Sunday, July 13, 2014

Public figures voice mix of optimism, resolve, humor

December 31. 2013 7:03PM

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Bob Lawton: Drink more caffeine.

Stefanie Salavantis: Work for a safer community where we can all get along in the new year, help that come about and let people know I’m here to listen to what issues people have.

Tom Leighton: Good health, a sense of humor and work hard to make the city a very nice place to live and work.

Steve Corbett: Do my part to hold the public officials accountable and be the best good citizen I can be and work for peace, justice and good will for all.

Frankie Warren: Eat healthier, exercise more, and to repeat as champion of our Fantasy Football League!

Jeff Walker: Get in the absolute best shape of my life. At 56, this won’t be easy, but I’m excited to push myself to the limit physically and diet wise. The just released ‘P90X3’ starts Jan. 1 in my house. Pray for me!

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New Year’s Eve and the holiday that follows lend themselves to expressing hopes and dreams for the future, prognosticating what might come in the year ahead and making some resolutions to make those things happen.

We asked some local officials and celebrities what they hope to see in 2014, what their predictions are for the future and what they resolve to do in the year ahead. They replied with a mix of earnestness, optimism and humor.

The man at the helm of Luzerne County, manager Bob Lawton, was optimistic on Tuesday when he took a minute from a day packed full of budget issues to share his thoughts on the coming year.

“I think 2014 will see us continue building on progress we made in the last two years toward perfecting home rule government. The county will finish filling its division head lineup with outstanding candidates, and with a full staff complement, we’ll be making changes much more quickly than we have in the past,” the county’s CEO said.

It’s taken a lot of work to shepherd the county into a new form of government, and there’s a lot more of it ahead, which probably leads Lawton to his resolution for 2014: “Drink more caffeine.”

County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said she’s “cautiously optimistic we will turn a new corner” when it comes to reducing crime and making the county a safer place to live.

“The ATAC (Advanced Tactical Anti-Crime) Unit as well as other behind-the-scenes operations will help fight the crime in the county’s two largest cities in cooperation with local police and continue to combat the violent crime as we did in 2013,” Salavantis said.

“And we’ll continue to have a great relationship with Wilkes-Barre in combating what’s been happening at Sherman Hills. I’m hoping we can make Wilkes-Barre a city people aren’t worried about going into and the great place it can be. I’d like to see its image change,” she said.

Salavantis is heartened seeing more residents voice their opinions and concerns. “That’s what makes a difference, saying this is our home and we want to take back our streets. I would like to see even more of that in the new year.”

Believing in W-B

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said he’s hopeful the city’s positive financial outlook will continue.

“We believe 2013 was great and that will continue in 2014. And hopefully, it will be a safer year for all of our residents and visitors and everyone has a very healthy 2014,” Leighton said.

Donna Sedor, executive vice president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, said 2014 needs to be about growing and supporting our local businesses.

“We need diversity and jobs at all levels, and the day to day health of our community will depend on how we support and grow business here. That has always been a strength for this area and will continue to be our focus here at the Chamber of Commerce,” Sedor said.

Curbing corruption

WILK talk show host Steve Corbett said he hopes there will be “a lot of the same with regard to investigations on the part of the press and law enforcement into public corruption” in 2014.

“Hopefully, the federal task force continues to investigate a variety of tips that come to me and you and a lot of others on the public corruption that continues in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, and more people will hold accountable, question and antagonize those in power. I’m hopeful the power of the people will prevail in 2014,” Corbett said.

More radio talk

Frankie Warren, host of Frankie in the Morning on WMGS-FM Magic 93, said he’s hoping and praying for the employment rate to go up, and the crime rate to go down.”

“Hopefully people will look at the New Year as a chance to start over, to be re-energized and re-committed to making the most out of every day,” Warren said.

Jeff Walker, host of the “Jeff & Amanda Show” on WKRZ-FM 98.5, offered tongue-in-cheek prognostications on both the local and national levels, lampooning the crime-plagued Sherman Hills low-income apartment complex where the 2013 shooting of two young girls prompted formation of a multi-tiered task force, and President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“Local officials in Wilkes-Barre will either convert Sherman Hills into a prison facility (which ironically would already have inmates on the premises) … or more likely, install an ARMED entry post to Sherman Hills equipped with computer data on wanted criminals. Everyone visiting must show photo ID which would be carefully scrutinized. They could simply round up plenty of thugs with outstanding warrants as they attempt to visit friends at Sherman Hills,” Walker said.

His national prediction: “Obamacare will implode under its own weight as it becomes painfully obvious that a bureaucratic mess of this size cannot be efficiently managed. Between the inevitable fraud, the additional paperwork, and thousands of additional federal employees to administer it, it will soon swell into trillions in costs. It’s starting to happen now and as millions lose their employee insurance in 2014, the whole thing will come crashing down.”


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