The November switch to election night counting from the Luzerne County Courthouse to the county’s Penn Place building in downtown Wilkes-Barre prompted recollections of past rotunda gatherings during last week’s election board meeting.
Board Solicitor Mike Butera described mobs of people in the rotunda and said many courthouse offices featured catered parties with buffets and even alcohol decades ago.
“When people discovered the word transparency, the parties stopped,” Butera said.
Local political consultant Bob Caruso said candidates didn’t have private election night parties in halls back then because the courthouse was the place to be.
“Everybody got together on election night. The ritual was big,” he said.
Strangers and political opponents came face-to-face beneath the dome, he said.
“That’s when everything happened. Friendships were made. Anger happened back and forth that got resolved,” Caruso said.
Election board member Barbara Williams was fascinated the parties were once permitted.
“Are we remiss in not having the party?” she said jokingly.
• Election Director Marisa Crispell-Barber told inquiring citizens Brian Shiner and Ed Chesnovitch she’s in the process of restoring the posting of campaign finance reports on the county website.
• Several emails exchanged between county council members and county Manager Robert Lawton were posted under the Right-to-Know link of the county website, www.luzernecounty.org, as part of an attempt to increase public access.
• Gary Sworen, who started working as a county detective in 1984, has retired. His departure may alleviate budget pressures because the county district attorney’s office had employed 10 detectives but was only funded for nine.
Register of Wills bookkeeper Charles Pizont and Road and Bridge equipment operator Robert Paveletz also retired, according to Lawton’s newly released September personnel report.
• Three employees were hired in September: Migdalia Pimental, aging care manager, $30,108; Diane Lonzetta, mental health fiscal officer, $39,581; and Mary Susan Pliska, controller’s internal audit clerk, $25,000.
• Jennifer Lombardo, who oversees the county’s Day Reporting Center that keeps offenders out of prison, is among 10 county employees who resigned last month.
• John Robshaw’s salary increased from $37,500 to $55,000 with his promotion from interim sheriff to 911 executive director.
• Tuesday’s council meeting is on the road at 6:30 p.m. in the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, 40 Azalea Drive, Butler Township. A presentation on adoption and foster services and council appointments to boards and authorities are on the agenda.
• On Oct. 15 the county licensing office will move from the treasurer’s office in the courthouse to the second floor of Penn Place at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Market Street in Wilkes-Barre. The office handles the sale of bingo, small games of chance, hunting, fishing, sportsmen’s firearms and dog licenses. The move will put licensing closer to several other offices in the same home rule division.