Scranton recently received more bad news. On March 5, I received a letter from the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission announcing that Gov. Tom Corbett seeks to close the State Civil Service Commissioner Examination Center in downtown Scranton this June.
This comes on the heels of news that regional employers Diversified Information Technologies and VaxServe are to pack up and leave the city of Scranton.
In a region with the highest unemployment rate in the state, this Civil Service Examination Center serves literally thousands of our unemployed who are actively looking to find employment. This center not only tests for state jobs, but it places county and municipal positions throughout the region. Now because of the governor’s executive decision, our region’s unemployed will have to travel hundreds of miles to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Harrisburg to test for public-sector jobs.
Most of these job seekers look for work every single day. Now, instead of taking a test in downtown Scranton that might take up an hour of their day a few days a week, our unemployed are losing precious work-search time because of travelling time. The citizens of this region, along with many other Pennsylvanians, will now be required to drive between four and 10 hours round-trip simply to take a test. This will add on overnight costs, fuel costs and tolls to our unemployed honorably looking for work.
This does not only affect the unemployed, but also the under-employed and those looking to advance in their careers. What about those without a driver’s license or the ability to drive? What about the person with a job, but without the ability to have two days off in a row?
As a representative in the city of Scranton, I already have spoken to the executive director of the State Civil Service Commission and let him know that I will be fighting against these closings.
Right now our general fund only commits $1,000 a year to the State Civil Service Commission. All other revenue is generated within the commission itself. I will be sending Corbett a letter asking for additional funding from Harrisburg to keep these testing centers open so that our struggling families who are looking to work do not find themselves in a no-win situation.
Things are bad for so many people right now, but because of this executive decision, they will absolutely get worse.
State Rep. Kevin Haggerty
I use Wilkes-Barre’s city streets to commute to work from Drums five to seven days a week. I am concerned about two things: potholes on my drive from state Route 309 to Blackman Street, to Hazle Avenue, to South River Street, and the north-south roadway traffic light problems on those same roads.
First, the potholes: I fully understand that this continues to be a horrendous winter in every way. The cold and snow has played havoc with all the roadways in the region, and I am sure it is impossible to keep up with all of the potholes in the city. However, it seems to me that the two most heavily traveled roads in the city, at least during rush hours, are Blackman and Hazle, and they deserve constant monitoring and repair of potholes.
Hazle right now is a serious-injury accident waiting to happen. The potholes that were repaired two weeks ago on Blackman are already opening up again. The suspension of my car cannot take much more constant jarring without serious damage or losing a tire or rim.
Second: I have driven in metropolitan areas all over this nation, including Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and New York. I have never seen a more incompetent street light system anywhere in the country. The north-south direction streets, such as Hazle, carry way more traffic than their east-west counterparts, yet the north-south streets have much longer timed lights.
I wait 30 seconds longer to get through the light going north on Hazle, at Pennsylvania Avenue, than I do taking a left from Pennsylvania Avenue onto Hazle. I do not understand why the traffic flow and volume seemingly are not considered when light change times are set.
Even worse is the issue of non-sequential timing of lights on any of the city’s streets. I should be able to go from the corner of Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and Hazle to South River Street without having to stop for a light. Instead, it generally takes me a minimum of 5 minutes, stopping at each light, to go one-quarter mile. This is a waste of time and a tremendous waste of fuel.
It cannot be that hard to time the traffic lights in the city in a sequential manner so as to save drivers time and fuel. Please consider doing a traffic study of the major, heavily traveled roads in the city with an eye toward smoother, more speedy traffic flow and decreased fuel usage.
Philip G. Simon
Recently, on a Sunday morning TV show, commentator Ben Stein spoke about the need to express gratitude. Listening to his message, I began to really miss my parents.
They both are gone now, but I think of them often. They knew I loved them because I would tell them, but did I tell them how grateful I am? Did I thank them for all the sacrifices they made? The fed and clothed me, and paid for my education. Like many children, I probably took those things for granted. Now that I am a parent/grandparent, I realize and appreciate all they did for me.
I suppose what I am trying to emphasize here is that we should express gratitude often. If you still have your parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, a special teacher who has shown you kindness, please say a heartfelt thank-you.
They will appreciate it, and you will make their day.