dunmore Roofing was awarded the $37,000 project and funding
for this project comes from a Community Development Block Grant.
roof has been leaking for some time, causing water damage to the truck floor and
the interior of the building. Gulick said this project is long overdue and must
be completed to avoid further water damaged related repairs. The money for this
project is also from a Community Development Block Fund Grant.
Bridge Project nearing completion & demolition of T.P.
By Pam Urbanski - firstname.lastname@example.org
Street Bridge project is almost near completion. The gas and water companies are
replacing their lines and paving will begin shortly. On Slate Street, sewer lines
are being replaced and the roadway will be paved. The money for the replacement
of these sewer lines comes from the sewer fees paid by city residents.
sure Hanover Street residents are jumping for joy with the recent demolition of
the T P Jones building. The city engineer determined the structure was unsafe
after the roof collapsed.
Gulick noted the city went to court to get access
to the property so they could demolish it. John Brdaric Excavating was awarded
the $103,000 project. Community Development Block Fund money was again used for
"We hope to recoup some of the cost of knocking down this building,"
GNA sees light at end of tunnel
Seven years ago, the school district was
near bankruptcy. It's now on firm financial ground.
By BONNIE ADAMS -
7-year-old state report that blasted Greater Nanticoke Area's finances is always
within Superintendent Tony Perrone's reach.
The advice in the Department of
Education report was all that stood between the district and an impending state
takeover by 1998. The state described Greater Nanticoke as being "on the brink
The situation was so desperate that GNA's new Student/Parent
Coalition was selling candles to help fill some of the district's financial gaps.
After this week's adoption of a new budget that does not contain a tax increase
and a projected $2.9 million fund balance in 2005, Perrone reflected on what's
changed for the better since 1997.
The state report had predicted a possible
$3.1 million deficit by the end of the 1998-99 school year. It scolded the district
for out-of-control spending and called for swift action to prevent a state takeover.
Perrone said that the reluctance to raise taxes, salary increases, transportation
costs and the number of personnel all contributed to the district's financial
The "Stainbrook report" as it's called, was authored by then-Department
of Education financial adviser Ron Stainbrook, who is now director of school services
with the department. Perrone had contacted Stainbrook in 1996 to study GNA's finances.
Stainbrook said this week that not many districts so close to a state takeover
fix the problems as Greater Nanticoke did. "GNA is a wonderful success story."
He credited Perrone for the turnaround of a district "on the verge of disaster.
GNA is one that followed our advice right down the line."
Perrone said taking
Stainbrook's suggestions was necessary but painful. "I never could have imagined
that we'd come this far," he said.
These are some of the actions the district
took, based on Stainbrook's recommendations:
Initiated professional staff
reductions. The district examined the number of students per class and the number
of classes each teacher taught per day. Changes were made and some newer employees
were laid off. Perrone said the district has about the same number of teachers
today as in 1997, but it has been more aggressive in seeking grants and other
funding to help pay costs.
A high school staffing policy was developed and
implemented to staff educational programs in accordance with need. Many teachers
at the high school had taught fewer than six classes per day.
in the district's school food service program was low and the number of hours
for cafeteria workers needed adjustment. Perrone said the district worked to get
more children to buy school lunches and aggressively sought federal reimbursements.
The school board placed a temporary moratorium on administrative salaries and
the number of administrators was reduced. Perrone said there were eight administrators
in 1997 and there are six now.
Transportation contracts were rebid to save
Perrone noted that the seven-year teachers contract that runs through
2004-2005 contained a salary freeze for the first year and average increases of
1.9 percent in subsequent years. "The teachers have been very fair to me," he
As he spoke this week, a crane lifted old air conditioning/heating units
from the high school roof to make room for new ones as part of an energy program
in which savings pay for improvement costs. Perrone walked from his building down
the hill to the football stadium and pointed to new metal bleachers that replaced
dangerously worn ones that more than 70 years old. The improvements are signs
of progress of which he is proud.
A long tradition of no tax increases helped
drive the district into its financial hole. Then in 1996, the school board raised
taxes by 20 mills to avoid a deficit.
Yearly millage increases of 2 to 4 mills
since have been part of the plan to help fund increasing costs. One mill equals
$1 on every $1,000 of assessed value.
Perrone said that if a school board
never raises taxes it is not looking at the long-term. At a time when some school
boards are imposing double-digit millage increases for 2004-2005, GNA didn't raise
taxes because, Perrone said, an increase wasn't necessary.
said the district has not slipped back into its old financial bad habits, but
When asked about major concerns, he and school board President
Bob Raineri listed health-care costs. The district expects them to increase 17
percent in the coming school year.
GNA business manager Albert Melone Jr.
said districts' contributions to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement
System are expected to skyrocket.
As a superintendent who helped bring a district
back from the brink, Perrone offered advice for others. He said painful changes
must sometimes be made and districts must look at the long-term.
"If you want
to make it, that's what you have to do."
Local soldiers off to training
By Robert Kalinowski , The Sunday Voice
a large group of their comrades serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the remaining
members of the 109th Field Artillery, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, departed
the Wyoming Valley on Saturday morning for training in Fort Pickett, Va.
173 soldiers, or nearly half of 109th, will head to Virginia to fulfill its annual
two-week training obligation. They will receive artillery certifications, communications
and transportation training and complete various other exercises.
same training routine the 109th went through last year, several months before
being notified some of the unit would be heading off to war.
thing is even though (the rest of) our battalion is deployed to Iraq, we need
to be ready," said Capt. Gerard Wrazien.
"Every year we need to certify with
the U.S. Army that we are a ready artillery unit," he said.
to make clear this doesn't mean the unit will be deployed anytime soon.
is just the culmination of our training year," he said.
He did admit, though,
the mindset going in to this year's training would be a bit different, as half
of the guys who they trained with last year won't be with them this year.
About 300 members of the 109th who completed this training last summer, deployed
on Dec. 30, 2003, for a tour of duty that will last up to 18 months. One of those
soldiers was killed in action.
On April 27, 2004, Sherwood Baker, 30, of Plymouth,
of Headquarters Battery, was killed in an explosion in Baghdad. He was serving
with the 103rd Armor regiment, out of Scranton, at the time.
a tight knit group. We're thinking about those guys over there on the front lines."
"When you train with a group of soldiers, you want to be with them when they are
activated," Wrazien said.
The soldiers will return to the Wyoming Valley on
He's the GI but she's the trouper
Spc. Michael Koons of Nanticoke says
his wife, Margie, has taken on more duties since he's been with 103rd in Baghdad.
By LANE FILLER - email@example.com
Koons isn't happy. At the age of 9, she doesn't really understand why her daddy,
Spc. Michael Koons, of Nanticoke, had to go away for a year.
Her mom, Margie
Koons, does understand, but isn't thrilled.
"She's really started to do good
with it, though," Michael said of his wife. "At first, she felt she might not
be able to cope, but she's really been a trouper, particularly taking care of
the stuff I normally would, like the cars."
In fact, Margie just bought and
installed a car battery on her own.
As for his daughter, Michael said, "It's
been hard for her, because we're very close. She knows I go away every year for
the Guard, but this is a lot different. She must hear the news on television,
because my wife watches it, but she tells Mikaela I'm safe and OK."
Koons works at Cleveland Brothers Heavy Equipment in Wilkes-Barre, and is a tank
mechanic in the Guard. Here, he is a turret gunner and an MP with the Scranton-based
Koons, 41, has been in the Guard for 14 years. Prior to that,
he served in the active-duty Army, joining straight out of high school and spending
almost four years in Germany.
"I think that makes it easier for me than some
of these guys," Koons said. "Having been active, I'm more used to sharing a room
with a bunch of guys, and spending 24 hours a day with my squad. But even I was
bugged by Fallujah."
There, Koons shared quarters with about 25 other soldiers,
deprived of space and privacy.
Koons was away from the military entirely for
almost nine years before he joined the Guard. "Honestly, I needed the money, and
the Guard was a part-time job I could do."
Now, he is only two years away
from eligibility for retirement from the military, and plans to take it when the
An avid computer user at home, Koons spends a lot of time
on the Internet here, and he and his wife just started instant messaging each
other. Koons is also a golfer at home, a hobby he cannot continue in Iraq.
"It hasn't been as bad here as I imagined it would be," Koons said, "because all
you hear on the news is the bad stuff. You don't hear about the good people we've
met, Iraqis, and the kids."
But Koons does admit to shock at the conditions
the Iraqis live in.
"Until I saw it, the poverty and how far behind the times
they are, I couldn't picture it," Koons said. "Then you see all the palaces and
think, 'How can some of these people still support Saddam? Can't they see how
much he took from them?"'
And, of course, the battle against Saddam, by extension,
has taken things from Koons, his daughter, and his wife. Mostly, it's taken them
away from each other, but Koons remains optimistic that it will all be fine, and
particularly, that Margie can handle everything that's thrown at her.
always run the home anyway, the bills and bank accounts and stuff, so that's no
problem, but she hates cutting the grass."
Here's hoping that next summer,
she won't have to.
Citizens' Voice staffer survives Survivor audition
By Robert Kalinowski
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
never watched the popular reality show, and with no intention of ever applying
to be a contestant, yours truly somehow ended up casting for "Survivor" yesterday
at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
When I got there - as a journalist, not an adventure-seeking
opportunist hoping to win the $1 million grand prize, I was merely seeking to
find out what people like about the show, why they wanted to be a part of it,
and how they were planning to audition.
While watching the auditions from
the first wave of would-be contestants, one of the attendants on the set from
WYOU 22, who along with 98.5 KRZ hosted the local casting call, asked if I wanted
an entry form.
Nearly embarrassed, I told her "Survivor" wasn't my thing and
I was just there to interview contestants for a newspaper article. Looking back
at the set, I immediately saw someone who was sure to be a good interview.
Dressed in cowboy attire and singing a country music song, J.T. Duffy, 34, of
Hazleton, picked up a large sharp spear and appeared to jab it into the ground.
As I walked closer, I saw that he jabbed it into a large raw fish. With the spear,
he raised the fish up to his mouth, took a bite and then spit the chunk to the
Duffy also told a story he thought would help his chances.
he was a kid, as his parents were discussing Thanksgiving dinner plans, Duffy
decided to take matters into his own hands. He and friends, armed with BB guns,
took a hunting trip to a local turkey farm. After taking numerous shots to its
body, the turkey - a bit dazed, but alive - came after Duffy and bit his hand.
"That's when I kind of whacked his head off a tree," Duffy explained. And Thanksgiving
dinner was served.
Duffy said this story (who knows if it was really true?)
was intended to prove he was capable of providing food for his tribe if none was
available, one of the many arduous tasks contestants must do during the seven-week
contest at a site yet to be announced.
After I spoke with Duffy, I saw that
the line for auditions had all but diminished. The first several dozens of people,
many who waited for up to three hours, all had completed their two-minute audition
in front of the "Survivor" camera. It was about 4:45 p.m. and another wave was
expected from people coming from their 9 to 5 jobs.
So, I began to look over
the entry form, a five-page document asking personality questions. Waiting to
see what the next round of potential contestants would bring, I filled out the
form for fun (I thought).
After completing the form, I saw a bunch of people
starting to shuffle in, but no one in line to begin their audition. I was then
urged to attempt mine.
Reluctant, stubborn or just against it, I said, "No."
Then, the crew from WYOU said they were about to film a live broadcast for their
nightly news and needed someone auditioning in the background of their report.
Needless to say, I came through to help out our Northeast Pennsylvania News Alliance
partner and jumped into the spotlight.
With the "Survivor" camera in my face
and me in the background of the WYOU broadcast, I was to state my case why I should
be selected as a contestant.
So, I did what was natural and spoke honestly.
I said I never watched the show and really had no intention of auditioning. The
only thing that could be perceived as a reason to choose me was when I said people
like me don't watch shows like "Survivor" and if they picked me maybe people like
me would watch and increase ratings.
Sound confusing? I bet they were more
When the audition was done and the 10 seconds on the television
news in the past, I spoke with one of the people running the auditions.
haven't had a 'Survivor' contestant from here and it's about time we did," said
Jan Haswell, creative services director for WYOU and WBRE.
She's right. I
watched some of the auditions and the only guarantee I'll make is that if a local
contestant is picked it sure wont be me.
Vote expected on settlements
County commissioners are expected to vote today whether to accept a pair of settlements
totalling about $100,000 related to lost tax dollars.
Controller Steve Flood
announced the "new found money" at Monday's commissioners work session, saying
his office negotiated the settlements with Ohio Casualty Insurance during the
For starters, Ohio Casualty has agreed to pay $85,000 in the matter
of Brenda Davis, a former clerk in the Nanticoke City Treasurer's Office who admitted
to embezzling funds while working in the city tax office. Audits found $184,000
in tax money missing.
Flood said the settlement will be split between the
county and the Greater Nanticoke Area School District,
which is owed about $100,000. The district will receive $70,000 and the county
will take $15,000, about a third of what it is owed.
The company also has
agreed to pay $20,000 to settle the case of former Rice Township Tax Collector
Elsie Dock, who failed to turn over $128,000 to the county. Flood said he was
particularly happy with the offer to settle the Dock incident, calling the case
a "dead issue" because the statute of limitations had run out.
Nanticoke Musicfest honors soldiers, Flag Day
By Robert Kalinowski
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
To open the final day of the seventh annual Nanticoke
Musicfest, members of the 109th Field Artillery, Pennsylvania Army National Guard,
Bravo Battery, conducted a flag raising ceremony in observance of Flag Day, which
is recognized around the nation today.
The flag that was hoisted was previously
flown over the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Paul Maher, field
representative for Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski, presented the flag to Nanticoke
Mayor John Toole.
"Congressman Kanjorski requested this flag be flown over
the Capitol for the City of Nanticoke for flag day and to honor those serving
in Iraq," Maher said.
Toole said he thought it was important to honor the
members of the 109th who are currently serving in Iraq, several of whom are from
"It has a special significance. I think now more than ever people
are taking pride in the flag," he said.
Toole said the city conducts the flag
raising ceremony every year and invites the 109th to preside.
Sgt. Steven Stempien, of Bravo Battery, said the unit is glad to be a part of
"I know they do this every year. We're glad to support them," he said.
After the flag was hoisted to the top of the flagpole, it was lowered to halfmast.
The nation's flags will remain at half-mast until July 5 in honor of the late
former President Ronald Reagan, Stempian said.
Once at half-mast, a trumpeter
performed "Taps" as dozens of onlookers held small flags and put their hands over
After the short ceremony, the last day of the four-day Musicfest
The headlining, and final, act was The Collective, a popular local
band, which plays pop, soul, hip-hop, and R&B music.
Toole estimated that
several thousand people passed through Patriot Square during the weekend.
"It's nice to have something positive in the city," he said.
He said the proceeds
from the event go to support other community events, such as Christmas in Nanticoke.
County's only musicfest begins June 11
Nanticoke City Musicfest 2004 is Luzerne County's only musicfest and this year,
entertainment will range from new wave to rock to country to polkas. On Sunday,
even some hip-hop will be mixed in.
The musicfest, in its seventh year, begins
Thursday, June 10 and it will run through June 13.
performing will be:
Thursday, June 10, 3
Plus John and Johnny Stevens Polka Band
Friday, June 11, Midnight Hour,
the winner of last year's Battle of the Bands and Simply
Shania (a Shania Twain tribute)
Saturday, June 12 will be the Battle of
Sunday, June 13, The
to the music there will be plenty of food, games and rides. There is no admission
to the musicfest.
A Flag Day ceremony will take place Sunday June 13.
Several bands have sent in videos and tapes for the Battle of the Bands competition.
This has been one of the most popular features of the musicfest year after year.
WHAT: Nanticoke City
WHEN: June 10-13
WHERE: Patriot Square
TIMES: 5-10 p.m.
Thursday and Sunday and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday 6/6/04
Taking a big dose of confusion
By DAWN SHURMAITIS
Special to the
DRUG DISCOUNT CARDS
with slides and handouts, simple language and great patience, Joe Giebus and Anne
Rappaport face an anxious crowd of seniors eager for easy answers on the new discount
But when the Area Agency on Aging representatives finish their
30-minute spiel, they're met with blank faces and raised hands. Reactions range
from "I'll never understand it" to "It takes a lawyer to figure this out."
Whether they're in Nanticoke, Hazleton, Pittston or Tunkhannock, Giebus and Rappaport
continually confront the same dilemma: explaining the nearly unexplainable.
"If you think it's confusing, I agree," says Rappaport, who has spoken along with
Giebus at numerous senior centers in Luzerne County about the new prescription
drug cards, which became available last week.
While pharmacists expected a
rush from those seeking savings on their prescription medications, for the most
part it hasn't happened. Many baffled seniors already struggling to pay for costly
prescription drugs on limited incomes say no matter how hard they listen and how
many pamphlets they read, it's still difficult to decide which card - if any -
"My husband's been reading everything and I even talked to Medicare
on the phone and I still couldn't get any understanding," says Myrtle Paige, who
came to the Nanticoke Senior Center with her husband, Albert, hoping for definitive
answers. "I think it's utter confusion."
All but about a half-million of the
2.87 million cards approved by the government nationwide have been issued to people
who participate in Medicare managed-care plans and who were automatically enrolled
in the card offered by their insurer.
The problem, say Rappaport and Giebus,
is that there are so many variables to consider. "Obviously, every situation is
different. Shop and compare," says Giebus.
The cards will provide discounts
for Medicare participants who have no other prescription drug coverage. In addition,
certain low-income participants will be eligible for subsidies, also known as
credits, of $600 a year.
There are 17 different Medicare-approved discount
drug cards being offered in Pennsylvania alone. The cards, which are optional
and cost no more than $30 a year, can save users up to 30 percent on prescription
costs. Average savings are 10-15 percent.
Some companies might also offer
discounts on over-the-counter medicines as well as medical supplies. Discounts
vary by card and each card is slightly different.
Who can apply? Anyone enrolled
in Medicare except people who get their drugs through Medical Assistance. You
can only get one card. However, you may still keep any other discount cards you
have as they might offer better discounts.
The cards are being offered by
private companies that include health insurers, Medicare HMOs and pharmacy benefit
managers. Seniors say they've received numerous brochures in the mail pushing
the various cards. Some have also received information from Medicare and AARP.
Luci Conti, who is 80 and fills three to four medications a month for arthritis,
osteoporosis and other ailments, attended a recent talk in Nanticoke to clear
up some questions about the subsidy and PACE, a state health insurance program
that pays for prescriptions, minus a small co-pay.
About 15,000 seniors in
Luzerne County are on PACE or PACENET. If you are on these programs, and your
prescriptions are already paid for, you don't need a discount card.
your income is low enough (a maximum of $12,569 for singles and $16,862 for couples),
you could qualify for the $600 subsidy - if you're on Medicare and under age 65.
"My druggist explained it to me," says Conti, of Nanticoke. "But then a lady in
the store told me something else. So that's why I'm here today. To find out."
Rappaport and Giebus field numerous questions wherever they go. When they can't
answer, they refer the seniors to 1-800-Medicare, 1-800-783-7067 or the Web site
www.medicare.gov. If you call, tell the operator you are from Pennsylvania and
what drugs you regularly take. The operator will then tell you which cards you
are eligible for. You can choose only one.
Beware of anyone calling you or
knocking on your door to sell prescription cards, Rappaport and Giebus caution.
No one is allowed to sell the discount cards door-to-door or by telephone.
"Please, please, please read what you get in the mail," Rappaport says. "Please
be careful what you're signing. Watch out for fraud. Do not give your Social Security
number to anyone."
Also, make sure the card you finally agree to use has "Rx"
in big letters and the Medicare logo on the face. The logo means the card has
been approved by Medicare.
In the end, Glen Lyon resident Peter Tkatch put
it this way: "People up in age don't understand it and get scared. Me, at 84,
I don't worry anymore. "
Answers to your questions about drug discount cards from the Area Agency
on the Aging:
I get a discount card?
if you're on PACE or PACENET (the state's drug program for those 65 and older).
You won't benefit from the prescription cards. If you already get prescription
benefits from your former employer, or as a veteran through the VA, you also do
not need the card.
If you're on Medicare A or B, get a card. If you're single
and your income is more than $23,500 or married with an income of more than $35,000
- which means you don't qualify for PACE or PACENET - get a card.
much will it cost and how much will I save?
Fees range from zero to $30 a
year. Discounts vary, but could be as large as 30 percent. Some cards have restrictions
on the type of drugs you can buy.
card should I get?
It depends on your situation. Many local pharmacies are
advertising that they will answer questions about the cards for their customers.
Carefully read the brochures and make sure you get the card that works best for
you. Compare the cards. What's the enrollment fee? How much is the discount? What
drugs are accepted? Some pharmacies and drug companies also offer their own discount
Habitat House becomes a reality
May 21, more than 50 people from a dozen different United Methodist Churches brought
their shovels and lined the perimeter of the future Wesley Habitat House in Nanticoke.
The land (126-8 W. Ridge St.) was given to Wyoming Valley Habitat For Humanity
by the City of Nanticoke. Mayor John Toole and City Controller Kevin Coughlin
were on hand for the ceremony. The Rev. Ken Carder led the Weslyan inspired service
and invited those gathered to join in the opening prayer. Lisa Pinkowski, treasurer
for the project, then presented Wyoming Valley Habitat For Humanity with a check
for $10,000, money raised from both mission giving and Nail Sales by area churches.
The money will help pay for the excavation and the pre-cast foundation for the
house. After a song by the Spirit Singers from Trucksville United Methodist Church,
Carder invited everyone to pick up their shovels, dig into the soil and turn the
first layer of the earth. It is hoped that the site will be ready for Saturday
morning volunteer groups after July 10.
Further information about the project
can be found at the project Web site, www.wesleyhabitathouseofwv.org
After long struggle, building set for razing
With a mystery owner unreachable,
the city finalizes demolition.
By JON FOXfirstname.lastname@example.org
bizarre saga of T.P. Jones Furniture building and the redevelopment that never
was came to a close Wednesday.
In the morning, contractors met at the ramshackle
building on Hanover Street to finalize plans for demolition, and in the afternoon
a 2-inch thick file was put to rest in a heavy metal filing cabinet.
been trying to get this building down since June 6, 2003," said city Administrator
Greg Gullick, leafing through his file on the building.
The story of the former
furniture building's final months begins with a shadowy church buying the property
for $7,600 in an eBay auction and ends with a shadowy owner unreachable somewhere
in the South American country of Colombia.
The city spent an estimated $20,000
in court fees, in advertising in an Arizona newspaper in the hopes of reaching
the new owner and in private detective fees before officials received court approval
weeks ago to raze the building.
"Demolition will start June 14 at 7 a.m.,"
Gullick said. The cost will run the city more than $103,000, funds that will come
from the a community development block grant that had been earmarked for a repaving
project on Lincoln Avenue.
The Church of a Different Spirit, based in Peoria,
Ariz., bought the site in March of 2003 from a New York state owner with the intention
of refurbishing the building and renting student apartments.
But three months
later the roof caved in, and that's when the headaches began, Gullick said. The
city contacted Randy Jenkins, representative of the church, informing him of the
collapse and asking him to address the problem.
"Well, he never showed up,"
Nanticoke police and departments in Arizona were working together
to find Jenkins but to no avail.
The city eventually learned that according
to documents from the Arizona Attorney General's Office, Jenkins had attempted
to defraud the state out of $25 million by seeking fraudulent alternative fuel
loss reimbursements, Gullick said.
When the investigator tracked Jenkins'
last known address to Colombia, Gullick knew the odd dance was over. The city
had done all they could to make contact and won the right to proceed with demolition.
At least $30,000 in code violation fines were issued, but Gullick said the city
holds no hopes of being paid. "We'll never recover anything. We know we're stuck
with it, so we had no choice."
Details of new Public Safety Institute to be revealed next month
James Conmy , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
feasibility study expected to be completed next month will reveal details into
a proposed emergency services training facility.
When completed, the center,
which will be off Prospect Street in Nanticoke near the Luzerne County Community
College, would create a centralized, regional approach to police, fire and emergency
medical technician instruction, according to state Rep. John Yudichak, D-119.
The "Public Safety Institute" would be on a parcel included in the 44 acres of
land donated to the college by Earth Conservancy.
It would be a joint effort
between Yudichak, the Luzerne County Fire and Rescue Training Association and
LCCC. The $40,000 feasibility study is being jointly financed by LCCC and a state
grant through Yudichak's office.
Jim Wills, president of the fire and rescue
training group, said there is a dire need for the center.
kids to be firefighters and we're sending them out into the world with bogus training,"
Wills emphasized. "We're trying to get it done the right way for the first time
in 50 years. We finally found partners."
A fallen New York City fire fighter,
Michael Carlo, was part of the inspiration behind the center, Yudichak said.
His mother, Phyllis Carlo, is from Newport Township and gave Yudichak a $20,000
from the New York Stock Exchange in honor of her son, who died on Sept. 11.
Yudichak said now it is an endowment in the Luzerne Foundation, but could be used
to help finance the training center.
Preliminary plans include a three- to
four-story steel tower with various entrance and exit points on a black top property
with fire hydrants. Fire fighters and emergency services personnel could practice
multi-level rescues. Police SWAT teams could use the building as well.
also could be a drafting pit for water, a vehicle operation training course and
an area where firefighters and other emergency workers can practice removing victims
Yudichak stressed it was too early to say exactly what equipment
and training would be available at the facility, or how much it would cost.
"We have all ideas on what we would like to see there, but we have done this in
a professional way where we contracted with the very best consultant in the field
to conduct a feasibility study," Yudichak said. "This really came from the ranks
of the volunteers, police officers and firefighters.
"It fits in to what we're
trying to do with regional cooperation between the municipalities," he said.
Wills said the training center would be the first of its type in the area in more
than 15 years. Emergency service personnel used abandoned coal miners' homes called
"concrete city" in Hanover Township during the late 1980s and early 1990s. But
over the years, the homes dilapidated, were not proper for training and became
The training center would be the first of its kind in Northeastern
Pennsylvania and provide training local emergency personnel are traveling out
of the area to receive.
"If it is right here in the center of our county,
we're going to be able to get our first responders training at a better cost and
closer to home," Yudichak said. "When the report comes back, we're going to have
a game plan. Although it may be a game plan that has to be finished in stages."
Wills credited Yudichak and Dr. Patricia Donohue, president of LCCC. He said they
are bringing the type of enthusiasm and commitment the project needs.
Dr. Donohue was at Harrisburg Community College, she created a public safety training
facility and is 100 percent in support of one in Northeastern Pennsylvania, according
to Wills and Yudichak.
Dr. Karen Flannery, associate dean of continuing education
at LCCC, is the college's point person for the project. She said the proposed
center would be owned by the college, but the feasibility study is looking at
training needs in a nine-county area.
LCCC already offers some local level
training, in addition to associate degree programs for emergency medical technicians,
fire sciences and criminal justice.
Dr. Flannery also explained, if constructed,
the fire tower would use natural gas and not have a negative impact on the environment
or neighboring residences.
City police said they were investigating at least
seven incidents in which vehicles were entered between Thursday night and Friday
Stolen items included clothing and car stereos and speakers. The
vehicles were parked on the 300 block of East Main and Christian streets; the
300 block of East Church Street; and the 400 block of East Union and West Grove
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 735-2200 or
you can email the Police Department anonymously at email@example.com
This sure isn't your grandparents' polka music
New song combines hip-hop
with traditional compositions to attract younger listeners
By JOE PETRUCCIfirstname.lastname@example.org
leader John Stanky has tried everything in more than 50 years in the polka music
Stanky and the Coal Miners have performed Irish polkas, Italian
polkas, Russian polkas, even rock 'n' roll polkas.
Add hip-hop to the list
Stanky and local songwriter/producer Jim Donnelly have joined
to record "Stanky's Hip-Hop Polka."
Funny as it seems, the song just might
"People say 'That's not what I expected, I really like that,' " Donnelly
said. "That's a big compliment. It's our goal of still introducing his music,
mixed with something newer a younger audience will like."
followers, fear not. The 68-year-old lifelong Nanticoke resident will not be donning
big gold chains or outfitting his black van with spinning rims.
like he's going to do this all the time," Donnelly said.
Polka" will be available on compact discs starting today at Joe Nardone's Gallery
of Sound locations and when Stanky and the Coal Miners perform at a special "release
night" at Black Rock Brewing Company on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre.
has played the Black Rock once a month since January and has succeeded in attracting
younger, college-aged fans to his performances to compliment his older fan base.
Donnelly came up with the idea for a musical novelty when hip-hop legends Run-DMC
covered "Walk This Way" with original hard-rocking band Aerosmith in 1986.
Donnelly, who owns and operates Moonlight Productions in Pittston, thought a polka/hip-hop
song would be a funny mix. Once listeners get past the initial giggles of the
unlikely musical bedfellows, they like what they hear.
Donnelly has played
the song for Black Rock's younger patrons and employees and said feedback has
been positive. "Everybody had a little chuckle at first before they heard it,
but then when they heard it they were like, 'That's not bad, I kind of like it.'
Donnelly and Stanky met at Black Rock in January. The two became fast friends
and Donnelly approached Stanky with his idea. Stanky, always willing to try something
At Stanky's performances, Donnelly immediately was attracted
to Stanky's signature song, "Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie," which Stanky composed
in the early 1950s with the late Walt Gorecki.
Also, Donnelly liked "No Beer
Today," a song Stanky has played for only about four years after hearing the Walt
Groller Orchestra perform it on WVIA-TV's "Pennsylvania Polka" program, for which
Stanky serves as executive producer. Groller adapted the tune from an old German
Sitting in on drums with Stanky, Donnelly realized the two songs had
similar beats that could easily mesh with a hip-hop rhythm. Donnelly began experimenting
with a drum machine on his computer and was able
to match a hip-hop beat with that of the two polkas.
Then Donnelly recorded Stanky's accordion and vocals separately, and after about
a half-dozen revisions, came up with a final version that satisfied him. The final
cut also includes some rock guitar and a rapper's voice announcing: "It's the
man with the master plan, here to turn it out with a mic in my hand."
song, which was limited to 2 minutes, 34 seconds in the hopes of getting radio
airplay, does not sacrifice Stanky's talents. It enhances them with a different
beat that translates well to polkas.
"The beat that's in there doesn't hurt
the dancers," Stanky said.
Donnelly also played with Stanky's vocals, giving
it a tinny, "AM radio" effect when Stanky belts out "Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie,
who's not ready, holler I, let's all play hide and seek."
"He's still doing
his own thing. That's the core of his success," Donnelly said.
A painful downsizing
Nanticoke's Bicycle Willy being forced out of
By JON FOXemail@example.com
people just know him as Bicycle Willy.
There's little mystery in the nickname;
for as long as many can remember, William Vincent has pedaled his bike through
the city's streets.
always ride the bike. I never drive a car," he said, sitting in a rocking chair
outside his apartment on Apollo Circle, a Nanticoke Housing Authority complex
he's lived in for more than 30 years.
Getting up, he carried a pair of small
statuary angels from his apartment and put them in the basket on his red, single-speed
Vincent, 83, is in the midst of paring down three decades worth of
stuff, preparing for a mandatory move to a smaller apartment in Oplinger Towers,
a high rise owned by the housing authority.
Vincent has just 60 days to clean
out a two-bedroom apartment crammed with radios, TVs, photographs and whatever
else he's added to his collection.
A single man in an apartment designed for
families, Vincent is being relocated to a one-bedroom apartment by the housing
"Anybody with no children and two and a half rooms, they have to
go," he said. "I just can't help it. I wish I could sue the buggers, but there's
nothing I can do."
It's not the distance of the move - his new digs are only
about six blocks away - but the smaller space on the sixth floor that's tough
"I don't like it," he said. "It's like a jail house. There's a bunch
of people in there."
Living alone since his mother died in 1975, Vincent has
accumulated enough bicycles, lawn mowers, photographs and clothing to jam most
of his home and an outdoor shed he calls his "shanty."
"I got two and a half
rooms loaded," he said.
At one point he owned 200 bicycles, a collection that's
been thinned to about 14. He's not entirely sure of the precise number.
couldn't find the right kind of bicycle so I just kept buying them," he said.
William Michael Vincent, 57, Bicycle Willy's nephew and only living relative nearby,
is helping his uncle winnow down his possessions.
Bicycle Willy's collection
contains a little bit of everything, but is mostly comprised of Willy's two passions.
"All his life he liked grass cutters and bicycles," his nephew said. "His life
was riding a bicycle and his life was cutting grass."
Getting up abruptly,
Vincent walked back into his house, then returned with a special hat.
my picture on a hat from Atlantic City," he said. "I only go down there for french
fries and soda. I don't spend a lot of money, but when I see something good I
The hat is emblazoned with the seal of the City of Nanticoke. Pinned
to one side is a round button that is a picture of Vincent wearing the same hat
on his head.
Sort of a hat within a hat.
He settled back into the rocking
chair and put the cap on. The hat's OK, it's going with him.
"I got a lot
of junk in the shanty I've got to get rid of," he said. "I've got pictures on
the walls for memories and I got to take 'em down."
William Michael Vincent
says his uncle has always been a "pack rat."
"Everything was not one but two,
you had to have two to make a pair. If you were to give him one ink pen he'd want
The move may sting, but Vincent's nephew thinks it'll be good for his
uncle to be downtown and around people closer to his age.
"He wanted to stay
there until he died, but I said to him 'Willy, nothing's permanent.'"
process of getting rid of what most people would think is junk has been hard for
his uncle. Even seemingly trivial items carry sentimental freight.
them his memories and it's hard for him to break away from that stuff," William
Michael Vincent said.
Housing authority officials declined to discuss Vincent's
case, but said a recent Department of Housing and Urban Development audit found
many tenants were living in apartments with space that exceeded their needs.
HUD regulations and housing authority lease agreements mandate that tenants be
"appropriately housed," authority lawyer Vito Deluca said. As many as a dozen
residents are being relocated.
Inside American Legion Post 350, a group of
veterans hunkered down around the horseshoe-shaped bar, glancing up occasionally
at a horror movie on the bar TV.
Vincent, a regular visitor, had just made
an appearance about 20 minutes ago.
"Oh everybody knows him," said bartender
"We all call him Bicycle Willy," said John Karpinski from
behind his beer.
"He likes to pedal his ass all around town," another patron
"Eighty-three and strong as a bull," Karpinski added.
mid-comment, Willy strode into the barroom in a black satin jacket, another Atlantic
City acquisition. Paying no attention to the afternoon crowd, he walked toward
a back room.
Chernowski, who had heard about the forced move, thinks the relocation
won't be good for Willy.
"He's not going to last long down there," she said.
Sitting on the Legion stoop, Willy sipped a Pepsi. His bike was parked at the
curb, a sepia-toned picture of his nephew as a young boy rested in the basket.
"You put in the paper what they're doing to me in 2004. They're throwing me out,"
Bicycle Willy, 83, has 60 days to clean out an apartment full of
30 years of memories for a move to a downtown housing authority high rise. "I
might be here in 2005 by the time I get everything
The Citizens Voice home : Letters to the editor
Nanticoke Fire Department
showed compassion and professionalism
Losing a child to death cannot be compared
parent believes that their children are special. Teaching them right from wrong
as they are growing up, as well as teaching them respect for others, as well as
themselves, is a challenging task.
Loosing a child to an untimely death cannot
be compared to anything.
We know we had a very special person in our family,
but we never realized how many of his friends felt the same way.
however, is not about Jim. It is about the greatest group of men and women we
have ever had the pleasure of meeting - the Nanticoke Fire Department.
parent or anyone who has a relative affiliated with this organization should be
very proud of them. This fine group of men and women organized every detail necessary
to let us know how they felt about my son, Jim, who died as a result of a tragic
accident on April 26.
The respect shown to Jim and our family by these firefighters
and their display of professionalism was overwhelming. The people of Nanticoke
should be proud that these men and women are part of their community. They work
hard, they play hard, but above all, they care.
We would also like to thank
everyone who has touched our lives in the past few weeks. You may have been strangers
involved in Jim's rescue - fire companies and EMS personnel from other communities,
acquaintances, or friends - but please know that, in time, you will have helped
ease our pain by caring and being there for us.
Life's a dance, you learn
as you go.
Jackie Bertrand Denise, Tom and D.J. Wrubel
On the mend and in loving arms
reward for information on who is responsible for abusing the animal climbs to
By MARK GUYDISHfirstname.lastname@example.org
The kitten with the clipped
ears may still be nameless, but he's not homeless and certainly not unloved -
the reward for information on who committed the abuse has climbed to $4,100.
A Dennison Township couple adopted the stray Sunday after seeing its story unfold
in newspapers and on TV. Someone had cut off the tips of the cat's ears and left
it wandering the streets of Nanticoke, bleeding profusely.
to that cat, I feel, was totally hideous," said John Munisteri, who, along with
his wife, Lindsay, adopted the cat after its wounds were treated at the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals of Luzerne County.
One reason the
family adopted the cat, Munisteri said, was to replace their 24-year-old cat,
who died last year.
The late Whiskers was actually older than the Munisteri's
eldest child, currently 16. The youngest of four in the house is 9, but that doesn't
include the non-human residents. Chatham, the yellow Labrador Retriever, is 4,
and the as-yet-unnamed kitten is estimated to be 6 months old.
is still "hemming and hawing" about the kitten's name, Munisteri said. They've
been scouring the Internet looking for a moniker that would reflect its courage
and survival, but nothing has fit so far.
When it comes to this cat, mice
aren't the only critters that people want to trap. The reward for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who clipped the ears has climbed
to $4,100, thanks to $2,500 from the Humane Society of the United States, according
to Ed Gross, the director of development at the local SPCA.
The initial reward
was $500 offered by Pittston veterinarian Inayat Kathio, who treated the cat when
it was brought in to the SPCA. He doubled that amount almost before the reward
was announced. Gross said a private individual offered another $100, and a local
night club put up $500.
Anyone with information about the cat's injuries
can call the SPCA at 825-4111. Police are investigating some leads, but nothing
firm. "Whoever did this, they need to be made an example of," said Ed Gross of
Building's Saving Grace
By MARQUES G. HARPER email@example.com
past few months, Bernie Norieka's friends have had plenty to talk about, plenty
of earthly questions to ask regarding Norieka's $50,000 housing find at 316 Pine
St. in the city's Hanover section, an enclave of tightly fitted homes and businesses.
One question, though, comes up regularly, Norieka admits on a recent afternoon.
And it has nothing to do with the new house - a white church with a bell tower
- sitting a few blocks away from his old house of 28 years. It has nothing to
do with Norieka and his wife, Toni, having too much livable space. And certainly
it has nothing to do with how the couple will dust the high ceilings or decorate
the former altar of their new home.
The much-asked question is one about conjugality.
It goes like this: So how are you and your wife going to have sex in a church?
Norieka, 57, has become ready for it - even anticipating that someone eventually
will get up the nerve to ask. He says with a chuckle: "God moved out, and I moved
The idea for the church-to-home project, he says, came from one of his
friends who bought a Sweet Valley church and converted it into a home. While the
friend later sold the church and moved to Philadelphia, the idea stuck with Norieka.
When the opportunity in Nanticoke came his way, Norieka bought the church and
sold the 2,800-square-foot house he shared with his wife a few blocks away. Until
the renovations on the church are completed, the couple are living in their summer
home at Lake Silkworth.
Standing 40 feet off the ground at the top of the
old bell tower, Norieka answers a visitor's questions and checks out the views
from the church.
"It's like this every day," he says, his hair swirling in
the springtime air. "It's always breezy."
From the bell tower, Norieka says,
you can see Montage Mountain Ski Resort, Interstate 81, the nuclear plant in Berwick
and other landmarks within a 12-mile radius. While the views might capture some
guests' eyes and attention, it's really the house as a whole that is the conversation
In 1915, 316 Pine St. was built, but even today pieces of its former
existence as the old St. Joseph's Church, which became part of the Corpus Christi
Parish, remain. These days, though, the building is no longer "God's house," despite
the crucifixes, church Christmas decorations, 9-foot stained-glass windows, shrine
of the Blessed Mother and other religious artifacts that were left behind.
"It's certainly not a worship site," says Maria Orzel, spokeswoman for the Diocese
of Scranton. "In the hearts of many people, it will still be viewed as the former
church. But it's fair to say it's no longer characterized as a worship site."
And therefore, it's fair to say the space now is the house of Norieka.
ago, Norieka says, he and his family attended the Catholic church. However, in
recent years, St. Joseph's and several other area churches have closed because
of dwindling church population numbers and mergers with other parishes. St. Joseph's
closed in 2002 and merged with other parishes to form Corpus Christi.
who is acting as his own general contractor, is working on the renovations of
St. Joseph's with handyman friends, several subcontractors and his wife, who wasn't
too crazy about leaving the couple's last home.
"She didn't like the idea,
but she didn't stop me," says Norieka, who now follows the numbers of ambitious
homeowners and business people nationwide who have turned churches into houses,
nightclubs and stores, among other things.
"I don't have a problem moving
into a church," says Toni Norieka, 56, who has been stripping woodwork at the
She wasn't surprised when her husband wanted to buy St. Joseph's because
he has talked about his idea for years. But she says she isn't a "happy camper"
because the renovations are months from completion.
"Maybe it would be a different
story if the church was renovated and all ready to move in," she says. "This is
a long process. I'm anxious for it to get finished and to see what it will be
Using his own design, the interior look, Bernie Norieka says, will
incorporate a missionstyle or arts-and-crafts theme. In part of the main body
of the church, a spacious kitchen will be equipped with commercial stainless-steel
appliances and a 12-foot-long island. An original church chandelier will be moved
to the center of the space. There will be half-wall dividers to section off the
space similar to a loft.
"I pretty much can see in my mind's eye what this
is going to look like," says Norieka, a furniture designer who has completed renovations
of restaurants and homes.
The former main altar space with its curved ceiling
will be turned into a dining room. The confessional will be converted into storage
In one downstairs corner, a guest suite will be constructed and outfitted
with a large bathroom and whirlpool tub. Upstairs, in the church's balcony, a
master-bedroom suite will offer the appeal of loft space and overlook the great
room, or living room, which has a 16 1/2foot ceiling completed in tin.
of rooms in the master bedroom will include a walkin closet space and an enormous
bathroom with a 10-foot ceiling, whirlpool and separate shower stall.
the interior work is finished, Norieka will tackle the exterior. He plans to alter
the front of the church and add a stone facade and a new front door. And later
he might add a garage or carport to the 145-by-145 yard along with a sunroom and
While there haven't been any expensive project-related mistakes, Norieka
says he doesn't want the revamp to become ornate or overvalued. That's why he's
recycling as many existing pieces as he can, using items from his old house and
shopping at the Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, which takes in
donated building materials, tools and secondhand goods and sells them at a reduced
He also is planning to install new heating and cooling and wiring systems
and much-needed insulation. One thing he won't do is change the aluminum siding,
which he says would be an expensive endeavor.
"The nice part about this is
that it's not ornate," he says, standing on the front steps of the church feet
away from glass doors etched with large crosses. "We call it the church. Everybody
refers to it as a church. It's a building right now that sort of resembles a church."
Overall, Norieka says, the undertaking is his most ambitious project, and he plans
to wrap up a bulk of the work later this fall. So far he estimates having received
250 to 300 requests to see the house and take a tour.
"I'm surprised by the
number of people who say, 'I wanted to do that,"' he says. "Now I'm doing it.
And that's the end of the story."
Marques G. Harper, a Times Leader staff
writer, may be reached at 831-7324.
School aid for Guard children is sought
Help for the kids of soldiers killed
in combat sought by state Rep. Yudichak.
By BONNIE ADAMSfirstname.lastname@example.org
of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who die while on active duty in the state
receive tuition assistance, but children of those killed in combat do not.
State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, wants to amend the legislation so that
children such as Sgt. Sherwood Baker's 9-year-old son will be entitled to 50 percent
state tuition benefits.
Yudichak said he was already looking into the issue
before Baker, of the 109th Field Artillery, was killed in Iraq on April 26. Baker,
30, of Plymouth, was manning a machine gun atop a Humvee when a building exploded,
killing him and another soldier.
"Sgt. Baker's sacrifice really crystallized
our resolve," Yudichak said. He has been working with state National Guard officials
regarding the tuition benefit contained in the Workers' Compensation Act of 1993.
The governor can order National Guardsmen to active duty in Pennsylvania, such
as to assist in emergencies such as floods or civil unrest. But guardsmen also
can be activated by the federal government, as is the case with the 109th Field
Artillery and the 103rd Armor Regiment deployed to the Middle East.
of those who are killed or die as a result of injuries while in state active duty
are entitled to tuition assistance at Pennsylvania's state-owned colleges, universities
or approved trade schools. That assistance continues for eight semesters or four
years, whichever is longer.
Yudichak noted that the state's National Guard
is increasingly involved in world events and Pennsylvania law needs to be changed
to reflect that.
"At the very least, we need to make sure the children of
service members are not cast aside," he said.
Nanticoke puts off sewer access ruling
By JON FOXemail@example.com
Council tabled a request from the Newport Township Authority to grant access for
a sewer line running through a portion of Dan Flood Industrial Park within Nanticoke.
For nearly an hour Wednesday night, Jonathan Spohrer, solicitor for the authority,
explained the request, but council failed to reach a consensus.
to keep this simple," Spohrer said. "The Sewer Authority just wants to maintain
this line for the benefit of the industrial park."
Mayor John Toole, at times
visibly aggravated, asked how an authority created by council could give away
what had previously been under city control.
The sewer line was transferred
from the control of the Nanticoke Industrial Authority to the Newport Township
Authority in May 2003.
"A year's gone by since last May, the first we hear
about this was last week," he said, referring to the introduction of the request
to council at last week's meeting. "It's one of our authorities that we appoint,
and that's wrong. None of us knew what was going on.
The Newport Township
Authority sought possession of the sewer line in order to meet the requirements
necessary for a Pennsylvania Industrial Authority loan to develop the 400 acre
Before the Newport Township Sewer Authority, a separate entity,
accepts control of the line from the Newport Township Authority, officials have
asked to be granted access to perform maintenance.
Toole said he moved to
have the request tabled because "we really don't know what it's about."
unclear how many homes in the city's Honey Pot section are connected to the sewer
line and may be subject to Newport Township sewer fees in the future, Toole said.
In other business:
Council unanimously reappointed Rich Wiaterowski as code
Accepted a bid from Dunmore Roofing & Supply Co.
Inc., of Dunmore, of $37,150 to replace the roof on the city's central fire station.
Opened an environmental study of the Lower Broadway area up for bid.The study
is to be funded by a grant.
Voted down a proposal to combine work sessions
and meetings into a single evening for the months of June, July and August.
Homemade pierogies a hit in L.A.
Eleanor Dzugan, of the Honey Pot section
of Nanticoke, never dreamed that her popular hand-made pierogies would end up
being served in a five-star Hollywood restaurant.
Eleanor's son, Robert, and
daughter-inlaw, Jacquelyn, have a nephew, David Myers, who is an executive chef
and founder of "Sona," a restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif.
Myers was named
by Food and Wine magazine as one of the "Best New Chefs of 2003" and is a finalist
for the May 10 James Beard Award (the Academy Award of the restaurant industry)
to be awarded in New York City He was also recently featured on the April 12 Today
Myers, who had eaten many of Dzugan's pierogies over the years, requested
that Robert and Jacquelyn bring him some during a recent West Coast business trip.
It turned out Myers was entertaining some clients who had never eaten pierogi
He prepared them lightly fried in French butter and then sauteed them
in a red wine and onion reduction sauce.
He called his dish "Pierogi Sona."
It was such a big hit with the LA crowd that Myers is considering making it a
permanent part of his menu.
Could the next California food craze be coming
from Honey Pot?
Authorities doggedly pursue cat mutilator
The telephone was ringing
off the hook at the Luzerne County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
following publication of a story about a cat that had its ears mutilated.
Ed Gross, director of development for the SPCA, reported the community's response
to the animal's plight was overwhelming.
"The reward has grown from $1,000
to $1,600. We've also had some leads on who may have mutilated the cat's ears,"
He said several prospective new caregivers have come forward expressing
an interest in adopting the cat.
"We'd like to remind everyone while this
cat's situation is special, we have many wonderful homeless cats also awaiting
adoption," Gross said.
Over the weekend, the male adult cat, approximately
five or six months old, was taken to the SPCA with both ears mutilated. The cat
was found in Nanticoke bleeding profusely from both ears.
Adoptable pets may
be visited on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.,
Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3
For more information call 8254111.
Man owns up to bank robbery
By Lara Brencklefirstname.lastname@example.org
From: State College Newspaper
STATE COLLEGE - A man arrested in Erie confessed
to robbing a bank in State College Friday, said police, who believe he was simply
passing through the Centre Region and saw an opportunity.
James Henry Spence
III, of West Nanticoke, was arrested Saturday when he was spotted driving a stolen
car in Erie, said State College police.
After his arrest, police said he confessed
to robbing a bank in Nanticoke, in northeastern Pennsylvania, on April 28.
The Omega Bank at 366 E. College Ave. was robbed Friday when a man walked into
the bank and gave a teller a note saying he had a gun and wanted money.
College police learned of the Nanticoke robbery Tuesday, realized it was similar
to the Omega Bank robbery and contacted the Nanticoke Police Department.
College detectives then asked for help from the Scranton and Erie offices of the
FBI. Spence was interviewed by FBI agents and confessed to the Omega Bank robbery,
State College police said it appears Spence was simply traveling
through the area when he decided to rob the bank.
No information was released
on the amount of money taken in the robbery.
Federal bank robbery charges
have been filed against Spence in connection with the Nanticoke robbery. State
College police say they anticipate additional federal charges will be filed against
Spence in connection with the State College robbery.
State College police
said they have not determined whether they will file separate charges in the case.
Reward set in abused kitten case
Cat found in Nanticoke with its ear tips
clipped was brought to the SPCA Sunday.
By MARK GUYDISHemail@example.com
The thought intrudes the moment you see the scrawny kitten, both ear tips clipped
off in precise-looking curves, the scarred line of the wound glaring from his
white and gray fur.
"Cruelty never takes a vacation," said Ed Gross, director
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County. "But
I've never seen an animal come in with ears cut off and I've been here 34 years."
Someone found the stray cat near Noble and Ridge streets in Nanticoke and brought
it in Sunday, Gross said.
The kitten was malnourished and bleeding when it
came in, Gross said. Pittston veterinarian Inayat Kathio sealed the wounds with
a laser, and despite the obvious abuse, the cat is remarkably friendly, rolling
and purring on the steel clinic table as Gross showed the damage done.
so underfed you can see his ribs," Gross pointed out. "But he's going to recover
Gross said one possible excuse for the mutilation was a perverse
sort of personal training. "A lot of people who have pit bulls crop the ears on
their dogs, which is illegal," He said. "They practice on smaller, unsuspecting
Cropping pit bull ears is meant to make them harder to hurt
in illegal fights. "Ears have a lot of nerves and bleed a lot," making them liabilities
in a fierce fight.
Gross said the mutilation was likely done with "a knife
or scissors and with no anesthetic.
"Whoever did it probably had help, someone
to hold the cat down."
The abuse so enraged Kathio that he has offered a $1,000
reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.
Anyone with information should call the SPCA at 825-4111. Officials say the call
will be confidential.
The mutilation qualifies as a second-degree misdemeanor
punishable with a fine from $500 to $5,000 and up to two years in jail, Gross
Perhaps ironically, the glaring example of animal abuse comes at the
start of Be Kind to Animals week, May 2-8.
"If somebody is out there and did
this, chances are if they get hold of another cat they'll do it again," Gross
said. "I'm afraid to think what they might be capable of doing."
2 sought in robbery of bank
appears connected with the nearby theft of a car Wednesday, police say.
City police are looking for two men in connection
with a robbery at First National Community Bank on Wednesday.
A man entered
the bank on South Market Street at 11:45 a.m., wrote on a withdrawal slip and
handed it to a teller. It said, "Have a gun, want 20's, 50's and 100's," according
to a news release.
The teller, who complied with the demand, said the man
had his right hand inside his coat pocket, making her believe he had a gun, police
said. The man left the bank with the money in his hand.
Detective Bill Shultz
said Thursday authorities would not release how much money was taken.
said she saw the robber walk north on Market Street.
Shortly after, witnesses
saw two men stealing a blue 1991 Lincoln from Orchard Street, which is behind
the bank, Shultz said. One of the men matched the appearance of the robber, the
The theft was reported about 20 minutes after the bank heist.
The robbery suspect is described as a white male, about 6 feet tall, 200 pounds,
clean shaven with brown hair. He was wearing a blue, waist-length winter jacket,
blue jeans and a blue baseball cap.
The man seen stealing the car with the
robber is described as short.
The investigation is being conducted by the
Nanticoke Police Department and FBI, with assistance from state police at Wyoming
and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office.
Anyone with information
is asked to call the city Police Department at 735-2200, ext. 3205; Email the
Nanticoke Police Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
; call the FBI's Scranton office at 344-2404; or the county 911 center
Strip Mine Drowning
By BONNIE ADAMSemail@example.com
recovered the body of firefighter James Bertrand on Monday from the same water-filled
strip mining pit where five people drowned in 1998 when their vehicle broke through
State police said Bertrand was a passenger in a Jeep that sank in
15 to 20 feet of water between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Monday. The woman driving the
vehicle, Sally Jo Sanders, 33, of Glen Lyon, managed to escape through an open
window, swim to shore and was later found wandering along a roadway.
County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Bertrand, 30, of Nanticoke. State
police Trooper Martin Connors said Sanders was driving when her Jeep failed to
negotiate a curve and entered the water.
Connors said state police are continuing
their investigation into Bertrand's death. He said Sanders was taken to Community
Medical Center in Scranton where she was treated and released.
sister, Denise Wrubel of Glen Lyon, said her husband called her at work Monday
morning to tell about her younger brother's death. "He loved life," Wrubel said.
"He was the biggest guy you'd want to meet, but the biggest teddy bear," she said.
Wrubel said her brother, who was single, worked in construction and was a generous
"He went out with his buddies," she said. Wrubel said he enjoyed NASCAR
races and watching football.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Mike Bohan said Bertrand
had been a volunteer firefighter for the past 12 years. He said eight fire department
personnel who knew him assisted Newport Township at the scene. "They're taking
it kind of rough right now," Bohan said.
He described Bertrand as a "big strapping
guy" who liked to hunt and fish. The two had hunted deer from a cabin in Bradford
County. "He was fun-loving, a great guy to know."
"He's been a friend of mine
for 12 years," Bohan said. He said he had no idea why Bertrand would go to the
strip mining area where his fire department had assisted after five people drowned
on Jan. 1, 1998.
Luzerne County Coroner Dr. George Hudock performed an autopsy
Monday afternoon at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. County Deputy Coroner Bill
Lisman said the cause of death has been ruled a drowning. The manner of death,
however, remains under investigation.
Lisman said it took Sanders several
hours to walk from the scene to seek help. County 911 spokeswoman Liz Linskey
said a motorist found her wandering along a roadway at approximately 6:30 a.m.
Lisman described the scene as an extremely remote area and said it took about
20 minutes for all-terrain vehicles to reach it. He said the Jeep was upright
and visible beneath the water. Lisman said a dive team removed Bertrand from the
Police and emergency vehicles formed a staging area along Industrial
Park Road, several miles from the scene. Todd Jones, of Larksville, vice president
of the Black Diamond ATV Club, said the group used five all-terrain vehicles to
assist emergency workers in gaining access to the scene.
A black pickup truck
and a procession of ATVs returned to the staging area at 10:50 a.m. Emergency
personnel held up a tattered, blue blanket to shield Bertrand's body from view
as it was moved from the truck onto a gurney and placed in the coroner's van.
Newport Township manager Larry Grove said the property where the strip mining
pit is located belongs to Earth Conservancy, which owns thousands of acres of
former mine land throughout the county.
Conservancy Chief Executive Officer
Mike Dziak said he was told that the death occurred in the same pit as the 1998
accident. Dziak said that if it is the same location, it is owned by the conservancy.
Dziak said the land has been posted and is designated as Pennsylvania state Game
Lands. He said the state Game Commission imposes fines on trespassers. "Are there
signs there today? I don't know," he said.
"It's just an impossible situation
to control," he said. Dziak said the area around the pit was posted and rock barriers
were put in place after the 1998 deaths.
"People take signs down and move
things," Dziak said. He said Earth Conservancy owns 4,700 acres of land in Newport
Grove said the township tries to stop all-terrain vehicle traffic
in that area by ticketing trespassers who park along Industrial Park Road to unload
their ATVs. "It's just so difficult to stop this."
He said there are three
or four ways to gain access to the mining pit. "It's a party place for kids,"
Neighbors in a stink over dog
Animal's owner, woman next door argue
if feces odor is public nuisance.
By JON FOX - firstname.lastname@example.org
sat at her kitchen table, flipping through the pages of a painstakingly prepared
Each snapshot shows a chainlink fence in the foreground, behind
which sits the subject of the photo on a lawn of neatly trimmed, green grass.
It's not one of Gorski's grandkids. The 78-year-old never had any children. Rather
it's the calling card of her neighbor's dog, Duke.
"Can you imagine living
by something like that?" she asked, referring to six pages worth of slightly overexposed
photographs. "That's dog crap."
Rich Brogan, her neighbor at the corner of
Grand and Chestnut streets, just doesn't clean up after the German shepherd, she
Brogan responds that Gorski's complaints are unfounded, characterizing
her remarks as harassment.
Good fences might make good neighbors, but the
low chainlink barrier separating these two postage stamp yards doesn't do anything
to impede the free exchange of odors, Gorski said.
"I open the windows - there's
my dining room, here's my kitchen - my whole house smells from the dog. Oh, the
The dog, she said, uses only a small portion of Brogan's yard to
do its business, a patch of lawn Gorski passes each time she uses her back door.
Brogan said Duke, whose framed portrait sits on a coffee table in his living room,
can use any part of the yard he pleases; it is, after all, his yard.
he said, has complained for about a year, but the complaints escalated inexplicably
in the dead of winter.
"Middle of winter, there's three feet of snow on the
ground, and she's complaining about dog crap in the yard."
The yard, he said,
never went more than three days without Duke's business being skimmed from the
"The only time it was really bad was probably when the snow melted,"
said Brogan's wife, Sherri. With the fair weather, yard cleanups will probably
occur more often, she added.
The dispute has taken on a decidedly less neighborly
tone, with both parties saying the argument has degenerated to name-calling across
"I contacted an attorney," Brogan said. "I want to file harassment
charges against her."
Gorski said she's made repeat trips to police, demanding
action to end the malodorous incursions into her home through open windows.
"I've been everywheres and anywheres for three years trying to get help, and that
dog makes piles and piles." Past the photos in Gorski's album, pages of Post-it
notes document the dates and responses she receive from city officials.
city's response hasn't been what she's hoped for. "They come, they look at it
and they walk away."
Gorski said when Brogan gets around to collecting the
waste in his yard it fills a trash can, a claim Brogan disputes.
acknowledged, have visited his home, but he said they saw no problem with his
On her last visit to authorities, Gorski said, an officer told her he
would look into issuing a nuisance citation that carries a fine between $25 and
The municipal nuisance ordinance provides defense against anything either
"offensive to the senses" or that "interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of
life and property" such as "all disagreeable or obnoxious odors and stenches."
According to police, the case remains under investigation and no citation has
As far as regulations regarding defecating dogs in the city,
Brogan's point that it's his yard and his dog's prerogative rings true.
to the ordinances, Duke can go and go and go as long as he stays on Brogan's property.
Any wafting stenches, however, could elevate the situation to a nuisance.
City Administrator Greg Gulick said the city tries to stay out of all neighborhood
disputes, but said excessive feces in a yard is a "health hazard."
one person last year," describing a spring thaw that revealed a yard littered
with feces. "When the warm weather came, we went and warned the neighbor."
The city, he said, rarely gets complaints such as Gorski's, but when they do the
threat of a citation generally gets some results.
"Once they know that you're
not messing around" yards get cleaned.
Nanticoke and Kingston grant free license
to dogs at home, but if things get out of control, feces-littered yards could
be deemed either a nuisance or unsanitary.
Fire destroys Nanticoke duplex
A two and a half story duplex home at
205-207 E. State St., Nanticoke, was destroyed in a fire that broke out Tuesday
about 4 a.m.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Michael Bohan said the home was occupied
by Bill DeGraffenreid, Bonnie Wysocki and her children, Leah, 16, Lee, 15, and
Ryan, 13. The other half at 207 E. State St. was unoccupied.
Bohan said, "When
we arrived on scene, the home had fire on the second floor at 205, and it progressed
to the attic and numerous void spaces. Severe fire damage was sustained to the
second and third floors."
Responding were 25 firefighters, three engines,
a hook and ladder truck, Medic 25, Nanticoke and Medic 9 from Hanover Township.
When the second alarm sounded, the Hanover Township Fast Team and Engine 6 from
Hanover Township rushed to the scene shortly after 4 a.m.
the firefighters in preventing the fire from spreading to the home at 201 E. State
St. and St. John's Lutheran Church, next to the burning wood structure.
firefighters were treated for minor burns.
Crime Watch of Hanover section of Nanticoke to participate in community clean-up
For the 14th year, the Neighborhood Crime Watch of the Hanover section
of Nanticoke will join its neighbors in the annual statewide clean up campaign.
Gov. Edward Rendell has asked all residents to participate by sweeping their sidewalks
and cleaning tree lawns and curb areas.
The Crime Watch group will assemble
between 8 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, at the Quick-Mart on Middle Road and
Espy Street to receive street assignments and begin the clean up.
permits, the group also will clean a few catch basins that need attention.
You don't have to be a member of the Crime Watch group to participate. Everyone
is welcome. Supplies, such as gloves and trash bags, will be provided.
the group a hand in cleaning up the neighborhoods. Even an hour or so will be
Nanticoke ready to join statewide cleanup effort
By Robert Kalinowski
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
few Nanticoke residents are calling their neighbors to action, asking them to
take part in the 2004 Great Pennsylvania Cleanup on April 24.
About a dozen
residents that comprise the Nanticoke Civic Pride Committee are spearheading the
effort. In the past, the group has concentrated on the restoration and cleanup
of Patriot Square.
Now, they are asking fellow citizens to do some cleaning
in front of the homes, comparable to the cleanup held in Wilkes-Barre a few weeks
This will coincide with the state sponsored cleanup on April 24, a project
designed by Governor Ed Rendell.
"What we want to do is motivate people,"
explained Theresa Sowa, co-chairwoman of the Nanticoke Civic Pride Committee.
"We want everybody during that week to clean the debris in front of their homes."
The retired Enterprise Street resident said a clean community promotes a better
image to attract good-mannered residents and potential business owners.
have to have pride in your community. That's how I feel," Sowa explained. "I remember
complaining about how dirty it was downtown. That's how we really got started."
Sowa said the committee and their past work has been aided by city Councilwoman
Yvonne Bozinski. Since then, Councilmen John Bushko and Joe Dougherty have joined
the committee to help, Sowa said.
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole said he has seen
city residents and employees already doing some after-winter cleaning and hopes
the trend continues after this month's large cleanup.
Toole said, unlike the
Wilkes-Barre cleanup, there wouldn't be a special pick up for the debris residents
collect. He suggested residents place the debris in garbage bags and include it
in their regular garbage pick up.
of Nanticoke still in debt
Paving may be limited to just a couple streets
By John N. Hemsley Citizens' Voice Correspondent
City of Nanticoke is in the red - again.
Nanticoke's expenditures expect to
exceed their revenues by an estimated $151,000 by the end of the year, according
to Susan Bennet, certified public accountant.
Even though the city is in debt,
it is lower than last year's total of unpaid bills, which was at $232,000.
This is cutting into the efforts of paving many of Nanticoke's streets.
not going to be able to do that (paving)," said Nanticoke Mayor John Toole.
Paving might be limited to only two streets for this year.
According to Nanticoke
City Council, part of the reason why this is happening is due to the lack of money
coming in from the water company.
"The water company hasn't been paying at
all," said Councilman Bill Brown. "We have to take a stance.
"They are digging
up to repair waterlines and not paying permit fees," said Brown.
Water Co. is Nanticoke's supplier.
In other business, a time clock being installed
at the city's fire and police departments and in the city hall building turned
into a heated debate.
Residents feel that city employees should be held accountable
for their time on the job by using a time clock and not by writing it down.
One Nanticoke resident believes time clocks should be installed.
it's necessary for fire, police, and the city," said East Noble Street resident
Joan Watkins. "They put it on paper and you have to take their word for it."
Police want to know who killed animals
Struckus , Citizens' Voice Intern
investigation was being conducted Monday that could point the finger at possible
suspects responsible for the mutilation of animals found Friday in a wooded area
off West Main Street, near the border of Nanticoke and Newport Township, said
Nanticoke City police.
However, Nanticoke Police Sgt. William Shultz stressed
that the investigation is still being conducted and all possible situations are
being looked at to find out who was responsible.
"There is a lot of information
we have to address, and we're trying to look at all the aspects of the story,"
Wildlife Conservation Officer Thomas Swiech said that it appears
that the remains, which were found piled on top of each other, are those of several
deer, a coyote, two foxes, and an owl.
Nanticoke police believe that some
feathers from birds and remnants of cats were also found, but nothing has been
Sgt. Shultz said that police officials have received several
complaints about peculiar behavior around the area where the animals were found.
"There have been reports of individuals, dressed in black, and standing around
the fire," he stated.
Other reports were also confirmed of an eyewitness seeing
animals being propped up with sticks, as if in a ritualistic style.
and Nanticoke police were working from a tip from an anonymous individual who
said a shotgun was seen being handled by the group who may have been involved
with the killings and called police after the group spotted the person and pointed
the gun at the person.
"Something is going on," Shultz said. "Something is
wrong, and we need to address it."
Anyone who has information can call Newport
Township police at 735-2001; Nanticoke police at 735-4000; the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County at 825-4111; or the Pennsylvania
Game Commission at 675-1143.
Turning a Dump into a Park
By Mark E. Jonesemail@example.com
he never aspired to the role, Gary Gronkowski has become a guru of garbage.
He can judge the approximate age of a trash heap based on what types of tires
it contains. (Beer cans serve as an equally good barometer, he says.)
knows that a pile of discarded asphalt shingles will - when exposed to the elements
long enough - turn to goo and require that he use a pitchfork to poke it apart.
That, in essence, explains why the Nanticoke Conservation Club president was recently
perturbed by a stack of roofing material that had been dumped in a field not far
from the Susquehanna River. "This is the stuff that (ticks) me off," said Gronkowski,
38, jabbing a finger toward the debris. "It's fresh. It's probably been left by
a fly-by-night contractor who didn't want to pay to get rid of the stuff."
Here's the good news: The shingles, plus mounds of nearby litter and abandoned
household items, will soon be gone.
Later this month a crew consisting of
conservation club members and other volunteers will conduct a trash pickup at
the site, known to most Nanticoke residents as Lower Broadway. The event is set
for Saturday, April 24, 2004.
It's one of several local projects scheduled
to coincide with the first "Great Pennsylvania Cleanup," a statewide antipollution
effort. Promoters at the state Department of Environmental Protection are urging
groups to get involved by calling 1-888-548-8372 or visiting this Web address:
the concept appears to be catching on. The state's Web site indicates litter pickups
are planned at about a dozen Luzerne County spots, including Forty Fort, Plymouth
Township, Frances Slocum State Park and White Haven. Officials also have announced
that volunteer crews will scour sections of Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre.
thw Wyoming Valley Watershed Coalition and its partners are soliciting volunteers
for five local projects, including the one in Lower Broadway.
perceptions of site
The partially wooded site, which borders busy Broadway
Street, has particular importance to many residents because it's been earmarked
as the future location of a public park.
One day, as planners envision it,
the park might encompass about 300 acres. It would include fitness trails and
soccer fields. Maybe a skate park. Perhaps even an environmental center.
cost of creating the park could exceed $1 million, according to one early estimate
of land acquisition and related expenses. State and other grants will likely help
to pay for it.
In the meantime, the project's supporters simply want to start
changing residents' perceptions of the long neglected property, said Tony Margelewicz,
chairman of the Nanticoke Greenway Alliance.
"We want to make it known that
it's not a dumping ground," he said. "Someday there will be children playing on
Scout groups and members of Nanticoke Civic Pride are expected to help
haul away junk on April 24, Gronkowski said. "It's just like anything, if you
want to sell it, you clean it up first," he said. "We're not selling anything,
but we need the public buy-in (for the park to succeed)."
If Iron Eyes Cody
were alive, the American Indian would certainly shed more than a single tear over
the mess marring Nanticoke.
The actor, linked indelibly to those Keep America
Beautiful commercials of the 1970s, died in 1999. So, respectfully, we ask that
you take a gander at this partial list of junk strewn over the city's Lower Broadway
section, then picture for yourself how it looks.
An upholstered car seat.
Several plastic clothes baskets.
A faded and partially deflated Wilson basketball.
A vacuum cleaner.
A flattened McDonald's french fries container.
An Everlast flip-flop.
A Trailrider tire.
A Westinghouse television.
A crumpled car body.
A wood pallet.
Empty Budweiser, Coors and Coors Light bottles.
as trash site
Gronkowski, who picked up his litter savvy during previous service
projects at an area stream, took a preliminary tour of this month's cleanup site.
He tallied tires and took stock of other hard-to-remove items. Among them: a crumpled
body and a lumber pile.
While there, he encountered Nanticoke resident
Walter Uranowski, 76, who said he frequently walks through the area. "Every time
I come here, there's more and more junk," said Uranowski, bristling at a barrier
formed by newly discarded boards. "You know, if the cops parked here from time
to time, they'd make enough money to pay their salaries."
that's probably not the case. The area is too dark. And illegal dumpers arrive
at odd hours. Besides, he later said, "there's illegal dumping in every state,
every corner where no one's looking."
Still, he and other residents believe
the problem has become particularly pronounced in Northeast Pennsylvania. In part,
that's due to the region's abundance of former coal mining tracts and other abandoned
parcels, which allow for an "out-of-sight, outof-mind mentality," he said.
"We have more remote areas, more unpatrolled areas with easy access," said Gronkowski.
"I mean, I got my Saturn in here. Imagine a guy in a pickup truck - no problems."
Later that day, an elderly couple tried to drive through the
then turned back at the wood-debris barricade.
The duo recalled that, back
in its heyday, this area contained a basketball court and a dance hall. "Boy,
if the people who used to live in Lower Broadway saw it today," the man said,
"they'd roll over in their graves."
Doctor blamed for causing
drug overdose death of man
By Edward Lewis , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
A convicted Nanticoke
doctor is being blamed in a five-count civil lawsuit for causing the drug overdose
death of 42-year-old Kevin Sweeney on March 1, 2000.
Sweeney died less than
24 hours after Dr. Laureano M. Manuel had prescribed him Diazepam and methadone,
according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Luzerne County Court by Attorney Joseph
Lache represents Joseph E. Sweeney, who was appointed administrator
of his brother's estate.
According to the lawsuit, Kevin Sweeney had suffered
from back pain, depression and an opiate addiction. He had sought treatment from
a number of physicians for his back pain until Dr. Manuel began treating him in
Dr. Manuel had seen Sweeney on average of once a week to 10
days between September 1999 to Feb. 29, 2000.
During that time, the lawsuit
alleged, Dr. Manuel had prescribed Sweeney a number of controlled substances,
including Zanax, Corisoprodol, Amitriptyline and Hydrocodone, which is an opiate.|
On Feb. 29, 2000, Dr. Manuel had prescribed Sweeney Diazepam and methadone.
Less than a day later, he was found unresponsive at his Hanover Township home.
According to the lawsuit, Sweeney died from cardio- respiratory depression and
arrest due to a drug overdose from medication prescribed by Dr. Manuel.
death of Sweeney was the direct result of negligence of Dr. Manuel, the lawsuit
It further claimed Dr. Manuel did not have knowledge, formal training
or education in the diagnosis care and treatment of back pain, depression and
Dr. Manuel is being accused of negligence, fraud and misrepresentation,
survival action and wrongful death. Each count seeks $50,000.
Dr. Manuel was
convicted by a Luzerne County jury on Sept. 11, 2002, of two counts each of Medicaid
fraud and prescription of a controlled substance to a drug dependent person and
one count of prescription of a controlled substance not in accordance with treatment
He was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison on Oct. 15,
2002, but had been free on $75,000 bail while he appealed his sentence.
state Superior Court earlier this year affirmed his punishment and the state attorney
general's office filed a petition in county court seeking to revoke his bail.
A hearing on the attorney general's petition has not been scheduled. Dr. Manuel
lived in Berwick but had his office at 294 E Union St., Nanticoke
Circular 'altar' with animal remains in Newport Township a mystery
Nanticoke Police note: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 735-2200 if you have any information concerning this article
TWP. - Township and Nanticoke City police are investigating a pile of about 25
to 30 burned and mutilated animal remains found in a "circular-type altar" in
a wooded area, police said.
Nanticoke Officer Kevin Grevera said police received
a call last week notifying them of the pit found behind the 500 block of West
Main Street in Nanticoke. The location is within neighboring Newport Township's
Remains of birds, dogs, deer and cats were detected in the stone
pit, which has a circumference of about 30 feet, he said.
Grevera also said
officers recently received a complaint of a black Labrador retriever being found
with its paws cut off.
The find is being investigated by the two police departments,
the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals and the Pennsylvania Game
Grevera said he could not speculate if the slayings are related
to any type of satanic rituals.
"It's fairly obvious that it isn't legitimate
hunters or trappers," he said. "We do have additional information we are following
Most of the animals in the pit have been reduced to bones. Others
appear skinned, but their bodies still mainly intact. Some fur was visible, along
with deer legs - chopped inches above the hooves.
The sight raised enough
ire in Nanticoke resident John Hall to make him want to start a reward through
the police department to offer anyone who helps bring an arrest. He wants to start
the reward with $250 of his own.
Nanticoke Police note: e-mail us at email@example.com
or call 735-2200 if you have any information concerning this article
Hall and his friend, Robert Belcher Jr., learned of the pit after Belcher's
15-year-old son discovered it while riding an all-terrain vehicle. Hall is familiar
with the area, where he walks his dog.
"I'm out here every day," Hall said.
"When I heard about this, I thought, 'Oh, how terrible.'°"
officer was unsure how long the remains had been at the location. Any charges
filed in the investigation will be done with guidance from the district attorney's
"There are a lot of cruelty to animal charges which are applicable,
in addition to reckless burning and conspiracy," Grevera said.
been many brush and garbage fires in the area recently, Grevera said. But the
remote location makes if tough for police to watch.
"It's one of those areas
we have a great deal of difficulty patrolling," he said.
Nanticoke Council Adopts State Uniform Construction Code
Skrapits Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Nanticoke City Council voted at
Monday night's work session to opt in for enforcement of the state Uniform Construction
Code, but will need to find a new building inspector to do it. Council unanimously
passed the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the city to administrate
and enforce the Uniorm Construction Code, a statewide mandate that estabishes
a minimum of five mandatory inspections on all residential and commercial construction.
The opt in/opt out period starts April 9 and ends July 8. Opting in means a municipali:y
can use its own employee, if properly certified to perform the inspections, contract
out to a third party, or partner with one or more other municipalities for the
service. Opting out means the state Department of Labor and Industry would handle
UCC enforcement and administration.
Building Inspector/Zoning Officer Richard
Wiaterowski is certified in BOCA code, except for electrical, and could be certified
for UCC, City Administrator Greg Gulick said. However, Wiaterowski gave his resignation,
effective April 9, due to his taking on a job with the Luzerne County Corrections
Department. Solicitor Bernard Kotulak said the city will have to get another building
inspector, but the ordinance is to acknowledge to the state that the city is going
to enforce the UCC itself.
Council agreed to speak with Wiaterowski about
staying on part-time until a replacement could be found.
Mayor John Toole
said the city "definitely" needs a full-time building inspector.
business, council passed a resolution to authorize Gulick to apply for $87,091
in Department of Community and Economic Development funds to pave East Church
Street from Walnut to Market streets. Gulick said the grant, which would include
paving, engineering fees, and audit costs, is part of DCED's "Elm Street" program.
Council passed a resolution to transfer the city's property at 126-128 West Ridge
St. to the Nanticoke Housing Authority, to be signed over to Habitat for Humanity
for the construction of homes.
Kotulak said the property has a common driveway
and an encroachment. which makes it undesirable for most construction.
John Bushko protested that the city should try to sell properties it was not using.
First attempt at biathlon a golden charm for Nanticoke resident
resident Matt Emelett competes in the winter biathlon at the Empire State Games
By DAVE KONOPKI - davek(@leader.net
in December, Matt Emelett decided to attend an introduction to biathlon clinic
in upstate New York.
"I saw the sport on television a couple of times and
it looked like a lot of fun," said the Nanticoke resident. "But I had never competed
in a biathlon event in my life."
Now he's a gold medalist in the sport.
The 20-year-old recently won the gold in the Individual Biathlon Event at the
Empire State Winter Games in New York. The event was held at Mount Von Hoevenburg
in Lake Placid and Emelett competed in the novice division.
The sport of winter
biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Competitors race various
distances between shooting stations, where they can deduct seconds or minutes
from their time. In summer biathlon, the skiing is replaced by running.
didn't have lofty goals entering the Empire State Games.
"My goal was to just
finish the race," said the sophomore physical therapy major at Wilkes University.
"I was in complete shock when I knew I'd won. When they called my name, I was
in complete disbelief."
Inspired by his finish, Emelett continues to train
for the biathlon and plans to enter several summer biathlon events. He also has
a long-term goal of making the U.S. Olympic team.
"It might be five or six
years away, but I think it could be a realistic goal," said Emelett, who is a
member of the cycling team at Wilkes. "I just need to continue my training and
get a little faster."
Honey Pot official backs playground fence plan
By Elizabeth Skrapits
Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
safety measure soon to be installed at the Garfield Street Playground in the Honey
Pot section of Nanticoke has at least one neighbor singing, "Don't Fence Me In."
Linda Purshinski, vice-president of the Honey Pot Recreation Association, said
the organization has discussed putting up a fence around the playground for three
years and raised the approximately $6,000 it will cost through donations.
"We want it to be safe for the kids," Purshinski said. "We feel it will be more
In the past, when there were problems such as noise complaints, the
Nanticoke police said "they couldn't do anything until they knew the parameters
of the playground," Purshinski said.
She said signs will be posted indicating
the playground will only be open from dawn until dusk, but in order for the rule
to be enforced by police, a fence has to be installed.
The four-foot chain-link
fence will be added along the existing 12-foot fence to form a rectangle around
the playground, Purshinski said.
The cause of the controversy is that when
the fence goes up, the neighboring property owner, Richard Ryncavage, will lose
parking spaces for his apartment building. Additionally, there are concerns
that the fence will go all the way down to the street, but Purshinski stresses
this is not the case.
"We don't want to be mean," she said. "They have a wrong
impression of what we're doing."
The Recreation Association claims the fence
will only be on land that is technically part of the playground.
ago, the Greater Nanticoke Area school district received the Garfield Street property
from a now-defunct coal company, Purshinski said. The playground, she noted, was
formerly part of the Garfield Street School.
The deed states the property
can be used for education or recreation or it would revert back to the coal company.
Since the coal company no longer exists, the school district is responsible for
The district leases the property to the city of Nanticoke, which
in turn leases it to the Honey Pot Recreation Association, Purshinski said.
She explained that under the lease, the association is allowed to make improvements
to the property, and the school district has been very supportive of the Recreation
No one hurt when pipe bomb detonates in Nanticoke
By Robert Kalinowski
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
pipe bomb found inside a Nanticoke residence on Wednesday afternoon blew up as
the Scranton Bomb Squad tried to perform a "render safe" procedure to disable
The explosion shattered three windows and caused minor exterior
damage to 170 W. Green St., where the bomb was found.
No one was injured as
a result of the blast.
This was the first time such a bomb exploded as the
Scranton Bomb Squad attempted to perform the procedure, police said.
capped on both sides, was approximately 10 to 12 inches long and three-quarters
The residents of the home found the bomb on a shelf in an unused
closet while preparing for upcoming remodeling.
The family has lived in the
residence for several years, so authorities suspect previous residents may have
left the bomb there.
Authorities were dispatched to the home just after 4
p.m. for a call that a bomb was discovered at the residence.
crews arrived at and secured the scene, asked nearby residents to temporarily
leave their homes, and called in the Scranton Bomb Squad.
When the bomb unit
arrived, it attempted to perform the "render safe" procedure.
could be likened to detonation, but not exactly, police said.
The squad carefully
delivered the bomb to the yard of the residence. From there, the squad attempted
the procedure, which was performed as crews stood at a distance from the device,
Normally, crews would break the bomb open from a distance and
"make it safe," police said.
However, when they tried to do this, the unexpected,
but "contained," blast occurred, police said.
Crews finished the job soon
after and left the scene at about 7:30 p.m. All residents were safe to return
to their homes Wednesday night, police said.
Nanticoke police said the investigation
is continuing and the incident will be reported to the federal Bureau of Alcohol
Tobacco and Firearms
Crew detonates pipe bomb found in home
The device was found in a never-used
closet in a West Green Street home.
By LANE FILLERfirstname.lastname@example.org
the pipe bomb was found in Steve Lappano's house; after it was removed; and after
it exploded outside, taking several of his windows with it, it seemed the man's
night might finally take a turn for the better Wednesday.
It was not to be.
When Lappano called PG Energy, as advised by Nanticoke Fire Chief Michael Bohan,
to have his gas turned back on, he was repeatedly told there would be a $90 charge
to have it done.
"I'm not paying it," Lappano yelled into the phone as he
strode through his quaint but broken-glass strewn backyard. "A bomb just exploded
outside my house. I didn't ask anyone to turn the gas off, and I'm not paying
to get it turned back on."
It started at about 4 p.m. at Lappano's home on
170 W. Green St. in Nanticoke. Lappano's father-in-law, helping with some renovations,
peered into a closet Lappano and his wife had never used in their two to three
years in the house, and saw what appeared to be a pipe bomb.
Police and firefighters
were summoned and they in turn summoned the Scranton Bomb Squad, which got the
device outside. They it began a procedure called "render safe," during which the
pipe bomb was detonated.
"It was very loud, very shocking," Bohan said of
the detonation, which happened at about 6 p.m. "I've really never heard of anything
like this in my 27 years in firefighting.
No one was hurt and Lappano seemed
to be holding up well under the absurdity of the situation. He said he had no
idea how the bomb could have gotten into his house or who could have put it there.
At about 7:30, as the firefighters were ready to leave, Lappano said "I just realized
I've got no heat." The firefighters said he should call PG Energy, and Lappano
He was less genial 20 minutes later, after talking to several
PG Energy employees and at least one supervisor, when he stormed out of the house
and got in his car, looking for justice and gas.
"They want to charge me almost
$100 bucks," Lappano told a neighbor. "It's insane."
Justice, common sense
and human kindness prevailed, however. By 9 p.m., PG Energy employees had turned
the gas back on, at no charge to Lappano.
"It was a mix-up between customer
service and the guys who actually handle this stuff," Lappano said via telephone,
sounding much more relaxed.
Council Reviews Nanticoke Finances
By Elizabeth Skrapits-Citizens'
Voice Staff Writer
finances were among the main issues at Wednesday night's Nanticoke council meeting.
Resident Alma Berlot asked Councilman William Brown, as finance director, why
city employees were recently given $1,000 raises. "It was done covertly," she
Brown denied that council "went under the table" in dealing with the
He said the employees' contract had been negotiated, and three
out of the four council members had voted for it.
Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski
said she did not agree with the contract, so had voted no.
Mayor John Toole
said he did not vote for the contract because the raises it included were not
in the budget.
Toole noted that cuts in expenditures have not been made, and
the city could face a shortfall of $150,000 by the end of the year.
business, council voted unanimously to approve the application for a Community
Development Block Grant of $458,854 to be used for various projects, including
On a related subject, Councilman John Bushko asked whether the
city could move forward with the demolition of the former TP Jones furniture store
on South Hanover Street.
Engineer Ben Sevenski of Pasonick Associates said
emergency bidding had been done when the site partially collapsed last June; Popple
Construction came in as the low bidder.
Nanticoke woman still moved to serve
Former teacher who volunteers at VA
doesn't let MS stop her
By BONNIE ADAMS - email@example.com
War II veteran Doris Merrill zipped down the medical center hallway and out of
sight in her motorized wheelchair.
The 80-year-old was off to a therapy room
where she regularly volunteers to help patients at the Department of Veterans
Affairs Medical Center.
There, she teased patient Henry Harter, 91, of Stillwater,
and he teased back. That's how the banter often goes between Merrill and her fellow
"Now you know why I like to volunteer," she said afterward. She
loves listening to the veterans' stories.
"I'm still needed," she said.
Merrill helps with a veterans' newsletter and competes in athletic events. She
won five gold medals in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in New York City
Merrill, of Nanticoke, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age
23, shortly after getting out of the Navy in 1946.
She remains genuine in
her humor, laughter and compassion. The former Nanticoke public school teacher
is vibrant and talkative, except when her illness brings her down.
lost her sight, her voice and her hair in 1978. From her room in another area
hospital, she overheard someone say that she had only 24 hours to live. "There's
no way I'm dying," Merrill thought. She tried a different drug therapy and eventually
When asked if she is a determined person, she replied, "If I have
Merrill was teaching at John S. Fine High School in Nanticoke when
her multiple sclerosis affected her ability to walk. Football and basketball players
regularly carried her up the stairs of the building.
"I could not have taught
without those kids at Nanticoke High School," she said. Even now, she hears from
former students there and at Wilkes University, where she also taught.
students kept vigil with her husband when Merrill was so sick in 1978. She said
the kindness she has given to others has returned to her tenfold.
good to me," she said.
The oldest of four children, she enlisted in the Navy
in 1944. Merrill wanted to do her part for the war effort after her brother, George,
joined the Navy.
She worked in Naval Intelligence at Cape May, N.J., where
she met the Marine corporal she would marry. A photo of her wedding party is displayed
in a case at the medical center. Merrill is wearing a white Navy dress uniform,
and her late husband, Paul, and their attendants are wearing dark uniforms.
"It was the best 37 years," she said of their marriage. Their son, Paul, lives
in Kingston. Their younger son, George, died 8 1/2 hours after birth.
one time in my life I got very bitter," Merrill said. But the self- pity subsided
when she realized she still had her son, Paul, to raise.
The grandmother of
three said she wanted to live long enough to become a great-grandmother. That
happened in October with the birth of her grandson's daughter, Olivia.
the Lord says 'Go,' I'll go."
Rendell links tax reform to passage of gambling measure
By James Conmy
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
Ed Rendell was in Nanticoke on Thursday night promising to bring property tax
reform to Pennsylvania. The governor's plan is to slash property taxes by legalizing
slot machines at Pennsylvania horse race tracks, like the Downs at Pocono, Plains
Township. Gov. Rendell estimated statewide the slots could generate $1 billion
in revenue, create 35,000 new jobs and save 30,000 jobs, which are in jeopardy
at the state's struggling racetracks. The proposal is stalled in the state legislature,
but Gov. Rendell and local state elected officials like Sen. Ray Musto and Reps.
John Yudichak and Tom Tigue, are fighting to have it included in the 2004-2005
budget. "Nobody seems to be in a hurry to do this," the governor told the crowd
of about 100, most of whom were senior citizens. "If we wait too much longer,
we're not going to be able to do it in a way people get relief." Locally, the
plan would save the average household between $462 and $262 per year. For example,
in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, property owners would save an average
of $309 per year. "The property tax system in Pennsylvania is inherently unfair,"
Rep. Yudichak said. "The dream of property tax cuts is now within reach." Gov.
Rendell mentioned some Republican leaders' fear legalizing slots could create
a gambling problem in Pennsylvania. However, he pointed out a million Pennsylvanians
travel to neighboring states to gamble every year. But they are ineligible for
counseling in other states because of non-residency. The governor's plan does
include funding to treat potential addicts. But he said no matter what, it should
be person's choice as to whether he wants to gamble. "All of that money is going
to other states," Gov. Rendell said. "Three hundred and thirty dollars may make
a significant difference for someone who has the burdens of living on a fixed
income." If accepted, the governor plans to increase state funding in school districts
from about 34 percent to 44.5 percent. "We're going to get there, that is a promise,"
emphasized Gov. Rendell. "The people of Pennsylvania have been waiting for property
tax reform and the time to give it to them is now." Luzerne County Commissioner
Todd Vonderheid said Gov. Rendell's plan is especially needed in Luzerne County.
He said by reducing costs, the state can invest more in bringing in good jobs.
"Property tax is the number one issue to working families and senior citizens
in Northeastern Pennsylvania," he emphasized. "This is a bold first step and it's
great to see our local state delegation taking the lead throughout the commonwealth."
Joan Watkins and Dorothy Yeager of the Nanticoke Taxpayers Forum were on hand
for the governor's speech. They are supporting Gov. Rendell's proposal to initiate
property tax reform and bring slots to state racetracks. "I thought it was a terrific
speech and I hope it can be implemented," Watkins said. "He explained it very
well - why take gambling money out of the state when we could keep it here?" Yeager
also was impressed with the governor's plans. "He was impressive," she said. "We
need property taxes lowered. They're getting higher and higher." Yeager, like
many of Nanticoke's residents, is on fixed incomes. "This town's all retired people;
they are paying too much," she concluded
Dept.'s challenges fire up new chief
Mike Bohan says he plans to turn things
around within a department that's bouncing back.
By MICHAEL McNARNEYfirstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Bohan volunteered to join the Nanticoke Fire Department in 1976, he was a
young father joining an elite fraternity of 210 men.
There were waiting lists
then, Bohan said - lists that took two or three years to get off of.
Bohan's youngest child is 18, and there are 90 volunteers on the rolls.
we have a working structure fire, if we have a turnout of 20 to 25 guys, we're
doing well," Bohan said.
Bohan, 48, is aiming to turn that around as the department's
newest chief. The City Council unanimously voted to name him to the position at
its meeting last month.
Bohan's position is a unique one in the fire service.
He not only leads a department that is part volunteer and part full-time
paid - 10 men are currently making the Nanticoke Fire Department their careers
- but he is also working full time in the department fighting fires and driving
Bohan himself started as a volunteer and later became a paid
full-timer. Two full-timers are always on duty at the department's main station,
across from City Hall on East Ridge Street.
And even though he's chief and
author of the work schedules, it was Bohan working a 14-hour shift from 4 p.m.
Sunday until 6 a.m. today.
"He really took the bull by the horns," City Administrator
Greg Gulick said. Bohan's new salary is $38,000 a year.
Bohan said he wants
to turn the membership decline around, starting with visits to Greater Nanticoke
Area High School and more classes for potential new firefighters.
he said, there are 30 people signed up - from surrounding areas as well as Nanticoke
- for a beginning firefighting class scheduled for later this month.
volunteers have restored an old police car, 1995 Chevrolet Caprice, and turned
it into a fire chief's car. Now volunteers are working on a Reading truck to use
as a utility truck.
"We do have a good core group of firefighters," Bohan
said. "To do it for nothing - it's amazing. I definitely think they are a very
underappreciated group of individuals."
When Bohan first volunteered, he said,
he was basically given a helmet and boots and sent to work. Now, he said, there's
88 hours in coursework just to get started as a volunteer - to say nothing of
specialized courses in hazardous materials.
Working more closely with neighboring
departments, Bohan said, is another solution to problems presented by the city's
declining population and the accompanying decline in volunteers.
talking about consolidation, regionalization," Bohan said. "Maybe we can do that
with the fire service."
To learn more about becoming a Nanticoke volunteer firefighter, call
Nanticoke receives OK to tear down structure bought by 'church'
County Judge Ann Lokuta on Wednesday granted Nanticoke City permission to demolish
a partially collapsed building at 428 S. Hanover St. after repeated attempts to
contact the structure's owner failed. Nanticoke officials filed a petition in
Luzerne County Court against the building's former owner, Randy Jenkins, Glendale,
Ariz., and the Church of a Different Spirit, Peoria, Ariz. The church purchased
the property in March 2003 for $7,600 through an eBay Internet auction from an
unknown seller in New York. Jenkins was listed as the contact. Nanticoke officials
deemed the building unsafe after the roof collapsed last June. A private investigator
in Phoenix, Ariz., Arthur C. Hanratty, was hired by Nanticoke to locate Jenkins.
Hanratty served Jenkins with notice to appear for a hearing in Luzerne County.
Advertisements of the hearing also appeared in early January in the Daily News
Sun, a newspaper in Arizona. On Wednesday, Jenkins failed to show for a hearing
before Judge Lokuta, who granted Nanticoke's request to raze the building. Jenkins
also owes Nanticoke more than $50,000 in fines regarding building code violations.
just rolls on and on - Pushing for a skate park brings a lesson in government
to two teens.
By MICHAEL McNARNEYemail@example.com
Chris Pastuszak and Billy Borowski started lobbying for a skate park in Nanticoke,
they were barely in their teens.
Now Pastuszak, 16, has a drivers license,
and Borowski, 17, has an after-school job and a goatee.
And Nanticoke still
doesn't have a skate park.
"I think they like to make promises and not hold
true to them," Pastuszak said.
"I think they don't want to build it," Borowski
The pair and their skating friends are still practicing their sport
in back yards and - when they can stay ahead of the police - in front of the Kanjorski
Center, at Luzerne County Community College, on the loading docks in front of
the post office, and elsewhere.
And they're still politely bringing up the
topic at Nanticoke City Council meetings, a place where politeness can be in short
supply, said Councilman John Bushko. "They're nice kids. We [council]
go and we hang out and we're giving these kids the runaround."
council has already approved the idea of a park, but the project got passed off
to city's Civic Pride Committee and then to the Lower Greenway Alliance, the group
building a park on Broadway Avenue near the Susquehanna River.
a leader of the greenway project, said the skate park was supposed to be built
along Broadway but has gotten bogged down in the larger bureaucracy and process
associated with the greenway - which could be 300 acres.
"I really feel I'm
letting these guys down," Margelewicz said.
The greenway group has hired consultants
to help plan the park. So there are assessments, site plans, environmental assessments,
public-input meetings and more.
"I want to push this project in the worst
way," Margelewicz said. "By the time it gets done, they [Pastuszak and Borowski]
are going to be on their way to college, and it's not fair to them."
Iowa, city parks and recreation director Nancy Carroll said the skate park built
by the city in 2002 has been wonderful.
"We just think it's one of the best
things we've ever done," Carroll said. There's usually 25 or 30 people using it
a day in warmer weather. Pastuszak estimated there are about 15 regular skaters
Ames, which is home to about 50,000 people, kicked in $130,000
for the 10,500 square-foot park. Grants and donations made up the rest of the
$218,692 total cost.
Carroll cautioned that insurance concerns must be addressed
first. In Iowa, she said, the state Legislature exempted cities from liability
arising from properly built skate parks.
"It really is a fear factor," Carroll
said. "When it comes to the deep pockets of a city, you have to be careful."
The Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources tells cities on its Web site
to check with their own insurer or check with insurers that specialize in skate
parks. At last week's council meeting, Mayor John Toole said he didn't know if
anyone ever got price quotes for a proposed skate park.
Pastuszak and Borowski
said they're going to keep pushing for the park - if not for themselves, then
for generations that follow. But still, they've been left a little wiser about
the political process.
"We used to go [to council] every month," Pastuszak
said. "Gradually, it seemed like less progress was made and less progress was
"Now it's going nowhere."
Townhouses may rise up from rubble
By MICHAEL McNARNEYfirstname.lastname@example.org
Now, it's a ruin.
A lone stair tower looking out over a vast field of
bricks is all that's left of the cigar factory on West Church Street in Nanticoke.
But two Maryland-based developers have visions of three-story townhouses on the
site - if the city can gain control of it, finish the demolition job and give
them the parcel.
"This will not cost the city anything," Mayor John Toole
Demolition of the Consolidated Cigar building, also known as the General
Cigar Co. building, went bad in July 2003 when part of a wall struck a neighboring
"Everything went to hell," City Administrator Greg Gulick said.
"Otherwise, the building would have been gone by now."
The owner, Mike Nordstrom
of Wild Clover Lumber and Reclamation Co. of Murrell's Inlet, S.C., had been salvaging
the floorboards and other lumber from the building for refinishing and resale,
But after the July 2003 collapse, Gulick said, Nordstrom came
under greater regulatory scrutiny and ran out of money.
It's money that Renaissance
Development Partners principals John Howell and Jeff Welch say they will try to
get to finish the demolition and build up to nine, three-story townhouses on the
Howell and Welch appeared at last week's City Council meeting, asking
for council's cooperation.
"Immediately the challenge is the cigar factory
site, which seems to be at a standoff," Howell told council. "The current owner
refuses to clean it up, and the city refuses to clean it up."
agreed to give the site to the city, city officials have said. If Renaissance
Partners can get grant money to finish the cleanup, officials said, the project
can move forward.
Neither Gulick nor Toole knew of Renaissance Partners' track
record. The corporation's business address is the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber
of Business and Industry's startup business center at 421 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
However, its Web site, www.renaissancedevelopment.us, was registered in Maryland.
"It's going to be a good project," Gulick said, "providing Renaissance can get
Michael McNarney, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached
A sticky issue in Honey Pot -A playground fence may rile good neighbors
By MICHAEL McNARNEYemail@example.com
Gorski said she and her Garfield Street neighbors used to be loyal donors to the
Honey Pot Recreation Association.
Gorski and others who live
near the Honey Pot playground on Garfield Street are fighting the association's
plan to fence off two off-street parking spots adjacent to the playground.
Parking is at a premium in Honey Pot, built up long before Ford Expeditions and
three-car garages. On much of Garfield Street near the park, there's no room to
even park on the street without completely blocking the sidewalk.
even live down here," Theda Rynkiewicz said of the playground officials pushing
for the fence. "They live up in the other end of Honey Pot."
The fence - which
will essentially seal the park off except for a gate that can be unlocked - will
help the neighborhood, association President Carl Aciukewicz said, not hurt it.
"We've had problems in the playground with noise, littering, things like that,"
Aciukewicz, who lives in upper Honey Pot at 49 Rock St., said. "What we're going
to do is put a fence up and put signs up and say, 'Hey, here are the rules of
The fence will stop the foul language and late hours - defined
as 8 or 9 p.m. by Aciukewicz - of older teenagers who play basketball there. Some
of them, Aciukewicz said, are from downtown Nanticoke and not Honey Pot.
can't stop them from" using the park, Aciukewicz said. "But you can curb it."
"What we're doing," Aciukewicz said, "is fencing our own property."
land is only leased, not owned, by the playground association. It is owned by
the Greater Nanticoke Area School District. City Clerk Michael Yurkowski said
last week that the School District leases it to the city, which in turn leases
it to the playground association.
Aciukewicz said his association's lease
runs until 2016, but playground neighbor Rynkiewicz said she isn't so sure. She
and neighbors have hired Kingston lawyer Jonathan Spohrer to study the matter.
The city attorney is also looking into the subject.
The two spots are next
to a three-apartment building at 115 Garfield St. owned by Rynkiewicz and her
Their tenants already have spots, but the two spots are
used by visitors as well as by many residents who have no off-street or on-street
parking at all.
A third spot is now occupied by the association's equipment
shed, but was where Gorski long parked her car - starting with the 1964 Chevrolet
Impala she drove to her first job decades ago.
"Now, this group, for whatever
reason, decided they don't want anybody parking here," said.
Just what might have been?
by: MICHAEL McNARNEYfirstname.lastname@example.org
The people of Nanticoke could have had a 20-year certified public accountant
as its new overseer of the public purse.
Or a commercial insurance salesman
who said he used to be a controller for a multimilion-dollar business.
a corporate tax manager with a bachelor's degree in accounting as well as a master's
degree in business administration.
Instead, city officials chose a microfilm
technician in the Luzerne County Prothonotary's Office to be the controller for
a city with a $1 million debt and no clear way out of its money mess.
don't have an accounting background," Kevin Coughlin, 44, said Thursday. He said
he helps scan court documents and put them onto microfilm, as well as docket cases
and do filing and whatever else needs to be done.
Mayor John Toole, who made
the motion for Coughlin's appointment at Wednesday's City Council meeting, agreed
that hiring Coughlin was political.
Former Controller Joseph Dougherty ran
for City Council and won in 2003, leaving the controller's seat, an elected position,
"He's a bright young man. He's interested in the city. He has kids
involved," Toole said of Coughlin at Wednesday's meeting.
"Is it a political
appointment? Yes, it was a political appointment. I trust in Kevin."
those passed over was Karen Hazleton, a certified public accountant since 1984
who has an accounting practice in the Hanover section of Nanticoke.
interview with Toole, Councilman Joseph Dougherty and Councilwoman Yvonne Bozinski
lasted four minutes.
"It was a very quick interview," Hazleton, 47, who has
lived in Nanticoke since 1979 and who holds a master's degree in business administration
from Wilkes University, said with a laugh Thursday.
The controller oversees
spending for the city, which has a $3.2 million budget this year.
money problems - crowned with the disappearance of $100,000 and tax office employee
Brenda Davis's subsequent guilty plea to theft and forgery charges - it's an important
"It was a great time for me to offer my experience and expertise," Hazleton
She said she doesn't plan to run for the office in 2005. "I got a very
bad taste about how politics works."
Coughlin, who Hazleton was passed over
for, said he took some accounting courses at Luzerne County Community College.
Coughlin is a 23-year county employee. His wife, Ann Marie Coughlin, is also a
His father-in-law, Stanley Glazenski, is a former Nanticoke
mayor and retired deputy clerk of court for Luzerne County.
he is active in youth sports coaching and wants "to try to do something for the
kids." He sees his role as controller is to pay the bills "and make sure everything
is up and up."
"I can just try to control the spending," Coughlin said.
Tony Margelewicz, 53, who also interviewed and was not selected, lashed out at
Toole at Wednesday's meeting. Thursday, he said his quarrel was more with how
Coughlin was selected rather than Coughlin himself.
Margelewicz also said
Toole challenged him to a fight after Wednesday's meeting. Toole, in an interview,
didn't deny it.
Nanticoke seeks loan of $1 million for bills
Council met Wednesday night and quickly made three decisions.
The city, having
received permission from Luzerne Court of Common Pleas judge Ann Lokuta, will
seek an unfunded loan of $1 million to pay bills.
After a bit of squabbling
about where the city's debt originated, council voted to pursue the loan, which
will be repaid over 10 years. In an aside, council member John Bushko accused
Mayor John Toole of "living off the prior administration because you rape the
sewer account every chance you get."
Toole disputed that claim.
also named as new fire chief professional firefighter and 27-year Nanticoke Fire
Department veteran Mike Bohan. Bohan replaces William Ives, who relinquished the
post at the end of 2003.
Bohan, the first professional chief in the city's
history, said: "I want to continue concentrating on improving our equipment and
getting the volunteer ranks back up. I'm also very interested in starting a junior
firefighting program to get young people interested again."
In settling a
piece of old business, council agreed that former police Chief Chester Zaremba
will begin receiving his pension.
Disputes had cropped up because Zaremba,
who retired in April, 2003, was not hired within the Third Class City Law. In
addition, there were fears that because of a technicality, Zaremba should not
receive any money until 2009, and that the city would be forced to repay pension
money released before then.
Zaremba thanked council warmly after they voted
to begin paying his pension.
A call for action in community
By MICHAEL McNARNEY - email@example.com
Joe Dougherty recognizes Nanticoke is at a crossroads.
city government is cash-strapped. The number of families living in poverty increased
from 7.7 percent to 11.5 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the population dropped
by 10.6 percent to 10,955.
The freshman city councilman says consensus and
cooperation, not disagreement, are necessary if the city is to survive, much less
"I just want to see us all work together," Dougherty said. "I feel
we can all work together. It's the only way things are going to get done."
Dougherty had already won the Democratic nomination for city controller in May
2001 when the sitting controller, Ann Marie Bezdziecki, resigned.
appointed Dougherty to the controller's job in September 2001; in November 2001,
he won the seat outright.
Dougherty ran for council and was elected in 2003,
while serving as controller. Council is now looking for a new controller.
"I just wanted to get more involved," Dougherty, 36, a salesman for Colours Inc.
in Wilkes-Barre, said.
Nanticoke needs more involvement - and more people,
Dougherty is from Nanticoke and is raising his family there. Families,
he said, are what the city needs more of.
But dozens of communities the size
and age of Nanticoke face similar problems without simple solutions.
to increase revenue somehow and decrease spending," Dougherty said. "But where
do we cut? I don't want to cut services."
The city fields a substantial police
department, full-time firefighters and volunteers, a six-man street department
and has lots of playgrounds.
Right across the Susquehanna River is Plymouth
Township, which just eliminated its police department - a warning to other municipalities
on fiscally shaky ground.
Nanticoke hasn't raised its taxes in "years and
years" Dougherty said, while health insurance, fuel and other costs have soared.
Police officers, he said, don't have a co-pay for their insurance, something Dougherty
and many people in private enterprise fork over.
"You don't want to raise
taxes," Dougherty said. "Something has to be done through the state. Everybody
needs help now."
Sliding toward rink's full potential
Skaters say facility's ice needs to
be smoother; facility's grand opening could occur on weekend
MOCARSKY - firstname.lastname@example.org
ice conditions aren't perfect for skating at Patriot Park, some folks still managed
to have some fun this weekend enjoying the city's new rink.
"There are some
high spots and broken pieces. It's not perfect or professional, but as you can
see, a strip's all they need," said John Jaikes, a Nanticoke native out Sunday
helping his nephew and two daughters slide down a strip of ice on their bellies.
"It's fun," said 12-year-old Jessica Jaikes as her dad gave her a push to increase
her sliding speed and distance.
Jeffrey Jaikes, 9, said he wants the city
to "fix it up because it's bumpy," while 8-year-old Jennifer Jaikes said she hopes
to do some skating there if the city clears the snow off the rink.
Toole said the rink is "not quite finished yet," and needs additional water added
to make the ice thicker.
Toole hopes conditions can soon be improved. He's
hoping a grand opening with musical entertainment can be arranged for next weekend.
City firefighters and street department employees volunteered time to set up the
temporary rink using tarps as a base and old fire hoses and topsoil as a frame.
Some water leaked into the park because of ground that's not level, but officials
hope to correct the problem.
Nanticoke resident Gloria Deitz, who was throwing
some bread and nuts in the park, and trying to lure a squirrel from its perch
on a nearby tree with a walnut, said Toole's plan for the rink was a nice idea.
"It's something for the kids to do, if the bigger ones leave it alone," Deitz
The mayor said someone threw a picnic table onto the rink last week,
damaging a section. "At least we think it's kids. ... I hope we catch them."
Toole said people have told him they heard some negative feedback about the rink
that he believes is political in nature. He thinks most people are pleased with
the prospect of providing a free winter activity in town for children.
Hart, 16, said the rink is a good idea because "there's not much for the kids
to do around here," as she walked through the park with her friend Nicole Banks,
15. Both girls live in Nanticoke.
Both girls were upset to hear about the
"The community's trying to do something for the kids and (someone
is) trying to ruin it," Banks said.
Hart said she thinks "a lot more people
will come" to the rink if and when musical entertainment begins.
said he appreciates workers setting up the rink because "it's getting harder and
harder to do things that don't cost anything."
"Everybody should come out
and enjoy this," Jaikes said.
Press Release Source: Office of the Pennsylvania Governor
PA Governor Rendell
Announces $261,400 DCED Grant for Lexington Village Project in Luzerne Co.
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell
today announced that Nanticoke City has received a $261,400 Department of Community
and Economic Development (DCED) grant to help prepare the site for construction
of Lexington Village, an integrated-living community of 55 senior restricted-age
apartments, in addition to an Alzheimer's and personal- care facility.
project provides much-needed housing and personal-care services to our seniors
while directing investment and new revenue to Nanticoke," Rendell said. "Through
targeted, proactive investments, I am deeply committed to securing private investment
in economic-development projects to create jobs in small and midsize cities and
towns across the state."
Funds will be used to install three swales and to
construct three retaining walls that will make the site ready for construction.
The grant is administered through DCED's Housing and Redevelopment Assistance
Rendell said the development has the potential to create 75 jobs
and generate more than $500,000 annually for the local economy. Completion of
the apartments is set for 2004 and the personal care facility in 2005. The development
is located off of Kosciuszko Street near Luzerne County Community College.
For information on DCED funding, visit the DCED Web site at www.inventpa.com.
CONTACT: Abraham Amoros, Office of the Pennsylvania Governor, +1-717-783-1116.
persists despite cost of proposed park
Planners seek to transform scrub land
into trails and a playground.
MICHAEL McNARNEY - email@example.com
a haven for dumpers, beer drinkers and illegal all-terrain vehicle riders.
But Jerry Hudak envisions walking/biking trails, a skate park and a playground
Hudak and others want to turn roughly 300 acres of badlands on both
sides of Broadway Avenue near the Susquehanna River into a park.
haven't been determined, its opening date might be years away, and lots of money
is needed to make the dream a reality.
But that hasn't curbed enthusiasm.
"It's quite a big endeavor, but we're going to go for broke," said Hudak, president
of Nanticoke's Chamber of Commerce and leader of the Nanticoke Greenway Alliance,
the local group working to establish the park.
More than $100,000 in state
grants have been awarded for studies and planning. But land acquisition, equipment,
construction and additional planning will likely push the cost past $1 million.
Land owned by the city as well as municipal authorities is tentatively included
in the park, said Julie McMonagle of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. The
council is overseeing consulting and engineering for the park.
"We knew that
we had some pretty much wasted land in the flood plain that was just lying around,"
Hudak said. "Quite frankly, it's very unbecoming as you enter the city."
and Hudak are working to make the park all things to all people. There has already
been one public meeting to gather input. A second is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday
at the Plymouth Township Municipal Building.
"We'll rely on their input in
designing the park," McMonagle said. "We're planning a park that will reflect
what the community wants."
Already, Nanticoke's kids play soccer on a well-kept
field on the north side of Broadway. But a visitor to the south side finds quad
trailers, beer cans and vast amounts of junk - from appliances to at least one
automobile - on the south side.
Walking/bicycling trails, something Nanticoke's
park system lacks, topped a citizens' wish list recently compiled by a consultant.
Hudak said there are lots of abandoned railroad rights-of-way in the area well-suited
for such trails.
The trail system's crown jewel could be the abandoned railroad
bridge over the Susquehanna River just south of the Broadway bridge.
said the bridge could connect the planned Susquehanna Warrior trail on the west
side of the river to the Nanticoke park, which itself could be a hub for an extension
of the Wyoming Valley levee trail system on the north and the Earth Conservancy's
proposed Escarpment Trail to the south.
But Hudak said he doesn't know who
owns the bridge, and that rehabilitation estimates have been around $1 million.
Almost everything else a person could want in a park has been proposed: a playground
for younger kids, a skate park for older kids to softball and soccer fields and
basketball courts for everyone.
There are also potential amenities that people
wouldn't ordinarily think of, Hudak said. The rock cuts made by railroad builders
a century ago could make great geologic interpretive sites. And a climbing center
for rock climbers who frequent the area could be built.
Hudak said he's already
had interest from developers who would like to erect commercial buildings adjacent
to the park area.
A question that hasn't been answered is who would pay to
mow the grass and maintain the park once it opens. The city struggles to pay its
bills and faces a declining population and tax base.
"That's a difficult question,
but they have to start talking about it now," McMonagle said. She said other options
include forming a regional recreation authority and exploring having colleges
and businesses contribute.
Hudak sees the park as a tool for retaining the
city's young people and drawing in new people and businesses. Maintenance costs,
he said, will be worth it.
"We have to provide some reasons for the children
to appreciate the community and the environment around here," he said.
Learn more about grants already awarded for the Lower Broadway Greenway
Nanticoke, lace up your skates
By LANE FILLER - firstname.lastname@example.org
will the ice skating in Nanticoke's Patriot Park begin?
Soon, promises administrator
Greg Gulick, very soon.
The city had hoped to have its new rink up and skating
by last weekend, but the effort was beset by temporary problems.
"it's not quite level," Gulick said of the rink, constructed of tarps, old fire
hoses and topsoil.
"When they filled it with water, a lot ran out."
said firefighters and Street Department employees who have volunteered their time
to make the project a reality spent much of Wednesday shoring up the rink with
sandbags. The hope is that the sandbags will plug the leaks long enough for the
water to freeze, creating a smooth skating surface.
"We hope to have everything
set up so that people can come out and skate this weekend," Gulick said. "It's
still good and cold, so with a little more work, we should be in business by Friday
The idea of a skating rink was first proposed by Mayor John
Toole after he repeatedly heard complaints that there was nothing for kids to
do in Nanticoke during the winter.
Toole has said the rink will be built at
a minimal cost to the taxpayer, and with no increase in the town's insurance premiums.
He said he hopes to see a second, smaller rink constructed for the younger kids.
Nanticoke asks judge to approve $1 million loan
By Elizabeth Skrapits
, Citizens' Voice Staff Writer
City passed the first hurdle in taking out a $1 million debt loan Tuesday after
a hearing in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.
Judge Ann Lokuta gave
permission for the city to proceed with taking out the general obligation note,
which will be payable over 10 years.
The loan is for the city's unfunded debt,
as defined in the Local Government Unit Debt Act of 1996.
"Over the last couple
of years, there's been a lot of unanticipated debt," Mayor John Toole said. "A
lot of it is one-time debt and shouldn't surface again."
Lokuta ruled that
"the city's unfunded debt was lawfully incurred; that taxes levied have not produced
the revenues needed; that paying such debt by curtailing services will be dangerous
to public health and safety; and that it is not feasible to levy additional taxes
in the current fiscal year."
Taking out the 10-year note "will accomplish
the payment of the debt without endangering the rendering of services or requiring
the levying of excessive taxes," Lokuta also wrote.
The city's current tax
rate includes about 30 mills for unfunded debt, city Administrator Greg Gulick
That millage levy went towards two previous bonds - one paid off last
year and the other due to be paid off this year. It will now go towards the new
"This is not going to increase taxes at all," Gulick noted
the court has given the green light, Gulick said the next step is for council
to approve the loan by resolution at the Jan. 28 work session.
attorneys and bond counsel, PNC Bank, would be at the meeting to explain the loan
After it is
approved at the meeting, it goes to the state, which then has 20 days to review
it and give a response, according to Gulick, who estimates the city should have
an answer by late February or early March.
Toole said the loan will also take
care of bills and pay off a tax anticipation note that has been rolled over for
two or three years, meaning most of the city's debts will be settled.
other debt out there, but less than when we came in office," he said. "In 1998,
there was unfunded debt for close to $2 million."
Toole estimates much of
it was incurred from 1994 through 1997.
"Things should pretty well balance
now, but who knows what the years ahead will bring," Toole concluded.
Nanticoke ice rink needs fine tuning
By Tom Venesky , Citizens' Voice
The temperatures are
just right, and with a few more minor adjustments, Nanticoke residents will soon
be able to take advantage of an ice skating facility in Patriot Park.
employees will be finishing construction of the ice rink today, and Mayor John
Toole said it should be ready for use some time this week.
The rink measures
150 feet by 110 feet and the water is contained in a sandbag barricade. Toole
said construction of the rink started last Thursday and on Friday, fire department
personnel filled it with water.
Because there is a slight pitch to the ground,
Toole said employees would stack additional sandbags and increase the height by
eight inches on one side to contain the water. The ice thickness ranges from two
inches to five inches.
"We've been talking about an ice skating area for two
years, but there were always liability questions which knocked it down," Toole
said, adding the rink is not a permanent structure and will be covered under the
city's current policy.
Despite the frigid temperatures, Toole said on Sunday
that not all of the water had frozen thoroughly. But he expected the ice to be
solid within a few days.
He said anticipation for the rink is high among residents.
"We're getting a lot of calls at city hall. People want to know if it's ready
yet and some people wanted to rent ice skates," Toole said. "I think it's going
to go over well."
He added the rink will be a perfect spot for families to
take their children and there has even been an offer from a local band to supply
music during the day. The rink will be open until 10 p.m. and it will remain in
use as long as the weather allows.
"If it goes well, I'd definitely like to
make this a yearly tradition," Toole said. "Next year we'll put more planning
into it and maybe even make it bigger."
Arrest made in vehicular deaths
A N.Y. is charged after 2 were killed in
a crash in a car he was driving.
By LANE FILLER - email@example.com
New York man turned himself in to Nanticoke police Thursday in connection with
the October death of two women.
Eugene W. Devins, 41, of Saranac, N.Y., was
driving a Honda Civic carrying his wife, Verna Devins, 37; Donna Roushey, 19,
of Nanticoke; and David Romanowski, 21, of West Nanticoke on Oct. 30, 2003. According
to police reports, Devins lost control of the Honda and hit a Jeep driven by Edward
Stavetski, 31, of Nanticoke.
Verna Devins and Roushey were killed in the crash,
which occurred on Lower Broadway near the Nanticoke/West Nanticoke bridge. Eugene
Devins has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, two counts
of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, aggravated assault
by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, careless driving,
driving at unsafe speeds, exceeding maximum speed limits and disorderly conduct.
The disorderly conduct charge stems from the allegation that Eugene Devins obstructed
emergency workers trying to help his wife, interfering with their work as he attempted
to help her himself.
According to Nanticoke police officer Richard Vietz,
Devins came to Nanticoke and turned himself in in a prearranged manner. Devins
was arraigned before District Justice Donald Whittaker and released on bail. A
preliminary hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday.
According to police
reports, Devins and Stavetski were given blood-alcohol tests because they smelled
of alcohol at the scene. Devins registered 0.136 while Stavetski registered 0.02.
According to police reports, the Devinses were drinking at the Nanticoke American
Legion that night, where Verna Devins' daughter, Melissa Dillon, was bartending,
from about 9 p.m. until midnight.
The Devins had met up with Roushey and Romanowski
at Romanowski's home and were going out to get some food when the accident occurred,
according to police reports.
Garbage rate up 28 percent
City residents will pay $176 this year, $38
more than in 2003.
By MICHAEL McNARNEY - firstname.lastname@example.org
garbage rates here have jumped $38 from last year, causing some residents to grumble
as they opened their 2004 bills this week.
"I guess they want us to get a
loan" to pay the bill, retiree James Reynolds said Wednesday. "I can't see a 30
The yearly bill for households climbed from $138 to $176,
said city Administrator Greg Gulick, a 28 percent increase. But the increase,
he said, covers only the cost to haul away garbage and doesn't generate any extra
revenue for the city.
J.P. Mascaro & Sons of Harleysville, Montgomery
County, was the low bidder when the city sought a new five-year contract last
November, Gulick said. Their bid, $591,300 for 2004, was significantly lower than
Waste Management's $707,823. Over five years, the contract will be about $3 million.
Garbage services have not changed, Gulick said.
Residents each week can still
put out four trash bags, recyclables, lawn waste in warmer weather, and one bulk
item like a refrigerator.
Mark Cesare, Mascaro's general manager, said expenses
for trash haulers have gone up in the five years since Nanticoke's trash rates
were last set.
The state imposed a $4 per ton tax on garbage in the summer
of 2002, tripling the cost at the landfill from $2 per ton to $6 per ton.
Insurance costs have gone "through the roof" since the Sept. 11 terror attacks,
Cesare said, and state licensing and regulatory requirements are always growing.
"There's a lot of things that factor into the equation since five years ago,"
Cesare said. "That's why the prices are increasing."
Cesare said small raises
of 2 or 3 percent a year are planned for the next four years.
a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 831-7305.
learn more about Nanticoke's trash hauler, J.P. Mascaro and Sons, visit its Web
site at www.jpmascaro.com.
seeks new city controller
By MICHAEL McNARNEY - email@example.com
might not be much money to control, but the city is looking for a new controller.
The vacancy was created when controller Joseph Dougherty was elected to City Council
in November. Dougherty, who was appointed controller in September 2001, ran to
fill an open seat on council.
The controller position pays about $2,400 per
Nanticoke, with its shrinking, aging population, struggles with declining
tax revenues. The city lost 11 percent of its population from 1990 to 2000, while
the median age climbed from 42.1 years to 42.7 years, according to the U.S. Census
Council discussed the vacancy at its reorganization meeting Monday
morning at City Hall, City Administrator Greg Gulick said. The job will be advertised
in the coming days, he added.
State law mandates the position be filled in
a month and that the controller have an accounting background.
36, is a sales representative for Colours Inc., a Wilkes-Barre auto paint and
body shop supply business. He lives at 5 Christian St.
In other business,
Appointed members to oversee city departments. Bill Brown will oversee
accounts/finance and community development; John Bushko will oversee parks and
public buildings; Yvonne Bozinski will oversee public safety; and Dougherty will
oversee streets and public improvements.
Learned that the Union Street bridge
over Forge Creek on the western edge of the city will be replaced this year by
the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Gulick said Pennsy Supply Inc.
of Harrisburg was the low bidder at $568,496.
It's anticipated that the bridge,
a box culvert, will be installed starting Feb. 17. The job is slated for July
Michael McNarney, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached
Nanticoke considers ice skating rink
Robert Kalinowski , The Sunday Voice
Nanticoke Mayor John Toole got the idea from another city - New York City, in
fact. The city is considering placing an ice skating rink in the hub of town.
It won't be Rockefeller Center, but, cold-weather permitting, a portion of Patriot
Square, Nanticoke, will soon be full of ice-skating local residents, young and
old, having some wintertime fun for the next six weeks or so, Toole hopes.
Toole will have the Nanticoke City Fire Department cordon off a yet-undetermined
parcel of the park with several large, old fire hoses, then fill the space with
about three inches of water to freeze.
They will also make a smaller ice skating
rink in the park for younger children, he said.
"I think it will go over well,"
said the mayor. "From what I understand, a lot of kids are looking for somewhere
to ice skate."
Toole anticipates the rink will be open by the upcoming weekend,
with well-below-freezing weather on the horizon.
Talks about the ice skating
rink, Toole said, have been in the works for about two years, with liability concerns
being at the forefront of the delay. He discussed the idea with associations that
own and run other parks in the city, and was told the cost of liability would
be too high.
So Toole looked for land owned by the city which was covered
under its insurance policy. Patriot Square, home to the annual Nanticoke Musicfest
and Christmas in Nanticoke, came to mind.
Since the rink will only be a temporary
structure - Toole thinks five to six weeks at maximum - the makeshift rink will
be covered under the city's liability insurance, he said.
Toole wanted city
taxpayers to know that this will not be a burden on them.
"It won't cost the
city anything," Toole assured.
He said he's received complaints from city
residents that there's nothing to do, especially in the winter.
it for the community. It's something to try and create some activity in town,"
Toole anticipates there being music and possibly refreshment stands
near the rink on certain days.
"I think it's going to be crowded," Toole envisioned.
"Ice skating is popular now and a lot of kids have ice skates."
He said he'd
ask the police and other authorities to keep an eye on the rink, both when people
are skating and when the ice is unoccupied at night.
"Just come by and enjoy
yourself," the mayor said, inviting local residents to stop by the rink when it